Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese are the blue jeans of the food world for kids, and you can count on simultaneous exclamations of "YUM!" from the whole family when this dish is served for dinner. While Velveeta cheese melts beautifully in this recipe, you may wish to substitute it for full cheddar for a more healthful dinner. Adapted from the recipe "Creamy Macaroni and Cheese," printed in the New York Times on January 4th, 2006, this recipe replaces nutmeg, cayenne and dry mustard with Frank's Red Hot, which makes this recipe extra easy and kid-friendly, too!

Hands-On Time: 15 minutes
Ready In: 1.5 hours
Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 cup cottage cheese (not low-fat)
2 cups milk (not skim)
a bloop of brown or Dijon mustard
a few good shakes of Frank's Red Hot, or a not-too-spicy hot sauce of your choosing
1 scant teaspoon kosher salt (or half as much table salt)
1 pound cheese, grated (I use half grated sharp cheddar, half cubed Velveeta)
1/2 pound elbow macaroni, uncooked

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 375°F, and position an oven rack a third of the way down from the top. Use 1 tablespoon of butter to grease an 8 or 9-inch round or square baking pan (I use a Pyrex pan that is actually 7 by 11 or so which is close enough).
  2. In a blender, puree the cottage cheese, milk, mustard, Frank's, and salt. Combine this mixture in a large bowl (ideally one with a spout) with the raw macaroni and the cheese, reserving 1/4 cup grated cheese for topping, which you'll do halfway through the baking.
  3. Pour into the prepared pan, cover tightly with foil, and bake for 30 minutes. (Unless you love the smell of milk burning on your oven floor, you might want to put a foil-covered baking sheet on the rack beneath to catch any puddles of spill-over.)
  4. Uncover the pan and stir gently, redistributing the pasta and sauce evenly, and unsticking any macaroni that has attached itself to the pan.
  5. Dot with the remaining butter, sprinkle with the remaining cheese, and bake another 30 minutes, at which point it should be well browned and beautiful. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

*Ingredient Tips
Use regular elbow macaroni for this: I don't know that whole wheat pasta or other shapes will cook through properly when baked this way.

Note
A "bloop" is something like a half a teaspoon -- which is probably the same amount, actually, as "a few good shakes."

Read more about Catherine making Macaroni and Cheese with her family.

See all recipes from Catherine Newman's "Dalai Mama Dishes" blog.

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