Well, it's finally summer in Boston. Almost 80 degrees today, a big shock from last week. When thinking about dinner, I wanted something easy, something that didn't require me to stand over a stove. Rob and I didn't really feel like meat and then it hit: the craving. We wanted, nay, needed, macaroni and cheese. I found a recipe on Smitten Kitchen and happened to have most of the ingredients on hand. The only thing missing was cottage cheese, which I misread as cream cheese, which is what I bought and used. It was delicious. No need to boil the pasta; it still cooks up beautifully. It's super cheesy and the crust bakes up perfectly brown and crunchy, with no need for breadcrumbs. (Which is good, because I'm all out and couldn't find a single decent, non-HFCS breadcrumb at the supermarket) The sides where pretty straightforward: sauteed green beans with garlic and bacon and corn on the cob. Comfort food at its best! We enjoyed this on our back porch, savoring the cool summer breeze and homecooked food.
Easiest Baked Mac-and-Cheese (Adapted from Smitten Kitchen,adapted from New York Times)
Serve it with a green salad, in a feeble attempt at caloric balance, and wine, to remind yourself that you’re a grown-up.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings.
2 tablespoons butter (divided)
1 package cream cheese (8 oz.)
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon dry mustard
Pinch cayenne (I was out so I just used chili powder)
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg (totally worth it!)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound cheese (half cheddar, half mozzerella)
1/2 pound whole wheat pasta, uncooked.
1. Heat oven to 375°F and position an oven rack in upper third of oven. Use one tablespoon butter to grease a 9-inch round or square baking pan.
2. In a blender, purée cream cheese, milk, mustard, cayenne, nutmeg and salt and pepper together. Reserve 1/4 cup grated cheese for topping. In a large bowl, combine remaining grated cheese, milk mixture and uncooked pasta. Pour into prepared pan, cover tightly with foil and bake 30 minutes.
3. Uncover pan, stir gently, sprinkle with reserved cheese and dot with remaining tablespoon butter. Bake, uncovered, 30 minutes more, until browned. Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.