Here's a great way to lighten up mac and cheese a little bit, while improving flavor and giving it a little extra tang: buttermilk. Even the very low fat buttermilk has a thick, creamy texture, so you get a nice sauce without having to resort to a lot of whole milk or cream. Maybe not so great for drinking (people do that, really?), but great in this application: because I'm sure as heck not gonna skimp on the cheese!
Buttermilk Macaroni and Cheese
8 oz. macaroni or other shape (I used campanelle)
2 TB butter
2 TB all-purpose flour
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1/8 tsp ground cayenne red pepper
1/8 tsp ground chipotle pepper (optional)
2 cups medium to sharp cheddar (I like sharp!), shredded
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
Get pasta going, and undercook pasta by 1 minute. If it's done before the sauce, coat lightly with oil to prevent it from sticking.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter in buttermilk and whole milk. Whisk in flour and spices, and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Turn off heat and add the cheeses, stirring until melted.
Add pasta to sauce. Put into 8x8 or 9x9 pan, and top with panko. Bake at 400 for 15 minutes, or until golden brown on top (broil if necessary). Serves 4. So simple and delicious!