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Homemade Mac and Cheese

I have to admit, I’m a Kraft Mac and Cheese kinda kid. There’s just something comforting about it. However, the fact it takes about 1.5 billion years to expire kinda weirds me out. But still, I eat it.

Its just something about that blue box. Maybe it was because my mom used to put the pot on the floor so I could mix everything together when I was little.  Or maybe its because I learned the hard way that proportions on the box are totally wrong, unless you like soupy mac and cheese.

That is, until now folks. I’m sure I’ll keep a box or two around for emergency dinner scenarios, but here is a fantastic Mac and Cheese recipe from Pam of Three Many Cooks new cook book Perfect One-Dish Meals.

This Mac and Cheese is delicious and creamy without being overly heavy and leaving you in a food coma. Unless of course you eat half the pan little by little as you wander in and out of the kitchen. Not that I would know anything about that…

Anyway, aside from the fact I couldn’t stop eating this dish, it combined the perfect ratio of creamy, gooey and crunch and there are peas in it so you can argue that its healthy! Yay! Or not.  Healthy or not, this mac and cheese is delicious straight out of the oven and reheated the next day. How awesome is that? Ever try eating Kraft’s mac and cheese reheated the next day? I suggest you don’t its very disappointing.

Now, originally, I was skeptical about this recipe as I had never run across a homemade mac and cheese that gave me the same comfort that that blue box did.  And this recipe has both sour cream and cottage cheese two things that I prefer not to eat. However, I trusted Pam when she said it does its work without being cottage cheesey and weird.  And as an extra perk I didn’t notice the sour cream in it either.

The only thing I left out was the parsley, because I absolutely can’t stand the taste of parsley. Blech. I also used twisty pasta instead of shells because Trader Joe’s didn’t have shells and I didn’t feel like moseying on over to Safeway to pick them up, but the twisty pasta caught the cheese in all the  twists so it packed a cheesy punch :). I also added in some frozen peas and corn because I had them in the freezer and didn’t feel like making a veggie side.

This is a perfect meal for those cold winter nights. Since my family didn’t have leftovers from the Thanksgiving (THE HORROR) I am going to make this again before Christmas.

If you like one-dish dinners, you simply must pick up Perfect One-Dish Dinners by Pam. Not only does she give you amazing recipes, I’ve made more than just the mac and cheese and they’re ALL amazing, but if you’re planning a dinner party she gives you drink ideas, appetizer recipes, salad recipes, AND dessert recipes to go with each recipe. Completely and utterly simplifying any dinner party planning.

Shells and Cheese for Everyone

Pam has very graciously allowed me to post her original recipe from Perfect One-Dish Dinners. I absolutely love this cookbook, even if you don’t have room on your shelf, you need to buy this cookbook.

If you own this cookbook you find the recipe on page 167 in all of its gooey goodness, and appetizer,

1 pound medium-sized pasta shells
1 pound grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 container (16 oz) cottage cheese
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup plain dry bread crumbs
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons butter, melted

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 13-by-9-inch baking dish with vegetable-oil cooking spray.

Bring 2 quarts of water and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil in a large soup kettle (any pot large enough to hold more than 2 quarts is fine) over high heat. Using package directions as a guide and stirring frequently at first to keep it from sticking, boil pasta, partially covered, until just tender. Drain.

Meanwhile, mix cheeses and sour cream in a large bowl. Add hot pasta and toss to coat. Adjust seasonings, including salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to baking dish.

Mix bread crumbs, parsley, adn butter in as mall bowl and sprinkle evenly over shells and cheese. Bake until casserole is bubbly and crumbs are golden brown, 30 to 53 minutes. Serve.

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