Saturday, February 27, 2010

This Time, Last Week

Okay, when I started writing this post the title made sense. I promise. But you know how things are - my attention likes to wander, and eventually 20 things get started and nothing finished, so I'll have to share it now. It's not like there are any pretty pictures to splash onto the screen this time anyway - I forgot to bring my camera to class the day in question, and I somehow doubt my classmates would be all that forgiving of the food getting cold while I tried to get a good shot. It was only mac and cheese, after all.

It was good mac and cheese, though - not an overly spectacular, fireworks-light-up-the-sky good, but while it was cooking it did make me wish I could have eaten a spoonful. Or the whole pot. Whatever. It was a pretty dubious recipe that I convinced my group to make, too - we all know I can't leave a recipe well enough alone (yeah, sorry about that!) so I snagged a stupid-simple recipe for stovetop macaroni and cheese and began playing with the ingredients and method in our lab-planning period.

As much as it might have been indulgently gluttonous of me to leave the heavy cream in the formula, I couldn't do it. I was in a NUTRITION program, for Chrissake! I had fellow classmates hoping to graduate before dying of heart disease who would be eating this stuff! At the same time, the foodie in me forbade me to make a switch to standard old 2% milk. The goal of the assignment was to determine if,as a retirement facility, it was better to make a chosen item "in house" or bring in pre-fabricated meal items (they only get $7.31 from the government per person, per day for food - 3 square meals, 3 snacks and any special supplements!). I wanted our stuff to taste comparable, if not better, than anything a company could schlep out. Not that it was a fair fight or anything... we had to pit our mac against this. So I settled for half-and-half cream, and made up a blend of cheeses for something a bit more interesting than plain Cheddar. I was also obliged to leave in the Velveeta, as much as it horrifies me... it apparently takes on the role of "creamifier" in the absence of a roux... something that didn't fit with our goal of a "simple" recipe.

In a perfect world, I'd have nixed the "cheese food" (God I love that term) in favour of something more akin to this but with tomato sauce in the place of the heavy and sour creams (that's my mom's contribution to my mac n' cheese childhood!) - and then broiled the heck out of the top until it was ever so slightly charred. I love my crunchy bits on baked pasta! But since this world is about as close to perfect as I am to a Walgreens, I'll share what I've got. It's a simple meal-in-a-pot that kids in particular will adore because of the stringy mozzarella, and (so I'm told) is absolutely wonderful the next day topped with pizza sauce and either microwaved or baked. I'll leave it up to you and the rest of the participants of Ruth's Presto Pasta Nights!(Can you believe it's three years old? Or that I actually made something for it's 3rd birthday?)

Stoveworthy Mac N' Cheese
Serves 8
3 cups dry macaroni pasta
4 oz Velveeta cheese
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (about 8 oz)
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese (about 4 oz)
1/4 cup half-and-half cream
Salt and pepper
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt generously.
  2. Add pasta, stir and allow to boil for 6 minutes. Drain and return to the hot pot.
  3. Add Velveeta, Cheddar, Mozzarella and half-and-half to the pasta and stir over low heat until completely melted. Serve with salt and pepper to taste.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 280.5
Total Fat: 16.8 g
Cholesterol: 53.7 mg
Sodium: 473.4 mg
Total Carbs: 17.4 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.7 g
Protein: 15.4 g


  1. What a terrific post. Thanks for your version (and all the others you snuck in) of Mac n Cheese. It's a perfect dish for Presto Pasta Night's big third birthday party.

    Glad you could make it.

  2. How in the world could a roux be more expensive than "cheese food?" That's ... annoying. I must say, I'd far rather use a few pennies' worth of flour & oil (and onions!) than use "cheese food!"

  3. David - It was the "difficult" factor in terms of time expense, not the ingredients - I'm totally with you on this, but hell 3/4 of my class can't boil water (literally half of them couldn't even make microwaved TV dinners in that class). Sigh... and to think these are the people that will be managing our LTC facilities soon!


Thanks for the feedback!