Mac n’ Cheese: A Love Story
Guys…I freaking love mac n’ cheese. In all its forms- the heartwarming comfort-food made with a roux and extra love, the restaurant trying to make it worth the $11 they’re asking for it, the Velveeta stuff that’s not really even cheese…even the stuff in the blue box that’s the food equivalent of a hotel that charges an hourly rate. It is no secret, and it was the first thing I panicked about when Ryan was put on a low-carb diet by his doctor- seriously, the first thing out of my mouth was “But…mac n’ cheese…”
Usually, the way I make it, in my never-ending attempts to get dinner done in a half hour or less, involves just hurriedly stirring a bag o’ cheese into a pot of noodles I drained via slowly pouring it over the sink while trying to keep the noodles at bay with a spoon (you’ve all done it, you know you have- strainers; what a pain, right?). Sometimes the cheese isn’t even planned- it’s the ends of several bags…Mexican taco blend here, some mozzerella there…maybe some straggling cheddar of some sort.
But I love it- every. single. time. I’ve only ever met one plate of mac n’ cheese I didn’t thoroughly enjoy, and it wasn’t one I’d made. Sometimes I do spring the effort for the baked kind- roux, breadcrumbs and all -but when you’re trying to squeeze your dinner prep into an episode of My Little Pony, that’s not happening most nights.
Tonight was no exception. Except that it occurred to me that I had a partial carton of heavy cream in the fridge, and I thought “I bet I can meet in the middle here…”
Et voila- my Quick n’ Creamy Mac n’ Cheese was born.
Now, before you go at this recipe, please bear in mind that I’m one of those “Baking is a science, cooking is an art” people. Which basically translates to me eyeballing pretty much everything ever. My quantities are approximate, except for the cheese, because I used the whole bag and the quantity is printed on there.
Quick n’ Creamy Mac n’ Cheese
- 12oz. elbow macaroni
- 2oz. cream cheese
- 1/2c heavy cream
- 4oz. shredded cheese of choice (I had a 3-cheddar blend this time)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Boil pasta according to package directions (y’know- throw a pot of water on the stove and throw the pasta in once it’s boiling)
- Drain pasta (feel free to use a strainer or colander if you prefer)
- Add cream cheese in chunks for easier distribution. Stir a bit to help it settle in.
- Add half the shredded cheese and the heavy cream. Stir until cheese melts in. Repeat with other half of the cheese.
- Season as you wish. When I’m feeling fancy, sometimes I’ll throw some Italian seasoning on mine. Usually just salt and pepper. Sometimes red pepper flakes. Whatever- get creative!
Ta-da! If you like your mac n’ cheese a little more liquid-y, up the cream to 3/4c (or do like I do and just eyeball it until you’re happy with the consistency). It came out just as I’d hoped- creamy in texture but still fairly cake-y- like if you left it to set up a bit you could serve pieces like a cake, the way you get with good baked mac n’ cheese. A pretty good improvement on my bag o’ cheese stir-in, but for not much more effort. Food win!
And I finished before My Little Pony did!
This would probably feed 4 as a main dish and 6 as a side- my girls and I ate two helpings each for dinner and I’ve got enough left for us to definitely have it for lunch tomorrow, too. I’m really no good at portions, though- we just put food on our plate, eat it, and if we’re hungry get more.
And it’s got the Baby Starski Seal of Approval! Which means more of it went in her mouth than on the floor…Forks are tricky business when you’re little!
What food do you love in all its variations?
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