Carrie’s Fabulous Mac & Cheese

Casserole with Carrie's Fabulous Mac & CheeseHappy National Comfort Food Day! Yeah, I didn't know either but when a friend asked what comfort food I was going to blog about, I decided to stop on the way home and pick up the ingredients to make this classic.

A few years ago my friend Carrie brought this dish to a pot luck and everyone raved. I think she brought it to make sure the kids would eat but the adults couldn't stay away. I asked her for the recipe and was surprised that among the ingredients was cauliflower. It was undetectable. She explained that she likes making this because she knows her family is getting veggies as well as all of the goodness that goes along with a home-cooked meal. I've adapted this recipe so that I could use my immersion blender, but you can use a regular blender, food processor or even an old fashioned potato masher. The cauliflower is surprisingly easy to puree.

My spin on this comfort food is that most of the ingredients are organic and from around the region and we can find comfort in that, too! I should explain that I tried to score some locally made macaroni, but it's just not available. The folks at Pasta Plus gave me a couple of suggestions for quality organic imports though and I even found one on sale at Capella Market.

Time: 1 1/2 hours
Yield: 6-8 servings as a main dish
Level: Average

Tillamook Cheese grated, Nancy's cottage Cheese and Imported macaroniIngredients:
16 oz macaroni, cooked al dente (firm, not hard)
3 tbsp butter
3 cups low-fat mild cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
1 cup non-fat milk
1 ½ cup cauliflower puree (approximately 1 head of cauliflower)
2 tsp salt
Pepper to taste
3 tbsp flour
2 tbsp seasoned bread crumbs

cauliflower and milk blended with immersion blendercut cauliflower and fibrous coreDirections:
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut the cauliflower into florets, away from the fibrous core. Steam for 8-10 minutes, drain and put it in a deep mixing bowl (if you use an immersion blender) or a food processor. Add the milk and puree until smooth. Don't be concerned about its light color, it will change when it's baked.
all ingredients in the mixing bowl

Add the rest of the ingredients to the cauliflower puree and combine with a spoon. Spread into a 9" x 13" baking pan (or equivalent).
Sprinkle with seasoned breadcrumbs and cover with aluminum foil.
Bake, covered at, 350 degrees for 40 minutes.
Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes or until the bread crumbs brown.
Remove from oven and let it set for 10 minutes and serve.

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