Mac & Cheese the Easy Way! (Including Dry Cheese Mix Recipe)


Here is a recipe that EASILY replaces those boxes and packets of Macaroni & Cheese we have all grown up with. There are a number of cheesy options available as well ways to make this into a full meal.

I have included a dry packet mix as well. For those of you who are die-hard fans of the blue box, here is an alternative. This mixture requires purchase of instant nonfat dry milk, cheese powder, and butter powder. I get mine from Honeyville (no affiliation) and am happy with the products.

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The Original Mac & Cheese

Makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients
1 pound pasta, any shape
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1-1/2 cups milk
2 cups shredded cheese of choice*
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon powdered mustard

Directions

  1. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil over high heat in a large pot. Add the pasta and a tablespoon of salt. Cook until the pasta is al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. Begin warming 1 cup of the milk in the saucepan over medium heat. Whisk together the remaining 1/2 cup of milk and the cornstarch until there are no lumps. When milk is warmed through and beginning to steam, whisk in the milk-and-cornstarch mixture. Continue whisking gently until the milk thickens to the consistency of heavy cream, 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Stir in the salt and mustard. Whisk, combining thoroughly. Remove from heat and stir in the shredded cheese by handfuls, stirring after each addition. Stir until all the cheese has melted and the sauce is creamy. Taste and adjust the seasonings as desired.
  4. In a large serving bowl, combine the pasta and the cheese sauce. Stir to coat the pasta evenly. Add any extra add-ins (if using); see notes for suggestions.
  5. Leftovers will keep for up to a week and can be reheated in the microwave or on the stove top. If the sauce is a little dry after reheating, mix in a splash of milk to make it creamy again.

Notes

*Usually a sharp cheddar cheese is the cheese of choice when preparing the original Mac & Cheese, but cheese combinations can be used in these ratios:

  • 1/2 sharp cheddar and 1/2 other type of cheddar or longhorn,
  • 1/2 cheddar and 1/2 Monterrey jack,
  • 3/4 cheddar and 1/4 grated Parmesan cheese,
  • 1/4 cheddar and 3/4 Swiss makes a nice mellow, smoky flavor,
  • 1/2 Cheddar and 1/2 Jalapeno cheese spices things up!

Optional extras (cook before adding): Ham, bacon, onions, peas, mushrooms, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, chicken.

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Baked Mac & Cheese

You can bake the mac & cheese to give it a golden crust.

  1. Pour the prepared mac & cheese into a casserole dish, cover with a lid or foil, and bake at 350°F for 30 minutes.
  2. Remove the covering, sprinkle with breadcrumbs and a few pats of butter, and bake uncovered for another 15 to 20 minutes, until the top is golden and the interior is bubbly.

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Mac & Cheese Dry Mix Pantry Packs

Cheese Sauce Mix

freeze-dried-cheddar-chees (1)2 cups Freeze Dried Cheddar Cheese*
2/3 cup Instant Nonfat Dry Milk
1/4 cup Powdered Butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 teaspoon powdered mustard

  1. To make the sauce mix, combine in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Store in an airtight container in a dry, cool, and dark place.
  2. If stored properly, this Cheese Sauce Mix will last 6 to 12 months. If vacuum sealed, it will be good for up to 2 years.

*May also use Freeze Dried Mozzarella Cheese, Freeze Dried Monterey Jack Cheese, Freeze Dried Colby Cheese or any combination thereof.

For Pantry Packs-Family Size (4-6 Servings)

Ingredients
1 pound SMALL pasta (approximately 3 cups), uncookedCheese Sauce (1)
1 batch Cheese Sauce Mix

  1. You will need 2 containers for this Pantry Pack. This fits into a quart Mason jar or a 1-quart Food Saver-type bag.
  2. Measure pasta into Mason jar or Food Saver type bag.
  3. Add above Cheese Sauce Mix to a baggie. Push air out of the bag and fold bag into the quart jar or quart-sized bag.
  4. Seal, label, and date your jar/bag with the instructions for use.
  5. If stored properly, this Pantry Pack will last 6-12 months. If vacuum sealed, it will be good for up to 2 years.

To Prepare Family-Sized Mac & Cheese

Makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients
1 Pantry Pack of Mac & Cheese
3 cups water

Directions

  1. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil over high heat in a large pot. Add the pasta and a tablespoon of salt. Cook until the pasta is al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. Boil water in a saucepan. When boiling, turn down to medium heat. Whisk Cheese Sauce Mix into the water and heat until cheese sauce is the consistency of gravy. Taste and adjust the seasonings as desired.
  3. In a large serving bowl, combine the pasta and the cheese sauce. Stir to coat the pasta evenly. Add any extra add-ins (if using); see notes for suggestions.
  4. Leftovers will keep for up to a week and can be reheated in the microwave or on the stove top. If the sauce is a little dry after reheating, mix in a splash of milk to make it creamy again.

For Pantry Packs (Single Serving)

Ingredients
1/2 cup SMALL pasta
1/2 cup Cheese Sauce Mix

  1. You will need 1 container for this Pantry Pack. This fits into a pint Mason jar or a 1-pint Food Saver-type bag.
  2. Measure pasta and cheese sauce into Mason jar or Food Saver type bag.
  3. Seal, label, and date your jar/bag with the instructions for use.
  4. If stored properly, this Pantry Pack will last 6-12 months. If vacuum sealed, it will be good for up to 2 years.

To Prepare Single Serving Mac & Cheese

Makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients
1 Pantry Pack of Single Serving Mac & Cheese
1 cup water

Boil water. To boil plain water in a microwave, use a large (4-cup) Pyrex measuring cup or dish. Fill with the water, then heat on high for one minute. (In a 1000 Watt microwave it takes 1 minute to boil 1 cup of water).

Add packet. Microwave* uncovered on High 10 to 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, just until pasta is tender (sauce will thicken as it stands).**

*Microwave ovens may vary. Adjust times as needed.

**If you find your Mac & Cheese is drying out before the pasta is done, add more water, a tablespoon at a time, until thinned.

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Printable Recipe can be found here, Mac & Cheese Recipes.


©2016 21st Century Simple Living www.21stcenturysimpleliving.com

2 thoughts on “Mac & Cheese the Easy Way! (Including Dry Cheese Mix Recipe)

  1. carol shaffer says:

    Will this work as well with cheese powder?

    1. Admin says:

      Yes, but you will need to amend the recipe according to the manufacturer’s cheese powder directions.

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