NOTE: This makes many servings; you might want to halve the recipe.
4 Tablespoons (half a stick) butter
4 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 Cups milk
3 Cups shredded cheese of your choice (The stronger the cheese, the stronger the cheese sauce. You can also grate a block of cheese.)
1 Cup chopped tomatoes
1 Teaspoon salt
1 Teaspoon black pepper
1/8 Teaspoon onion powder
1/8 Teaspoon garlic powder
1 Pound box of tiny elbow macaroni (Shells and other forms of small pasta work well, too.)
Rinse the tomatoes, remove the stem part, then cut them and half and rinse out the seeds and pulp. Dice the tomatoes until you have a cup. Set aside.
Start boiling your pasta water and prepare according to the recipe on the box. It takes about fifteen minutes to make the cheese sauce, so try to time the pasta to be completed at the same time as the cheese sauce.
In a large sauce pan preheated at just over 1/4 heat, melt the butter. Stir in first tablespoon of flour until smooth. (Don’t try to stir in all four tablespoons at once or it will be lumpy.) Then stir in second tablespoon until smooth. Do this with the third then the fourth tablespoon.
Stir in the milk in and meld the butter and flour mix until it’s uniform. Let it gradually heat up. Stir frequently. Fight the urge to turn the heat up to speed the process or the milk could curdle.
Stir in salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder.
Warm the mixture until it starts to steam, but not simmer or boil. Stir frequently.
Stir in the first cup of cheese. Lightly blend. Stir in the second cup of cheese. Lightly blend. Then stir in the third cup of cheese.
Once the sauce begins to steam, but not simmer or boil, stir in the tomatoes. Reheat until the sauce steams again.
Carefully drain macaroni. Pour half in a mixing bowl. Stir in cheese sauce. Gradually add more macaroni and more sauce until you have the right consistency for your taste. Another option is to set the macaroni and cheese out in separate bowls and let people make their own combination.
Extra for Experts: This dish tastes great seasoned per serving with red pepper flakes. You can also put out a bowl of more fresh diced tomatoes.
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