Saturday, November 3, 2012

Fat Week Mac and Cheese

As a former athlete, I've heard my fair share of diet tips. Pour water on your food when you're full so you don't keep eating, no food after 8 p.m., food is the enemy, blah blah blah. One piece of advice in particular that I've heard multiple times, but can never seem to bring myself to follow, is not to consider the day lost when you cheat on your diet. I'll admit, I'm an all or nothing girl when it comes to diets. In fact, usually I consider the week lost when I've had a particularly fattening meal, because in my world, there is no logical day that a diet can start besides a Monday. That's why, during my and Joe's pre-wedding diet, our cheat day was always Sunday. Joe has heard the phrase "ok, this week I'll start eating healthy again" every weekend since our wedding day.

I feel like Halloween week can't be anything BUT a fat week. In my opinion, it is almost un-American not to eat candy over the Halloween season. We need to support American companies, including American candy companies. Just trying to save the economy one fun size take 5 bar at a time. It didn't help that I had a Waldo Pizza St. Louis style pepperoni pizza staring me in the face on October 31st either (no one can say no to that).

Anyway, to round out this fattening week, I decided to make the mother of all fatty foods this past Friday: mac and cheese. I'm a huge mac and cheese fan, from the kraft version to my favorite version, the mac and cheese my mother would make growing up. It was from some Disney cookbook, and it is amazing.

The recipe I chose was a version I found on pinterest. The blog is called "how sweet it is" and this is the first thing I've ever made from there. The recipe is for a Four Cheese Baked Skillet Rigatoni and the author compared it to the lobster mac and cheese at Capitol Grill, which is why I chose it. That is Joe's favorite.

I tried to make it at least somewhat healthy by using whole wheat pasta. It seemed to me that there would be plenty enough cheese to mask any difference in taste. I was very excited to find this brand this past week. Most of the whole wheat pasta I could find only does penne or fusilli noodles, and this brand not only had rigatoni noodles, but bow tie noodles as well (which I think is the most fun to eat).

This also gave me a chance to use the all clad skillet we received as a wedding gift for the first time. I haven't used it yet since it is so pretty and shiny and I was afraid to somehow break it. I was forced to use it for this recipe, however, because it required an oven safe skillet, and our only oven safe skillet is the all clad skillet.

There were only two bumps in the road. One was that we don't have a cheese grater. Three of the four cheeses (gruyere, fontina, and sharp cheddar, and besides the marscapone), in this recipe are supposed to be grated, but I instead I just cut the cheese into little strips. It actually worked just fine.

The other bump, which may sound ridiculous, was that it called for me to slice the shallots. I wasn't entirely sure how to slice shallots, and after I started to do so I felt like I was doing it wrong. After I was about half way done I decided to just google it, and, of course, one site said I was doing it wrong and another site said I was doing it right. I just did half one way and half the other, and in the end, it didn't really matter. Moral of the story, it really doesn't matter how you slice shallots (which I probably should have figured), and google lies.

The end result turned out AMAZING. So amazing that Joe even said it was the BEST mac and cheese he ever had! I would call that a success :)

Very excited to eat the left overs this weekend :)

Four Cheese Mac and Cheese
Slightly adapted from How Sweet It Is

1 lb. whole wheat rigatoni
1 sliced shallot
2 cloves of minced garlic
1/2 tsp. olive oil
5 Tbs. butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
8 oz. gruyere cheese, grated
8 oz. sharp cheddar, grated
8 oz. fontina cheese, grated
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/3 cups panko breadcrumbs

Cook the pasta according to the package directions 3.4 minutes less than instructed, and place the different cheeses into a large bowl.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, and heat an oven-safe skillet over medium heat (one large enough for a whole lot of cheesy goodness, which is large). Add the olive oil, butter, and once the butter is somewhat melted add the shallots. Cook for about 2-3 minutes until soft. Add garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. Add flour and make a roux by wisking constantly for about 2-3 minutes.

Pour in milk and stir constantly for another 1-2 minutes, then add all but a 1/2 cup of the shredded cheeses. Also add the marscarpone. Stir for another 3-4 minutes, until the mixture thickens. Add the salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the pasta to the skillet and toss evenly to coat. I found that this is best done in 1/2 cup incriments to avoid overflow.

Sprinkle the remaining cheese and the breadcrumbs on top and bake for 30-35 minutes. Enjoy!

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