Welcome to the first ever Crazy Cooking Challenge! I'm thrilled to be participating in this challenge, hosted by and the brain-child of Tina at Mom's Crazy Cooking.
What's the Challenge, you ask? Well, let me tell ya.
Crazy Cooking Challenge is a group of food bloggers getting together once a month to bring you one featured food item for each month. We will all make this one item, but, of course, we will each make it in our own special way. Because that's what we do best! - we put our own personal spin on the stuff we make. Sound fun? I think so!
So look for us to post our Challenge on the 7th of each month. And first up - which you probably already figured out by the photo at the start of this post - is macaroni and cheese! Ahhhhhh, one of my favorites.
Now, the rules of The Challenge are that we can't just make our own personal recipe favorite, or a recipe that we have posted before. We are to make a new-to-us recipe, or to use a new-to-us method, found somewhere out in blog-land.
When I learned that our first challenge was macaroni and cheese, I immediately thought of a macaroni and cheese recipe posted by one of my favorite bloggers, Nicole at Heat Oven to 350. I've always made baked macaroni and cheese, but Nicole's recipe is made on the stovetop instead. Well, that meets the new-to-me method requirement of The Challenge! So I set to work making Nicole's Simple Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese.
I was drawn to this particular recipe for three reasons:
1. It was made by Nicole. I love reading her blog.
2. It was made on the stovetop instead of baked, like I usually do.
3. Nicole used Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese, made by Cabot Creamery in Cabot, Vermont. I grew up 20 minutes from Cabot Creamery and am a loyal fan. After moving to North Carolina, I initially had Cabot cheese shipped to me. Fortunately, it is now readily available throughout the area so I no longer have to ship. Yay!
Given my love of Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar, you will find it very ironic, then, that one of the modifications I made to this recipe is to use Smoked Gouda instead of the cheddar. That doesn't mean I don't love the original! I do love it!!! And highly recommend it. I just wanted to try a different twist. And the Smoked Gouda version is fab, too ... If I do say so myself.
The other modification I made to the original recipe is to use cavatappi pasta instead of elbow macaroni. Cavatappi is a fun twisty-shaped pasta. See in the picture below? Doesn't it look fun?
|Fun & twisty cavatappi|
So, whether you choose to go with the original cheddar-based recipe or this Smoked Gouda version, I think you're in for a treat! I know I certainly enjoyed both versions!
|(By the way ... I made this bowl back in my pottery-throwing days. I'll get back to pottery someday... someday.)|
Stovetop Smoked Gouda Macaroni and Cheese
Source: Adapted from Heat Oven to 350
14 oz. cavatappi pasta (or elbow macaroni)1/4 c. unsalted butter
1/4 c. flour
2 c. milk
1/4 tsp. salt
4 oz. shredded Monterey Jack cheese
4 oz. shredded smoked gouda cheese
2. While water is coming to a boil for the pasta, melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk together. Cook for 1 minute.
3. Slowly add milk, just a bit at a time, whisking well after each addition until the milk is incorporated. Cook and stir mixture until it thickens, about 4-5 minutes. Remove milk mixture from heat and stir in cheeses until melted.
4. Drain pasta and toss with cheese sauce. Season to taste with additional salt, if needed.