There are SO MANY THINGS to tell you today. First, yesterday was huge. If you like Life As A Strawberry on Facebook (which, um, you all should) you know that YESTERDAY I broke my record for most single-day page views! Over 1,300 people looked at my recipes yesterday, and I gotta say, numbers like that feel pretty.darn.good.
Granted, I have nothing to compare it to, and I’m sure most of the more well-established bloggers out there would trounce me numbers-wise, but still. NO RAIN will be found anywhere near my parade.
The next thing you should know is that I make THE BEST mac and cheese. Ever. That’s not bragging – it’s the truth, confirmed by nearly everyone I ever hung out with on a Saturday night in college and all my immediate family members. Mac and cheese is also my FAVORITE kind of comfort food – warm, simple, and oh-so-delicious.
So I got to thinking – I should spend some time honoring the awesomeness that is macaroni and cheese. So, friends, I officially welcome you to the best idea I’ve ever had: THIS is MAC AND CHEESE WEEK. Get ready for five days of twists and turns on a classic. It will be excellent.
So, to kick it all off, let’s start with my classic recipe: spicy mac and cheese! It’s got a light kick and great flavor, and soon it’ll be a regular on your weeknight rotation.
- 1 lb. of your favorite pasta (I used elbow macaroni)
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 3 Tbsp. flour
- 2 cups milk (I use skim)
- 3 cups cheddar cheese, shredded (reserve ⅓ cup of this for topping the macaroni before you bake it)
- ½ tsp mustard powder
- ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper, plus ⅛ tsp. for topping
- ¼ tsp. paprika, plus ⅛ tsp. for topping
- ¼ tsp. black pepper
- Cook pasta according to package or recipe directions (I use VERY salty water) until it is a few minutes (6 min. are usually good) less than al dente – the pasta will continue to cook in the oven, so having very al dente pasta when you put the pasta in to bake will ensure your macaroni isn’t mushy or overcooked!
- In a large saucepan, melt butter. Whisk in flour to make a roux and cook for 1 minute.
- Whisk the milk into the roux a little at a time, making sure to work out all the clumps so you have a smooth sauce. Cook over medium heat until milk has thickened, about 8 minutes.
- Remove sauce from heat. Stir in 2 and ⅔ cups of the cheddar cheese with a spoon or spatula. Stir until cheese is melted.
- Stir mustard powder, cayenne, paprika, and black pepper into sauce.
- Stir pasta into sauce. Take a bite. Pat yourself on the back.
- Pour pasta into a baking dish (I used a cast iron skillet). Top with the extra ⅛ tsp. of cayenne and paprika and the extra ⅓ cup of shredded cheddar cheese. (Here is a picture of me failing to take a picture of the cheese-sprinkling in action…ugh)
- Bake at 350 for 15-25 minutes or until cheese has melted and edges are crispy.
MACARONI AND CHEESE WEEK LINEUP!!
Monday – Jessie’s Famous Spicy Mac and Cheese
Tuesday – White Cheddar Avocado Mac and Cheese
Wednesday – Beer Mac and Cheese
Thursday – White Cheddar Arugula Pesto Mac and Cheese