Comfort food: Macaroni and cheese recipes

Dec 20, 2008 at 7:07 a.m. ET

Warm, cheesy, and filling, macaroni and cheese is easily one of the most savored of comfort foods. Kids love it, adults crave it, restaurants serve it, and few people can resist it. The next time the need for mac and cheese arises, instead of reaching for that box, make the following extra cheesy macaroni and cheese recipe - and then give the following mac and cheese variations a tasty try.

Homemade macaroni and cheese recipes

Extra Cheesy Macaroni and Cheese

Serves 8

Extra Cheesy Macaroni and CheeseIngredients:
1 pound macaroni or any other tube shaped pasta of your choice
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup finely onion
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1-1/2 cups whole milk
1-1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Muenster cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
A few turns freshly ground black pepper
1 cup shredded provolone cheese
1/2 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. and butter a 9-inch square baking dish. Cook macaroni or other pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water according to package directions. When cooked al dente, pour into a colander.

2. While macaroni is cooking, heat butter and oil in a large, deep saucepan over medium heat. When butter is melted, add onions and cook, stirring, 3 to 5 minutes or until soft.

3. Sprinkle flour over onion and cook, stirring, for an additional minute. Stir in milk and reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring, until milk is heated through – but not boiling.

4. Add cheddar, Muenster and Parmesan cheeses one at a time, stirring well after each addition, until cheeses have melted. Season with black pepper.

5. Turn off heat and add cooked pasta to cheese sauce, stir well. Transfer to prepared baking dish and sprinkle with provolone cheese and breadcrumbs.

6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until top is golden and crisp. Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes before serving. Macaroni and cheese can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Variations on Macaroni and Cheese

The ooey, gooey, mouth-filling, soul-satisfying combination of macaroni and cheese is one of the most versatile of comfort foods.

You can dig your fork into a basic recipe or savor variations that include different cheeses, crumbled bacon, finely diced vegetables, spices, fresh herbs, and a range of pasta shapes. Regardless of how you prepare it, macaroni and cheese is a quintessential, universally-loved family food.

Here are just a few of the many mouthwatering ways to make macaroni and cheese even more mouthwateringly good  (add extra ingredients with the pasta before pouring into baking dish):

· Add bacon crumbles (try candied bacon for a real treat)
· Stir in finely chopped fresh parsley or basil
· Add dried Italian seasoning
· Stir in coarsely chopped olives and top with sliced tomatoes before sprinkling with cheese
· Add finely diced cooked sweet potato, carrot or winter squash
· Season with paprika or chili powder
· Stir in peas and finely diced ham
· Add finely diced roasted red pepper and prosciutto
· Stir in sautéed wild mushrooms and drizzle with truffle oil 

More mmm, mmm good macaroni and cheese recipes

Gluten-free Macaroni and Cheese
Macaroni and Cheese - with hidden veggies
Truffle Macaroni and Cheese