Saturday, October 6, 2012

Bit of Flavor Pasta and Cheese

Bit of Flavor Pasta and Cheese

Ingredient List is at the end...
I don't know about you, but I love cheese!!
And Macaroni and Cheese - REAL Macaroni and Cheese - well, it just doesn't get much better than this!
I have a quick and simple version that makes an excellent comfort-food meal, or it can be used as a side-dish at your next family dinner.
Be sure to make extra - you'll want some again tomorrow!
Step One - Prepare a pound of pasta.
Feel free to use any shape you like.  I usually go for the small shells - I love the way they act like little scoops for the creamy cheesy sauce!
Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package, going for an al dente finish.

Step Two - While the pasta is cooking, prepare the cheese.
I make my pasta and cheese using whatever cheese I have on hand - american, cheddar, muenster, swiss, provolone, mozzarella...  It's all good!
Stick with one flavor, or blend a few.
You can also use any format, such as pre-shredded, chunk, or sliced.
This particular night, I went with cheddar, provolone, and swiss.
For ease of use when cooking, you want small pieces of cheese.
I like cutting things, and thought you'd enjoy seeing what I did.  :)

See?  Lots of little pieces of delicious cheese!
Check your pasta - It should be just about ready!
Drain it, and set it aside.  You'll need it soon!

Step Three - Prepare the creamy sauce.
First, you melt some butter over medium heat.
Start with 3 tbsp, adding a little more if you feel the need.
To keep clean-up light, I just use the same pot I used to cook the pasta.
Once the butter has melted, slowly add your flour, stirring constantly.
You should need anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 cup of flour.

This looks just right!

Next, add your milk, stirring constantly.

Add all of the cheese, still stirring constantly.
Continue heating and stirring just until cheese melts.

Add your choice of seasonings.
I used some of our favorite (Butt Rub), a little garlic powder, and a couple of dashes of salt and pepper.
Give it all a good stir.

Step Four - Add the pasta to the creamy cheesy sauce, and combine well.
Pour it all into a casserole dish, and pop into a 350 degree oven.
Bake for 30-35 minutes.
While your pasta and cheese is baking, toss a steak (that of course you've been marinating all day) on the grill.
You can also put together a nice tossed salad or other side dish.
After 30-35 minutes, remove the pasta from oven, and add breadcrumbs or panko or other topping as desired. 
Mine is only on half, so there is some pasta and cheese for those who like a topping, and some for those who don't.
Turn the oven up to 425, and pop the dish back into the oven for another 10 minutes.
Everything should be ready, so tuck in your napkin, grab your best fork, and enjoy!
Bit o' Pasta and Cheese
16 oz box of pasta
12-16 oz cheese
3-4 tbsp butter
1/4 - 1/2 cup flour
1 cup lowfat milk
Chef's Choice of Seasoning
Breadcrumbs, Panko, or other topping
Remember ~ Life is better with a bit of flavor!

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