Have you seen the commercials for California cheese? I love those cows! "Happy cows come from California!" Yep, it's true. The other day I was kinda sorta lost on the outskirts of town and saw bunches of them. Of course, they all pretended they couldn't talk. When I asked them for directions, they just stared. I'm sure that once I drove off, they all got a good laugh too. It's not like I live in an unpopulated area, so I really couldn't go too far without finding civilization again--if you can call an automobile wrecking yard "civilization"! But the cows looked happy enough. After all, they don't call Sacramento "cow town" for nothin'!
So what's with the cows and the cheese? I was sitting at my desk today, catching up on all the news thats fit to print by my blogland friends and eating the last of the mac and cheese I baked the other day and I realized I was in a state of near bliss. Or as close to bliss as one CAN be, sitting at one's desk at WORK, instead of sitting in front of a sewing machine, quilting. And you know what? You too can experience near bliss if you follow a few simple steps.
Several people expressed an interest in my mac and cheese recipe, so I thought I'd share. Yes, I won't keep this recipe to myself any longer. Well, actually it never was JUST mine. You know those community cookbook fundraiser things? Some years back, I was involved in the PTA at my kids' school and had the brilliant idea that we should solicit recipes from the parents, publish them into a cookbook, and then make the parents buy them back. It worked out fairly well, and I ended up with a cookbook full of good, simple recipes. This was one of them, and believe me, the recipe is so simple that most of the time, my husband does the cooking. Bonus! So here it is, your chance to experience near bliss:
CALIFORNIA HAPPY COW MAC & CHEESE
2 cups of macaroni
2 tablespoons of butter (or margarine)
2 tablespoons of flour
1 cup of milk
1/4 teaspoon of salt
A dash or two of pepper
3/4 pound shredded cheese*
Cook the macaroni according to the package directions. Drain and rinse; set aside.
In medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and then add flour. Heat until bubbly. Slowly add milk, whisking as you go to keep the sauce smooth. Add salt and pepper and continue heating until the sauce is thickened.
Add sauce to cooked macaroni.
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter a 9" x 13" pan. Layer half the macaroni mixture, then half the cheese. Repeat. Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes until mac and cheese is bubbly and top is somewhat crispy and brown.
*About the cheese: Well, of course happy California cheese is best, but if you happen to be in Wisconsin or one of the other cheese capitals of the universe, sacrificing the flavor of California cheese may be necessary. The original recipe calls for sharp white cheddar cheese but just about anything you like works. The last time I made this, I had some leftover fresh mozarella and a couple varieties of Velveeta. Because they were soft cheeses, I added them to the sauce and continued to heat until melted. I then skipped the layering part and just sprinkled a shredded Mexican cheese blend over the top. Yum!
A word of caution though. If you eat too much of this stuff--which is easy to do, believe me!--well, let's just say you may be mistaken for a California cow!