Hearty Baked Macaroni and Cheese

It’s snowing again. Part of me is excited – I want to make a snowman! Part of me wants to go crawl under the covers and hibernate. As a compromise, I’m making hearty, warm baked macaroni and cheese so Sweet Baboo has the fuel he needs to get out there and shovel. 🙂

Pasta sauce is easy. So easy, that I can’t believe my eyes when I see people grabbing it off the shelves in the grocery store! Tomato sauce is based on pureed tomatoes and then you add the seasonings that appeal to you. Creamy sauce is made with a roux and then built upon. Today I was in the mood for cheese and peppers and sausage, so a roux it was. Off to the races!

First, cook enough pasta for four generous servings until the pasta is al dente. Drain it and set it aside.

I like bacon. A LOT. But bacon doesn’t taste bacon-y enough inside of a cream sauce, so I got two farmer’s sausages and diced them – this will mean that there will be lots of sausage in every bite.

2 farmers sausages diced farmers sausage

Throw the diced sausage in with the pasta.

Combine 1 cup of soup (I used my pepper soup: https://kountrytown.wordpress.com/2014/11/09/pepper-soup-its-all-gravy-to-me/ ) with 1 cup of milk. Set it aside.

In a medium-sized frying pan, melt 2 Tbsp butter.

melt 2 Tbsp butter melted butter

Add 2 Tbsp flour to the butter and mix it until just combined. This is the roux.

roux

I know, not pretty, but it is MAGICAL!

Add the soup and milk to the roux.

add 1 cup milk and 1 cup soup

Stir well to make sure that the roux is incorporated. Keep stirring over medium heat until the roux binds the sauce and starts to thicken.

sauce comes together as it is getting warmer

Once you see bubbles, it is time to add 1 cup of shredded cheese. Stir until the cheese is melted in and you can’t tell it is there.

1 cup shredded cheese

Now, pour the sauce over the pasta and sausage so that every piece is coated.

combine sauce sausage and pasta

Have I mentioned I dislike doing dishes? I DO! And HOW! I’m putting this casserole in 4 serving dishes to bake in the oven and I don’t want to have to scrub them for hours when it only took 10 minutes to eat it all, so I use a baker’s trick: grease the dishes with butter and then flour them. If you haven’t floured something before, you just put 1 Tbsp flour in the dish and then rotate it around with your hands so that flour travels over and sticks to all of the butter . This works WAY better than cooking spray.

butter and flour the casserole dish

Now scoop the pasta into the casserole dish. Sprinkle the top with freshly cracked black pepper or other seasonings of your choice.

spoon into casserole and sprinkle with black pepper

Cover the dish and let the pasta bake in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 1/2  hour. Eat it right away while it is piping hot!

steaming hot from the oven

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