Saturday, March 3, 2012

Not-Your-Average Mac and Cheese

Nearly every mac and cheese recipe you will ever encounter starts with a white sauce. And white sauces are fantastic. Seriously, it's just buttery, milky, cheesiness that's about to cover noodles.

This recipe, however, has no white sauce. Gasp! But how is it cheesy and delicious, you ask? Two secret ingredients. Are you sitting down? Seriously, this is going to weird you out. Alright. Ready?

Yep, that's right. Cottage cheese and sour cream. And they make this macaroni ROCK. So creamy and awesome tangy flavor. You also have the option to make a lighter mac and cheese (yes, healthy- kind of- mac and cheese can exist!) by using fat free cottage cheese and light sour cream, as I am here. This is also very easy to make and doesn't take a ton of time.

You can use any number of noodles for this mac and cheese. I've been on a mini penne kick lately.

Look at how little it is! I love penne, and this is just cute penne.

Boil your pasta of choice according to package directions to al dente. We're going to be baking it, so al dente pasta is super important for not-mushy-and-disgusting pasta.

While it's boiling, shred some cheese. I chose to use sharp cheddar cheese, but you can use whatever you want! I've used a combination of ramano & cheddar before and even extra sharp white cheddar and it's been fabulous every time.

Then chop up some green onions.

When the pasta is done, return it to the pot and mix the shredded cheese into it while it's still hot.

Combine ground mustard, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a small dish.

Add the spices, milk, onions, cottage cheese, and sour cream to the pasta and stir it very well, until evenly distributed. I love the smell that happens right here. So sharp and delicious! I could dive right in.

Then spread this mixture into the fabulous Rachael Ray Stoneware your boyfriend's mom got you for Christmas. Or you can just use any old glass baking dish. It's okay, not everyone can have her in their lives.

Now we're going to kick it up a notch. Melt some butter and combine it with Panko bread crumbs and paprika. Sprinkle it all over the top of that mac and cheese.

Throw the mac and cheese in an oven preheated to 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until melty and bubbly and the Panko crumbs are brown. If it doesn't have the color you want, broil it for a minute or so.

Top it off with a few more green onions, and wah-lah! (Wa-la? Wah-la? Wa-what?)

I love this dish because it's a great new take on a classic comfort food, and it is oh so very creamy. It's also super versatile- you can add bacon, different cheeses, veggies, whatever comes to mind!

Not-Your-Average Mac and Cheese
Inspired by Chuck's Favorite Mac and Cheese

Serves 6

8 oz mini penne pasta
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 tbsp chopped green onion
1/2 tsp ground mustard
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 cup light sour cream
1 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/4 tsp paprika

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente pasta.
2. When the pasta is done, return it to the pot it was cooked in. While it's still hot, mix in the shredded cheese.
3. Combine the ground mustard, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
4. Add the sour cream, cottage cheese, and milk to the pasta and stir to combine. Add the spices and green onions and stir until well combined.
5.  Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Spread the mac and cheese mixture into the dish.
6. Combine the melted butter, bread crumbs, and paprika and sprinkle evenly over the mac and cheese. Bake for 30 minutes, until mixture is bubbly and melty and the bread crumbs are browned. Broil for 30 seconds to give color if needed. Top with additional chopped green onions and serve.

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  1. I am SO making this. I cannot put enough emphasis on SO.

  2. I am a HUGE sucker for mac and cheese. Any and all mac and cheese, I must have it. Can't wait to try this!

    Also, *voila :)

  3. Mac and cheese is the best comfort food on earth!

  4. Wow, I love your blog :D! It's amazing. So I followed. I hope you can check out mine and follow back: thanks for your time. God bless!

  5. Mercy - I'm loving this. A lot.

  6. What a treat!!! This really sounds fabulous and I'll have to give it a try. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  7. Love the idea of using sour cream and cottage cheese to give this dish lots of extra tang and creaminess. The use of Panko crumbs is brilliant and I can imagine the topping can be very crunchy and yummy.

    Will love to cook this for my family.

  8. Wow! I will really try this out too. I do love mac and cheese a lot! :)

    Keep Produce Fresh Longer, The Environmentally Friendly Way

  9. I have always made my mac and cheese with cottage cheese and sour cream. I also add a can of cheddar cheese soup and a whole block of old cheddar. Sometimes I add goat cheese too,if I have it. And parmesan on top... and crushed potato chips for a crispy top. Never use a recipe. ever.

  10. My mouth is watering - definitely making this!

  11. I just made a gluten free version of this recipe with brown rice noodles and g-free potato chips and it turned out great!

  12. I doubled the amount of cheddar and substituted the the green onion with a sauteed leek. Yummy.

  13. I made it using lactose free products - came out great! Thank you for sharing such good recipe!

  14. I use this recipe and put buffalo sauce and buffalo chicken in it to make it buff chick mac and cheese. It's our favorite recipe because its not awful for you!


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