Quick and easy mac and cheese

November 12, 2011 § 9 Comments

So I love mac and cheese. Pretty much any kind that doesn’t involve powdered cheese. Nick likes any mac and cheese whether its made of powder or not. So of course when I suggested that we have mac and cheese around 6pm the other night, Nick more than happily said he’d gladly wait for me to make it no matter how long it takes. Considering everything I cook typically takes more time than we’d like, I was a little surprised. So I decided to try and find a quicker recipe than our current standard, which involves making the delicious cheese sauce, cooking pasta, then putting it all in the oven.

So I found this recipe courtesy of the more humble version of our favorite magazine, ATK. Parenthetical asides are amounts/types of ingredients that I used. I think because this recipe is so simple, it requires better than average cheese and likely cheese that hasn’t been pre-shredded. But cheeses can likely be played around with to your tastes, and perhaps next time I’ll experiment and keep you posted.

Nick thinks that this is the best one we’ve had in a while that we’ve made, and rivals that of Poole’s Diner, our newly discovered absolute favorite restaurant in Raleigh. I think this recipe good, great considering time and effort, but their mac and cheese was pretty darn amazing.

Coming up next: pumpkin recipes!

The Stuff

  • 2tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2cups fresh bread crumbs (or Panko since I don’t make breadcrumbs)
  •  Salt and pepper
  • 3 3/4cups water, plus more as needed
  • 1(12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 3cups elbow macaroni (a little less than 1 box, I used the whole box)
  • 1teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2teaspoons hot sauce (I don’t like hot sauce, so used a dash of cayenne)
  • 3cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (10 oz Cracker Barrel, extra sharp)
  • 2cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese (8 oz colby jack, Kraft)
The details
  • 1. Melt butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add bread crumbs, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until deep golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl and wipe out skillet.
  • 2. Bring water, 1 1/4 cups evaporated milk, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to simmer in skillet over medium-high heat. Add macaroni and cook, stirring often, until macaroni is al dente, 8 to 10 minutes.
  • 3. Whisk remaining evaporated milk, cornstarch, and hot sauce in small bowl, then stir into skillet. Simmer until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Off heat, stir in cheeses, one handful at a time, adding water as needed to adjust consistency. Sprinkle with toasted bread crumbs. Serve.

Squash and Goat Cheese Pasta

December 13, 2010 § Leave a comment

and here’s a post from our lovely guest-blogger, larina, who was kind enough to have your humble bloggers to her house for dinner.

she notes: I make it up every time, so there aren’t measurements or anything. Here is an approximate recipe:

~2 squshes of your choice or canned unsweetened squash (I have also made this with sweet potatoes or yams and it is excellent!)
lots of butter
whipping cream or half and half
fresh rosemary
store-bought alfredo and tomato pasta sauce
large log goat cheese
other cheeses desired: cream cheese (particularly good choice); asiago, gouda, chedder, parm, or a mixture thereof (I just use whatever I have in the fridge- as a variation I have also used a gorganzola sauce which is good but you have to know your audience – goat cheese is more popular)
box manicotti or jumbo shells
sauteed vegetables of your choice.

acorn, butternut, or pumpkin. You can get canned unsweetened squash and that is all right, otherwise get ~2 squashes of whatever you choose, cut it in half, remove the seeds and stick it in the oven at about 350 degrees for about an hour or until soft. Put a little butter & water in the roasting pan and roast it with the cut side facing down. Then scoop out the innards.

Put the innards or the canned squash in a blender or in a mixing bowl, whatever is easier. Whip with a bunch of butter (I am not sure how much but I am always generous with the butter) and salt to taste. Maybe pour in a little cream. I don’t usually spice but you can add a little sage, garlic and/or thyme to taste if you like.

boil manicotti or jumbo stuffing shells in salted water al dente. put the squash inside them while they are still warm and place in a baking pan after they are stuffed. If I do manicotti, I do it the lazy way and tear along one side so I don’t have to try to pour the filling into one end. It is cheating but it makes life better.

For the sauce, you can put in whatever veggies you would like- sauteed onions, tomatoes, roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, canned artichokes, spinach, mushrooms, whole kernel corn – whatever you have around. I pre-saute the veggies. then I add about a half stick of butter, some cream or milk, whichever i have (you can add more cream or milk until the sauce has the consistency you want, so start small and add as you go) and cheese. I use maybe 3/4 of a large stick of fresh chevre goat cheese, or you can do cream cheese instead or a goat cheese/cream cheese combo. Then add ~1/2 c of another kind of cheese – asiago? Gouda? Cheddar? whatever mix you’d like. Sometimes if I have any I throw in some store-bought alfredo or tomato pasta sauce. You can also just use some store-bought alfredo sauce and melt some goat cheese into it (this is the simplest option).

It is best if you already have some sauce and pour it into the bottom of the baking pan before you put the filled pasta into it because this will keep the pasta from sticking or burning to the bottom.

Pour your sauce over and around the filled pasta. Stick some full fresh rosemary branches into the sauce in between the pasta. cover the whole dish with motz. cover pan with foil so the motz doesn’t get brown before the dish is baked through. bake at 350 for ~25 mins, then take off the foil. bake ~15 minutes longer until the sauce is bubbling and the motz is browning. remove from the oven and serve!

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