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 here...you 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!?)
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.