Recipe: Easy Baked Macaroni and Cheese

mac_n_cheese_2Imagine this: It's a rainy, mucky Monday night and you've just gotten home from a long day at work. The kids are grouchy and everyone is downright 'hangry'. You don't have much time to cook -- or let alone, much more energy to spare. Happens, right?

I'll be the first to say it. YEP. It sure does.

But if you've got a block of cheese on hand, a little bit of milk and a bag of elbow noodles, we've got just the gooey, cheesy trick for a classic dinner that is sure to bring back those smiles.

Though there are plenty of fancier versions of homemade macaroni and cheese, this recipe is perfect for when you're in need of a quick and easy dinner -- and especially great for when you want to throw on your pjs, watch a movie with the family and let dinner cook itself.

Sure, there are times when I have a couple hours to spend preparing a roux, to be made into a bechamel... That will become a mornay sauce... With various cheeses and finer additions. But that takes work -- and lots of stirring. And not to mention, an extremely watchful eye over your soon-to-be-perfect, non-clumping, 25-stirs-a-second cheese sauce. And quite possibly a trip to the nicer grocery store across town. (It makes us tired just thinking about it, delicious as it may be.)

Sometimes you just don't need all of the bells and whistles!

This recipe was passed down to us from a close friend whose mother is a hardworking preschool teacher. When she'd had a long day at work, yet still had two hungry tots to feed at home, this recipe was a weeknight dinner staple.

We just now refer to this classic cheesy dish as our most favorite toddler meal EVER.

Easy homemade baked macaroni and cheese
Serves 6-8

1 pound (16 oz.) elbow pasta
2 cups of milk
1 pound (1/2 of a large block) cheese, cut into slices
Salt and pepper
Bread crumbs

Optional ingredients
Sliced ham
Veggies, such as peas or broccoli (Ours are served on the side for the adult picky eater in our home.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil your elbow macaroni noodles and strain, about 8-10 minutes. Cover the bottom of your casserole dish with elbow noodles, top with slices of cheese and season with salt and pepper. Repeat this step about 2-3 times, depending on the amount of noodles that you're using. Add your milk into the bottom of the dish; milk should fill the dish about 1/3 of the way up.

Bake the macaroni for 20 minutes, covered with foil. Sprinkle your bread crumbs over the top of the macaroni. Bake the macaroni uncovered for another 20 minutes, or longer, until your macaroni and cheese is browning and bubbling. Wait for the macaroni to cool and serve.

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