grown up mac & cheese

I cooked a bit too much penne when we made the Pioneer Woman's chicken piccata. And of course, my automatic cooking response to plain pasta is mac and cheese — I'm a big fan of comfort food. Combine that with Ian's experimental kitchen habits, and you get the plate below.

fancy mac + cheese

And it's pretty simple really.

You can cook the pasta (the eco-friendly option can add to the creaminess) while you make the sauce and the timing is just about perfect. Or you can use leftover cooked pasta in your fridge. I think we had 3-4 cups and it worked out just right.

You start with a roux. Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a pan, then add 4 tablespoons of flour and a dash of salt and pepper. Cook this for a few minutes stirring constantly. It should start to puff up, which is good. Just don't let it get burnt.

Add 2 cups of milk to the pan and continue to stir until it boils and thickens up.

Note: if you'd like to make more or less sauce, adjust the measurements in a ratio of 2 T butter : 2 T flour : 1 cup milk.

Add cheese — either cubed or grated for quick melting. We ended up using mozzarella and Havarti because that's what was in the fridge from the past week (we love cheese). I'll say we probably used about a cup total, but it's up to your and your taste buds. Keep in mind though, with bigger flavor like sharp cheddar, you'll need less.

Finally, we had tomatoes and cilantro in the fridge. Ian chopped it up and generously garnished the plates.

I think this could possibly be the best macaroni and cheese we've ever made. It's simple, fast and wholesome. Take that, easy mac.