I love macaroni and cheese. Particularly, the really unhealthy stuff….the one with the packet of powdered cheese in the box (this is my favorite). I pretty much lived on it during law school. I’ve cut way back since then and I can’t even remember the last time I had macaroni and cheese from a box. So, when I saw this recipe in an issue of Cook’s Illustrated containing “lighter” recipes I was excited to try it. I thought it might be the perfect solution to my desire to eat macaroni and cheese while still trying to maintain somewhat healthy eating habits.

I procrastinated in making this recipe for a quite a while because I thought it was going to be time consuming. In reality, it actually came together very quickly and I didn’t run into any issues! It smelled delicious and I found myself really looking forward to eating it for lunch. Unfortunately, it just didn’t live up to my expectations. I can’t even quite put my finger on why I wasn’t a huge fan, but I wasn’t. The texture was creamy and it was definitely cheesy (maybe too much so for me) but I think I’ll stick with the stuff from the box 🙂

Macaroni and Cheese
from Cook’s Illustrated

1/2 pound elbow macaroni (about 2 cups)
table salt
1 (12 oz) can reduced fat evaporated milk
3/4 cup 2 percent milk
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder or celery salt (optional)
pinch cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons cornstarch
8 oz reduced fat cheddar cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)

Bring 2 1/2 quarts of water to boil in large saucepan. Stir in 2 teaspoons salt and macaroni and cook until pasta is tender, about 5 minutes. Drain pasta and leave in colander; set aside.

Add evaporated milk, 1/2 cup 2 percent milk, mustard, garlic powder (if using), cayenne and 1/2 teaspoon salt to now-empty saucepan. Bring mixture to boil, then reduce to simmer. Whisk cornstarch and remaining 1/4 cup milk together in small bowl, then whisk into simmering mixture. Continue to simmer, whisking constantly, until sauce has thickened and is smooth, about 2 minutes.

Off heat, gradually whisk in cheddar until melted and smooth. Stir in macaroni, then let macaroni and cheese sit off heat until sauce has thickened slightly, 2 to 5 minutes, before serving.

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