Thursday, July 12, 2018

My Mother's Macaroni & Cheese

When I was a child, our family's traditional meal for Christmas Eve was macaroni and cheese.  My mother made hers with a rich cheese sauce, loaded with sharp or maybe extra-sharp cheddar.  She always topped her macaroni and cheese with crushed saltines sauteed briefly in butter (a much-coveted treat for us children) and then topped the whole with paprika before heating it through until bubbly in the oven.  It was delicious.  We often had grilled hot dogs alongside the macaroni and cheese and usually a green salad of some sort.

My mother always made an extra casserole dish full of macaroni and cheese, and took it to a neighbor couple we dearly loved, for their Christmas Eve supper.  On New Year's Day, Mrs. F always made a gelatin dessert called pumpkin snow, and sent it back to us in the clean casserole dish, along with a jar of custard sauce to serve with the dessert.  It was a sweet tradition between neighbors.

I recently located my mother's macaroni & cheese recipe, which I had copied down many years ago.  I suspect it probably started with a Betty Crocker recipe and she tweaked it from there.  In case anyone else thinks macaroni & cheese sounds like a good Christmas Eve supper -- or if you'd just like to try a good recipe -- here it is:


2 cups elbow macaroni
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided use
3/8 teaspoon pepper, divided use
2 cups milk
3 cups shredded sharp cheddar, divided use
2 tsp. instant minced onion
1/2 tube of saltine crackers, crumbled
1/4 cup butter

Cook the macaroni as the package directs.

Melt butter in double boiler over hot water [I just use a saucepan].  Blend in flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.  Cook over low heat, stirring,  until mixture is smooth and bubbly.  Remove from heat.  Stir in milk.  Return to heat; heat to boiling, stirring constantly.  Boil and stir 1 minute.  Stir in about half the cheese (1 1/2 cups).

Place half the cooked macaroni in a lightly greased 2 to 3 quart casserole.  Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the minced onion, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste.  Sprinkle on half the remaining cheese (about 3/4 cup).  Pour half of the cheese sauce over this layer.  Repeat layers.

For topping, melt the 1/4 cup butter and crumble in the half-tube of saltines.  Cook the crumbs in the butter for a few minutes, then use to top the casserole.  Sprinkle with paprika.  Bake at 375º for 35 to 40  minutes or until topping is browned and casserole is bubbly. 

Makes 4 to 6 servings, I would guess. 


  1. Sounds delicious! My mother’s recipe did not require making a sauce so your mother’s sounds better to me. I like the story of the tradition between neighbors. Those don’t exist so much today and more’s the pity...

  2. I hope you enjoy this if you try it, Vee. I've made macaroni and cheese a number of different ways myself. I usually mix everything together rather than doing the layering step, but mac and cheese is really pretty hard to ruin. It's always good in my opinion!

    Yes, that was a nice tradition. Those neighbors are long gone now ... their house is even gone and a strip mall in its place ... but it's a special memory.

  3. What a special relationship between neighbors!

  4. I love that the neighbors made special treats for each other. I need to try these mac & cheese recipes, this is not really a local recipe around here

    1. Hope you enjoy the recipe if you try it, Lucie.

      Yes, it was really special that these neighbors had that lovely tradition with my family.


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