Wednesday, May 14, 2008

comfort foods redux

I must be in a comfort food zone. How else can I explain my sudden desire to cook up a dish of macaroni and cheese for my family?

Not that mac and cheese was ever real comfort food for me. Although I remember eating macaroni and ketchup numerous times as a kid (no cheese please--I never did trust the nuclear shade of orange), I avoided it like the plague during university.

In my recipe collection, however, I have a clipping from a 1996 issue of Cooking Light for a Creamy Four Cheese Macaroni. So at some point, the thought of a homemade version must have appealed to me (one without ketchup).

This week, I pulled it out in an endeavour to prepare a kid-friendly meal. To further enhance the possibility that it would be eaten by my picky 3 year old, and to add to the nutritious value, I decided that I would liven it up a little by adding black beans, corn and peas.

If you are like me, then the combination of corn and black beans screams one big spanish "Olé!" . This inspired me to choose a six-cheese taco and nacho mix. Instead of fontina, parmesan, cheddar and (gasp!) Velveeta, this macaroni and cheese was prepared with Monterey Jack, Monterey Jack with Jalapeño peppers, Cheddar, Queso Quesadilla, Queso Blanco and Asadero.

The Monterey Jack with Jalapeño wound up giving the dish a nice little spicy kick. I supposed I could have adjusted the spiciness by reducing the amount of mix and adding more (plain) Monterey Jack. In the end I didn't have to - my three year old told me (unprompted, I might add) "This is good mommy!". So, based on this blessing from my toughest critic, I'm using this as my submission to Presto Pasta Nights (as well as making this a permanent adaptation in my book). Every Friday, Ruth of Once Upon A Feast posts a round up of pasta recipes submitted by food bloggers all around the world. A great idea which inspires me to continue finding new and different ways to serve pasta.

Baked Macaroni con Queso
ruthlessly adapted from Cooking Light,September 1996
serves 2 hungry adults, one three year old and a one-year old with one serving left over

3 cups elbow macaroni
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/3 cups milk
2 cups taco/nacho cheese mix
1 cup black beans
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup green peas
1/2 cup bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 2-quart casserole dish and set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Salt water, add macaroni, and cook until al dente. Drain and set aside.

While pasta is cooking, combine flour and milk in a large saucepan, whisking until blended. Cook over medium heat about 8 minutes, or until thick, stirring constantly.

Add cheese and cook until melted and thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the macaroni, beans, peas, and corn. Pour mixture into prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle bread crumbs over top. Bake until bubbly, about 30 to 40 minutes.

1 comment:

Ruth Daniels said...

It does sound like a great creation. And thanks for the kudos. Keep these great pasta dishes coming to Presto Pasta Nights.