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Think outside the packaged mac 'n' cheese box

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Macaroni and Cheese Not From a Box has a thick, cheesy sauce.


Macaroni and Cheese Not From a Box has a thick, cheesy sauce. Photo Store

Last week, Lynda Quinn requested a recipe for a good, basic baked macaroni and cheese. Nothing fancy, she wrote, just a "plain, old-fashioned, homemade" version of this favourite dish.

Thanks to everyone who's written in so far, including Jane Lechasin, Jean Cudmore, Val Taylor, Sylvia Gabriel, Esther Gerbrandt and Barb Wazny. Heida Bottrell sent in a recipe called "Macaroni and Cheese Not From a Box," published in the Winnipeg Free Press some years back and originally from Clueless in the Kitchen: A Cookbook for Teens by Evelyn Raab.

Sandy Briscoe sent in a handwritten recipe from her friend Carole called Yummy Mac SSRqN' Cheese, which goes a little beyond the basics with the addition of onions, garlic, Swiss cheese and thyme.

If you can help with a recipe request, have your own request, or a favourite recipe you'd like to share, send an email to, fax it to 204-697-7412, or write to Recipe Swap, c/o Alison Gillmor, Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave. Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6. Please include your first and last name, address and telephone number.


Macaroni and Cheese Not From a Box

750 ml (3 cups) elbow macaroni, uncooked
60 ml (4 tbsp) butter or margarine
60 ml (4 tbsp) all-purpose flour
500 ml (2 cups) whole milk
Salt and pepper to taste
750 ml (3 cups) grated cheddar cheese
250 ml (1 cup) soft bread crumbs
30 ml (2 tbsp) butter, melted

Preheat oven to 175 C (350 F). Cook the macaroni in lots of boiling water until done. Drain and rinse with cold water. While the macaroni is cooking, make basic white sauce. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the 60 ml (4 tbsp) butter. Add the flour, stirring it thoroughly into the butter and cooking very gently for a couple of minutes. Now, slowly stir in the milk. First the mixture will be lumpy, but as you stir it over the heat it will become smooth and begin to thicken. Continue cooking the sauce over low heat for at least 5 minutes after it has thickened, but keep stirring so the bottom doesn't burn and stick. Now, season the sauce with salt and pepper, a little at a time until it tastes right. Remove from heat and add the grated cheese, stirring until the cheese is melted and the sauce is nice and smooth. Combine the cooked macaroni with the cheese sauce and turn it into a greased 1.8-2.7 L (2- or 3-qt.) ovenproof casserole dish. Mix together the bread crumbs with the 30 ml (2 tbsp) melted butter and sprinkle on top of macaroni. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly and topping is crisp and golden. Serves 6.

Tester's notes: This is a good basic recipe, with a thick cheesy sauce that baked up well. If you want to add a little dash to the cheese sauce, you can add a little dried mustard powder or a splash of Worcestershire sauce, as some of the other recipes do.


Yummy Mac ’N’ Cheese

60 ml (4 tbsp) butter125 ml (½ cup) chopped onion30 ml (2 tbsp) minced garlic125 ml (½ cup) all-purpose flour900 ml (4 cups) whole milk500 g (1 lb) grated cheddar and Swiss cheese (half and half)500 g (1 lb) macaroni, cooked al dente Topping:125 ml (½ cup) melted butter10 ml (2 tsp) chopped fresh thyme30 ml (2 tbsp) chopped fresh parsley60 ml (¼ cup) grated Parmesan cheese125 ml (½ cup) bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 175 C (350 F). In a saucepan, melt butter. Add onions and garlic and cook over medium-low heat until transparent, about 5 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Flour should not colour.

Pour in milk and stir until it boils. Remove from heat and stir in cheese. Return pan to low heat, stirring constantly until cheese is melted. Season with salt and pepper.

Add cooked macaroni and pour into a buttered 22 x 33 cm (9 x 13 in) casserole. Combine melted butter, thyme

Tester’s notes: This is, in fact, yummy. I like the resolute use of garlic and the addition of herbs to the bread crumb topping. The Swiss cheese also adds a slight nutty flavour to the cheese mix.


Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 6, 2013 C5


Updated on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 10:33 AM CST: Adds second recipe.

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