Macaroni and Cheese, Reinvented

January 26, 2010

We are only half way through winter, and that tells me that more comfort food is necessary. I’m craving good ol’ macaroni and cheese, an all American comfort food that even Thomas Jefferson loved and served frequently to his guests.

I’m putting a new twist on it by making this beloved casserole in a cupcake pan. That way I can get twelve individual mini macaroni and cheese “casserolettes”. It is a good way to gauge portion control, something we all need, and the recipe will not leave you feeling guilty because I use nonfat evaporated milk and low fat cheese; the texture is velvety and moist.

Use a standard, nonstick cupcake pan. Mini macs can also be individually wrapped and frozen for future use. There are so many ways to present them as well; how about at your next ladies bridge lunch, a bridal luncheon, or as a starter to a casual dinner party. The kids will love them too. Mini macs are comfort food indeed.

Mini_mac_2 Mini Macaroni and Cheese

Makes 12

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons flour
2 ½ cups fat free evaporated milk
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 teaspoons salt
Grinding black pepper
2 cups grated reduced fat cheddar chees
½ pound elbow or other small macaroni

Preheat the oven to 350F

In a medium size sauce pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and stir in the onion. Cook until the onion is very soft but not brown. Sprinkle the flour over the onion and stir to combine the ingredients well. Slowly pour in the milk and stir over medium heat to combine the ingredients. Add the mustard, salt and pepper and continue to stir until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Do not make the sauce too thick. Stir in 11/2 cups of the cheese and set the sauce aside off the heat and covered.

Cook the elbow macaroni in 6 cups of boiling salted water just until the macaroni is not hard any longer. Do not overcook the macaroni because it will also be baked.

Drain the macaroni in a colander and transfer it to a large bowl. Pour the sauce over the macaroni to combine well. Use a ¼ cup measure to scoop and fill the cupcake pan with the macaroni mixture. Be sure to evenly fill the pan right to the rim.

Place the cupcake pan on a larger baking sheet to catch any spills.

Sprinkle the remaining ½ cup of cheese evenly over the macaroni and cheese

Bake for 30 minutes or just until the macaroni and cheese is set.

Turn on the broiler and broil the macaroni and cheese just until the tops are crusty brown.

Let the macaroni and cheese cool slightly in the pan before removing them individually with a butter knife. Serve

For variation add minced carrot or celery to the onions when making the sauce or throw in some peas when mixing the macaroni with the sauce.

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