20 February 2012

in honor of our presidents

Holidays, themes and costumes - these are a few of my favorite things.  I also love days off because it means I have an extra weekend day to explore and hang out with my friends and cook big delicious meals.  And what better way to celebrate our founding fathers on this Presidents Day than with a meal of simple, all-American comfort food?  Well, after sleeping in for the first time this weekend, catching up on Gossip Girl  (we couldn't catch up on Downton Abbey because it's British and that wouldn't have been very patriotic of us,) and putting on our very best holiday outfits, I started turning the wheels in my brain to come up with a perfect recipes for the evening.  After tossing around ideas of apple desserts, casseroles, fried chicken and ice cream, I decided on a hearty menu of meatloaf with macaroni and cheese.  Seriously, does it get much more Presidential or American than that?

I used our secret family recipe for meatloaf because the recipe that my mom passed down to me truly does make the best meatloaf.  But since I'm so generous and I like to share all my tasty recipes with you, dear readers, I'll let you in on the family secret - it's on the back of the Lipton Onion Soup mix box.  Yup, it's that easy.  I always thought that my mom must have had some amazingly wonderful and complicated, carefully guarded recipe but nope, turns out Lipton has the best recipe and they share it with everyone.  The macaroni and cheese recipe isn't much more complicated than the meatloaf recipe, but you won't find it on the side of a box.  I will share the recipe with you now, my mom gave it to me and I'm pretty sure her mom gave it to her so it kind of is a family recipe.  But it's not a secret so...

burchnall baked macaroni and cheese
1 lb macaroni (I prefer shells or elbows, but you can use whatever you like best)
1/2 c butter
1/2 c flour
1/2 tsp pepper
3 1/2 c milk
16 oz Velveeta cheese, sliced
8 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook macaroni until al dente.  When cooked, drain and put in a large, oven-safe casserole dish.
2. In a sauce pan, melt butter and add in milk, pepper, Velveeta and about 6 oz of the cheddar cheese allowing the sauce to get melty and gooey delicious.  Slowly mix in the flour making sure to whisk really really well and get all the lumps out.  Pour the cheese sauce over the macaroni making sure it all gets covered and mixed in.  Top with extra cheese and breadcrumbs. 
3. Bake at 350 for about 20-25 minutes.  Unbaked mac & cheese can be frozen or refrigerated to cook up another time, just let it completely thaw and get to room temp before putting it in the oven.  Enjoy with stewed tomatoes or ham or meatloaf or something else homey and yummy.

I hope everyone had a very happy day off or, if you didn't have off, that it was at least a quiet day and that you were able to go home to a warm, home cooked, all-American meal like the one I fixed up for my pals.  And since we celebrate two of our most extraordinary Presidents, let us look back on them and smile and remember all the wonderful things they did for our great nation and us... like slay vampires and save children (but not the British children.)  Happy Presidents Day!

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