Macaroni and Cheese from a box has its place in my diet; it's comforting, it's easy, and it comes in Spiderman shapes.  However, when it comes to taste, texture, and actually knowing what went into what you are eating, you can't beat homemade.

This recipe is similar to the one my mom makes, which she got from the fine folks at America's Test Kitchen. I added basil to mine and baked it in small, individual size ramekins. I was really pleased with the way it turned out-as cheesy and comforting as the classic, with a slight twist on the flavor.

1 cup rotini pasta
water in which to cook said pasta
1 tbsp butter
1 1/2 tbsp flour
1 cup skim milk
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated provalone cheese
4-5 fresh basil leaves
1 slice stale sourdough bread, lightly toasted

First, boil the water in a medium saucepan. Add the pasta and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the pasta and keep it in a separate bowl while you make the sauce in the same saucepan.

To make the sauce, melt the butter over low heat. Add the flour and stir it into the butter until it forms a paste. Tear the basil leaves with your hands into small pieces directly into the pot-this is much easier for me than attempting to chop it.  Add about a tablespoon of milk, and stir until it is smooth. Turn the heat up to high, and gradually add the rest of the milk, stirring with a whisk to make it smooth. Boil for several minutes, until the sauce achieves a slightly creamy consistency. Remove from heat, and add the cheeses, whisking constantly to maintain the smoothness of the sauce. Pour the pasta back into the pot, and stir with a spoon to coat it with the sauce. Pour the pasta in equal amounts into two small ramekins. Tear the toasted bread into small pieces and sprinkle on top of the macaroni. Bake in the broiler for 2-3 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly and the breadcrumbs are browned. Let cool for 5 minutes before eating.

If you are a meat lover, you can easily add small slices of precooked ham or sausage to this dish when you combine the pasta and the cheese sauce.