Classic / Cheesy

by cecimadden


A friend of mine received a beautiful bouquet of red roses for Valentine’s Day and wittily defended it saying, “Don’t call it cheesy – this is classic!”

What a great distinction, right?  If you were to ask me if I like cheesy things, I would probably cringe.  In this category I would place: the movie Titanic, prom, marriage proposals…  Things that are overly sentimental, contrived, or simply tacky.  Things that try so hard to make us smile, and though they often do we’re usually rolling our eyes or crying before it’s over.

But if you were to ask me if I like classic things, I would say, who doesn’t?  I’d consider: red roses, good jeans, letterpress stationary, apple pie.  Things that are not trendy, that stand the test of time.  Things that make us feel good, but effortlessly so.

I got to thinking about whether something could be both classic and cheesy.  (Boy, I’m so high-minded, huh?)  I only came up with one thing: 80’s rock.  Over the top, but stands the test of time = classic and cheesy.

Oh, and this:

Super Simple Baked Mac & Cheese
inspired by this recipe on Smitten Kitchen

The best, best thing about this recipe is that you don’t have to cook the noodles in advance.  It takes about an hour to bake, but with only 20 minutes of prep time (and no stirring of bechamel) I consider this a happy trade off.  Also, if you have an immersion blender, you can get away with only dirtying one large bowl and a casserole dish.  Can’t beat that.

For the cheese- I like a 1:1 combination of sharp cheddar and pepperjack.  Recently we tried cheddar and gouda, which was extra creamy and delicious too.    I would say, you’ll always want at least half of the cheese to be cheddar or American.  At the end of the day this is supposed to be a basic recipe, so don’t go adding broccoli or bacon or anything else into the mix either.

Finally, plan to eat this with friends.  This recipe makes about 6 servings and if you don’t have helpers you’ll eat them all by yourself.

1lb of shredded cheese (sharp cheddar or American are ideal; see above for other suggestions)
2 cups of whole milk
1 cup of full fat cottage cheese
1 teaspoon of dry mustard
1 pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon of garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
butter to grease your pan
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1/2lb of dry macaroni noodles or other thin pasta (I like whole wheat mini shells or rotini too)

1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and grease a 9″ round casserole dish.  (I actually use a cake pan and it works perfectly.)

2. Blend the milk, cottage cheese, mustard, cayenne, salt and pepper together until smooth.  I use a large bowl and an immersion blender.  You could also just throw everything in a traditional blender.

3. Reserve 1/2 cup of your cheese for later.  In the same large bowl of milk mixture, add the remaining cheese and noodles and mix until well combined. 

4. Pour this mixture into your prepared pan.  Cover tightly with foil and place in the oven for 30 minutes.

5. Uncover, sprinkle the 1/2 cup of reserved cheese on top and drizzle with olive oil.  Place back in the oven for another 30 minutes, uncovered.  This will give your finished dish a nice, crunchy, cheesy crust on top.

6. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.  Eat while listening to some good 80’s rock and call it a classic + cheesy night!