Croissant Bread Pudding With Chocolate Chips

I recently watched an old episode of Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello, and he made a luscious looking bread pudding.  I made a few changes to his recipe, and I really loved the results.  What is remarkable about this recipe is that it is so easy to make. Below is my version of his recipe.

  • 12 plain croissants (I bought mine at Costco) (let sit unwrapped for a few hours before you use them)
  • about 15 oz. of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 stick butter
  • 7 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
  • 1 cup sugar

Directions:

Generously grease a large 10 by 13 pan- sides and bottom- with butter.  Tear croissants into 1 inch pieces- maybe about 4 or 5 pieces for each croissant.  Put all pieces in prepared dish.  Then sprinkle the chips all over.  Toss lightly with your hands or move the some of the top pieces so that some of the chips slip through. 

Prepare the custard by melted the stick of butter in the microwave in a mixing bowl large enough to eventually fit all the custard ingredients.  Let cool a few minutes or stick in the fridge to cool for about 5 minutes.  Then, add the sugar and mix.  Add the cream, and then the eggs, vanilla, and cinnamon.  Whisk till  blended well. 

Ladle the custard mixture over the croissants and chocolate chips.  Push the croissants down lightly with your hands to submerge as best as possible in the custard.  Cover with aluminum foil.  Refrigerate until ready to bake. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake (still covered in foil) in center of oven for about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes.   Uncover and let cool for a few minutes and serve with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. 

***If you are baking this at home and then bringing it with you, put it on a half sheet pan after it comes out of the oven, keep it covered with the foil until you serve it. 

Judy’s Healthier Pasta with Meatballs and Marinara Sauce

I have been making my homemade meat sauce with meatballs  for the last 3o years, and it remains a family favorite.  But recently, my children have been requesting that I make marinara sauce with meatballs as a lighter and healthier alternative.  So my challenge was to make sure my meatballs would be just as delicious even though they wouldn’t be cooking in my meat sauce.  Well, I did it!  My inspiration to develop the recipe came from my daughter Randi, who thought her baby, Noah, would love the meatballs.  Randi and her husband Dan have been vegetarians for the last 10 years, but have started eating meat again, but they still don’t want a meat overload.  So the perfect compromise is a great marinara sauce with my incredible meatballs.  As a bonus to health, I found fabulous organic ground beef at Costco.  It comes in vacuum sealed 1 pound packages which can be easily frozen, and easily defrosted.  The meat was absolutely beautiful, and had the freshest smell when  I opened it.  What a find!  This is a delicious and economical recipe that you are sure to enjoy.

for the meatballs:

3 pounds organic chopped meat (or ground turkey)

3  extra large eggs

about 3/4 cup ketchup

about 3/4 cup plain  bread crumbs ( I once substituted about 1/4 cup of organic oats and 2 tablespoons wheat germ for some of the bread crumbs, and the meatballs were just as good as when I use all breadcrumbs.)

kosher salt, garlic powder, and ground pepper to taste

Mix with clean hands gently; do not overmix.

Form into meatballs with a diameter of about 1 1/2 inches.

In a very large nonstick frying pan, put a drop of canola or olive oil.  Heat, then put meatballs in over low-medium flame, and brown for just a few minutes over a medium heat.  Turn meatballs and then COVER pan.  You do not want to really brown them all over, because they can become tough.  It is almost as if you are steaming them.  Take cover off a few times and turn meatballs.  This should be a gentle process.  Discard fat as you cook meatballs.  When meatballs seem pretty cooked, transfer them with slotted spoon into your pot of marinara sauce being careful to drain as much fat as possible before putting meatballs in sauce.  The meatballs don’t have to be fully cooked when they go in the sauce, because they will finish cooking in the sauce.  Simmer the meatballs in the marinara sauce over a low heat for at least another hour with cover on over a very low flame.  Recipe for marinara sauce is below.

for the marinara sauce:

about 1/3 cup olive oil

4 or 5 28 oz cans of crushed tomatoes (best brand is Sclafani- found at Pathmark on Route 1 in Edison and Top Tomato)

1 small can tomato paste

6-8  garlic cloves, crushed or minced

2 medium or 1 large onion, chopped very fine (I use the metal blade of the food processor and I pulse the onion until it is the consistency of chunky apple sauce)

kosher salt, freshly cracked pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes to taste

1 tablespoon fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or dried herbes de provence

1 teaspoon of sugar, if you like

Pour about 1/3 cup of olive oil in a very large saucepan.  Add crushed red pepper flakes to taste (I use about 1/2 teaspoon.  Then saute the onion till translucent, add the chopped or crushed garlic cloves, and saute with the onion till soft.  Add all  the tomato product, about 8 – 12 oz. of water if you think the sauce is too thick, about 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and some freshly cracked pepper to taste.  Cover and simmer over low flame mixing every 10 or 15 minutes.

After the marinara has been cooking for about 45 minutes, add the meatballs which you have prepared and par-cooked as instructed above.  Then simmer meatballs in sauce over lowest flame for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours with cover on.

Add more seasonings as needed.  Serve over pasta of your choice.  Or you can let the sauce cool and freeze it in quart containers with the meatballs.

Amazing Homemade Pizzas

I was really in the mood to make some delicious pizza last weekend.  I remembered that my son Danny had eaten pizza in New York City a few months ago that he had gone nuts for.  I wanted to recreate that pizza for Danny.  I had so much fun experimenting with making the pizzas, and the results were amazing!  First, I used half the recipe for my homemade pizza dough to make one large pie.  The pie was half plain, and half mushroom.  The second pie I made was specifically for my son Danny, to recreate the pie he had in NY.   For that pie, I topped it with some caramalized onions, and then with some shredded romano cheese.  Then I made some homemade spinach pesto, which Danny drizzed over some of his pizza.  I can’t tell how delicious those pies were!  Few pizzarias make pizza that taste this good!

Pizza Dough  (This dough recipe makes 2 large pizzas, but the following instructions are meant to be enough for only 1 pizza.)  For the dough recipe, type in calzone above in the search, and the recipe for the pizza dough will come up.

for the mushroom pizza:  Heat saute pan.  Put a little olive oil in a saute pan to coat. Put sliced mushrooms (about 8-10 oz.)  in hot oil.  Sprinkle with kosher salt, a few cracks of black pepper, and a light sprinkling of red pepper flakes.  Let sit undisturbed till mushrooms brown on bottom.  Turn and cook until nicely browned.  If you have fresh garlic on hand, mince or chop one or two cloves and throw into pan at this point.  Keep moving garlic around so it doesn’t burn.  Garlic just needs to saute for a minute to become translucent and be flavorful.  Although, I didn’t do this, you might want to add a sprinkling of either fresh thyme leaves (leaves from one sprig), or a sprinkling of dry oregano.  Saute another minute or so. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Place sheet of parchment paper on large, heavy duty cookie sheet or half sheet pan. Sprinkle parchment paper with yellow cornmeal (I use Quaker).  Then, roll dough out on a lightly floured clean counter, or lightly floured piece of waxed paper or parchment paper to 1/4 inch thickness into either a large circle or rectangle.  Once dough is rolled out, lift the dough with your hands and transfer it to parchment on cookie sheet.  Then spoon about 1 cup of marinara sauce over dough.  Sprinkle a very light sprinkling of red pepper flakes over sauce (if you like the heat).  Then sprinkle about 8 oz. of coursely grated or thinly sliced whole milk (not fresh) mozzarella cheese evenly over pizza.  Place mushrooms evenly over pizza.  Sprinkle very lightly with dried oregano.  Bake on middle rack in oven for about 15-18 minutes until the underside of the dough is lightly browned.  Then change the setting on the oven to broil, and cook for about 3 more minutes until the cheese becomes bubbly, brown, and beautiful!

for the caramelized onion and romano pizza:

Thinly slice about 4 medium-large onions.  Pour about 1/4 cup olive oil into a large saute pan.  Get it hot over a medium flame.  Add the sliced onions.  Sprinkle them with kosher salt and some freshly ground black pepper.  Saute for about 30-40 minutes over a medium flame, turning every so often.  The idea is not to burn the onions, but to brown them.  This takes a little while, so be patient. Set pan aside.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Place a sheet of parchment paper over a large heavy duty cookie sheet or sheet pan.  Then sprinkle some yellow cornmeal (I use Quaker) on the parchment paper.   Roll dough out on lightly floured clean counter or sheet of waxed or parchment paper to about 1/4 inch thickness, either into a large circle or a large rectangle.  Spoon about 1 cup marinara sauce over the dough.  Distribute onions evenly over top of sauce.  Sprinkle about 4 garlic cloves, minced on top.  Then sprinkle about 4 oz. of shredded, not grated, romano cheese (which I use because romano cheese has no lactose in it), or shredded parmesan cheese over top of pizza.  Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt,  red pepper flakes if you like a little heat, a little coarse black pepper,  and sprinkle very lightly with dried oregano.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Bake in the oven on middle rack for about 15 minutes until the bottom of the dough is lightly browned.  If pizza is browning too quickly, lower the oven temperature to 450 degrees.  Serve with pesto on the side, and spoon a little on if your wish.

Slice, serve, and enjoy!

Easiest Baked Ziti

This is a recipe that is so easy to make and is just delicious.  Everyone loves it, kids and adults.  If you are having people over for dinner, for a party, or even a barbecue, the addition of this dish will always be appreciated!  

  • 1 pound of ziti or penne pasta
  • 1 pound of grated mozzarella cheese, part-skim or whole milk
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • 14-16 oz. ricotta cheese, part-skim or whole milk
  • 1 egg
  • kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, dried oregano, and red pepper flakes to taste
  • about 40 oz. of marinara sauce, either jarred or homemade marinara sauce

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Start boiling pasta in large pot of salted boiling water according to package directions for al dente; drain pasta.  While you are cooking the pasta, mix ricotta cheese in a bowl the egg, some salt, pepper, red pepper flakes to taste, and oregano (optional).  Pour about 1/2 cup of sauce on bottom of 9 x 13 oval or rectangular baking dish.  Spread about 1/3 of noodles on top.  With you clean hands, drop dollops of ricotta mixture over noodles (to use about 1/3 of ricotta).  Sprinkle about 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese over, and sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of the Parmesan or Romano cheese.  Then with a large spoon, drizzle marinara sauce over, to use about 1/3 of the remaining sauce.  Repeat with 1/3 of noodles, 1/3 of ricotta, 1/3 of mozzarella, a little Parmesan or Romano, 1/3 of sauce.  Repeat with last 1/3 of noodles, last 1/3 of ricotta, remaining sauce, and then top off with remaining mozzarella.

Cover loosely with foil and bake for about 40 minutes.  When starting to be bubbly around the edges, uncover dish, and place under broiler – at  least 8 inches from broiler element.  Watch carefully so as not to burn, but you are looking for the cheese to be browned nicely all over the top.  Serve immediately.   

Note: You can make this up to 2 days  in advance up  and refrigerate until you are ready to bake.  You will need to add about 1/2  to the cooking time if you are baking right out of the fridge. 

Easiest, Rich, Dark Chocolate Cupcakes With Vanilla Frosting

This Recipe Uses A Mix, But No One Will Ever Know! 

These cupcakes taste 100% homemade even though you are using a mix.  I made these cupcakes to bring to a barbecue when my daughter Randi first became engaged.  She and her friends loved these.  I make them now mostly for me because I love chocolate, and I really need to eat something chocolate at night while I’m watching TV with my son Danny.  When I make these cupcakes, I freeze them individually in some plastic wrap, and then put them in ziploc freezer bags.  (I deliver a bag of them to Randi, and then we get to keep the rest.)  Then, I can just take out one to eat at night, and I know that at least the portion isn’t huge.  If I just made this as a sheet cake and left it out on the counter, we would probably finish it in one day.

for the cupcakes:

  • 1 box Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Fudge cake mix
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 extra large eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola, corn, or light olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two 12 cup muffin pans with paper or foil liners.  In large bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, blend cake mix, cocoa, buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla on low speed for a minute just to blend.  Scrape down sides of bowl, increase speed to medium and beat 2-3 more minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Spoon large spoonfuls into muffin cups.  The batter should come up about 2/3 of the height of the muffin cup.  

Bake in the center of the oven about 18 to 20 minutes until the tops of the cupcakes look dry and a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool on wire racks.

for the frosting:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter or Fleischmann’s margarine, at room temperature
  • 1 box (1 pound) confectioners sugar, sifted to remove any lumps
  • 6 tablespoons of whole milk (may use half and half or light cream)
  • 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt (only necessary if you are using unsalted butter or margarine)

Put room temperature butter in the large bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment.  Cream for 1 minute.  Pour in sugar, salt, milk, vanilla.  Mix on low speed just to blend.  Then mix on medium speed until frosting becomes creamy and smooth.  Frost cooled cupcakes immediately.   

I recommend keeping the leftover cupcakes covered individually with plastic wrap in the refrigerator or freezer .  When you want to eat one, just take one out and let it come to room temperature before you eat it.

Note:  You may bake this in a 9 x 13 inch baking pan to make a sheet cake.  Grease the sides and bottom well with butter or margarine.  Bake cake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool on wire rack.  When cake is cool, make vanilla frosting and spread it on cake with a rubber spatula, a knife or an offset spatula.  Cover with plastic wrap.  Keep the leftover cake covered in the refrigerator.

Shirley’s Delicious Garlic Bread

 Try This Soft and Garlicky On The Inside And Crunchy On The Outside Garlic Bread!

My mother made this garlic bread to go with one of her Tuesday or Thursday night dinner specials, spaghetti with meat sauce.  Although my mother got the recipe for the meat sauce from her sister-in-law (and my aunt), Sally Hindes, my mother used her own recipe for garlic bread rather than making my Aunt Sally’s amazing garlic toast recipe.  We all loved my mother’s garlic bread in our house, but I know my father loved it best.  In fact, I think the reason my father enjoyed the spaghetti dinner in the first place was because of how much he adored the garlic bread.  My father ate this meal with his fork in one hand and a piece of garlic bread in the other.  When there was no more bread left, he was done eating.  How he loved his bread, and in this case his garlic bread!  I promise that if you try this recipe for garlic bread, your days of buying Pepperidge Farm Frozen Garlic Bread will be over!

  • 1 loaf of Italian bread
  • one stick of Fleischmann’s margarine or 1 stick of butter at room temperature
  • good garlic powder (I use McKormick)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

Slice the bread once horizontally all the way through so that you have 2 halves.  Then spread a good amount of margarine or butter on each cut side of the bread.  Then sprinkle each side heavily with garlic powder.  Put the bread back together again.  Wrap the bread up in heavy-duty aluminum foil.  Make sure that you use a big enough piece of foil.  Place the bread right in the center of the foil.  Then bring up the foil on each side of the bread so that you can close the foil at the top of the bread.  This way, none of the margarine or butter can leak out of the aluminum foil package as it is baking.  Bake about 30-45 minutes until the bread is starting to get crunchy on the bottom. (I always check the bread after about 25 minutes to see if it is getting too brown.)  When it is done, take it out of the aluminum foil, and cut slices, and serve.

Variation for cheesy mozzarella garlic bread: 

After garlic bread has been cooking for about 30 minutes, take it out of the oven.  Unwrap it from the foil.  Then lay both sides cut side up on a half sheet pan or a cookie sheet that you have covered with foil.  Then sprinkle grated mozzarella cheese over the tops.  Use about 1- 8 oz. bag of grated whole milk mozzarella altogether- 4 oz. on each side.  Put back in the oven on a middle rack, and put the oven on broil.  Open the oven door after about 5 minutes.  What you want is to see the mozzarella cheese browning in little spots and bubbling.  It is done when it has those little brown spots all over.  Watch carefully to make sure the cheese doesn’t start to  burn.  Take out and serve when the cheese is browned and bubbly after about 5-7 minutes.

Shirley’s Easy Hot Dog and Baked Beans Casserole

Cook this easy and delicious hot dog and beans casserole for your next barbecue!

My mother got this recipe from my Aunt Sally.  My Aunt Sally made this every year for her Mother’s Day barbecue.  My mother started the tradition of including this recipe every year for our annual Father’s Day Barbecue when I was growing up.  Father’s Day was the one day of the year when we had both my mother’s and my father’s sides of the family over.  It was a wonderful event even though it was a lot of work.  The guest list included my father’s wonderful family- my Grandma Fried, my Uncle Larry, my Aunt Florence, and my three cousins, Karen, David, and Debbie.  Then we had my mother’s equally wonderful family- my Grandma and Grandpa Hindes, my Uncle Nat, my Aunt Sally, and my three cousins, Paul, Bobby, and Janie.  The reason the occasion was so wonderful and so meaningful for me and for my brother Kenny was because it honored my father, Murray Fried, who was absolutely the best father in the entire world! 

Our menu on Father’s Day was pretty simple.  We had vegetables and dip, chopped liver with party rye, whitefish salad, barbecued london broil (little rolls from Margie’s Cake Box for steak sandwiches), sauteed mushrooms and onions, hamburgers and hot dogs, french fries, potato salad and coleslaw, sliced Jersey tomatoes, sliced red onions, sliced pickles, this hot dog and baked beans casserole, homemade blueberry pies with vanilla ice cream, chocolate chip squares, and fresh fruit.   

This casserole was so easy to make, and it was such a crowd pleaser. Everyone always asked if it was on the menu!

  • 12 kosher hot dogs (Hebrew National or Shofar), cut up into 1 inch pieces
  • 4 cans Heinz Vegetarian Baked Beans
  • 4 teaspoons dark brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons Heinz ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all ingredients together; you can do this right in the 9 x 13 baking dish you will be baking and serving this in.  Bake this uncovered for 1 hour or until it is bubbly.  Half way through the cooking time, mix once.  

Note:  You may do all steps except for the cooking 1 or 2 days ahead and keep refrigerated until you are ready to bake it.

Incredible Fudgy Passover or Anytime Brownies

I developed this brownie recipe for Passover because I believed that it was possible to bake Passover brownies that would be just as delicious as regular brownies.  I took one of my regular brownie recipes, and then I just played with it, using Kosher for Passover ingredients, until it was perfect.  This recipe is so beloved by my children, family, and friends, that I actually use it all year round.  These brownies are so delicious that when I serve them for Passover, noone believes they are actually Kosher for Passover brownies.  I love to serve these brownies restaurant style – warm out of the oven with vanilla ice cream and my homemade hot fudge.  Serving them this way transforms an ordinary dessert into a spectacular dessert that everyone loves.

  • 3/4 cup matzo cake meal, sifted (I use Manischewitz)- sift first, then measure
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large or extra large eggs at room temperature
  • 4 ounces or squares of unsweetened chocolate (I use Baker’s or Nestle’s)
  • 1 ounce (1 square) semi-sweet chocolate- or eyeball an ounce of semi-sweet chocolate chips (I use Baker’s or Nestle’s)
  • 2 sticks butter or margarine (if using margarine, I use Fleischmann’s salted margarine, but in recent years, I’ve switched to using butter)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • optional 1/4 teaspoon instant coffee granules (this is absolutely not essential to use, but it does intensify the flavor of the chocolate and I’ve been doing it lately)
  • optional, 1 – 1 1/4 cups roughly chopped walnuts (I usually don’t put nuts in because the kids don’t like them)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the sides and bottom of a 9 x 13 pan with butter or margarine.  Sift the cake flour, and then measure it and set it aside.

In a double boiler or in a saucepan over lowest heat, start to melt the margarine.  Then add the squares of chocolate.  Keep moving the chocolate around so that it doesn’t burn.  When the chocolate and the margarine or butter are totally melted, take them off the heat.  Throw the sugar into the pan, and mix with a rubber spatula to blend.  Crack in the eggs, and mix them in one at a time just until blended. Mix in the vanilla. If you are adding the instant coffee granules, then crush them with your fingers, and add at this time.    Then add the cake flour and the salt, and fold it in with a rubber spatula, just until it is blended.  Add optional nuts.  Do not over-mix.  Spread the batter in prepared pan.  Bake for about 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  The brownies will also feel firm to the touch and will have started to separate from the sides of the pan.  Serve warm immediately, or at room temperature.

Note:  You can prepare the batter, put it in the baking pan, and refrigerate it until you are ready to bake it.  When I bring these to a friend’s or family member’s house, I prepare the batter that day or a day in advance, put it in the prepared cake pan, cover it with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate until I leave my house.   Then I put them in the oven 30 minutes or so before I want to serve them.  This way, I can serve them warm out of the oven with some vanilla ice cream and my homemade hot fudge.

Judy’s BEST Creamy and Delicious Macaroni and Cheese Casserole

Your Family Will Thank You Once You Learn To Make This Creamy And Delicious Macaroni And Cheese!

When my children were little, I needed to come up with the perfect macaroni and cheese recipe. My mother had made macaroni and cheese casserole when I was growing up, and I liked it a lot, but I knew that her recipe was not exactly what I was looking for. If you can picture in your mind the perfect macaroni and cheese, with creamy orange-yellow cheese oozing our of the elbow macaroni noodles, and the cheese on top of the casserole is bubbly and starting to get just a little brown and crusty, then you will be picturing something close to what my ideal recipe for macaroni and cheese is like. So I set out to come up with a perfect recipe for macaroni and cheese. I developed the recipe when my kids were little, and it quickly became a favorite of my children’s and of my father’s. I loved to make this recipe, and then give some of it to my father to take home when my parents left after spending a Friday night with us. My father loved it as a nighttime snack. Even though my kids are older, I still make this regularly, and this year I am adding it to my Thanksgiving menu. Why not? Everyone loves it.

For years I made a single recipe, but then I realized that I should be doubling it. So, the following recipe is actually a double recipe. I make it in a large 9×13 rectangular or oval ceramic or pyrex dish or large square or round casserole. If you make half of the recipe, then halve each ingredient, and bake it in a rectangular or oval 8 x10 or in a round casserole dish.

  • 1 pounds (16 ounces) elbow macaroni
  • 4 tablespoons butter or margarine, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher or regular salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 5 cups whole milk
  • about 2 pounds of thinly, sliced at the deli, good yellow American cheese, (Land o Lakes is the best!)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter the sides and bottom of your baking dish, and set aside.

Start the water boiling in a pot for your noodles. In another saucepan (4 or 5 quart), put your butter or margarine, and melt it over a low flame. Then add the flour, salt and pepper, and whisk it. It will look like a wet paste. Whisk it for a few minutes to cook the flour a bit. Then pour a little of the milk in. Whisk again. Repeat a few times. Eventually, just pour the rest of the milk in. You need to stand at the stove, and continue stirring or whisking the mixture every minute or two with your pan over a medium flame. When the milk mixture has started to thicken just a little, then add all of your cheese except about 3 or 4 ounces (about 8 slices) that you will reserve for the top. At this point start boiling your noodles. Do not overcook the elbows, (If the instuructions say to cook the noodles for 5-8 minutes, I cook them for around 7 minutes).  As soon as the pasta is done, drain it in a colander and set aside. Keep the heat on medium-low under your sauce mixture, and just move that cheese around until it is basically melted into the milk. It should almost completely be one smooth mixture, when it is ready. Then you have a few choices. If you have enough room in the saucepan, pour your noodles in, and mix the sauce into and around the noodles. Then pour it all into your prepared dish. If you don’t have enough room in your saucepan, that’s fine. Just pour your noodles into your prepared baking dish, and pour the sauce right in with the noodles. Use a rubber spatula to smooth the sauce in and around the elbows.

Bake for about 1 hour or a little more until the top is starting to brown, and the edges are starting to look crusty. Then place your remaining slices of cheese on top, and wait until the cheese on top is melted or browned (it’s up to you). Your baking time will vary depending on whether you like the dish creamy and on the looser side or more firm and well done. I like it somewhere in the middle, but I do like the bottom and sides to be browned and crusty. You may take this out of the oven and serve it immediately.

Note: It’s okay to serve it immediately. You won’t have any choice in the matter because everyone will be standing around and dying to dig in! There usually are no leftovers, but if you’re lucky enough to have any, the microwave does a great job of heating them up.

Note:  You can prepare this the night before, and refrigerate it without baking it.  Then take it out of the fridge when you are ready to bake it.  It may take about 15 minutes more to cook if you are baking it straight from the fridge.