Thursday, August 19, 2010

Light Skillet Mac and Cheese

People, this mac and cheese will knock your socks off.  At least it did mine.  Well it would have, if I were wearing socks, but I hate socks.  That's another story.  As for this story, the mac and cheese, I know that people often either prefer the baked kind with the bread-crumb topping, or the stove-top kind.  This is the stove-top kind.  And it is deliciously gooey and cheesy.  And it comes together about as quickly as the stuff in the box.  For real.  Only this is made with whole-wheat pasta and real cheese.  Take that, Kraft! 

Check out the technique cook the pasta in the beginnings of the sauce.  The technique comes from a brilliant cookbook, The Best 30-Minute Recipe, put out by the editors of Cook's Illustrated (of course).  If you are looking for a quick cookbook, this is the one to buy.  The techniques, such as in this recipe, save time brilliantly, and the dishes all taste like they took hours to cook ... even the Chicken Soup with Rice!  All of these recipes can actually be prepared by me in around thirty minutes, while my average for a Rachael Ray recipe (who I am knocking, love her) is more like 45 minutes. 

But me being me, I lightened this recipe up quite a bit.  I used non-fat evaporated skim milk instead of regular.  And...get this...I used less than half the cheese they called for and skipped the butter.  And it was still amazing!  I know, I know, I could hardly believe it myself.  I am still talking to my husband about it, and it's a good thing I have the whole Internet to tell now, because word on the street was he was sick of talking about the mac and cheese.  Basically, I used a half cup of Parmesan cheese to get a ton of flavor from a little bit of cheese, in with a nice, gooey shredded Mexican cheese blend.  And in a moment of craziness or brilliance, am still not sure what, I added two light Laughing Cow cheeses, which melted and really thickened the sauce up. 

So people, if you try one recipe from this blog, try this one.  And then come back tomorrow, because I have the most amazing celery recipe for you.  I know what you're thinking, "A celery recipe?"  But yes, that pesky green stuff that tends to get forgotten about in your veggie bin is totally worth cooking and totally delicious.  (Actually, my husband said he liked the celery even more than the mac and cheese last night, but who's listening to him!?)
Light Skillet Mac and Cheese
serves 3-6


3 1/2 cups water
1 12-oz can non-fat evaporated milk
12 ounces (3 cups) whole wheat pasta, such as elbows or spirals
salt and ground black pepper
1 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp hot sauce
1 cup shredded low-fat Mexican cheese blend
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (or use half Asiago, half Parmesan, as I did)
2 wedges Laughing Cow cheese, Light Herb and Garlic

1. Get out all of your ingredients and line them up on the counter so you can work quicker.
2. In a 12 inch skillet, combine the water with 1 cup of the non-fat evaporated milk, the pasta, and 1/4 tsp salt over high heat.  Bring to a simmer, and stir often.  Cook until the macaroni is tender, about 8-10 minutes. 
3. Meanwhile, measure out your cheeses.  Unwrap those little Laughing Cow wedges, and cut them into small chunks.  Also, combine the remaining 1/2 cup non-fat evaporated milk with the cornstarch, dry mustard, and hot sauce.  I did this right in the can to save on dishes!
4. Once the pasta is tender, add the evaporated milk mixture.  Continue to simmer until the sauce is slightly thickened.
5.  Turn off the heat, and remove the pan for a minute to stop the boiling.  Add the cheeses, a handful at a time, and stir to melt the cheese.  Stir in the Laughing Cow cheese last, and season with salt and pepper to taste.



  1. Mac&Cheese is one topic I could never get sick of. I don't think I can ever go back to Kraft again!

  2. Wow! yummy..what a wonderful click!

  3. I love quick night meal ideas, this looks perfect! :)

  4. Yes Dear, I use sprouts a lot in my cooking and so, I've started to sprout them at home..

  5. Mac and cheese is one of my favorite comfort foods. I love that you lightened it up and made it stove top!

  6. I just saved this recipe, it sounds awesome!!

    I hate socks too!!

  7. Ok, I just read your newlywed story and that is SO CUTE!! So glad you found your dishwasher!!

    I am following too!

  8. looks like it is super cheesy and wonderful, spiral is also my fav noodle for mac & cheese

  9. Mac n cheese looks so cheesy n perfect!!

  10. Nice recipe...sounds delicious.
    YOu have a wonderful space here...interesting posts...
    Am your happy follower now...:)
    Do visit mine.......

  11. Nithu -- Thanks for the info on the sprouts! I've never sprouted my own...on purpose!
    Jamie -- Thanks for visiting!
    Fun and Fearless -- Glad I'm not the only grown up out there who craves this stuff!
    Debbi -- Well, I guess I must not be the only one who dreads cold weather because it means socks!
    Jennifurla -- I love spirals; they're great for really soaking up a lot of cheese sauce.
    Aipi and Jay -- Thanks for visiting. I look forward to visiting your sites!

  12. I don't even bother making mac n cheese - because it's guaranteed danger for my waistline! But this sounds like something very enjoyable without the consequences :) And celery? I can't imagine what could be so great about that - I will be looking forward to your recipe!

  13. genius. i need to make this stat! mac and cheese is my favorite EVER!

  14. Looks so delicious, and I love the idea of the Laughing Cow addition. Sounds like it was such a great spontaneous decision. Your writing is delightful and your photos are amazing! Are you or the dishwasher a photographer? Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier! (

  15. I have been craving mac and cheese lately. Great recipe I can't wait to try it.