Monday, November 12, 2012

Revolutionary Mac & Cheese

My search for the perfect macaroni and cheese is legendary. Well, amongst my family, anyways. They joke about how many "perfect mac & cheese recipes" I have found over the years. So now I have started to categorize them so that when I find them later I remember why this one was perfect for that moment. ;o) 

It is my pleasure to introduce you to one of those recipes today. This was a Pinterest find for me, I have the link to the original blog down by the recipe. For me, this one is perfect, because it's not time-consuming. You can arrive home after work, decide you really want mac & cheese, and within half an hour, have home-style comfort on your plate that didn't come with neon cheese powder. Also, it takes real ingredients that you are likely to already have in your fridge and pantry already. (No canned soup or evaporated milk...)

The beauty of it is, it's all one pot. You do not boil the pasta ahead of time. That's what caught my attention the first time around.

The picture below is what it looks like when it's done on the stove. Kinda bland looking, as we used white cheese this time. I decided to dress it up a bit  (details on that below) but it involved a broiler and an unnamed member of my family who has a love-hate relationship with said broiler. The end result was less than picture worthy, but still edible! ;o)

Leni's Notes
~We use whole wheat pasta, works just fine, takes a tad longer to absorb the milk.
~This last time, I used whole wheat rotini pasta. I do not recommend it. I ended up having to add another cup of milk, and it took a LONG time for the spirals to cook properly. I recommend shells or elbows. Bowtie works, but it's got a similar issue as the spirals. That thick middle section doesn't like to cook as well.
~The original recipe uses 2% milk. Whatever floats your boat. I use whole milk most of the time, and add other creamy ingredients.
~I have yet to try it, but I wonder if I could turn this into a frozen dish that could later be popped in the oven. I think it would work. (Thinking ahead to taking meals to other families.)
~Lots of good stir-in ideas. Cooked chicken or turkey for more of a main-dish casserole. I also have made it with half pasta, half broccoli and that worked really well.
~I always double this recipe, as I have 4 adult-sized people living here, and double recipe leaves me lunches for them to take to work. Single recipe leaves nothing left over.

Original recipe was found on this blog. As you can see, I've changed it up a bit, as I tend to do. Do what works for you, and enjoy!

2 cups dried pasta
2 cups milk
1 cup loosely packed shredded cheddar cheese
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp pepper
2-3 ounces of cream cheese or flavored Laughing Cow (Sundried Tomato and Spice is lovely.)


~In a pan, add pasta, milk and cream cheese.
~Bring to simmer, then reduce heat to low and cook for 20 minutes, until pasta is soft, stirring frequently and ensuring milk does not boil.
~Turn heat off, add cheese, salt, pepper and dry mustard.
~Stir until combined.
~Serve as is, or put in greased baking dish, and top with a mixture of bread crumbs and cheese.
~Bake or broil until topping is browned (not burned.)

I don't list a temp, because I usually have something else in the oven, so I put it in with whatever is in there.

Blessings from my kitchen to yours,

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