pasta & recipes: mac and cheese grown up

Susan: “Oh, I wouldn’t eat that if I were you.”
Mike: “Why?”
Susan: “I made it, trust me. Hey, hey, do you have a death wish?”
Mike: “No, I just refuse to believe that anybody can screw up macaroni and cheese.”
Mike: “Oh my God. How did you…it tastes like it’s burnt and undercooked.”
Susan: “Yeah, I get that a lot. Here you go.”

This was a conversation on the pilot episode of Desperate Housewives. If I were able to convey to my mother that “it tastes like it’s burnt and undercooked” as a child I would have found myself eating more macaroni and cheese than I cared to consume. As far as my father was concerned, my mother’s macaroni and cheese was the best. As for me, I could never quite grasp the unbridled joy that my peers would display when they declared that they were having macaroni and cheese for dinner.

Where they crazy?! Unfortunately it wasn’t until I became a mother and cook that I discovered the pleasure of macaroni and cheese. It is comfort food at its finest. And, the varieties of macaroni and cheese are as the people who savor this culinary version of a warm, cozy blanket. After years of experimenting I discovered a macaroni and cheese that was creamy, rich with a hint of sharpness and of course yellow. (Admit it. You know you love that deep, warm yellow glow)

My personal tastes, my family’s personal tastes, dictated an unbaked macaroni and cheese. After years of my mother’s crunchy, bread crumb topped baked macaroni and cheese with the cold middle I was initially anti baked macaroni and cheese. My early macaroni and cheese concoctions were a creamy, stove top version that need not be baked. My family was quite content to eat this very gooey, stick to the roof of your mouth version of macaroni and cheese. It was a stick to your ribs version as well. I was hoping to strike a better balance between comfort and gourmet, between sharp cheddar and (gasp) Velveeta (don’t judge).

I finally discovered the perfect balance. One that includes stovetop preparations (and/or a microwave), oven and butter! Yes, butter! Comfort food. Remember we are talking about comfort. What could be more comforting than warmed butter poured over the macaroni and cheese after it has been baked. Clearly, anyone who is concerned about their weight would never think this is a good idea, but then they probably wouldn’t be eating macaroni and cheese. The butter was an idea conceived by my teenage, athletic boys who aren’t exactly concerned about too many calories. It is meant to be used sparingly, though.

This recipe is simplistic. But, what comfort food is complicated? This macaroni and cheese can be made in a large casserole dish for a family or in individual baking dishes for a wonderful dinner appetizer. Either way, it will be a comforting meal for those times that require a little extra love.

Ingredients
1 box (1 lb) cellentani pasta (corkscrews)
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, cut into large chunks
8oz gouda, cut into large chunks
8 oz velveeta , cut into large chunks
1 ½ cup heavy cream
½ stick butter, melted

Directions

1. Boil water in a pasta pot. When water has boiled add the pasta and cook until medium texture.

2. In a large microwavable bowl or in the pot of a double boiler which is placed over boiling water, melt all the cheeses together. (Check to see if your microwave has a “melt” feature. It is very handy.)

3. Once the cheese is melted, pour in the heavy cream. Mix until combined.

4. When the pasta is finished cooking, drain thoroughly and place pasta into the large bowl with the cheese. Mix until the pasta is evenly coated.

5. Place pasta into individual baking dishes or a large casserole dish.

6. Bake at 350 degrees until firm. Do not overbake.

7. As soon as the macaroni and cheese is finished baking remove from oven and poor butter over the top, sparingly. Serve immediately.

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24 comments

  • October 10, 2011 at 11:39 am //

    Your photos are wonderful! Mac and cheese is one of my least favorite things to shoot, since it usually looks so sloppy and goopy, but your use of bright whites really helps to keep things looking clean. Sure looks good enough to eat! ;)

    • October 10, 2011 at 12:19 pm //

      Thank you Hannah!

  • October 10, 2011 at 2:13 pm //

    That mac and cheese looks amazing!

    • October 10, 2011 at 3:19 pm //

      Thank you PeachKins!

  • October 10, 2011 at 6:53 pm //

    We are truly a house divided when it comes to mac n cheese. I love the good ole bread topping crunch w/creamy middle; my husband is a stovetop creamy guy. I may have to give this one a try & see if we can meet in the middle ;-)

    • October 12, 2011 at 9:50 am //

      Hi Regan, Middle of the road is so diplomatic! Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting. I feel the same way about Bean Casserole.

  • October 10, 2011 at 7:56 pm //

    wow…sounds scrumptiously tasty
    first time here..love your space..
    awesome presentation with nice posts..
    Am your happy follower now..:)
    do stop by mine sometime..
    Tasty Appetite

    • October 12, 2011 at 9:47 am //

      We would be happy to Jay, thank you so much for commenting.

  • October 10, 2011 at 8:27 pm //

    This looks really delicious! Great comfort food. And great photos!

    • October 12, 2011 at 9:47 am //

      Thank you Food Dude!

  • October 10, 2011 at 10:34 pm //

    Ahhh — it looks lovely and decadent.

    • October 12, 2011 at 9:47 am //

      Thank you.

  • October 11, 2011 at 12:06 am //

    I don’t mind to have this comfort food once a while. I can gobble it up in minutes. It looks so tempting! ;)

    • October 12, 2011 at 9:46 am //

      Comfort food is the best food, right? Thanks so much for commenting.

  • October 11, 2011 at 1:02 am //

    I love mac and cheese, it is truly one of my favorite dishes. Your photos are beautiful and make me want to make some mac and cheese right now. :)

    • October 12, 2011 at 9:46 am //

      Thank you Jo!

  • October 11, 2011 at 4:25 am //

    Is there anything more delicious than a mac and cheese dish? I don’t think so…

    • October 11, 2011 at 8:53 am //

      It’s comfort food to the core!

  • October 11, 2011 at 6:22 am //

    This looks so lush, I love to eat well made, proper macaroni cheese. I really like the cute dishes and the presentation also.

    • October 11, 2011 at 8:53 am //

      Thank you Emma!

  • October 11, 2011 at 11:39 am //

    I’ve really been craving mac and cheese so this is perfect! It’s the perfect time for comfort food around here.

    • October 12, 2011 at 9:45 am //

      Thank you Lori!

  • October 13, 2011 at 9:50 pm //

    Yum, I love homemade macaroni and cheese! Your recipe sounds delicious and your pictures of it look great!

    • October 13, 2011 at 9:59 pm //

      Thank you so much Melissa!