Like most kids, especially in the 1980s and 1990s, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese in the blue box was a standard staple for lunch or dinner. Quite frankly, both of my kids grew up on it. I remember in college in the early 80’s our dorm and “little house” brought back a gross of White Generic Macaroni & Cheese Boxes to college after visits home. We lived on the stuff, along with instant mashed potatoes and green beans and butter! Those days are far behind me and though my children still appreciate a good blue box once in a while, my youngest has begun to appreciate the value of a good pan of homemade Macaroni and Cheese! He brags to his friends and co-workers about the goodness and inevitably I am making several pans every time we have a gathering!
1 Lb Elbow Macaroni Cooked Drained
4 Tblsp. Butter
2 heaping Tblsp. Flour
4 Cups Whole Milk
1/2 large onion, diced
1/2 tsp. Himalayan or Celtic Salt Granules
6 slices American Cheese
6 Slices Swiss Cheese
1/2 Pound Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Optional – 1/4 Lb. Sharp Provolone or Applewood Cheddar (if you can find either one of these!)
4 oz (half of a brick) of Cream Cheese
2 Cups fresh bread crumbs
2 Tblsp. Melted Butter
Cook and drain your macaroni according to the box directions and set aside. Cut in cubes or shred your non-sliced cheeses and set aside. In a medium saucepan, melt your butter and toss in diced onion on low heat until butter is melted and onion is somewhat clear. Add 2 heaping tablespoons of flour and 1/2 teaspoon of Himalayan or Celtic Salt Granules until butter and flour are blended well. Slowly pour in your 4 cups of milk, a little at a time, stirring constantly until slightly thickened. Slowly add your American Cheese Slices and cubed or shredded cheeses, leaving the Swiss Cheese and Cream Cheese aside for later. Once all cheeses are melted and the sauce in thickened but not stiff, turn off your burner. Grease a 9″ x 13″ pan with butter or Olive Oil and layer half of the macaroni on the bottom of the pan. Pour half of your sauce over this layer, careful to pour slowly to get just enough across the pan. Layer the Swiss Cheese across this layer and slice the 4 ounces of Cream Cheese and place across the Swiss Cheese. Spread the remaining macaroni across the layer of Swiss Cheese and Cream Cheese and pour the remaining sauce on top. In microwave or on the stove top, melt the 2 Tablespoons of Butter and pour over fresh bread crumbs (6 slices of white bread in your Ninja or food processor makes quick bread crumbs!). Mix bread crumbs and butter until well coated. Using your hand, gently distribute the bread crumbs across the top of the last layer and gently sprinkle Paprika across the top. Cover with Aluminum Foil and bake at 350 degrees for 35-50 minutes or until center is bubbling and hot. Uncover and bake another 15-25 minutes until the bread crumbs reach desired crispness. Serve hot for picnics, family gatherings, dinner with a side salad or steamed vegetables.
To Reheat: Microwave with a little milk added to prevent drying out. If using stovetop, adding a little milk is required to heat through. If using a toaster oven, cover with aluminum foil and simply reheat.
Good luck! Please share your successes with us, we would love to hear how your family liked our recipe!