Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Triple Cheese Spirals... (aka "I can't eat anybody else's mac & cheese anymore!")

Hi long lost friends!  Apologies for my ridiculously prolonged absence - I have been trying to use a teaspoon to dig myself out from under the mountain of graduate school homework that is currently crushing me.  Okay so back to the food!

So during my time away, I've been basically doing two things - homework and cooking.  I've made quite a few successful dishes that I have on the proverbial back burner for future blog entries, but I honestly think my most delicious escapade is Triple Cheese Spirals.  I can't take credit for the recipe because I got it from Food Network Magazine (which just might be the greatest publication ever) but I can take credit for my little twist on the recipe!

The first time I made this recipe, my boyfriend and I had just started dating and I was looking for comfort food that was easy to make that I could really impress him with.  Enter Food Network Magazine!  (Sidenote: I bought my subscription for Food Network Magazine from and I only paid $25 for TWO YEARS. SO worth it).  So the cover of Food Network's April 2010 issue looks like this:

And I was immediately GLUED to the part where it said "mac & cheese five ways."  If there is one thing that would impress my darling boyfriend, it is a huge bowl of homemade macaroni and cheese.  So I open the magazine, find the page, and THIS is what I see:

OMG. Hello deliciousness, my taste buds are waiting for you.  So off to the store I went to pick up the few ingredients that I didn't have in my house already (cayenne pepper, ground mustard, and evaporated milk - very inexpensive ingredients that pack a serious flavor punch).  The first few times I made this dish, I stuck to the recipe like glue and my boyfriend was blown away.  For a while there, I was making macaroni and cheese for him every weekend AND making a tray of it for him to bring to work and share with his buddies.  He loved it, his coworkers loved it, and I was so proud of myself for creating something he enjoyed so much.

But as I've said in previous entries, there are days that I wake up starving and craving a specific food.  One day about a month ago, that food was this macaroni and cheese.  However, I wanted some vegetable goodness as well, so I decided to add broccoli and cauliflower to the recipe that time around.  It wound up being INCREDIBLY good (though my boyfriend is still partial to the normal version).  Recipe remix time anyone?  Here's what mine looked like:

Okay, so sue me.  I'm a no frills kind of girl - I'm not a food stylist (though sometimes I truly wish I was).  My picture is nowhere near as gorgeous as Food Network's recipe photo.  I can promise it was just as tasty (if not more so!).  Here's the original recipe, courtesy of the fabulous chefs at Food Network:

 Triple Cheese Spirals


  • Kosher salt
  • 12 ounces gemelli, cavatappi or other spiral-shaped pasta (I use Barilla's cellentani)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup shredded yellow sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, chives and/or scallions
  • For my recipe remix, I added one bag of frozen broccoli and cauliflower that I steamed in the microwave.


Bring a pot of salted water to a boil; add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour, mustard and cayenne and stir with a wooden spoon to make a paste. Cook, stirring, until the paste puffs slightly, about 1 minute. Whisk in both milks and 1/2 teaspoon salt and simmer, whisking occasionally, until slightly thickened and creamy, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the cheddar and jack cheeses and all but 2 tablespoons of the parmesan and whisk until melted; keep warm.
Combine the panko, herbs and/or scallions, 1 tablespoon butter and the remaining parmesan in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave until the butter melts, about 1 minute; toss.
Drain the pasta, reserving about 1 cup cooking water, and return to the pot. Toss with the remaining 1 tablespoon butter, then stir in the cheese sauce, adding the reserved cooking water if needed. Season with salt and top with the breadcrumb mixture. 

Recipe Courtesy of Food Network Magazine, April 2010.

And can I tell you the best part?  Recently, my boyfriend and I went out and he tried to eat macaroni and cheese that someone else made.  He stopped after two bites, looked at me, and I swear the first three words out of his mouth were, "I hate you."  I was shocked!  What could I have possibly done to deserve that?  He started laughing and said, "I love you.  But I can't eat anyone else's mac and cheese anymore because yours is so good."  That just melted my heart and was the perfect compliment.  I love you too, babe. :)

If you guys make this, original or remix, you have to let me know how it turns out!

More food sans frills very soon.

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