I am a diehard macaroni and cheese fan. Ironically, it wasn’t one of those foods that I begged for as a kid, but have fallen in love with as an adult. Sure, if it was offered to me I ate it, but I never went out of my way to throw a tantrum for a bowl of shells and cheese. However, after discovering the amazing delicious-ness that is homemade macaroni and cheese, my taste buds have never been the same. I have no shortage of macaroni and cheese recipes here on the site, but that doesn’t stop me from trying new ones as they fall into my lap. This one is a really basic baked version, very similar to the Baked Mac n’ Cheese, but using only one type of cheese instead of three. It bakes up thick, cheesy and bubbly with a Ritz cracker crust. Completely irresistible, I tell you.
I got this recipe from my grandma, who was in the midst of giving me a another recipe when she pulled this one out of her box and asked if I liked macaroni and cheese. Hello, do you know me?! I immediately copied down the recipe, which had been cut out of a box of pasta (I have no idea which brand it was). You start with a simple white sauce on the stove consisting of butter, flour and milk, and then melt in the cheese, stir in the pasta, then get it into a casserole dish, top with crushed Ritz crackers and melted butter. Thirty minutes later you have cheesy goodness.
And let it be known that I am not above eating an entire box worth of shells and cheese or easy mac when I’m sick. Sometimes in a dire situation you do what you need to do, and there’s no better time for comfort food than when you’re feeling your worst! But for all of those other times… mmm homemade mac and cheese!
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Cook the pasta according to the package directions for al dente. Drain and set aside.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour, then add the onion powder, salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in the milk. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens and the mixture begins to boil. Add the cheese and stir until the cheese is melted. Add the cooked pasta and stir to coat the pasta.
Pour the mixture into a 9x13-inch baking dish. Mix together the crushed Ritz crackers and the melted butter until all of the crumbs are moistened, and then sprinkle over the top of the pasta mixture.
Bake for 30 minutes, until golden and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes and serve.