The end of Lent, the beginning of cheese

H A P P Y   E A S T E R !!

This morning began for me in a condo at a ski resort. Not half bad, right?  Tim and I spent yesterday skiing with by best friend and her brand new fiancé (as of last week-congrats to them!) and soaking up some rays. By soaking up rays, I mean getting light sunburns on our noses and cheeks. Oh well! 🙂

Back to the point at hand-today is Easter Sunday, which besides being an important day to any Christian is also the day in which those of us who practice Lent get to finally eat whatever we’ve given up. And I gave up dairy! Which was pretty difficult, but I discovered very valuable on my digestive system. But you know, what’s good for you isn’t always what you end up doing…and even though I promised myself I would continue to cut dairy out, I have a feeling that will be a hard promise to keep!! So this afternoon when I asked Tim what we should make for Easter Supper, he jokingly suggested Macaroni and Cheese. And I certainly surprised him with my enthusiastic, “SURE!” I hadn’t had cheese in 40 days…why not get my just reward? And I did, indeed. This delicious recipe was adapted from the February 27th recipe in the cookbook, A Year Full of Recipes by LOVEFOOD. It’s baked after being assembled, which gives you that wonderful bubbly, crispy cheese topping that is irresistible. Oh, and we accompanied it with grilled asparagus and filet mignon, which certainly helped set the supper off.

It’s important to be patient when cooking the sauce over the stove. You want it to get to the right consistency or you will have mac n soup.

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If I add the cheese before the sauce sticks more to the whisk, it won’t thicken up enough while baking to hold it all together for me.

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That’s what I want!

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Cheese within, cheese withon. 

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Delicious, baked and broiled, cheesy good-ness.

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Oh, stop.

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I chose my favorite: shell noodles. But use whatever you like!

Totally Baked Mac N’ Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz uncooked pasta noodles 
  • 5 TBS butter
  • 2 ½ cups almond milk (I used plain unsweetened-you can use regular milk of course, but I like the nuttiness of almond milk for this!)
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • 2 cups shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • ¾ cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 6 oz bag baby spinach, chopped or torn

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cook pasta according to package. Drain and stir in 1 TBS butter to keep noodles from sticking to each other. Cover and keep warm.
  • In saucepan, warm milk and nutmeg over low heat (be sure not to boil).
  • Meanwhile, melt remaining 4 TBS butter in another saucepan over low heat. Mix in flour (will form a paste) and continue to stir for 2 minutes (this brings out a nutty flavor). 
  • Slowly add in milk mixture, whisking thoroughly to avoid clumps. 
  • Continue to cook over low heat, whisking regularly, for 10-15 minutes until sauce consistency is reached (see images above). 
  • Mix in 1 ½ cups of the cheddar, and ½ cup of the parmesan, melting completely into sauce. 
  • Mix in spinach and continue to stir until wilted.
  • Place cooked noodles in bottom of baking dish. Cover with sauce. Top with remaining cheese.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, turn to broil for last 5 or so (just to get that good golden brown top!).
  • Enjoy!
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