Tuesday, June 7, 2011

How to Impress People Without Actually Being Impressive: Part 1

I think about this a lot. People tend to be very impressed with me when I do very simple things. I don't know exactly what the "X" factor is that impresses people, but maybe I can figure it out if I write out the things that impress people.

First thing: Macaroni and cheese!

My most recent cheesy creation: Mac n' Swiss Cheese with diced ham.
I have made homemade macaroni a ton of times, and every time, people act as though I have just turned lead into gold. In all honesty, you probably have most (if not all) of the ingredients in your house right now, and get this: The recipe is on the back of boxes of elbow macaroni. I can't speak for all brands, but every box of elbow macaroni I've ever bought has had the recipe right there on it. You don't even need to look that far for this, but I'll provide the recipe here.

What you'll need:

16 Oz. package of noodles (I like to use rotini, or large elbow macaroni...but really: any noodle works)
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
4 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
Pepper (I like pepper a lot, and use 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon, but really it's just to taste).
3 - 4 cups shredded cheddar cheese (Or whatever kind of cheese. Protip: Buy a block of cheese and shred it yourself with a cheese grater, it'll be cheaper that way Protip again: Don't get supermegacheap cheese. It -will- taste funny. I have tried this before, and honestly, just spend the extra dollar.)
1 Cup breadcrumbs (Optional, and I personally do not use them)

How to do it:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees (F).
2. Cook and drain noodles according to directions on package. Rinse with cold water and set aside.
3. Melt butter in large saucepan.
4. Add flour, salt and pepper, using a whisk to stir in until well blended.
5. Pour milk in gradually, stirring constantly.
6. Bring to boiling point and boil 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
7. Reduce heat and cook (stirring constantly) for 10 minutes. By now your flour and milk should feel somewhat thick (not extremely, but just noticeably.). That means you're doing it right.
8. Add shredded cheese little by little and simmer an additional 5 minutes, or until cheese is completely melted.
9. Remove from heat.
10. Add noodles to saucepan and toss to coat with cheese sauce.
11. Transfer noodles to a lightly greased baking dish.
12. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs (if that's your sort of thing)
13. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 - 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

There. That's it. If I can give any advice, don't skimp on the salt and pepper, and don't buy cheap cheese (I restate it, because it's important) and people will be impressed in no time. I honestly can not express the amount of times people have been impressed with just the -idea- that I ca make homemade macaroni and cheese.

So go. Go make some nom noms.

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