January 4, 2012

Comfort Food

Macaroni and Cheese is one of those things that you love during your childhood... it gets you through the picky-eater phase, then it becomes a staple as you grow... eventually it is a necessity, along with ramen noodles, cup-o-soups, and PB&J as you make your way through early (really broke) adulthood and into the world of the responsible (not-so-broke).  It never really goes away; just morphs over time to suit your ever changing tastes.  I've been to some frou-frou restaurants that have lobster or truffle mac & cheese on the menu... no thanks!  Don't ruin my cheesy goodness with $30/pound "sprinkles" that I'm just going to pick out anyway!

When I figured out that I was going to have to eat GF for good, I was worried.  Really worried that I would have to give up my favorite mac & cheese.  It is fortified with all of the good things in life... whole grain pasta, lots of cheese, sour cream, and just a pinch of love.  Fortunately, I was able to find a gluten-free alternative to whole-grain pasta.  So many of the GF pastas on the market have a very short window of opportunity for consuming... they go from al dente to school paste in a nano-second.  The only pasta I've found that I can put my stamp of approval on is corn-based pasta, specifically the pastas from Sam Mills.  Pasta d'Oro is my now go-to product for any of my favorite pasta-based dishes.  This product can usually be found in the organic/natural food section at many Kroger stores, but it also can be purchased in bulk on Amazon.com.  I like the rigatoni and fusilli shapes the best, but the penne rigate and lasagna corte are pretty fantastic, too!

Because I love you, my friends, I am happy to share my recipe for one of the best baked mac & cheese dishes I've ever encountered.  It's an adaptation on the mac & cheese served at Hoggy's Barn and Grille in New Albany, Ohio.  Their side dishes are all pretty incredible, but the mac & cheese is totally out of this world!!

GF Mac & Cheese

1 pound GF pasta, cooked al dente (please salt your cooking water!); drain and set aside to cool
20-24 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese (more if you're a cheese lover, less if you're ambivalent)
2 cups sour cream
2 cups small curd cottage cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

fold all ingredients together until well combined.  Transfer to a greased 9x13 casserole dish and bake at 375 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until the top is golden brown.  This can be served as a side dish, or as a meal all on its own!

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