Mac & Cheese: Kid Style

I love homemade mac & cheese.  My Grandma use to make it all the time for me & I would gobble it up!  Poor kids these days don't know that mac & cheese doesn't always come from a box, & they're really missing out.  Homemade mac & cheese is one of the all time comfort foods.  I have many variations of mac & cheese, but they generally appease to adults.  So I had to come up with a kid friendly version for my little ones.  I'll share the rich & flavorful adult mac & cheeses at a later date.  But for now here is one that little tummies will enjoy (& big tummies too)...
4 cups dry macaroni
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup half & half or cream
1 cup American cheese (the real stuff, not the singles wrapped in plastic- that won't work)
3/4 cup cheddar
1/4 Parmesan
1 tsp salt (plus maybe some more to taste)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cook macaroni until al dente, about 5 minutes (until it's barely soft).  You want it to have some firmness because it will cook more in the oven.  Rinse throughly in cold water & set aside.
Warm up your milk & half & half in the microwave for about 1 1/2 minutes or until milk is luke warm.
In medium pot melt butter over medium-low heat.  Sprinkle in flour & whisk together constantly for 5 minutes.      This is your rue & the important thing about rue is to let it cook enough that the flour taste gets out, but not let it burn.  So keep your eye on it & stir.  The rue will get bubbly & frothy & turn brown- perfect.  Slowly pour in mild & whisk it together.  Whisk often until it becomes thick.
Reduce heat to low.  At a 1/2 cup at a time add in the cheeses.  Whisk until incorporated between each addition.  Add in the salt.  Now taste it, if it's a little blah add a pinch of salt & taste.  Keep doing this until it taste good & you want to drink up the cheese sauce.
Mix the macaroni & cheese sauce together until every noodle is coated.  Pour into a 9 x 13 pan or any other baking dish.  If desired sprinkle the top with a little bit of cheese.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until bubbly (but not too long, you don't want it to dry out).  Serve to little ones in big bowls.

*If you're in a hurry cook macaroni for the full time (about 8 minutes) until it is tender.  Mix the cheese sauce & macaroni together & serve immediately.

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