I must confess, I used to make the blue box stuff.
Heck, it's what I grew up on, it is all I ever knew.
I didn't know any better.
I'm embarrassed to admit that my children started off their early lives on the blue box as well.
That is all a distant memory for them now.
But if you can boil water, melt butter, and stir with a spoon (three requirements for the blue box) you can make your own, fresh, DELICIOUS macaroni and cheese.
Plus, my recipe uses a quarter of the amount of butter and, get this, REAL cheese. (I know, quite a concept.)
Quite frankly, the only place the blue box stuff belongs is in the trash can. If you're made of garbage, you belong in the garbage.
Okay, back to the recipe....
Macaroni and Cheese
2 c. or so of macaroni noodles (I use a whole wheat spelt blend-pictued below)
salted boiling water
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
pinch of salt and fresh cracked pepper
1 1/2 cups milk
1 heaping cup mixed cheese*
*You'll want to choose a hard cheese and a soft cheese. If you use all hard, it will give you lots of flavor but a very grainy consistency. All soft will be nice and creamy but not much flavor. Our favorite combination is extra sharp cheddar and pepper jack cheese. If you think pepper jack will be too spicy for you, use a colby or monterey jack.
Side note: shred your own cheese from the block... do not buy pre shredded cheese. Pre shredded cheese is coated in cellulose to prevent it from sticking. In my opinion, this also prevents it from melting properly.
From my understanding, cellulose powder is obtained from wood pulp and cotton. It is used to make cardboard and paper. You're basically eating saw dust (or 'dietary fiber' as they might call it.)
It will take you 60 extra seconds to grate your own. It is worth it.
Anyhow, when the water if almost to a boil, begin making the sauce.
In a medium sized sauce pan melt the butter on a medium/low heat. Add the flour and whisk for about 30 seconds. Add the salt and pepper. Slowly add the milk, whisking after each addition, until it begins to thicken.
Meanwhile, when water is boiling, salt the water and boil your noodles until al dente.
(My favorite brand.)
Continue whisking the milk, butter, flour mixture. When it just begins to boil, turn off the heat and stir in the cheese. Adjust seasoning to taste.
Drain pasta and add to the cheese sauce.
Eat right away. If it starts firming up on you, stir in a little milk.
There will be no going back to the blue box stuff....
.... trust me.