Chili Mac and Cheese II (or No Pre-Cook Mac & Cheese)

Mac & CheeseFullSizeRenderA while ago, I posted a recipe for chili mac and cheese.  Recently, I was deciding what to cook for Rose Friday, our mommy and me’s weekly get together, and I came across a recipe for mac and cheese that required no pre-cooking.  I spruced up the recipe to add some veggies and protein, and made this.  This recipe makes a really good-sized pan of mac and cheese, so feel free to cut it in half if you don’t want too many leftovers.  This is based on a recipe from Smitten Kitchen and the NYTimes.  (Apologies for the limited pictures, I had to put this together quickly, and then we gobbled it up fast!)

Here’s what you need:

2 cups full fat cottage cheese

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon mustard

4 cups milk, divided into 1 cup and 3 cups (I did 2% – I would recommend that or whole milk)

2 pounds shredded cheese (I did half extra sharp cheddar, half jack; I recommend grating yourself – and not buying pre-shredded – as it melts better)

1 pound elbow pasta, uncooked

2 handfuls cherry tomatoes, cut in half

3/4 cup chopped sweet peppers (or bell peppers)

1 can black beans, drained

1 can kidney beans, drained

(UPDATE:  If you want to make this as regular mac & cheese like you see in the first picture above, just omit the tomatoes, peppers, beans and spices, add 1 tablespoon mustard and 1 tablespoon ketchup, and feel free to mix up the cheeses)

Here’s what you do:

(1) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and butter a 9×13 baking dish.

(2) In a blender or food processor, combine the cottage cheese, spices, mustard, and 1 cup milk.  Blend until smooth.

(3) In a large bowl, mix together the cottage cheese mixture, the remaining milk, 3/4 of the cheese, the pasta (uncooked), the tomatoes, the peppers, and the beans.

(4) Pour the macaroni mixture into the buttered pan, cover tightly with foil, and bake for 30 minutes.  (I also recommend putting a larger cookie sheet under the pan so the liquid doesn’t boil over into the oven.)

(5) After 30 minutes, remove the foil, lightly stir the macaroni, and then sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the macaroni.  Return to the oven uncovered and bake for another 30 minutes.

(6) Remove from the oven and allow to cool at least 15 minutes before eating.

Enjoy!

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