The end of our cruising season signals the start of a flurry of activity aboard Outrider, our Westsail 42, as we prepare her for storage on the hard in Mexico during hurricane season. The to-do list is a rather lengthy one, with my husband, Jeff, and I sharing many of the chores. There are, however, a few delegated to me, one of which entails the removal of all perishables and non-perishables from the boat in order to keep cockroaches and other critters at bay during the five months we’re gone. A few days prior to departure, I take inventory of all remaining foodstuffs, then plan my last few meals accordingly. Keeping the necessary ingredients aside, I give all remaining items to marina employees or boat workers. I must say, it’s always a treat to discover a package of pasta that has made it through the season untouched, particularly macaroni, because Jeff is a huge fan. What’s even better is finding that I have all the other ingredients required to produce one of our favorite meals—macaroni and cheese—plus the recipe, perfected by my sisters and graciously shared with me. Mac ‘n’ cheese—the perfect way to end any day.
Mac ‘n’ Cheese with a Twist
- 12 oz. (3 cups) dry elbow macaroni*
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 2 Tbsp. flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1 tsp. dried mustard
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1-2 tomatoes, sliced thinly
- 2 cups grated cheddar cheese (preferably sharp) or similar
- Fresh basil, for garnish (optional)
*or substitute penne, rigatoni or ziti
Serves two (with leftovers)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 9-by-9-inch (or equivalent) ovenproof baking dish. Cook macaroni according to package instructions until al dente (not soggy). Drain. While macaroni is cooking, make white sauce: Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until it begins to bubble. Sprinkle in flour about a half-tablespoon at a time, stirring constantly to blend. Add salt, pepper and mustard, and stir for another minute or so. Slowly add milk a little at a time, stirring constantly, until sauce is creamy and smooth. Add one-half cup grated cheese, and stir until it’s melted and sauce thickens slightly. Combine sauce with macaroni, mix well, and place in greased baking dish. Sprinkle some of the grated cheese over the top to cover. Add tomato slices either whole or quartered; cover top as much as desired. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until sauce and cheese begin to bubble. If you like crispy, golden-brown cheese, broil for another 3 to 5 minutes, to taste. Garnish with a sprig of fresh basil, if you have it. Serve directly from baking dish.
Preparation: At Anchor
Time: 1 hour
For variation, you can add a few raw, chopped spinach leaves and/or thin-sliced onions (quartered) or mushrooms (sliced, sautéed) to macaroni/sauce mix before placing it in a baking dish. Or sprinkle uncooked, chopped bacon on top of the cheese before baking and optional broiling.