Classic Macaroni And Cheese

Serves 8.

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

3 cups milk

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese

2 cups shredded Gruyere or comte cheese

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

1 pound small pasta, such as shells or elbows, cooked according to package directions

1. In a large sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Whisking continuously, pour in the milk. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens and comes to a simmer, about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. 2. Stir in the mustard and both cheeses, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring to melt. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the pasta. Serve immediately or follow one of the variations below.

Nutrition information per serving: 550 calories; 240 calories from fat (44 percent of total calories); 26 g fat (16 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 80 mg cholesterol; 51 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 6 g sugar; 26 g protein; 580 mg sodium.

Potato Chip Baked

Spoon the macaroni and cheese into individual gratin dishes or a large casserole dish. Crush a bag of potato chips, then sprinkle them over the mac and cheese. Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes, or until golden and bubbly. For added punch, use flavored potato chips, such as salt and vinegar, ranch or barbecue.

Midwestern

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, saute 1 diced yellow onion, 1 diced red bell pepper and 1 cup chopped ham in 1 tablespoon vegetable oil until the onion is translucent. Add 2 teaspoons smoked paprika and 2 tablespoons chopped jarred jalapenos. Stir into the macaroni and cheese, then serve.

Green Goddess

Cut 1 bunch of asparagus into 1-inch pieces. Cook in a skillet over medium-high in 1 tablespoon butter until just tender. Add to the macaroni and cheese along with 1/4 cup each chopped fresh chives, tarragon and basil, the zest of 1 lemon, and an additional tablespoon of Dijon mustard. Mix well, then serve.