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Baked macaroni and cheese is quite often dry. That is a funtion of the cheeses most often being used. Whether it's cheddar, Jack or Colby, it will dry out as it sits and most often is dry out of the oven. So after some experimentation, I found that the addition of Velveeta fixes that and does not really alter the flavor. And it is even moist reheating the leftovers the next day. Perfect!
Let's be serious, this is not a gourmet dish. Some people will put lobster in it to make it more upscale but to me that just seems like a waste of perfectly good lobster meat. But as I have said many times, if you like it, go for it. However, you can make this dish interesting by changing up the cheeses. Check out the Make It Mine section after the recipe to see some recommendations.
This is meant to be a "starter" recipe. Give it a try and if you like the consistency you can then fool around with the other cheeses you put in it. If it is still a little dry for you, go ahead and add a few more ounces of Velveeta. To be honest, my go to Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese uses only Velveeta with some butter and a little milk and it's so easy to make and really good, especially with cut up hot dogs in it. And trust me, the kids will love it!
Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Baked Macaroni and Cheese
So give it a try and let us know how you change it to make it your own. Enjoy!
Ingredients
  • 12 oz pasta, any shape you want
For the Cheese Sauce
  • 3 T butter
  • 2 T flour
  • 3 c milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 t celery salt
  • 6 oz Monterey Jack cheese, cubed (1 1/2 c grated)
  • 6 oz sharp cheddar cheese, cubed (1 1/2 c grated)
  • 4 oz Velveeta, cubed
For the Toppings
  • 2 t butter, melted
  • 5 T Panko bread crumbs
  • 1/8 t garlic powder (optional)
Instructions
1.  Preheat the oven to 350 °
2.  Add 3 quarts of water and 1 tablespoon of salt to a sauce pan large enough to hold the pasta and bring it to a boil.
DeCecco Cavatappi
DeCecco Cavatappi
12 oz Cavatappi Ready for the Pot
12 oz Cavatappi Ready for the Pot
3.  When it is boiling, add the macaroni and cook until just al dente, 5-6 minutes. Taste it and make sure not to overcook it. It will continue to cook when it is baked
4.  Run cold water into the pan until the water in the pan is cool. Drain the macaroni in a colander and return it to the pan. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to the macaroni and stir it to fully coat with the oil. Let it sit in the pan until you are ready to use it.
Cavatappi Cooked with Oil Mixed in
Cavatappi Cooked with Oil Mixed in
5.  In a saucepan, melt the 3 T butter over medium low heat.
3 T Butter in the Saucier
3 T Butter in the Saucier
Melt the Butter over Medium Heat
Melt the Butter over Medium Heat
6.  Whisk in the flour and cook for about 30 seconds whisking constantly.
Add the Flour to the Melted Butter
Add the Flour to the Melted Butter
Cooking the Flour in the Butter, Stirring Often
Cooking the Flour in the Butter, Stirring Often
7.  While whisking the roux, add the milk and the salt and celery salt and stir until the sauce thickens slightly, about 4-5 minutes.
Stir the Milk and Flour until the Sauce Thickens Slightly
Stir the Milk and Flour until the Sauce Thickens Slightly
8.  Add the cheese and stir until melted, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Cheeses Cubed and Ready to Add to the Sauce
Cheeses Cubed and Ready to Add to the Sauce
Add the Cheese to the Sauce and Stir Until Melted and Smooth
Add the Cheese to the Sauce and Stir Until Melted and Smooth
9.  Combine the macaroni and the cheese in a 2 quart shallow casserole until it is thoroughly mixed. You can do this in the saucepan with the macaroni if you want and then pour it into the casserole dish. It is a little less messy that way.
Add the Sauce to the Pasta in the Casserole Dish
Add the Sauce to the Pasta in the Casserole Dish
Mix the Sauce and the Pasta in the Casserole Dish
Mix the Sauce and the Pasta in the Casserole Dish
10.  For the bread crumb mixture, melt the butter in a bowl in the microwave until just melted. Mix in the garlic powder and then add the bread crumbs and combine until it is thoroughly mixed. Sprinkle on top of the casserole.
Melted Butter with the Garlic Powder Mixed In
Melted Butter with the Garlic Powder Mixed In
Coating the Bread Crumbs with the Butter Mixture
Coating the Bread Crumbs with the Butter Mixture
Top with the Buttered Breadcrumbs
Top with the Buttered Breadcrumbs
11.  Bake in the oven until it is bubbly and lightly browned, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Summary
This can be served right away or it will keep warm in the casserole dish for a while. Keep the leftovers (if there are any) in the refrigerator and heat them up when you are ready. You can eat this as a side dish with a nice baked ham or as a main dish all by itself. The best comfort food ever! Enjoy!
Looks Good Enough to Eat!
Looks Good Enough to Eat!
Make It Mine
  • In this recipe the cheeses used are Cabot Vermont Cheddar and Cabot Monterey Jack along with the Velveeta . It calls for 6 ounces of each of the cheddar and Jack and 4 ounces of the Velveeta. You can very easily substitute either or both of the first two cheeses and increase or decrease the amount of Velveeta. So consider using any melting cheese such as Colby, Gouda, Gruyere, Fontina, etc. So experiment with different cheeses and let us know how it comes out.
  • Regarding the pasta, the traditional shape for macaroni and cheese is elbow macaroni. But you can use any pasta you want. I like Cavitappi which is what is used in this recipe. It is like an elbow but larger and in the shape of a corkscrew. Also try Fusilli, Ziti, Rigatoni or Penne. Have some fun and make it your own!
  • For the baking time, just remember, the longer you bake it, the drier it gets so if you like it moist, keep your baking time shorter. All we are trying to do here is heat it, everything is already cooked so we are not "cooking" anything. And if you like the top extra brown, place it under the broiler for a few minutes, just remember to keep an eye on it.
  • You can also sprinkle some cheese on top before you put the bread crumbs on and before you bake it. If you are going to do that try a yellow cheese like cheddar.
Recipe Yield: Serves 4 - 8
Prep Time - Active: 30 Minutes
Cooking Time: 30 Minutes
Category: Entrees, Casseroles, Side Dishes, Pasta/Rice
Cooking Techniques: Sauteeing, Baking/Roasting
Cuisine: American
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Print this recipe with the Introduction and Summary.
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