July 30, 2013 at 1:00 am

Let's talk food: Simple mac & cheese sauce

It may not look like much, but this simple, thick cheese sauce for pasta pleased both the 13-month-old and the pickier husband. Best of all, it took about five minutes. (Maureen Tisdale/The Detroit News)

After I had our son, I came back to work at The Detroit News four days a week as the food editor. What a privilege — to be a stay-at-home mom one day a week (the hardest working day, by far) — and the rest of the workweek, to get to oversee coverage of my passion, food.

Wednesdays are my day at home with my son, and it's when I do a fair amount of food stuffs.

Last week, that meant fumbling my way toward a simple homemade mac & cheese sauce. I find where I’m fine with the neon yellow versions everyone loves for, say, my husband, when it comes to our 13-month-old, I want more control over the ingredients. Additionally, with my reduced work hours and the added cost of daycare, trimming our grocery costs has become the Holy Grail. Finally, our son obviously doesn’t eat much, and it’s less wasteful to make smaller servings than to fix a whole packet of something.

I found some great tips online, but when I tried to print them out, my husband’s laptop and his supposedly wireless printer got in a fight. So with a baby tugging at my pantleg and knowing mac & cheese sauce is more a method than a recipe, I decided to wing it. The baby was happily digging his fingers into the results in minutes.

Even this small portion made enough for three small servings for our son and had just enough left over to use on rice with some kielbasa to make my husband a hearty dinner. My husband said it was a wow, and the baby gobbled it up.

Two happy menfolk out of five minutes’ work — you’ll never find me winning a James Beard award, but that’s my kind of cooking win.

Cheese Sauce for Pasta

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
Milk, eyeballed
1 oz shredded cheese (I used a pre-mixed mix of Colby Jack)
Garlic salt

I melted the butter, stirred in the flour for a couple minutes, then streamed in milk to loosen it up (I am guessing I used about 3-4 ounces of milk, which made a really thick sauce — I’d probably use a little more milk next time). I let that bubble just a second, then took it off the heat and stirred the cheese in until it melted. I seasoned liberally with garlic salt. Voila!

Do you have a simple or favorite mac & cheese recipe? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below. You need a Facebook account to add comments, but they’re free and easy to sign up for, which is how I managed to have one for years and ignore it except for this sort of thing. I’ll be keeping an eye out the next few days to respond to any great comments or questions you post. You can also follow me on Twitter @reentiz. Join the discussion!