After years of reviling the stuff, my 7-year-old daughters have discovered a love of macaroni and cheese. I’ll confess that the boxed stuff is sinfully easy for this single working mother. I try to assuage my feelings of guilt by using our grocery store’s (HEB) whole wheat store brand.
One day, we ran out of the boxed stuff, but M was adamant that she wanted mac and cheese for dinner. I do make a divine mac and cheese from scratch, but the recipe is long and involved and, of course, the kids hate it. There was no way I was going to make anything involving the oven in our Texas summer heat. The air conditioner was working hard enough as it was.
It was a Friday and the end of a long week, and I just wanted to get dinner on the table. I offered to boil some pasta and sprinkle cheese on top, with apples on the side. M refused. Preparing myself to do battle, I asked M if she’d let me try to invent my own version of mac and cheese on the fly. To my shock, she agreed. To my greater shock, both the girls loved it. J has never deigned to touch any mac and cheese that wasn’t processed to death, but she was right alongside her sister in licking her bowl clean. I’m being literal here. Their fingers were scraping the bottom of their bowls, trying to get every last speck of cheese.
This is a thick, thick sauce–more glop than sauce–that sticks in the crevices of the rotini.
Sadia’s 15-Minute Rotini and Cheese
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1 squirt ketchup
- 1 pinch pepper
- 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or more)
- 5 oz (1/3 box) whole grain rotini pasta
- In a large pot, set salted water to boil for your pasta.
- In a saucepan, melt the butter.
- As soon as the butter has melted, whisk in the flour. Keep whisking, for at least a minute after it’s well combined.
- Continuing to whisk, slowly pour in the milk.
- Continue to whisk until the mixture is smooth. If you must take a break to get the baby to stop chewing on the cat, it’ll be okay. Just don’t let the sauce burn.
- At this point, your water is probably boiling. Pour your pasta into the water and set the timer. The brand I use boils for 12 minutes.
- Get back to whisking. You can afford to take a break or two to get your kids to stop fighting.
- Squirt the ketchup in and whisk some more.
- When the milk mixture begins to bubble, sprinkle in the cheese and pepper and whisk it smooth. Resort to Mean Mommy Voice if you must, but spend the 30 seconds it takes to do this. It’s worth it.
- Turn the heat off for the cheese sauce.
- When the pasta is cooked, drain it and add it to the cheese sauce.
- Stir and serve.
- Pat yourself on the back and pray that your kids will eat it.