Last Thursday night The Husband and I were lying in bed. He’s reading a science fiction novel and I’m staring at the ceiling.
“What are you thinking about?”
“I’m trying to decide what we are going to have for dinner tomorrow night.” Usually I have my meals planned out for the entire week. However, last week I had run out of ideas so I thought I would just wing it. Surely I can come up with something by next Friday. And yet here it was – Friday Eve – and I had nothing.
A few more minutes went by and The Husband asks, “So what are we having for dinner tomorrow?” Because dinner is one thing you don’t mess around with as far as he’s concerned. You must have a plan.
In a defeated breath I replied, “I don’t know.”
He thinks for a moment, then says, “Didn’t you buy the stuff to make macaroni and cheese recently?”
Yes, I still had a package of elbow macaroni in the pantry and a bar of smoked cheddar in the fridge. Bought a few weekends ago with good intentions but just not enough time.
“Sure, I can make macaroni and cheese. What do you want with it?”
“Nothing. I just want your macaroni and cheese and maybe a beer to go with it.”
The mother in me thought – No, that is absolutely NOT a healthy meal. Then the younger me – the rebel that used to have a platinum blonde pixie haircut when everyone else had long hair and once owned a pair of skin tight, fire engine red microsuede pants (oh, the things we wear when we are young, ridiculously thin, and on the prowl…) thought – why the hell not? It’s Friday, it has been a long week, and I can think of nothing better than a cold beer, good music, and a plate of homemade macaroni and cheese out on the back porch.
These days – with job responsibilities, a mortgage, a husband, and a baby – that girl with the red pants and blonde hair doesn’t typically win arguments. This time she did.
- 8 ounces elbow macaroni
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne
- 1 cup whole or 2% milk
- 2 cups room temperature smoked cheddar cheese, shredded
- Paprika and chopped fresh parsley, optional
- Cook macaroni according to package directions, reducing the cooking time by about 1-2 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- In the meantime, melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
- Sprinkle in flour and whisk to combine. Cook for 1-2 minutes to get rid of the starchy flavor in the flour.
- Add salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper.
- Remove pan from heat. Gradually add milk, whisking constantly, until milk is incorporated and smooth.
- Return pan to heat and bring to simmer. Stirring constantly, continue to simmer until mixture has begun to thicken.
- Reduce heat to low. Stir in cheese. Continue to stir until cheese is melted.
- Add in cooked macaroni. Gently stir until macaroni is coated with the cheese mixture.
- Garnish with paprika and chopped fresh parsley, if desired.