Thursday, October 21, 2010

Macaroni & Cheese

I recently moved to Portland, OR, also known as The City of Roses. I moved into a spare room in a house with friends of a friend. Four boys to be exact. All cross country runners at the University of Portland.

At first I was a little nervous. I had never lived with boys other than family before... and so many! However, I decided to give it a try. The boys offered me a great deal on a large room. Also, their house happened to be in a superb location for me to get to and from my new job without having to stop-and-go through Portland traffic.

A week went by where I was in and out of the house. I was spending eight hours of my day at work, then after work I was moving my things into the new home, (I must have made at least five trips to IKEA) and then my boyfriend came down to visit me from Seattle for the weekend. I was swamped. The boys were also coming and going, to and from school, practice, and doing the whole "college" thing. Some days I would come home from work and there would be ten boys in the house playing video games! One night I came home to a huge party in the house and a few kids running around without shirts on... To make a long story short, I barely knew these boys. And they barely knew me. I didn't expect to be best friends with the whole University of Portland Cross Country team overnight, but I thought there might be some way I could help ease the awkwardness of introductions.

If there is one thing I've learned from having brothers, it is that boys like to eat. I have two brothers, Scott and John. They eat everything.

So I decided to make the boys dinner. There was no way they weren't going to grab a bight to eat. Especially if I was providing it. So I decided to make some home-baked macaroni and cheese. I usually make macaroni and cheese in a casserole dish, mostly because I like a weeks worth of leftovers. But in this case, I decided to stick with the casserole dish so there would be plenty of servings to satisfy multiple boys' needs.

I also decided to make a salad to go with the macaroni and cheese: Toasted Walnut & Sliced Apple Salad with Blue Cheese Crumbles. I am not usually one for buying things like "blue cheese crumbles." However, I suppose I really wanted to impress these boys and anyone coming across my blog so I went ahead and purchased Black River Blue Cheese Crumbles. The salad was fixed up but not too fancy. Perfect for a bunch of boys.

The boys came home as dinner was being served and one by one they ate heaps of macaroni and cheese with salad. Out of an entire casserole I had one serving left for lunch the next day! As we all ate we got to talking between mouthfuls and learned a thing or two about each other, and in the end, I was told the macaroni and cheese was "dank." Mission accomplished. There were definitely be some more roomie love expressed through dank food in the future.

Macaroni & Cheese
Adapted from Mom's Mac & Cheese recipe

12-16 ounces macaroni (1 box. Have fun using different shapes!)
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
2 3/4 cup milk
1 pound (or more) cheese grated (I like Monterey Jack.)
1 or 2 shallots
garlic to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain. Rinse with cold water. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan melt the butter over medium-low heat. Remove from heat and whisk in the flour. Return and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is smooth and bubbly. Remove from heat.

Whisk in milk until smooth. Return to heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for one minute, stirring constantly. Mixture should get thick and creamy. Remove from heat.

Stir the grated cheese into the sauce mixture along with the shallots and garlic, blending until smooth.

Place the cooked macaroni into a 9 X 13 inch casserole dish. Pour the cheese sauce evenly over the macaroni and then mix it evenly throughout the macaroni. Feel free to add even more grated cheese at this point.

Bake at 375 degrees for 30+ minutes (I usually leave it in for an hour or more because I like the top browned and crispy).

Let it cool for a bit, (No one likes a burnt tongue!) serve with a tall glass of delicious 1% milk, and enjoy!

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