I like being able to pronounce the ingredients in my food, call me crazy. But that's a discussion for another day, and sometimes, all you have time for is the boxed stuff, and that's okay, too!
1 C uncooked macaroni pasta (or pasta of choice)
So, while your pasta is boiling away, either get your pre-shredded cheese ready, or go on and grate up some shredded cheese (these pictures are much more interesting than boiling water, huh?).
Set your cheese aside, and in another medium sized pot, melt your butter -now, be warned, this makes a lot of cheese sauce! You can either double up your macaroni, or cut this sauce recipe in half, and should be fine. Once your butter has melted, add in the flour, and whisk/stir until this turns the color of light sand. In case you were curious, this is a roux; this is the base for a bechamel sauce, not to mention the thickening agent in countless sauces, gravies and soups.
Once your roux has reached a light sand color, slowly pour in the milk*. You can see here that I only used 1 C (just over) of milk to start off with, but this sauce was way too thick, so I needed to add more milk!
See? This is way too thick. So I added more milk, and while it was still thick, it was just right. You don't want this to be too soupy, because then you'd have macaroni and cheese soup. Tasty, but not what we're after.
Now then, slowly add in the shredded cheese a little bit at a time (I go over why, in my cheesy chicken quesadillas), until you have added all of the cheese in. Oh, boy, I just want to dive in there and swim around for a bit....
I'm not sure why the color is so different between the two pictures of the sauce here...maybe my camera was thrown off by my whisk? Maybe the lighting was different? I have no idea. But, at this point, add in the paprika and garlic powder. I would have enjoyed some dry mustard powder in this as well, but I didn't have any.
So, pour some of the sauce over your pasta. Don't pour all of your sauce on, because you can always add more, but you can't (easily) take some out if you add too much to begin with.
It looks like I added a bit too much, but after letting it rest for a minute, it set up and became the perfect consistency. Taste for salt content, and season to your liking! This mac and cheese is creamy, and perfect as a side dish, or you can toss in some broccoli and chicken, and have a full on meal!