Tag Archives: mac & cheese

Spinach, Tomato and Cheese Stove Top Macaroni

22 Feb

I prefer stove-top mac and cheese recipes to mac & cheeses you bake in the oven…

Why?? After the pasta is cooked and the cheese sauce is made, why do we need to cook it all over again??? I like a cheesey topping just like the next person, but I also like to have my macaroni with lots of sauce and unfortunately, baking dries much of the sauce out.

So this is a recipe that came about with no recipe in mind at all… My aunt likes when I make pasta in cheese sauces. I was in the supermarket and I started buying ingredients without knowing how I would make them in the end. The result was a great pasta dish that delighted not just the people who ate it with me initially, but my friends on the internet as well. So to all of you who were drooling over the pic on FB, here’s the recipe!!!!

This is a large recipe for me… I rarely ask you to make the whole box of pasta at once. This will feed about 8 people or 4 people with leftovers. You can certainly halve this recipe… I do it aaaaaaalllllllll the time.

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SPINACH, TOMATO AND CHEESE MACARONI

1 box of whole wheat macaroni
½ bag of frozen chopped spinach
1 small onion, diced
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tbs olive oil
2 cups diced tomatoes
2 cups half and half
4 oz cream cheese
2 cups Italian blend shredded cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste
Parmesan Cheese, grated to garnish

 

  1. In a large pot, much larger than you think you’ll need, bring about a gallon of water to a boil. When the water reaches it’s boiling point, salt the water and add the pasta. Stir a few times so the pasta won’t stick together. Cook the pasta according to pasta directions until al dente.
  2. While the pasta cooks, we make the sauce… they’ll be done at about the same time.
  3. In a medium sauce pan over medium heat add some olive oil, the onions and garlic. If you have sofrito, you could add a tbs if you want as an added bonus. Sautee them for a few minutes so the onion softens. Avoid the garlic getting burned.
  4. Add the spinach still frozen… the heat from the pan will thaw it. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the sauce pan for a few minutes. This will help the spinach thaw quicker.
  5. When the spinach is thawed and looks more cooked, add the diced tomatoes and cream cheese. Stir well to combine. Afterwards, add the half and half and allow it to softly boil so the sauce will thicken in consistency. Season again lightly with salt and pepper. Stir a few times as the sauce is thickening to avoid any scorching on the bottom of the pan.
  6. When the sauce has gotten a tad thicker, but is still runny, turn off the stove and add the shredded cheese in small batches. Stir consistently and allow the cheese to melt into the sauce.
  7. When the pasta is done, drain it well… but even if a little water is kept it’s no big deal. Return the pasta to the larger pot and add the sauce to it. Stir well to combine. Try to stir carefully to avoid breaking up the pasta…

Serve with grated parmesan on top with your favorite salad ( we had to have avocados in Miami) and baked sweet plantains.

 

Tell me what you think… Are you brave enough to “invent” a pasta dish on the fly like that??? I want to hear from all my friends on FB that were ohhhh-ing and ahhh-ing when they saw the picture initially. Have you made it?? Tell me what you think. Gracias!!!

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Pink Mac & Cheese

1 Feb

A good friend of mine reminded me I always talked to him about my blog and my recipes, but that I had NEVER cooked for him.  So I immediately invited him to lunch and made this impromptu comforting pasta dish.

I love pink pasta sauces… I think they’re super tasty and combine the best of both worlds – cheese sauce and tomatoes. 

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PINK MAC & CHEESE

1/4 pound whole wheat pasta – penne, rigatoni, macaroni would all work
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs sofrito
8oz heavy cream
4 oz cottage cheese
3/4 cup shredded Italian cheese mix, divided
2 oz. Laughing Cow cheese or 1/3 less fat cream cheese
1/4 cup crushed tomatoes
5 or 6 sun dried tomatoes, chopped
10-12 basil leaves
Salt, Garlic salt and Pepper to taste
  1. In a medium pot, boil water, season with salt liberally and cook pasta until al dente… approximately 10-12 minutes.  While pasta cooks, make the sauce. 
  2. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil.  Add sofrito and saute for a few minutes.
  4. Add cream cheese and whisk together with sofrito until it melts.  Add heavy cream, cottage cheese, cream cheese and 1/2 cup of the Italian cheese blend.  Whisk together until all cheeses are melted and well blended.
  5.  Add crushed tomatoes and season with garlic salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Add sun-dried tomatoes and basil leaves.
  7. Drain cooked pasta and add to saucepan with sauce.
  8. Transfer pasta and sauce to a baking dish.  Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup shredded cheese blend.
  9. Bake in oven for about 20 minutes until the cheese on top is melted and creates a golden crust.

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Not too light, but delicious and comforting… my friend is a convert and now he wants me to cook for him all the time.  I should have taken a photo of his amazed face. 

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