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sparkle kitchen: mac and cheese

In “Hera,” Part Ten of Light of Olympus: (How to Be Super, Book 2), Dante travels back to Austin after a stressful trip to Marfa. While the trip was supposed to be a vacation, it ended up being anything but, as Dante worried about “the Old Ones,” Pan, and his grandfather's illness.

When Dante finally arrives home, he's relieved to see his mother again. She's made his favorite three cheese mac and cheese, and the warm, buttery goodness envelopes him with feelings of comfort and safety, as he thinks about what will happen next.

If there was a poster child for comfort food, it would be homemade macaroni and cheese. It's not fancy, but I think, for may of us, it harkens back to the same feelings Dante has in this story—comfort and safety and a loving parent taking care of us.


This recipe is written for a basic cheddar mac and cheese, but you could easily sub in your favorite mixtures of cheeses to make the flavors more complex. And if you've had bad luck with homemade cheese sauce in the past, this recipe is definitely for you! It comes together like magic before your eyes. Enjoy!

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Homemade Mac and Cheese

Ingredients

1 pound curly pasta

5 tablespoons butter, divided

3 tablespoons flour

1 cup milk

2 cups shredded cheese, divided

1 tablespoon dijon mustard

1 teaspoon salt

hot sauce, to taste

¼ cup seasoned breadcrumbs


Directions

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Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large pot of salted, boiling water, cook the pasta according to package directions.

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In a medium sauce pan, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter. Add the flour, whisking continuously until the mixture forms a paste, then add the milk and continue to whisk. Bring the milk to a boil, and when it starts to thicken just a little, add 1 ½ cups of the shredded cheese.
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Continue to whisk until the mixture comes together as a sauce. Remove the sauce pan from the heat.

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Once the pasta is cooked, drain it, saving about ¼ cup of the cooking liquid. Toss the hot pasta with the cooking liquid, cheese sauce, remaining butter, mustard, salt, and a generous squirt of hot sauce (or more, if you like more heat).

mac and cheese 4 |www.sparklestories.com| lights of olympus Pour the pasta into a baking dish. (Size isn't critical—a smaller dish will yield thick slabs of creamy mac and cheese, while a bit larger dish will yield mac and cheese with a crispy top.) Then, sprinkle the breadcrumbs and remaining cheese on top.

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Pop the whole dish into the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese on top is brown and bubbly. This is best served right away, but if you need to reheat it add a few glugs of milk before you do to keep the cheese sauce nice and smooth.


If you enjoyed this recipe, here are a few more you might try:


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About the Author

Meryl Carver-Allmond
Sparkle Kitchen & Craft Blogger

The Sparkle Kitchen Series is created by Meryl Carver-Allmond.

Meryl lives in a hundred year old house near the prairie with her sweet husband, two pre-schoolers, one puppy, one gecko, and about ten chickens. While she's been writing since she could pick up a pen, in recent years she's discovered the joy of photography, too. She feels lucky to be able to combine those skills, along with a third passion--showing people that cooking for themselves can be healthy and fun--in her weekly Sparkle Kitchen posts.

When Meryl isn't writing for Sparkle Kitchen, you can find her on her personal blog, My Bit of Earth, where she writes about chickens, babies, knitting, gardening, food, photography, and whatever else tickles her fancy on any given day.


About Lights of Olympus

Light of Olympus is a collection of thrilling stories that continue Dante Lee’s adventure with the Violet Crown — and introduces you to the full circle of modern day Olympians. Dante is charged with the task of uniting the gods for a single purpose: to prepare for battle with The Old Ones. In this collection Dante deepens his understanding of the Four Step Protocol for How to Be Super, and also learns how to make protective shields, track people by their “true scent,” and discern truth from lies by how he feels. He meets Iris, the messenger goddess, who remembers everything — even things long before she was born. He meets Pan, a wild hitchhiking hotel owner who delivers a haunting message. He also learns about The Old Ones, the Map of Everything, and finds out his parents and grandparents knew a lot more than he first thought!