Macaroni cheese recipe

Growing up in our house focused heavily around meal times and when mum replied to the daily, ‘What’s for tea, mum?’ with ‘Macaroni Cheese’ I’m sure the whole street could hear the cheers that went up. It was the 80’s and pasta was already a family favourite, I can remember sitting at the table in the kitchen waiting for mum to finish grilling the top to a crispy cheesy for us and wishing she would hurry up.

Once on the table I would happily squirt some tomato ketchup on top because that’s what we did back then. If any Italians are reading this I can feel your shock and only after spending years in your country and learning how you cook and eat can I see now the error of my ways, however, it was so good!

Funnily enough when I lived in Italy no one had heard of Macaroni Cheese, they had Pasta ai Quattro Formaggi which everyone agreed was most likely where our Macaroni Cheese came from. A quick check on Wikipedia has it that Macaroni Cheese is an English dish made of short pasta and a cheese sauce.

I wanted to make it for the girls and see if they had the same reaction to me all those years ago. They did. The success of macaroni cheese continues!

If you are introducing no meat nights into the family diet then this one is very popular and will fill them up. It’s a very simple recipe that requires baking in the oven and of course, it can be pimped in so many ways. You could add fried bacon lardons, or a mixture of vegetables cut up small.

I served it up in it’s 1980’s glory but I did not offer the squirt of ketchup on top even if dad and I did have a good sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper though ;)

Macaroni Cheese | a family favourite revisited
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Cook time
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A quick and easy pasta to make that is perfect for lunches or evening meals.
Recipe type: pasta
Cuisine: British
Serves: 4
  • 300g macaroni
  • 25g butter
  • 25g plain flour
  • 600 full fat milk
  • 1 tbsp English mustard (optional)
  • 225g Cheddar cheese grated
  1. Heat the oven to 200C Gas mark 6
  2. Cook the pasta in boiling salted water.
  3. Melt 25g of the butter in a pan and add the flour, stir for 1 minute. Gradually add the milk whisk gently to remove any lumps that may form.
  4. Cook over a medium heat stirring continuously until thickened, season with salt and pepper. Stir in the mustard if using and two thirds of the grated Cheddar cheese, mix well together.
  5. Add the pasta and combine well, pour into a baking dish and scatter the remaining cheese on top.
  6. Bake for about 30 minutes until golden
  7. Spice it up with chopped chilli peppers added to the mix.
  8. Mix up the cheeses and go for a quattro (4) formaggi (cheese)
Please also see my Macaroni cheese with bacon and chives recipe

macaroni cheese recipe

spaghetti speck and radicchio

Many of you will know I had my daughter and granddaughter over from Italy last week and in their suitcases they brought over some treasures for me, all in the way of good food that I miss over here.

The first product is Speck a juniper flavoured ham originally from Tyrol, it is used in panini, antipasti – served with gherkins and other salamis. It’s also used in risottos and canederli – recipe to follow soon.

The second product is some fresh radicchio, you can find it over here but not as widely and I have only seen it here in the pre prepared salad bags and not nearly enough quantity for me to do anything with. Radicchio is a white veined red leafed chicory, it has a bitter, spicy taste and is delicious in salads or grilled as a side.

I have used the two for a pasta speck e radicchio, ideally I would have used tagliolini but they’re hard to come by in my neck of the woods too so I used spaghetti as personally I think this recipe is better on a long pasta.

[yumprint-recipe id=’16’]

10 recipes for Bolognese sauceNot everyone has hours to stand over a saucepan stirring a sauce to perfection these days and every Italian world over will tell you a ‘buon ragu‘ a good Bolognese sauce is made slowly and lovingly over a low heat for a couple of hours to allow all the flavours to mix and come together.

But we haven’t all got that time have we? So here is an equally delicious Bolognese sauce recipe that is simple, leaving very little washing up and makes enough to freeze more for a future meal

Bolognese Sauce for pasta

Ingredients – makes 1.5 litres

1 onion chopped finely
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp olive oil
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 carrot, grated
1 stock cube + 150 ml water
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp mixed herbs
500g mince
salt and pepper
1.5 litre (3 pint) casserole dish, pyrex dish.


1. Place the onion, garlic and oil in a glass dish, place on base of oven and cook on MEDIUM MICROWAVE for 3 minutes.

2. Place all other ingredients in the dish, stir well, cover with lid or clingfilm and cook on HIGH MICROWAVE for 10 minutes.

bolognese sauce microwave recipe

3. Remove from microwave, uncover and stir breaking up the large pieces of meat in the sauce.

bolognese sauce microwave recipe

4. Re-cover place in the microwave and cook on MEDIUM MICROWAVE for 15 – 20 minutes

bolognese sauce for pasta microwave recipe

Serve with pasta and sprinkled Parmesan cheese or other uses include

1. Lasagna Click to find a recipe on how to make lasagna

2. Jacket potato topping – Bake 1 potato in microwave on high micro for 7-8 mins

3. Stuffed peppers – slice a pepper in half, cut off the stalk, cut out the seeds and insides and fill with Bolognese sauce. Cook in the oven at 180C for 20 – 30 minutes until soft and cooked through.

4. Cottage pie – Here is a beef and barley cottage pie recipe I made earlier but use your Bolognese sauce and cover with mashed potato and follow the recipe for oven temperatures and timings

5. Chilli con carne – Add a 400g can of kidney beans, 1 – 2 tsps chilli powder and 1 diced pepper with the onion garlic and oil at the beginning. Serve with rice

6. Cannelloni substitute the ricotta and spinach in the recipe here for Bolognese sauce, once filled, cover the cannelloni with white sauce, top with grated parmesan and cook as in recipe

7. Minced beef pie – Following the popular Peppered steak recipe make individual pies in the pie maker or line a pie dish with shortcrust pastry (ready to roll) Prick and bake blind for 15 mins at 180C, fill with Bolognese sauce and cover with pastry before returning to the oven and baking until the pastry is crisp and golden.

8. Enchiladas – add 2 tsps chilli pepper sauce to the Bolognese sauce and spoon into the enchilada, wrap over and place in an oven proof dish. Top with grated cheese and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Serve with lettuce and sour cream.

9. Soup – add beef stock to the Bolognese until a soup consistency is obtained, serve with crusty ciabatta bread.

10. Pasticcio – cook some short pasta, drain and add the Bolognese sauce, stir well and place in a buttered pyrex dish. Grate some cheese and dot some mozzarella over the top and bake for about 30 minutes in the oven at 180C cut into portions and serve with salad

11. Pancakes – Make your own or buy ready bought, add a spoonful of hot Bolognese sauce to the side and wrap, sprinkle with cheese and serve

12. Cobbler – Good old fashion savoury scones, find the recipe in the link, Place your Bolognese sauce in an oven proof dish and add the scones to the top bake in the oven until the scones are risen and fluffy. They should double in size.

spaghetti with musselsHere is a recipe that is very easy, quick and delicious, just how we like them here in Mari’s world! It’s for lovers of seafood and in particular mussels, it’s not expensive and it’s impressive too, ideal for a quiet night in or for entertaining.

Serve with a crisp cold white wine

Spaghetti with mussels


1 tray of fresh mussels (I found mine in Asda)
1 clove of garlic
Extra virgin olive oil
Flat leaf parsley – chopped
1 glass of wine – optional but nice
Pepper (or hot chilli pepper if you want a kick!)
Spaghetti (I used linguine a flatter kind of spaghetti)


I bought a tray of mussels that were already cleaned and had had their shells removed. If you’re using shelled mussels they will need cleaning properly.

Asda mussels

Put on a large pan of water, add about a dessert spoon of rock salt ‘un pugno’ and bring to the boil. Add the spaghetti or linguine and cook until al dente.

un pugno di sale

In a frying pan, heat the oil and add the chopped garlic to fry lightly, add the mussels and keep on a low heat, add a glass of wine and allow the liquid to evaporate but keeping the mussels ‘wet’. Add a ladle of salted water from your spaghetti pan if necessary.

spaghetti with mussels

Add the chopped parsley at the end so as not to overcook it.

spaghetti and mussels cooking

Drain the pasta from the pan and add it to the mussels, toss the lot if you’re clever enough (I’m not) or stir with a wooden spoon to amalgamate well. Grind some fresh pepper over the top or if you want a little heat to your mussels add some hot chilli flakes and mix well.

Spaghetti with mussels

Serve with fresh bread to be broken at the table and to soak up the juice

spaghetti with mussels



This recipe can also be made ‘al rosso’ by adding a tin of chopped tomatoes to the fried garlic