My son LOVES Mac n Cheese, as do I. I won't buy him the boxed kind any more, but will make "fancy". I vary the recipe, add-ins, and toppings, but when I made it last night, it was fantastic! So, I figured I'd better get it written down.
1Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add pasta, and stir. Cook until about half done, and drain.
2While pasta cooks, mix softened cream cheese and butter in an extra large bowl until smooth. Mix in cream soups, sour cream, milk, and seasonings.
hint: mix dry seasonings together before adding. This will break up the dry mustard which tends to clump.
3incorporate grated cheese and chosen optional mix-ins.
4Fold all of the half-cooked pasta into cheese mixture, along with enough liquid to keep mixture loose. You should be able to pour it smoothly into your baking dish. (Although it shouldn't be too runny, either. You should only have to smooth it out a little into the corners of your pan.)
5Bake at 400 degrees F for about 30 mins, or until hot and bubbly. Remove from oven and sprinkle with panko. Return to oven and broil 5 mins or less, until golden. Keep a close eye to prevent burning.
6Suggested optional mix-ins: add a can of cut green beans or other favorite veggies, including juice and omitting additional liquid. Add chopped cooked meat, such as chicken, pepperoni, or ham. Add chopped fresh spinach or steamed broccoli. Add sauted onions and peppers. Substitute different seasonings. Add green chiles or jalapenos.