Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Pop Quiz! Mac & Cheese

Check out this recipe on my new and improved website:

This is the first of (many?) pop quizzes that I bring upon myself. Any dish that is part of my Walking Cookbook index (aka: my memory) could be the topic of a pop quiz, meaning I will make it again without looking back at the recipe I used. This time it was Macaroni and Cheese.

Why Mac and Cheese? Well...

  • The Mac and Cheese from my first run had twice the amount of pasta as it was supposed to (remember that?)
  • I couldn't actually taste or smell anything the first time I made it because of my cold
  • I had pasta, cheese that was going to expire soon (don't worry-- it was still good), cream, milk, and eggs on hand
  • I had an extra hour
  • The fridge and pantry were really full, so it was partially a clear-out meal
  • I was cold and the oven heats up the kitchen nicely
Really, there was really no reason NOT to make Mac and Cheese. So I did, and it was incredible! I used whole-wheat pasta, which lets me pretend it's healthy, and I didn't have whole milk so I just used normal milk. I also added a little bit of parmesan. Here are the answers I came up with for my pop quiz:

Pop-Quiz Mac and Cheese
Yield: 8 servings
  • 3/4 lb. whole-wheat penne (or any other bite-sized pasta)
  • 4 oz. extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 4 oz. colby jack cheese, grated
  • 2 oz. parmesan cheese, grated
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, cut into small chunks
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • salt
  • pepper
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Bring water to a boil on the stove.
  • Add the pasta and cook for 5-6 minutes (whole-wheat pasta) or 3 minutes (white pasta), until the outside of the pasta has softened but it is still uncomfortable to chew.
  • Meanwhile, mix all grated cheeses with the cream, milk, nutmeg, eggs, and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Butter the bottom and sides of a casserole dish or high-edge saucepan (about 10-12" diameter).
  • Drain the semi-cooked pasta, rinse once with cool water, and add to the sauce mix.
  • Pour into the casserole dish or pan, even out any huge clumps of cheese, and plop the cream cheese on top
  • Bake for 5 minutes, spread out the cream cheese on top, then bake for 30 more minutes, until bubbly and golden on top.
The Grade: 98%
This was a delicious Mac and Cheese... it is everything I love about the dish: hearty, gooey, and flavorful (different cheeses stand out in different bites). It was obviously cheesier and less crunchy than the mistaken Mac and Cheese from before, but it also was greasier. With less pasta to soak up the sauce, there was a bit of a greasy residue in the dish (particularly the next day after reheating).

At the school where I teach, we define mastery of a topic as the understanding and use of skills with 80% accuracy. In other words, 80% is the minimum grade required to pass a test, class, etc.

Although I lost 2% for the oily nature of this dish, I still totally mastered it with a 98%!


  1. Okay, my darling girl, what is "normal" milk?

    And can you figure out the PointsPlus value for WeightWatchers for this dish? I'm afraid I might have to use a full day, plus all my extra weekly points, if I try this - but it might be worth it!

  2. Hello, TMP: "Normal milk" can be any milk that is not whole milk. I used skim, but whatever you have on hand will work just fine. Perhaps I should call it "convenient milk!"

    If you have a resource for calculating Weight Watchers points, I would be happy to start adding that to my recipes. Unfortunately, I cannot access the Points Plus information. Do you have a formula or log-in that I can use?


  3. TODD will send you a couple of links that should help. The most important things to know are the grams of fat, carbohydrates, fiber, and protein.

    Do you remember when we always sent your milk back at restaurants when you were little because you thought it it tasted bad only to find out it was 2% and you were used to skim? Do you also know that most of the world thinks of whole milk as normal milk and the rest as modifications, rendering that milk as abnormal, according to TODD.