Grown Up Mac & Cheese

My daughter turns 6 next weekend.  It’s always challenging to have a child’s birthday close to the holidays because they’ve already gotten so much STUFF for Christmas.  Last year I opted to start the tradition of going on a beach trip together.  I can get great rates this time of year and so long as there are some attractions nearby and I can find a hotel with an indoor pool, The Munchkin is as happy as a lark.

Today we leave for our Second Annual Mommy / Daughter Beach Trip.  I’m relatively frugal, I’ll often cook while on vacation.  This saves a ton of money, plus there’s something about cooking in a relaxing atmosphere that is just wonderful.  In my bag of tricks, I have packed one of my daughter’s favorite meals:  Macaroni and cheese.  As it so happens, this is also one of my own favorite indulgences.  My husband is always appalled at how I can sit down and polish off an entire bowl in the name of Dinner.  It just speaks to my inner child.  But in the name of being an adult (boo!), sometimes I doctor up own cheesy goodness with some grown-up flair…

Grown Up Mac & Cheese

  • 1 box of shells
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/3 cup sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1-2 cups milk
  • onion powder
  • garlic powder
  • salt & pepper
  • tomato
  • green onions

To begin, make a classic roux-based cheese sauce by melting the butter then whisking in the flour.  Once fully combined, add 1 cup of milk and the cheese.  Continue to whisk until sauce thickens, about 5 minutes.  Avoid letting the sauce boil.  Once sauce is thick, turn heat down to low and continue to whisk in milk ¼ cup at a time until you get a smooth sauce consistency.  You want it to be loose enough to drip off the whisk.  Think oozy cheese sauce.  Whisk in onion and garlic powders, salt, and pepper to taste.  Keep on low heat, whisking occasionally.  If it thickens up more than you’d like, add a splash of milk and test out flavor.

Bring a pot of water to boil and cook your shells.  While the shells are cooking, dice up the tomato and chop your green onion.  Once the shells are al dente, drain from water and put back in pot.  Slowly begin to stir in your cheese sauce until you have the amount you want.  Once full mixed, serve and top with tomatoes and green onions.


The cool thing about this is that you can also add some protein if you so choose.  Crab or lobster meat makes an mmmmazing addition.  Even some grilled chicken.  For added veggies, you can also throw in some diced zucchini and / or squash.  But if you just want a little something to appease your inner child, while still feeling like an adult, you are all set.  Pay no attention to the look your spouse is giving you!  Just curl up in your PJs and go to town!

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