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
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.
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.