2 cups elbow macaroni uncooked
2¾ cups 2 percent milk, divided
1 tablespoon butter
½ cup processed cheese product (such as Velvetta), cubed
½ cup grated cheese of choice (i.e. sharp cheddar or Monterey Jack)
1 teaspoon salt
6 slices bacon crumbled
10 round butter crackers (such as Ritz), slightly crushed
1-2 Roma tomatoes, diced
2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
Add macaroni, 2½ cups milk and butter to a large saucepan and simmer on low to medium heat, stirring frequently, 10-15 minutes or until pasta is al dente. If milk starts to evaporate or absorb before pasta is al dente, turn heat to low and add ¼ cup more milk.
When milk is mostly absorbed but some residual milk remains, add cheeses and salt. Stir to combine until cheese is completely melted. (Add a splash of milk, a couple tablespoons at a time, if a creamier consistency is desired.) Remove from heat, salt and pepper to taste.
Transfer mac and cheese into a nice casserole dish. Top with crumbled bacon, diced tomatoes, crushed crackers and freshly chopped parsley.
Cook's note: For an even quicker meal, try Creamette 3-minute elbow macaroni and reduce simmering time to 8 minutes for al dente.