I was not a huge fan of macaroni and cheese while growing up. My brother loved it, so I ate it when it was made for me, but I would never ask for it. Of course, this was Kraft cheddar mac 'n cheese. This convenience food is often a staple for University students. Incredibly cheap, quick, and easy. For me however, I can distinctly remember the three times I ate mac 'n cheese during my undergrad. The first was in first year. I lived in a dorm-style residence with no kitchen amenities beyond a microwave and refrigerator. We managed to make Kraft dinner in a plastic container of some sorts, and it was only palatable doused in ketchup. The second two times came out of no where (about a year apart) where I had an intense craving for President's Choice white cheddar macaroni and cheese. I have not had it since, but the craving has creeped up again.
I have been wanting to make my own from scratch for quite a while, becuase I know with some real cheese it could be quite a treat. A couple weeks ago Just Flourishing mentioned brie mac 'n cheese. I knew this is how I wanted to make my first homemade macaroni and cheese. With brie! When I saw brie cheese at No Frills for a reasonable price, I picked some up and knew that it would be used to make my first ever homemade macaroni and cheese.
This recipe is really my own but I took ideas from a number of recipes. I accepted that it wouldn't be heathy, but I put some "healthier" twists on it anyway. I like the idea of adding a vegetable which came from the Kitchn. I also liked the idea of using cottage cheese to amp up the creaminess from Smitten Kitchen. In this recipe the cottage cheese was blended to blend the "curds" which tend not to melt when heated. This added some cheesyness and protein without the fat of traditional cheddar or the brie which I used. Oh, and I didn't use macaroni.
Shells with Brie Cheese and Mushroom Sauce
1 tsp butter
3 large cremini mushrooms
1 cup milk (I used skim)
1 tbsp flour (use all purpose - whole wheat results in brown specs in the sauce - see picture)
1/2 cup cottage cheese, blended smooth (I used 2%)
1/2 small wheel of brie cheese (100 g, rind removed)
2.5 cup dry vegetable shell pasta
1. Heat butter on medium heat. Add mushrooms and saute until soft. Cook pasta according to package instructions.
2. Turn heat to medium-low and add 1/2 cup milk and stir continuously while simmering.
3. Add 1/2 tbsp flour (sprinkle it), and continue to stir until sauce thickens.
4. Add blended cottage cheese and the rest of the milk. Stir until a simmer is reached.
5. Sprinkle the rest of the flour and continue to stir until the sauce thickens. Add brie cheese, cut into chunks. Simmer and stir until desired thickness.
6. Add sauce to cooked pasta.
For making the sauce on the fly, it didn't turn out too bad! It was a little thick so I think I would add another 1/4 to 1/2 cup milk next time. The problem with homemade cheese sauces is they tend not to do very well as leftovers. This is all to do with texture as they become clumpy rather than saucy. The taste does not change though so all is not lost.
I recommend you make this recipe if you are looking for a protein packed (15 g per 1/2 cup) slightly healthier 'real' mac 'n cheese, and love brie. But really, you can substitute any cheese you want for the brie to suit your taste. Making sauces can be fun as long as there is no pressure for them to turn out perfectly, so experiment! It might not look very pretty, but it will always taste good...it is cheese after all!