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Macaroni and Cheese

What’s more comforting than a bubbling warm dish of baked macaroni and cheese? Another damp snowy day of what feels like the longest January in history calls for this family favorite. I’ve made many varieties over the years, some of which are annoyingly complicated (albeit delicious). I finally settled on this super basic yet quintessential version. I sort of threw it together one day and the proportions of cheese to noodles seems just right and you need to do very little measuring. Everyone loves it and I promise you will too.

What you need:

1 lb of dried cavatappi or favorite noodle

1 8 oz block cream cheese

1 stick salted butter (1/2 cup)

1 tbsp dijon

1.5 cups freshly grated sharp cheddar (or one 8 oz block, grated)

1/4 - 1/2 cup half and half or milk (half and half tastier if you have it!)

salt and pepper

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan and 1/2 cup Ritz cracker crumbs (or similar) for the topping

Preheat oven 375 and boil a pot of water for your pasta. Set out all of your ingredients and grate your cheese. I think its important to use freshly grated cheese if you have the time versus the prepackaged kind. The simplicity of this dish calls for really good ingredients. The better the cheese, butter (Kerrygold is great for this), etc…the better it’s going to taste. Cook the pasta according to the package directions and drain. While the pasta sits in the colander add the butter, cheeses, and dijon to the pot (set to medium/low) and begin to melt and stir slowly to combine. Add in the half and half last and stir so that it gently bubbles. When everything is thoroughly melted and mixed together turn off the heat and sprinkle in pepper to taste and a pinch of salt. Add the noodles to the melted cheese mixture and then pour into a baking or casserole dish. If it seems dry, add a little more half and half. Sprinkle the bread crumbs and Parmesan evenly over the top and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. I like to broil for 1-2 minutes at the end to brown the top. Enjoy!

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