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When I'm not in the kitchen I write romance novels under the pen name Marina Martindale. So far, each novel has included a scene where my characters enjoy a home cooked meal, and I include the recipe in the back of the book.
In my second novel, The Deception, leading man Alex has just been reunited with Carrie, his long-lost childhood friend. When he comes to her apartment to prepare dinner he makes his mother's macaroni and cheese; their favorite childhood dish.
They say art imitates life, and macaroni and cheese is one of my favorite childhood dishes too. Problem was, I had no family recipe, and, ding, ding, ding, I'd been buying the prepackaged mac and cheese dinners for years. I confess. It was a bad habit I picked up back when I was a starving college student, and it was time to break it. So I compiled different recipes, did test runs and tweaks, and soon came up with a mac and cheese recipe that was absolutely delicious. No wonder Alex and Carrie loved it. You will too.
ALEX'S MACARONI & CHEESE
• 2 cups macaroni, cooked and drained
• 2 1/2 cups milk
• 1 cup sour cream
• 2 1/2 cups grated Mexican cheese blend
• (or 2 1/2 cups cheddar)
• 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
• 4 tablespoons butter, divided
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon dry mustard
• 1/4 teaspoon paprika
• 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 350F and cook pasta in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain. While pasta is cooking whisk milk and sour cream together in a medium-sized mixing bowl and add seasonings. Set aside. Chop two tablespoons of butter into small pieces. Chill in refrigerator until needed. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a small mixing bowl. Add breadcrumbs, blend thoroughly and set aside.
Layer half of the cooked and drained macaroni, butter and cheese into an 8 x 8 inch baking dish. Top with the remaining macaroni, butter and cheese. Pour in the milk mixture and sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top. Bake for approximately 30 to 40 minutes, or until the top is crispy and brown.
If desired, ham or sausage may be added. Low-fat milk, sour cream and cheeses may also be used.