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Macaroni & Cheese Casserole

May 25, 2010
By Wendy Monro

My husband and I just traveled over one thousand miles in a U-Haul truck with two kids, two dogs and a parrot. We took three days to make the journey from Hanska to Las Vegas.

At one point, somewhere in the middle of Utah, I had both dogs in my lap and my forehead pressed up against the window, looking out at the scenery. I was just taking it all in: the red earth and sculptured mountains contrasted by the bluest of skies and the occasional wispy white cloud was breathtaking.

We have made this trip several times, but the scenery never ceases to amaze me. It's incredible the difference in landscape between the plains of Nebraska, the rocky mountains in Colorado and the bright red mountains in Utah.

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Wendy likes to make macaroni and cheese so creamy and delicious like the Trader Joe’s version, but she also likes to add vegetables and bread crumbs to make it more grown up and nutritious.

Claud was concerned and asked if I was okay.

I must have looked miserable, crammed in my seat smothered in dogs. I smiled and reassured him that all was well. I was looking forward to this new adventure and seeing what life is like in Las Vegas for the summer. Who summers in Vegas and winters in Minnesota? Well, I guess we do. Yes, I think we are a bit crazy.

The food we ate along the way was surprisingly delicious.

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Macaroni & Cheese Casserole

3 cups dry macaroni pasta

3 cups dry macaroni pasta (cook according to package directions)

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 onion, diced

1 clove garlic, thinly sliced

2 carrots, sliced

2 stalks celery, sliced

1/2 C. butter

1/2 C. flour

1 C. milk

2 C. shredded cheese (your choice)

2 slices bread, toasted

2 Tbsp. parmesan cheese

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

Cook the macaroni according to package directions. Set aside. Saute the vegetables in olive oil until the onions are translucent. Set aside. Melt butter and add flour over medium heat. Add milk until creamy. Add the cheese and melt the cheese. Pour the vegetables into the cheese mixture. Pour the cooked macaroni into an oven safe casserole dish. Pour the cheese mixture on top. Spread the bread crumbs on top of this. Place in an oven at 350 degrees for 1/2 hour. Enjoy.

We found a restaurant in North Platte, Neb. which served the best sashimi Ahi tuna. Daphne and I were in heaven.

We both love sushi and were surprised to find it in Nebraska.

In a small town in Utah, called Green River, we ate some tasty grilled salmon. I also enjoyed one of the largest chef's salads I have ever seen. I couldn't finish it, but it was delicious.

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Once we arrived at our home for the summer, I had to decide what we should have for dinner.

I decided to make us all some comfort food after that long journey.

We needed something which would fill our tummies and make us happy at the same time.

I wanted to fix something that everyone would be happy with. I didn't want any moaning from anyone.

Macaroni and cheese casserole popped into my mind.

My kids love macaroni and cheese. They will make it themselves if it is in the box. They know how to add the milk and butter to the powdery cheese. I don't even think they measure any more.

I have grown out of liking this kind of macaroni and cheese, from the box.

Although, I do love most cheeses, I am not a big fan of powdered cheese.

I discovered on this trip that I am also over the cheese in a can, we call it squeezy cheese, which I have loved since I was a child and always buy on road trips. It just didn't have the same satisfaction that I remember. I think I am over it.

Back to the macaroni and cheese, I did discover a delicious frozen version of macaroni and cheese which is so creamy and rich. You can find it at Trader Joe's.

However, my favorite, and luckily the kids love it too, is macaroni and cheese casserole made from scratch.

I make it creamy and delicious like the Trader Joe's version but also add vegetables and bread crumbs to make it more grown up and nutritious.

This is a good way to sneak in some vegetables into the meal and the kids won't even notice because it is so cheesy and delicious.

This might be a bit heavy for a spring time meal; however, if you use skim milk and low fat cheese, you won't be adding too many extra calories.

I also make it with whole wheat macaroni noodles. I whipped this up on our first night in Vegas and everyone loved it.

 
 

 

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