Monday, January 13, 2014

Who Cares About the Velveeta Shortage?

I've already mentioned my love affair with cheese. It's my favorite food and my memories are peppered with profound ardor and enthusiasm. When I was preschool age, my Grandma used to sneak laxatives into government cheese for my constant constipation issue (it sounds contradictory, doesn't it?). My favorite side item at Thanksgiving was my Great-Grandma Tinsley's Macaroni and Cheese--a recipe I have yet to find on the internet. As I aged (like a fine cheese) I refined my cheese knowledge and expanded from cheddar and provolone to goat cheese, Gruyere, and Gouda, Bocconcini...the list goes on (although I really cannot tolerate brie).

There is also this fabulous macaroni and cheese restaurant in New York that is calling my name.

Actually, there are a variety of macaroni and cheese themed restaurants in the country:

I invited the family over for a birthday dinner this evening after for a macaroni meal. In my opinion, macaroni can officially act as a meal on it's own if it contains meat. This Cajun Macaroni and Cheese recipe includes three types of cheese--cream cheese, extra-sharp cheddar, and Gruyere--and kielbasa. If you prefer to get more creative, you can use Philadelphia Cream Cheese spreads (my suggestion would be chipotle, chive and onion, jalapeno, or salmon) and another type of sausage. We used Aidells Pineapple and Bacon sausage. We get coupons at Kroger for their sausage from time to time so we stock up.

  • 1 pound(s) elbow macaroni or other short pasta
  • 2 tablespoon(s) olive oil, plus more for the baking dish
  • 1 package(s) (13-ounce) kielbasa, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  •  Kosher salt and pepper
  • 1 clove(s) garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon(s) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cup(s) whole milk
  • 4 ounce(s) low-fat cream cheese
  • 2 teaspoon(s) Cajun seasoning
  • 8 ounce(s) (2 cups) extra-sharp Cheddar, shredded
  • 8 ounce(s) (2 cups) Gruyère, shredded


  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Oil a shallow 3-quart baking dish or six 2-cup ramekins. Cook the pasta according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the kielbasa, about 1 minute per side; set aside. Wipe out the skillet; heat the remaining tablespoon oil in the same skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until very tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetable mixture and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
  3. Whisk in the milk and bring to a simmer. Whisk in the cream cheese and Cajun seasoning until blended. Stir in the Cheddar and Gruyère and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the cheese is melted and the mixture has slightly thickened, 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Toss the pasta with the cheese sauce, fold in the kielbasa, and transfer to the prepared baking dish. Bake until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes.

Tips & Techniques

Make it Ahead: Prepare the Macaroni and Cheese but do not bake. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Bake as directed, adding 15 to 20 minutes to the cooking time.

Waste Not, Want Not

I used the leftover spinach from my artichoke recipe and the leftover cream cheese to make spinach dip as an appetizer for another meal. This makes a big casserole dish of pasta and it's also rich, so we were able to share the the meal between five people with leftovers for two, over two days. 

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