I remember being at my Grandma Steffens' house when I was about 6 or 7 and she asked what I wanted for lunch.  Macaroni and Cheese.  It was the only thing I would eat when I was younger.  It was an obsession.  A problem.  The only macaroni and cheese I would eat came from a blue box.  In fact, at least once a week you can bet that I'm still treating myself to a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.

On that day at my Grandma's house I can remember her pulling a casserole dish out of the oven and putting it on the table.  The top had a layer of bubbling cheese.  I was terrified.  What was is?  Doesn't she know that Macaroni and Cheese is cooked in a saucepan, not a casserole dish?  Where was the powdered yellow-orange cheese?!

I'm not suggesting you should make this Baked Mac and Cheese recipe for your very picky 6-year-old, but I guarantee will be a big hit with anyone over the age 12.  Or 18, maybe.  If you really want to go for it... try my Lobster Mac and Cheese - great for Valentine's Day...  Would be great with a Pan-Seared Filet Mignon!

Baked Mac and Cheese
beyond the blue box

1 pound of macaroni
sea salt
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup of flour
4 cups of milk
12 ounces of cheddar, shredded
8 ounces of havarti cheese, shredded
1/2 teaspoon of cracked pepper
4 slices of bread, for crumbs

Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Add a couple of tablespoons of sea salt. 

In a saucepan, melt 6 tablespoons of butter on medium low heat.  Stir in flour.  Cook butter and flour for 1 minute, while stirring.  Whisk in milk.  Cook over heat while whisking, until smooth.  Cook for 5 minutes on medium until thickened and bubbly.  The mixture should coat the back of a spoon.  Remove from heat.

Add shredded cheeses, stirring until melted and smooth.  Season with cracked pepper.  Set aside.

Cook pasta until almost done - making sure it is not completely cooked.  Strain the pasta.  Add pasta into the cheese sauce and stir to coat the pasta.  Pour into a baking dish.

To make breadcrumbs, pulse bread in a food processor until it is in fine crumbs.  In a small skillet, melt remaining two tablespoons of butter, add the bread crumbs and cook over medium heat until they have toasted.  Sprinkle breadcrumbs on the top of the macaroni.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until bubbly.