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lazy vegetarians are everywhere. this is a collection of easy recipes and tips for dining out for vegetarians with little time or effort.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Uncle Jack Mac

Every kid loves mac and cheese.
Even the grown kids like me.
OK, especially grown kids like me.
The difficult part of finding a great mac and cheese recipe is sifting through the millions out there that are good enough, but often fall short of great.
For me, a great mac and cheese recipe is almost as easy as the stuff from the box, and tastes like you spent a whole day sweating in the kitchen.
This one combines a few different recipes I’ve used in the past into something that takes only about 15 minutes of prep time and about a half-hour of baking.
The obvious first step is to boil your pasta. Then turn on your oven to about 350 degrees.
While that is boiling, melt about a half-stick of butter in a sauce pan over medium heat.
Once the butter is melted, stir in the flour one tablespoon at a time to thicken it into a gravy-like consistency.
Stir in the milk, whisking as you go to get the mixture smooth.
Let this warm for a few minutes.
Once the milk is hot, stir in the shredded cheese. I’m using Monterey Jack cheese for this one, but it’s easy to substitute a different type of cheese. Thicker shreds of cheese will melt, but finely shredded cheese will do it more quickly.
The mild flavor of the Jack cheese goes well with a bit of a zestier ingredient tossed in, which is why a lot of people like the pepper jack cheeses, and why I mix a couple of healthy shakes of Cajun seasoning into the sauce as the cheese melts.
Once the cheese is melted, you’ll get a pretty thin sauce that may seem too runny for mac and cheese, but be patient. The sauce thickens while baking.
Mix the cooked pasta and the cheese sauce into a casserole dish and stir it well.
Once all the pasta is covered in the cheese sauce, sprinkle the bread crumbs over the top of it spreading evenly.
Use the remaining butter in pats distributed around the top so that all of the bread crumbs are at least near some butter. The butter will melt in the oven and make a nice, crunchy brown crust on top.
I like to serve it with some veggies to pretend like I’m eating healthy in this meal. Often, much like the child I truly am, those veggies get mixed into the macaroni on the plate so it all becomes an unhealthily delicious blend.

1 box of pasta
2-3 cups of shredded Monterey Jack cheese
3 cups of milk
1 stick of butter
2-3 Tbs of flour
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
Cajun seasoning (if you don’t have the prepared Cajun mix, use some chili powder, salt, pepper and garlic all to taste)


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