DGG Peg and her husband, GG Bill (a.k.a. Grandpa) sent me this recipe. This is a VanLoo Crew favorite. I tried it out on New Year’s Day. It’s easily the best Mac and Cheese I’ve ever made. Of course, I’ve only made Mac and Cheese out of a box. But, this was really delicious and, excluding the baking time, very easy and fast. It also has a little kick to it from the spices. Jess asked for seconds so I know she liked it and it wasn’t too spicey for her. This is a perfect recipe for multi-tasking. It only takes about 10 minutes to prep for the oven. Then while it’s baking clean the kitchen, do homework, play a board game or a do a quick walk on the treadmill.
First, preheat the oven to 375. Use about a tablespoon (or less – I didn’t have to use a whole tablespoon) of butter to grease a 9×13 cake pan.
In a blender, puree 1 cup of cottage cheese, 2 cups of whole milk, 1 teaspoon of dry mustard, a pinch of cayenne, a pinch of nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper. The recipe calls for whole milk and regular cottage cheese but I used 2% milk and low fat cottage cheese and it was fine.
While I was making this, just before I hit the puree button, my power went out for about 2-3 hours. I threw everything in the fridge and waited in the dark with a blanket, book light and my book. Mark and Jess left earlier to drop something off for the boys at their mom’s. I called and said just stay there since the power was out. Three hours alone time is kind of unusual around here so I jumped on it. Mark was happy since he was able to watch football and Jess was happy because she was with her brothers.
But, you are here for the recipe! So next, grate 1 pound of sharp or extra-sharp cheddar cheese into a large bowl. Reserve 1/4 cup of grated cheddar.
Stir in the milk mixture and about 1 1/2 cups (or 1/2 pound) of uncooked macaroni. Not having to cook the macaroni makes this prep go really quick. You can also buy shredded cheese but we bought the block cheese because it’s cheaper and it didn’t take long at all to shred it.
Pour the mixture into the pan. I had a Divine Greene Girl moment and almost forgot to add the macaroni. DGGs are known for their DGG moments. Otherwise known as scatterbrained. Fortunately, I remembered just before I popped it into the oven. Otherwise, it would have been Milk&Cheese.
Cover tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover pan, sprinkle with remaining cheese and dot with a tablespoon of butter.
Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes more. Let cool 15 minutes before serving. It makes 6-8 servings.
I love the burnt cheese edges. So tasty! This also stores well for leftovers. I brought it to work for lunch yesterday. This would also be a great recipe for the kids to make with some guidance. The little ones would love to press the button on the blender.
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Here is a condensed version:
Grandpa’s Macaroni and Cheese
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup cottage cheese (not lowfat)
2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon dry mustard (optional)
pinch cayenne (optional)
pinch ground nutmeg (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound sharp or extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 pound elbow macaroni, uncooked
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Use half the butter to grease a 9″ round or square baking pan. A 9×13 pan works, too. In a blender, puree cottage cheese, milk, spices, if you are using them, and salt and pepper. You can also mash the mixture with a fork. Shred the cheddar and reserve 1/4 cup. Add the rest to a large bowl along with the milk mixture and the macaroni. Mix. Pour into pan. Cover tightly with foil and bake 30 minutes. Uncover pan, sprinkle with remaining cheese and dot with remaining butter. Bake, uncovered, 30 minutes more. Let cool 15 minutes before serving. Makes 6-8 servings.