13. Baked Macaroni and Cheese

This is comfort food from my childhood when, as Catholics, we were unable to eat meat on Fridays. I won't claim that this is the healthiest recipe out there, but you can make it more nutritious by substituting whole wheat pasta and adding a layer of spinach in the middle.


1/2 cup butter
5 cups whole milk
1/2 cup flour
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 tsp dry mustard
4 cups shredded cheese (cheddar, Monterey Jack, etc.)
1 lb ziti pasta
bread crumbs
grated parmesan cheese
tomato slices (optional)

Make Ahead Preparation:

Set a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the pasta according to package directions while making the cheese sauce. Drain and keep warm.

In a large pan over medium heat, melt the butter with the salt, pepper and dry mustard. Add in the flour and stir until it becomes a "roux", 2 to 3 minutes.

Heat the milk, but not to boiling, in a saucepan or in the microwave and add to the roux. Continue to heat over medium heat until it begins to thicken.

Remove from heat and quickly add in the cheese, stirring until the cheese is melted.

Put the ziti in a large casserole dish, pour the cheese mixture over the top and stir until all of the pasta is coated with the cheese mixture.
At this point, you can cover tightly with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Last Minute Assembly:

If casserole has been frozen, remove from freezer and allow to thaw out.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Slice the tomato and add the slices to the top of the macaroni and cheese, if desired. Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese and bread crumbs.

Bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until bubbly.


  1. I made this for dinner last night and it was a huge hit with everyone! My 2 year old ate as much as we did. Thanks for the recipe!