I love family dinners. I believe family dinners are an important part of keeping our families connected. It is a time to gather and visit with each other….in a depth we just can’t get on facebook. We get to hear about the latest trip, share funny stories, tease each other with abandon, get a little advice (needed or not), and encourage those in need of a kind word. Then, we have wrestling boys, squealing little girls, game playing, and the constant hum of conversation and the dishwasher. I can’t imagine life without a family dinner. It’s crowded, loud, and messy. It’s learning how to open a champagne bottle, learning how to make a pie crust, bringing a covered dish made from a new recipe, and trying new things. I am making an effort to have a family dinner at least one time each month. I think I can do it.
Here are some facts about my local family. The family members, who are here in the Kansas City area, are not all located geographically close and convenient to each other. The Kansas City area is very spread out. More than half of us are either attending school or teaching school……or both! Those who are employed, are working over forty hours a week. The age span is four to eighty-five. We total sixteen and represent seven family units. We make our own fun. Now, what’s for dinner?
The latest dinner was a request by the birthday boy. He wanted meat loaf. Since it was August and he is pretty much new to the family (wedding next June), I had to explain The Meat Loaf Rule. I’m a softy, I admit it, and I gave in and made meat loaf. The crowd went wild, cheers were heard throughout the land. I had become a food hero. It seems the ENTIRE family was ready for The Meat Loaf Rule to be lifted. Even if it was temporary.
Along with meat loaf, I served mac and cheese. Okay, I know everyone says they make the best mac and cheese in the world. Your grandma, my mom, your mom, my grandma. I think I have them all beat. This is good and it’s easy. It’s best eaten right away. No need to bake it or put it in the crock pot. Just make it and serve it. In fact, I had made it the day before and then put it in the crock pot the day of the dinner. Good as it was, it just didn’t taste as good as it did the day it was made.
Secret ingredient? Why, yes there is. A few slices of sandwich cheese. That sliced cheese that comes individually wrapped. I share all of my cooking secrets with you, I have nothing to hide. Another secret ingredient? Why, yes there is. Cavatappi pasta. Here is a picture of the pasta before it is cooked. It is curly and substantial. The thick, cheesy sauce sticks to the pasta. Trust me on this one. Of course, you can use any kind of pasta you want. You are the cook and the cook calls the shots.
Gravy Company Mac and Cheese
16 oz. bag of Cavatappi pasta
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
3 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
5 slices of sandwich cheese
1 1/2 cups half and half or a mixture of half and half and milk, whatever you like
Salt and pepper to taste. That means taste it first.
In a large pot, cook the pasta in salted water according to the directions on the package.
When done, drain and return to the pot. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir on med/lo heat until it is creamy and all the cheese has melted. You can add more of any of the ingredients if you want. If it is too dry, add more milk or half and half. If it needs to be cheesier, add more shredded cheese or sandwich cheese. I think you see where I’m going with this.
This served 13 people with about 4 servings of leftovers. Leftovers are a good thing.
Have a family dinner!