return of the mac

Another part of my poor showing as an Italian is that I loathe pasta. It’s one of those things I always wished I liked because it’s easy to make, comes in several varieties and costs 35¢ a box. Sadly, my brain has refuted every attempt at a logical food prelation; but what’s even more illogical is that there is one — and only one — type of pasta I will eat: elbow macaroni.

In an attempt to use some leftover cream cheese I had in the fridge, I did some digging on Recipe Puppy, a great search engine that gives you a mess of recipes based on whatever ingredient you enter.

The winner? Cream cheese macaroni and cheese. (For more photos, click here!)

I used a recipe from food.com, but if you’re not looking to feed an army (i.e. about four people), see below. I halved the recipe (and used a smaller dish) and had mac ‘n cheese aplenty:

♦1/2 lb. elbow macaroni
♦1.5 tbs. butter
♦1 tbs. flour
♦1.5 c. milk
♦4 oz. low-fat cream cheese
♦8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
♦salt, pepper to taste
♦breadcrumbs

Cook pasta in a large pot according to package. Drain, rinse, return to pot.

In a separate skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and cook until bubbly (about 1 min.). Add milk slowly — stirring — and heat ’til slightly thickened. Add cream cheese and stir until completely melted. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour cream cheese mixture over cooked pasta; stir. Add shredded cheese; stir ’til completely combined.

Pour mixture into an 8×8″ casserole dish (greased with cooking spray). Add breadcrumbs to top if desired. Bake for 18-20 minutes at 350 degrees.

Before it went in...

And after!

This was so easy to make and the end result was banging, if I do say so myself. The cream cheese gave the dish a creamy consistency, but using the shredded cheddar helped keep that delicious baked macaroni and cheese feel. I would also recommend the breadcrumbs on top as a nice variant in consistency.

Total time? 30-ish minutes.
Cost? Cheap: 75¢ for macaroni, $1 cream cheese, $2.50 cheddar.
Overall success relative to expectations? 10 out of 10.

More photos!

welcome

I got the beat end of every piece of my heritage: I’m Irish — overly-freckled, burn in all natural lighting — but an 8-year-old could drink me under the table (not that I’m endorsing that). I’ve got the too-thick-for-its-own-good Italian hair and grease leaking from my pores, but missed out on that olive skin tone and — most tragically — the natural Italian prowess in the kitchen.

Fortunately, it didn’t come into play too much when I lived with my family and was met with satiating [and free] meals more often than not. But now that I’m living on my own [and poor], I’m just that — on my own. It didn’t take too long for cheese sandwiches and frozen chicken patties to get old, and if I have to eat another g’damn box of Kraft for dinner, I’m going to blow chunks. (Should probably refrain from colorful vomit euphemisms in a food blog, huh?) (Or from preceding “vomit” with “colorful.”)

If you haven’t yet figured it out from my inability to simply say, “I’m learning how to cook,” I write for a living, but I’m looking to parlay that into something more fulfilling than what I do at work. Here, I’ll detail my kitchen exploits, list recipes, post enticing food photos (who doesn’t love some sexy ‘food porn’?) and share other assorted culinary tidbits.

While you’re perusing, please remember I am not a chef nor a photographer; I do, however, have a fascination with both food and visual arts, so I’ll use a dash of trial and a dollop of error and pray it’s palatable.

Any feedback, comments and suggestions you’d like to leave — good or bad — are always welcome. Thanks for reading!