While at my Pampered Chef bridal shower, the consultant gave me a cookbook: 29 Minutes to Dinner (The Pampered Chef, 2007). This cookbook reminds me of Rachel Ray’s style of cooking – quick dinners with lots of “meanwhile” instructions. You know, cook A, meanwhile prep B. I think this style is okay, but it’s not my favorite. Especially when it’s the first time I’ve cooked a dish. I’d much rather prep everything ahead of time so that it’s ready when needed. I’ll admit it does leaving you standing in the kitchen without a task for a few minutes at times, but overall for me, I’d rather be watching my pots and pans.
The first recipe I tried from this cookbook is BLT Mac & Cheese. WF has been BEGGING for pasta and it has been awhile since we’ve cooked it. When WF was in college pasta was a huge part of his menu, especially during crew season. Since I’ve started cooking on a regular basis, his usual meals of spaghetti noodles with melted butter (ew) have not been on my menu.
WF was pretty excited about this pasta dish, and I love anything that lets me cook with lots of cheese. I also like cooking with leeks because they have good flavor. They are easy to prepare and clean as well. Just slice lengthwise and chop crosswise into small slices. Put the slices into a bowl of cool water and swish around to allow the dirt and silt to fall to the bottom. Lift leeks out of the water and you’re done.
I did have some issue with the cheese sauce sticking to the bottom of the pot. Next time I’ll make sure to coat the bottom of the pan liberally with PAM or something. But overall, delish recipe.
The recipe was written for 6, but I made it for 2-3 and also tweaked some of the amounts to our tastes.
BLT Mac & Cheese
Stuff you need:
- 2 1/2 c water
- 3-4 slices bacon (see “Other stuff you might…”)
- 4 oz sharp white cheddar cheese
- 1 oz Parmesan cheese
- 2 oz cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 lb cellentani or cavatappi pasta (I used gemelli b/c I couldn’t find cavatappi, but I recommend cavatappi if you can find it)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 lg leek
- 1 lg tomato
What to do with that stuff:
- Slice the bacon into small strips.
- Shred the cheddar and Parmesan cheeses.
- Prepare leeks as described above.
- Slice tomato, remove cores and scrape out seeds. Chop into bite-size pieces.
- Coat stock pot with PAM.
- Bring water to a boil.
- Cook the bacon in saute pan over medium-high heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until crisp. Remove bacon to paper towl-lined plate.
- When water boils, add pasta, cream cheese, grated cheese, salt and pepper.
- Cover and simmer 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add leeks and stir into pasta mixture.
- Cook, uncovered, 5 to 7 minutes or until the pasta is cooked to your liking. Stir occasionally.
- Remove pot from heat and add tomatoes and bacon.
- Serve immediately.
Other stuff you might want to know:
- I would probably omit the bacon (GASP!!) I do love bacon, but I just wasn’t feeling the crunch in this otherwise smooth, soft meal. It just wasn’t appealing to me this time.
- You can also make this dish with cooked chicken, stirring it in at the end to warm through.
Adapted from: