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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Creamy Triple-Cheese Mac 'n' Cheese
I was so irritated and annoyed (I really feel those are separate terms!), that my husband and son were going to eat Lasagne, Stouffer's no less which I think everybody loves. So I got out aaallll of the ingredients to make myself killer mac and cheese. And, as you can see in the photo above it came out perfect, gorgeous and very delicious. 

It makes me laugh somewhat (not really laughing with amusement, more like a bewildered chuckle), to hear or read how someone thinks a food is "sexy." I think that's ridiculous, but that's just my opinion. This dish is appetite appealing. A stimulant for ones appetite by the over-the-edge drips of creamy, triple cheese sauce and the lightly golden browned, hot bubbled cheese topping falling over the edge. How about the elbow pasta that's filled with the bubbling cheese sauce, piping hot and ready for you to take an eager, but cautionary bite. I say cautionary only because if you're like me you can hardly wait to take a bite, which of course means that I always burn my tongue or mouth. What about the tender diced tomatoes? Or the addition of parsley in the sauce for color and taste? 

I love trying new mac and cheese dishes. Some are just inspired by the cheeses I have on hand, some by photos in a magazine, or on T.V. Anyway you look at it there's so many variations available that one could never make them all even if you made several a day. I do own a mac and cheese cookbook that I probably purchased 10-15 years ago. I've made several of them, not 100% true to their recipe, as I always think there needs to be changes. I'm sure that you do the same, even with my recipes. If my recipes inspire you to create, with mine as a base, great! Go for it. Even top famous chefs do that. 

As I said above, I have several different favorite mac and cheese recipes. So you will see quite a few variations once in a while. I might eat from one only twice and share the rest with family or friends, or like this one, I'll freeze the rest in single portions so I can take it out and quickly heat 'n' eat! If you have any cheese sauce left it freezes very well.

Oh, by the way, this cheese sauce is great on steamed vegetables!

So, let's get to it!

Creamy Triple-Cheese Mac 'n' Cheese

10-12 ounces gluten free white rice elbow macaroni, I used Pastariso-all natural (info@maplegrovefoods.com)
1/4 cup unsalted butter
3-4 ounces brown rice flour
1/4 cup heavy cream or canned milk - shaken well
1 3/4 cup milk
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature and cut into chunks
6 ounces shredded cheddar cheese, reserving 2 ounces for browning on the top
6 ounces shredded jack cheese, reserving 2 ounces for browning on the top
1 teaspoon Kosher salt, *if using table salt cut amount in half
1/2 to 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
2 Tablespoons dried parsley
3-6 Tablespoons pasta water (natural thickener for the sauce)
(1) 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained very well

Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
Grease or spray a loaf pan with non-stick spray

1. Boil pasta for half of the normal cooking time (set your timer for best results), it will continue to cook while baking in the oven, and this keeps the pasta from becoming soggy. Drain well, but reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta water for a thickening agent.
2. While the pasta is boiling melt the butter in a large saucepan, add in the brown rice flour and cook over medium-low heat 2-3 minutes.
3. Heat the milk and cream or canned milk in the microwave for about 3 minutes, then whisk into the flour/butter mixture. Add in the three cheeses and whisk until smooth. Add in the Kosher salt and dried parsley. Add in the well drained diced tomatoes. 
4. Taste test for salt content adding 1/2 of the seasoned salt at a time to taste. Add pasta water as needed 1 Tablespoon at a time to thicken the sauce. If your sauce is still too thin, mix 1-2 Tablespoons brown rice flour in 2 Tablespoons water, then whisk into the sauce.
5. In a medium bowl mix the pasta and the cheese sauce, stirring with a rubber or silicone spatula  gently to prevent breaking the pasta. Pour into the prepared pan.
6. Bake at 350°F for 35-45 minutes, it should be bubbly, and beginning to toast light golden brown. Sprinkle the remaining reserved 2 ounces each of cheddar and jack cheeses over the top and continue cooking for 8-10 minutes or until the cheese is completely melted, bubbly, and slightly browned. 
7. Remove from the oven and let sit about 10 minutes to allow everything to "set." Spoon onto plates with some steamed vegetables, and eat!