Macaroni and cheese, please!

What’s Cookin’?

By Donna Zitter Bordelon

Say cheese!: Stay warm this winter with some delicious macaroni and cheese.

It’s been one cold winter. Both body and soul need some soothing. It’s time for some comfort food. What’s your go-to food to satisfy your cravings?

Any of the following Mac-N-Cheese recipes bring out my happy, and make me feel content. This family-size meal is my go-to recipe for this particular comfort food.

BAKED MACARONI AND CHEESE

14–16 oz. package of elbow macaroni (about 4 cups uncooked)

4 Tbsp. butter plus 1 Tbsp. to butter casserole dish

1/3 cup flour

1 tsp. mustard powder

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp. black pepper

1/2 tsp. salt

4 cups milk (I use skim non-fat)

1 bar (8 oz.) Cracker Barrel sharp or extra sharp white, cut into small chunks

1/3 lb. of fontina, asiago, muenster or whatever you like, cut into small chunks (not a fan of swiss in mac/cheese? If I have a few slices of American cheese, I also add them.)

1/3 lb. of Velveeta cheese or a little more, cut into chunks

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

1 lb. hot dogs, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces, optional

(Turkey franks work well here — not heavy or greasy like some regular dogs)

Panko crumbs or a few crushed Ritz crackers

In a large saucepan, cook elbows and drain. Set aside.

Butter a large casserole dish — 4 qt. size.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Using the same saucepan, melt the butter over low heat.

Add flour and whisk together well.

Slowly add the milk and continue whisking over medium to medium-low heat until the mixture thickens and is smooth.

Add the dry mustard, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper. Stir.

Add the cheeses and continue to stir and cook over low heat until all cheese is melted.

If using, add hot dogs and incorporate.

Pour into casserole dish.

Sprinkle top lightly with panko crumbs or Ritz cracker crumbs.

Bake covered for 20–25 minutes.

Uncover and bake an additional 5–10 minutes until top is slightly golden, and mac is bubbling cheese around the edges.

A big salad is a good accompaniment, and so is the following Stewed Tomatoes recipe.

STEWED TOMATOES

1 can stewed tomatoes

1/2 tsp. oregano

1/2 tsp. cornstarch

1/2 tsp. parsley flakes

Put all ingredients into a microwavable bowl for 1 minute. Stir and return to microwave for another minute or two. Stir again.

The following Baked Macaroni and Cottage Cheese recipe incorporates a green vegetable into the casserole.

BAKED MACARONI AND COTTAGE CHEESE

2½ cups uncooked elbow macaroni

Fresh spinach — 5 to 6 handfuls (about 12 oz.)

2 eggs

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1½ cups 2% cottage cheese

¾ cup lite sour cream

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. pepper, or to taste

For Topping:

½ cup shredded cheddar for a cheesy top — Or –

½ cup parmesan cheese for a crispy top

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a 3-quart casserole dish with oil.

In a large saucepan, cook elbows and drain. Immediately pour macaroni into a large mixing bowl.

Add the spinach and mix.

Cover the bowl with foil or plastic wrap. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix slightly beaten eggs with the shredded cheddar, cottage cheese, sour cream, salt and pepper.

Pour the egg mixture into the macaroni and spinach mixture.

Stir to combine both mixtures.

Pour into prepared baking dish.

Bake covered for 30 minutes.

Uncover and sprinkle shredded cheese or parmesan cheese over top of casserole.

Bake an additional 15 to 20 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly.

If you’re hankering for something zippy, try this recipe.

TACO-MACO CASSEROLE

1 Tbsp. oil

1 lb. ground beef or ground turkey

2¾ cups water

½ cup chunky salsa

2 tsp. chili powder

2 cups elbow macaroni, uncooked

½ lb. Velveeta, cut up

In a large skillet, brown meat on medium high. Drain, if there is excess oil in pan.

Stir in water, salsa and chili powder.

Bring to a boil.

Stir in macaroni and cover. Reduce heat to medium low.

Simmer 8 to 10 minutes or until water is almost absorbed.

Add Velveeta. Cook until melted, stirring frequently.

Garnish: (if you wish) ½ cup crushed tortilla chips, ¼ cup chopped tomato and 2 green onions, chopped.

Eat well live long, enjoy!

(Questions or tips can be sent to Donna Zitter Bordelon at WhatscookinNEPhilly@gmail.com or in care of the Times, 2 Executive Campus, Suite 400, Cherry Hill, NJ 08002)