Baked Macaroni & Cheese

Confession: I’ve never had baked mac’n’cheese before. Sad, isn’t it?

I found this recipe on my favorite food blog – The Smitten Kitchen – and I just had to make it. The actual ingredient list made not a whole lot of sense, (Cottage cheese? Nutmeg?) but, I could get everything I needed with my meal plan monies, which is always a plus. I went and got everything right after I read about this, but I chickened out/ran out of time/didn’t care enough, and ended up not making it for two months. What was I thinking?

See, I had this preconceived notion that real macaroni and cheese involves intricate cheese sauces, thousands of dishes, and specialty cheeses that can only be afforded by people who have done college and are now set in their chosen career path. But I digress. In the version, you mix cottage cheese and milk and seasonings, mix it with cheese, and then pour the whole thing, uncooked noodles and all, into a pan. After baking it for a while, you sprinkle more cheese on top and allow that to get blistered and broiled. The only reason I had so many dishes to do afterwards was because I wanted to photograph them in a hip, modern kind of way. Ha.

Yep. My "kitchen" is actually a desk in the main part of my dorm room. There's all kinds of something going on there...

I did make some changes. I used gluten free noodles so Aleah (other roommate) could eat it, and I chopped up a lot of little onions because I had no dry mustard and was worried about tasteless mac’n’cheese. The next time I make this, it’ll for sure have more cheese. And it’ll spend sometime with the broiler (Or a blow torch, if I’m at home.)

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Yield: 6 to 8 servings. (Ha! This really means four)

1 cup cottage cheese (not low fat)
2 cups milk (not skim)
1/4 of an onion, chopped really fine
Pinch cayenne
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound sharp or extra-sharp cheddar cheese (I used Parmesan and Cheddar)
1/2 pound elbow pasta, uncooked.

Heat oven the 375 degrees, and grease a 9″ round or square dish (I forgot to do this, with no bad side effects…)

Blend the cottage cheese, milk and spices in a blender until smooth. Combine the milk mixture in a bowl with the noodles and all but 1/4 cup of the cheese. Pour it into pan, and cover it tightly with foil. Bake it for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, pull it out and stir everything all up. Top with the remaining cheese, and put back into the oven, uncovered, for another 30 minutes. Then, you are supposed to wait 15 more minutes before you cut into it, but mine only lasted until the picture taking was over. Yum.


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