Cooking in the Time of COVID: Grandmas macaroni and cheese


Image by Jada Teague

Devyn Waits, Contributing Writer

Grandma’s Macaroni and Cheese

Prep Time: 15 minutes     Cook Time: 45 minutes      Total Time: 1 hour      Servings: 4-6


  • 8 cups of water
  • 1 16-ounce package of macaroni noodles (can use gluten-free noodles)
  • 1 package of shredded cheddar cheese 
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin powder 
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of pepper
  • 1 15-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 15-ounce can of tomato sauce 
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 stick of butter 
  • 1 tablespoon of salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 350℉.
  2. Pour the water into a pot and place over high heat until boiling.
  3. Add salt and ½ stick of butter to the water.
  4. Pour the noodles into the water and cook for approximately 12-15 minutes or until soft, stirring occasionally.
  5. While noodles are boiling, mince the garlic.
  6. Pour the can of crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, garlic, cumin powder, cumin seeds and pepper into the blender (you can blend the ingredients by hand if you don’t have a blender). Blend until the sauce is mixed well.
  7. Drain the noodles once they’re finished cooking.
  8. Cut the remaining butter into slices and layer with the noodles, cheese and sauce in a baking pan.
  9. Insert toothpicks vertically into the noodles to prevent them from sticking to the aluminum foil that will cover the dish.
  10. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 30 minutes. 

Tips & Tricks: 

  • For a healthier option, substitute the butter that is placed in the water with one tablespoon of olive oil and forego the butter slices that are layered into the noodles, sauce and cheese

Dish History: 

The history of macaroni dates back to 13th century Italy, the country’s earliest macaroni recipe being written in a text called “Liber de Coquina” in Latin. There are two theories as to how macaroni arrived in the Americas. The first theory states that modern-day macaroni evolved from a casserole-type dish called macaroni pudding, which was popular among New England church suppers. The second theory states that Thomas Jefferson took a liking to macaroni while visiting Italy; thus, his daughter, Mary Randolph, began making the dish for her father. Today, macaroni has evolved into a quick and easy-to-make comfort dish in America. 

Connection to Chef: 

Although this is a very common dish, this version has a special Mexican twist to it. The recipe originated from my great-grandma’s neighbor. As a little girl, my grandmother would go over for barbeque and macaroni, and she later asked for the macaroni recipe. My grandma has always made her macaroni and cheese at all big family events and holidays, and it has been a family favorite. She has made it for more than 50 years, and the dish continues to be enjoyed throughout multiple generations as my big family continues to grow.