Never out of a Box: Mac & Cheese

One of my goals in life – (which I may never achieve) is to take boxed mac and cheese out of business.  At our home, we mostly make our mac and cheese from scratch (but in a totally un-fancy way).  Periodically, I will succumb and buy the boxed variety because my little monkey is fascinated by mac and cheese that comes out of a blue box.  Unfortunately, one of the first few times I made it, I did not read the instructions (why would I?) and tried to cook to the “cheese sauce” in a small saucepan and it turned color and become glue-like (gross!).  Aside from, at that point becoming the “idiot of boxed mac and cheese”, I realized what I probably knew all long, that the powdered orange stuff is not really the kind of cheese you want to be eating.

Why when you can make mac and cheese just as quickly with pre-grated parmesan cheese (which is also not ideal but let’s keep this easy), a little bit of heavy cream and half and half and some butter, would you bother to buy the boxed variety.  Is it because you cannot buy four ingredients separately?  Is there nostalgia associated with the box?  Or the convenience of having everything you need in one box, worth sacrificing taste for?  I also will never understand why my little one likes mac and cheese when it comes out of a box.  Is the blue box sending her subliminal messages even though she actually likes my mac and cheese better?

Here’s how we make it:  Boil pasta till al dente. Drain and in same small saucepan, melt butter and add back cooked pasta.  Add parmesan cheese and cream. Heat through for a minute.  Done.  You can add other knobs and leftovers of melty cheese you have lying around.  We have used goat cheese, mozzarella, fontina and cheddar.  Practically, all cheese leftover work unless you are dealing with super picky kids.  If we have bits of ham, salami or chicken, or vegetables (peas work well) throw them in the butter before the pasta for a little bit.

It’s unlikely, we will take out the titans of box mac and cheese in our lifetime, but even if you try this version and make it from time to time, it will make some of us very happy. 🙂