Written on November 12, 2013 at 8:30 am , by BHG Guest BloggerI’m Paula Biggs from Frog Prince Paperie, and am very excited to be posting today for Delish Dish! You can also find me on my website where I like to post inspiration and tutorials for DIY celebrations and tips to make entertaining easy.
Every once in awhile I am asked to a gathering with the note to bring a dish; there aren’t many things that bring on a sense of panic for me than the words “pot luck.” It is completely unreasonable, I know, but I do have a fear that my lonely dish will sit on the serving table completely untouched. Definite fear of party failure working here! This bringing-home-a-full-tray-of-food-aphobia keeps me on the hunt for a crowd pleasing casserole that is guaranteed to vanish before the party’s over. After making these Cheesy Pasta-Stuffed Shells from the BHG.com site, I think I have a permanent pot-luck winner.
The creative presentation is what really sets this macaroni and cheese recipe apart. Tiny shells are made up as macaroni and cheese, then stuffed inside jumbo shells and baked on top of a bed of sauce with a mound of gooey mozzarella cheese melted on top. It is a feast for the eyes as well as the tummy.
It’s really hard to mess with a good thing–as this recipe was 100% perfect all on its own–but I did make a few changes when I baked this up. In general, any combination of really good melty cheese is going to produce a phenomenal macaroni and cheese dish. This recipe calls for Gruyere, sharp cheddar and mozzarella. As luck would have it, the grocery store I popped into to pick up my ingredients didn’t have Gruyere. It’s a cheese smaller stores probably aren’t going to carry, and costs much more than the average block cheeses usually do. So instead, I bought a block of Swiss cheese. It was fabulous with the cheddar! Emmental cheese or Gouda cheese would also be good substitutes for Gruyere cheese in this dish.
This Cheesy Pasta-Stuffed Shells recipe is incredibly flexible, just as a good mac-and-cheese recipe should be. I made a few batches and threw in different ingredients into the pasta/cheese mixture before stuffing the shells. Chopped spinach was a welcomed add; a few more vegetables never hurt anyone, and the greens made this casserole feel like a more balanced meal. For extra flavor, chopped prosciutto is wonderful or you could try some Italian sausage, pepperoni or even some seasoned ground beef. Olives, tomatoes and mushrooms are also interesting additions. There is certainly a lot of room for culinary creativity.
Next time a “bring a dish” event comes my way, I know I’ll be ready. These pasta stuffed shells will be gone in a flash, and I’ll get to happily take home an empty pan!
Written on December 18, 2012 at 8:30 am , by Delish Dish Editor
I’m Laurie Buckle, and I love mac and cheese. People sometimes snicker when
I confess this, maybe because it’s my job to know what’s new in food, which
chef is up and coming, and when the cupcake trend will wane (I’m the
editorial director of food for Better Homes and Gardens; lucky me). Let them
laugh, because I also love patty melts, guacamole on anything, and the
occasional bag of M & Ms.
So when my daughter mentioned a restaurant she’d been to that served pies of
all kinds (and only pies;), and that her favorite was a mac and cheese pot pie, I perked up.
Now that was a take on mac and cheese I’d never tried!
I’d been looking for an excuse to make the Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
from the October issue, and here was a good one. All I had to do was whip up
the mac and cheese, transfer it to bowls, top it with rounds of puff pastry
and bake until golden. Oh, I also had to make the mac meatless, since my
daughter’s a vegetarian.
I started with the cheese. Because where else do you start when it comes to mac and cheese? I measured a mix of Gruyere, jack and cheddar, then got grating.
It wasn’t long before I was joined by two of my favorite kitchen companions, Georgia (left, my daughter’s dog) and Coco (my dog). Both are always hoping against hope that something will hit the floor.
I cooked the pasta (scooping out a little of the pasta water before I drained it) and simmered chunks of butternut squash in milk until tender. At this point, the recipe takes an easy turn and has you mix the remaining milk and flour together in a small bowl, and stirring that mixture into the pan with the squash and milk. Once that comes to a boil, you cook until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes, then add the cheese. Stirring to melt it, I realized how much simpler this is than a classic cheese sauce.
Next up, a couple of onions and a hunk of butter. Since I was making a meatless version of the dish, I used butter instead of bacon fat to saute the onions. Is there anything that smells better than onions cooking in butter?
Because they smelled so good, and because I wanted the flavor that comes from nicely browned onions, I kept at this part for about 15 minutes, covering them at first and then turning up the heat during the final few minutes.
After that, it’s fast. I added the onions and the pasta to the squash-cheese mixture, tossed to combine (adding a little of that saved pasta water to moisten) and turned the mixture into some old French onion soup bowls, topping with the last of the cheese.
Then I cheated, mixing panko breadcrumbs (which I try to always keep on hand) with melted butter, and sprinkled that over the cheese. I rolled out a couple of sheets of puff pastry (which I’d let thaw for 30 minutes or so), cut out rounds and set them atop the bowls. Once they were in the oven, I used the 20 minutes or so they cooked to quick-clean the kitchen and make my favorite fall-back salad: arugula tossed with lemon juice and hunks of avocado, and a heavy hit of good salt. Dinner, done.