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April 14, 2011

Creamy Baked Macaroni & Cheese

2 1/2 c elbow macaroni
1/2 c salted butter (one stick)
1/2 c flour
1/2 tsp salt (plus 1 tsp for boiling water)
dash of pepper
2 1/3 c whole milk (I used 1%...so sue me)
1/2 c chicken broth
3 1/4 c shredded cheddar cheese
4oz cream cheese (half a brick)
1 sleeve Ritz crackers (smashed to crumbs in a ziplock bag)

  • Bring a medium pot of water to a boil.
  • Add 1tsp of salt & your macaroni to the water.
  • Cook till pasta is barely al dente & then drain.
  • **(You want the pasta still slightly firm in the middle or it will turn to mushy mac & cheese during the baking process.)**
  • While the elbow macaroni is cooking....
  • Place your cream cheese in a small bowl & microwave about 30 seconds. Stir so it becomes smooth & creamy.
  • In a large deep skillet melt the butter over medium heat.
  • Add the flour. Whisk the mixture till it is smooth.
  • Add your milk & keep whisking.
  • Add the chicken broth & keep whisking.
  • Add the salt & pepper. 
  • Keep whisking & in about 3-4 minutes you will have a nice thick sauce.
  • Add 2 1/2 cups of your shredded cheese & the cream cheese to the sauce.
  • Keep whisking the cheese into the sauce & in just a few minutes it will have all melted together.
  • Add the cooked, drained elbow macaroni to the sauce & stir well to combine.
  • Pour mac & cheese into a well buttered or sprayed 9x13 casserole.
  • Sprinkle the top with the remaining shredded cheese. 
  • Top the cheese layer with the Ritz crumbs.
  • Bake @ 350 degrees (uncovered) for 30-40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.
  • Serve asap...its best as warm as possible.

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