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Macaroni and Cheese

Makes: 8  servings Prep 25 mins Bake 375°F 35 mins

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces  dried elbow macaroni
  • 2 tablespoons  butter or margarine, divided
  • 1/2 cup  chopped onion
  • 4 cups  1 percent low-fat milk, divided
  • 1/3 cup  all-purpose flour
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon  dried thyme, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon  salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup  shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/3 cup  freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon  ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup  fresh bread crumbs (2 to 3 slices firm white bread)

Directions

1. Heat oven to 375 degree F. Lightly coat a 13x9-inch baking dish with vegetable cooking spray.

2. Start to cook pasta according to package directions.

3. Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 3 minutes.

4. Mix 1/2 cup of the milk and flour in blender at low speed. Add milk mixture to onion, then whisk in remaining 3-1/2 cups milk, bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper.

5. Cook milk mixture over medium-low heat 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened. With slotted spoon, remove bay leaf. Stir in cheeses and nutmeg until cheeses melt.

6. Drain pasta and stir into hot cheese mixture; pour into prepared baking dish.

7. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a small microwaveproof bowl on 100 percent power (High) for 30 seconds; stir in crumbs. Sprinkle over top of casserole. Bake 35 minutes or until cheese is bubbly. Makes 8 main-dish servings.

Variation

Italian Mac-n-Cheese:
  • Add 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano: substitute 1/2 teaspoon dried basil for the thyme. Omit the nutmeg. Substitute 1/3 cup grated Romano cheese for the Parmesan. Stir in1/2 cup chopped fresh plum tomatoes, seeded, in step 6.
  • Per serving: 342 calories, 11 g total fat, 6.5 g saturated fat, 33 mg cholesterol, 542 mg sodium, 45 g carbohydrates, 15 g protein, 316 mg calcium, 2 g fiber

Variation

Tex-Mex:
  • Omit the nutmeg. Substitute 1 tablespoon chopped fresh jalapeno chile, seeded and minced, for the thyme, and substitute 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese for the cheddar. Stir in 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro in step 6.
  • Per serving: 333 calories, 11 g total fat, 6 g saturated fat, 31 mg cholesterol, 562 mg sodium, 44 g carbohydrates, 15 g protein, 311 mg calcium, 2 g fiber

Variation

Greek:
  • Substitute 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill for the thyme. Reduce cheddar cheese to 3/4 cup and add 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese. Stir in 1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained, in step 6.
  • Per serving: 348 calories, 11 g total fat, 7 g saturated fat, 34 mg cholesterol, 626 mg sodium, 46 g carbohydrates, 16 g protein, 342 mg calcium, 2 g fiber
  • Per serving: 348 calories, 11 g total fat, 7 g saturated fat, 34 mg cholesterol, 626 mg sodium, 46 g carbohydrates, 16 g protein, 342 mg calcium, 2 g fiber

Variation

German:
  • Substitute 1/4 teaspoon caraway seed for the thyme; omit the Parmesan and nutmeg. Increase cheddar to 1-1/3 cups. Stir in 1-1/2 cups shredded cabbage,steamed and well drained, in step 6.
  • Per serving: 344 calories, 11 g total fat, 7 g saturated fat, 33 mg cholesterol, 514 mg sodium, 46 g carbohydrates, 15 g protein, 304 mg calcium, 2 g fiber

Variation

French:
  • Increase thyme to 1/2 teaspoon. Substitute 1-1/3 cups shredded Gruyere for the cheddar and Parmesan. Stir in 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard in step 6.
  • Per serving: 344 calories, 11 g total fat, 6 g saturated fat, 33 mg cholesterol, 476 mg sodium, 44 g carbohydrates, 16 g protein, 347 mg calcium, 2 g fiber

Nutrition Facts

  • Servings Per Recipe 8
  • cal.(kcal)350,
  • Fat, total(g)11,
  • chol.(mg)31,
  • sat. fat(g)7,
  • carb.(g)46,
  • fiber(g)1,
  • pro.(g)16,
  • sodium(mg)576,
  • Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet