Thursday, 1 November 2012

Cottage Mac 'n' Cheese

For lack of a better title I have named this macaroni and cheese recipe after one of the many cheeses that is in this dish.  I suppose I could have called it Parma-Cheddar Cottage Mac or Whole Lotta Fromage or some such combination but that's a mouthful.  So Cottage Mac 'n' Cheese it is.

I used to make this recipe fairly often when the kids were really young because it's so easy and quick to whip up.  In the past 4 years or so I guess it's fallen off my recipe radar so I thought I'd reintroduce it to my mac and cheese lovin' family. 

This recipe popped into my mind last week because I had a ridiculous amount of sour cream in my fridge that I had to use up soon.  See, a couple of weeks ago there was a big sale on sour cream so I stocked up BIG TIME.  I adore sour cream and, if I'm being honest, I do so love to get a good deal.  Don't even get me started on the obscene amount of half and half and yogurt in my downstairs fridge!! But I digress ....  I bought FOUR 500g containers of 14% fat sour cream (in my world no fat/low fat sour cream doesn't exist).  Last week I noticed that I still had two full containers of this sour cream left and it was going to be outdated soon.  I figured I'd make a sour cream coffee cake and dig out this old recipe to use up my stash.

After I had quickly made toiled (cue violins) making this recipe, Boy 2 saw what we were having for supper and I could see that he was very sceptical that his stomach would enjoy this dish.  He loves my typical homemade macaroni and cheese with bread crumb topping.  Let's just say that I wouldn't be surprised if he names his first child Mac.  But he noticed that it looked a little different and he asked what was in this dish.  So I told him.  Cottage cheese. 

I could see his brain working as he tried to tell me in a nice way that he wasn't totally on board with tonight's supper selection.  I could just imagine his inner dialogue -- "Cottage cheese in my beloved homemade macaroni??  Has Mom lost her MIND?!?  I put up with beets in the chocolate cupcakes and spinach in lasagna that Mom thinks she's passing off as 'spices'.  But changes to macaroni???  You have got to be kidding me!" 

Boy 2's reaction to my face?  A sweet, angelic smile paired with "Cottage cheese is um, different ...... Can I have a grilled cheese instead, Mom?".  That comment went over as well as you'd expect.  In my most June Cleaverish voice (while attempting to leave out any hint of sarcasm) I responded with an endearing smile of my own, "Dear sweet boy whom I gave the gift of life, what do you think?"  That answer varied from MY inner dialogue which went more like "After I worked on making this casserole from scratch you want a greasy sandwich?".   But to Boy 2 I continued, "Honey, you can cook yourself a grilled cheese ..... right after Hades wears snow shoes.  Of course not.  We're going to enjoy this casserole as a family!".  Apparently I have to work on reining in my inner sarcasm.  Needless to say, Boy 2 got my meaning (it helped that I used a bit of my Mom Squinty Glare).  Suddenly he miraculously got the urge to help set the table instead of discussing the issue further.  Huh.

I'm happy to report that we all enjoyed this dish.  And all THREE kids had seconds of this mac and cheese.  Seconds!!  Boy 2 got a wry smile on his face and admitted that he was a little quick to judge and ... could we have this again next week?  This "I Told You So" moment has been brought to you by Mom, the maker of Cottage Macaroni and Cheese.

Tip: If you have cottage cheese haters in your family you can do what I did to hide the evidence.  I took my pastry blender and smashed the snot out of the cottage cheese before adding it into the casserole.  {Note: 'Smashing the snot out of something' is a fancy culinary term}.  If you don't do this you will see the little tell tale signs of cheesy curds in your mac and cheese.  Smashing the cottage cheese may limit the aggravating non-drinkable 'whine' at your supper table.  Just sayin'.
This is a very cheesy but slightly different take on the traditional mac and cheese.  There is just a touch of heat from the cayenne but overall it has a more tangy taste than my traditional Mac and Cheese.  I have to admit that it was really simple to make since I didn't have to stand over the stove and cook a roux (butter, milk and flour mixture).  You just cook your pasta and add it a big old bowl of the other ingredients, sprinkle on the bread crumb topping, plop it in a casserole dish and Bob's your uncle. 

So if you have one of those hectic, crazy weeknights where you need a fast, filling and yummy meal give this recipe a try.  You may just find youself having an "I told you so" moment of your own.

2 1/2 cups macaroni noodles
2 cups old Cheddar Cheese, grated
1 1/2 cups cottage cheese
1 cup sour cream
1/2-1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional but I highly recommend at least 1/4 - 1/2 tsp)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
to taste -- salt and pepper

1 cup dry bread crumbs
1/2 tsp garlic powder
to taste -- salt and pepper
1/4 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 350F.  Lightly grease a 9x13-inch casserole dish (or similar sized baking dish).

Cook macaroni noodles in a large pot of boiling water until al dente. 

Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine the Cheddar cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream, , cayenne, Parmesan, salt and pepper.  Mix well.

When macaroni noodles are al dente, drain and rinse with warm water.  Add noodles to the cheese mixture and mix well.

Prepare topping -- combine all four topping ingredients and mix.  

Pour macaroni mixture into the prepared casserole pan and sprinkle with the bread crumb topping.  Bake for 30-35 minutes or until top is golden.  Serve immediately.

See?  Easy, peasy mac and cheesy!  Enjoy!

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