“You are the cheese to my macaroni”

#34: Starting in August: Make a new meal at least once a week 4/4

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As you might know, I decided for a summer goal I would make a new meal once a week in the month of August and, I’ve pointed out, this is a big deal for me. Here are the recipes and the corresponding posts I made the past three weeks:

Carrot Cashew Curry

Brussels Sprouts, Pear, and Frico Salad

Italian Stuffed Peppers with Mariana Sauce

By coincidence, I’ve been making my meals on the Mondays in August so this week I decided to plan my meal on the Monday. For the last week, I decided to make it extra special. I invited my friend/fellow foodie Nate (also featured in the curry and salad posts) and my friends Mel Willy (featured in the baking post) and Axel.

I was flipping through my Veg Power! book (I also used this book for the salad and the peppers) and found a super yummy looking recipe for “Smoky three-cheese mac’ and cheese”. Although it’s pretty high in Weight Watchers Points (10 per serving), it looked worth it. Axel, Mel Willy, and Nate all agreed to help me make and eat this dish.

Yesterday we all went shopping, skipping the usual trip to Big E’s and instead going straight for the bigger Big Y to get our ingredients.

Here’s what the recipe called for (my notes in bold):

  • 1 pound whole wheat penne or cavatappi (we opted for two boxes of whole wheat penne)
  • 3 cups fat-free milk
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, cut into cubes (4 ounces if half a usual bar)
  • 1 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded smoked mozzarella (we had to go by the fancy cheese section of the store for this one)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs

We got back to my place and got to work. Here’s what we did:

 

1. Cook the pasta according to what was said on the box.

2. Preheat the broiler. I sprayed the casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.

3. Mel Willy cut the cream cheese into little cubes.

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4. Nate shredded the fancy smoked mozzarella.

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5. I whisked together the milk and flour in a large saucepan over medium heat until it was smooth. Nate helped me with whisking it until it came to a boil and thickened.

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6. Axel played Words with Friends.

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7. When the mixture in the saucepan was thickened, we lowered the heat but added in the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and mozzarella cheese. We also added the paprika and salt.

8. We whisked until it was smooth.

9. We drained the pasta and then put in back in the pot and added the cheese mixture to it and stirred.

10. I put that mixture into the casserole dish and put the breadcrumbs over it.

11. I put the dish in the oven for  3 minutes.

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12. I was able to put a whole other casserole dish in the oven! The recipe said it serves 8 but we were able to get 9-10 serving out of it with the extra box of pasta.

I dished out the pasta and served sweet bread with it!

Sweet bread!

Sweet bread!

We then, of course, ate our meals while watching Arrested Development.

Mel Willy, Axel, and Nate

Mel Willy, Axel, and Nate

Everyone really liked it and we all had seconds. I thought it was kind of chalky; not sure what that was from, but it was still super good I thought.

Mel Willy and Axel brought candy and cannoli for dessert! And I tried to make Axel like tea but he just can’t.

Cannoli!

Cannoli!

Overall, it was a really fun night and a good meal to end my dinner adventures. I think this experience really helped me appreciate the meals I get served whether it be in a restaurant or in my own home. I think it’ll also make me start cooking more, which was the goal here. It is definitely more fun to cook with friends and for friends. I’m really glad I put it on my list.

Stay tuned soon (maybe even tonight) where I’ll be posting something else I crossed off my list!

Thanks,

Samantha

English: Macaroni and cheese with panko toppin...

English: Macaroni and cheese with panko topping and a Soju-based cocktail in a tumbler at Blue at 2337 Market Street in San Francisco, California. “Gourmet Mac & Cheese: Fresh mozzarella, sharp cheddar, Parmesan, elbow pasta, topped with Japanese bread crumbs.” Description from their online menu as viewed on 2007-05-27. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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