• 1 (10-oz) block reduced-fat sharp Cheddar (made w/2% milk)
• 1 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
• 1 tsp onion powder
• ½ tsp dry mustard
• ¼ tsp paprika
• 1 bay leaf (optional)
• ½ tsp kosher salt
• 1/8 tsp black pepper
• 3 to 5 drops hot sauce
• 1 Tbsp cornstarch
• 2 Tbsp trans-fat free reduced-fat soft tub margarine spread
1. Shred the cheese using the large side of a box grater, and set it aside to warm to room temperature. (Having the cheese closer to room temperature helps it melt more easily.)
2. Bring a 6-qt pot of unsalted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and follow the directions on the package for al dente.
3. While the macaroni is cooking, prepare the cheese sauce. In a 3-qt saucepan, combine 2 cups of the milk with the soy sauce, onion powder, dry mustard, paprika, bay leaf, salt, pepper, and hot sauce. Place over medium heat and cook until the mixture comes to a gentle simmer.
4. In a small bowl or cup, mix the cornstarch with the remaining ¼ cup cold milk. Add the cornstarch mixture to the sauce and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then simmer 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. The mixture should thicken slightly.
5. Remove the saucepan from the heat, discard the bay leaf, and add the shredded cheese. Continue stirring until the cheese is completely melted and no lumps remain.
6. Add the margarine spread to the cheese sauce and stir until it is completely melted and combined.
7. Drain the macaroni (do not rinse), and return it to the 6-qt pot.
8. Pour the cheese sauce over the cooked macaroni and stir until everything is coated. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and allow the macaroni and cheese to sit for 5 to 10 minutes, to allow the sauce to thicken before serving.
Serves 6 (about 1½ cup servings).