Whenever I think of macaroni and cheese, it throws me back to some great childhood memories. As it was (and is) with any kid, my favorite dinner was macaroni and cheese, green beans, and sliced tomatoes. This combination was especially useful when the family garden was yielding fresh green beans and tomatoes… YUM. It was cheap and super simple for a family meal.
So in honor of these ordinary everyday meals and my mom, I am showcasing our favorite macaroni and cheese recipe, but with a twist. We baked the macaroni and cheese in small canning jars, how fun is that.
- ½ pound large elbow macaroni
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 2-¼ cups milk heated
- 2-½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- ½ teaspoons dry mustard
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ¾ cup fresh breadcrumbs
- 6 – 8-ounce canning jars (cleaned and sterilized)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook the macaroni in a large pot of boiling salt water for 6 minutes until just al dente. Drain macaroni, run cold water over the macaroni to stop the cooking, place in a large bowl and set aside.
While pasta is cooking, carefully heat milk until warm. (Be careful not to scorch milk). Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour and mix continuously for 2 minutes until blended, bubbling and is smooth and pasty. Gradually whisk in the warm milk and cook for 5 minutes, constantly stirring with a whisk until the mixture becomes smooth and thickens. Remove the sauce from the heat, add dry mustard, cayenne, and salt and mix until incorporated.
Gradually mix in the cheese until blended, stirring until smooth. Add cheese mixture to the macaroni and mix until well coated. Fill the jars with the macaroni and cheese mixture.
Melted the remaining butter. Toss the Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, and butter together and sprinkle on top of macaroni and cheese until covered.
Place in jars in the middle of the oven and bake for 15 – 20 minutes.
Notes: Watch for over-browning towards the end of the baking time. The cheese sauce may bubble over so you may want to place the jars on a rack on a baking sheet. If you’re eating the macaroni and cheese right away go ahead and fill 6 jars to the top. If you are planning to save it for later, use more jars (7 to 8) leaving room for screw on the lids. You can use many kinds of cheese you desire, it’s all a matter of taste. You can add other ingredients such as bacon or bits of ham or sausage; again it’s all a matter of taste.
If you wish to make this macaroni and cheese recipe in a casserole dish instead of the 6 jars, follow the same directions. Fill a 1 ½ quart casserole with all the macaroni and cheese mixture and bake the casserole for 25 to 30 minutes.
Kids love this macaroni and cheese in a jar recipe. This recipe is easy enough for the kids to add a helping hand. They make excellent leftovers or for lunch the next day. We will make extras for that very reason. Enjoy.
Time to eat…
P.S. Take a moment to check some of the tools I used for this “Macaroni and Cheese In A Jar” below.