Getting My Mac On

52 macs in 52 weeks

May 31, 2020

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Week 13: Cottage Cheese Mac

Week 13. Wow. That means I’m already a quarter of the way through.  It both seems like I just started and like I’ve been doing this forever. Partly because it was only a couple of weeks in when life changed so significantly – I’ve been working from home for almost 11 weeks. I had originally anticipated taking leftovers in to work and getting outside feedback on the results of various recipes, but of course that hasn’t been happening. And even when we go back, one of our internal restrictions will be no sharing of food. ☹ I’ve shared with my family to the extent possible, but it’s definitely been different than I expected when I started this.

Something that hasn’t been different is how much I’ve gotten done around the house while staying home. Man, I had big plans. BIG PLANS, I tell you. For some reason, I thought working from home would make it easier to get to more of the personal projects. Not so much. Somehow, I’m often MORE tired at the end of day. I still don’t always take a true lunch break, and when I log out, I just want to stretch out and veg out. I don’t have an “office” at home, so I mostly work at the breakfast bar, standing a lot, sitting occasionally. Once in a while I set up at the breakfast nook, but the bench isn’t the most ergonomically friendly seat. 

Anyway, my personal productivity has not been stellar. However, last week I did take care of one thing that pretty much led directly to today’s post. In preparation for last week’s recipe, I was thawing a couple of ice cube trays of milk that I had previously frozen. One of them was balanced kind of precariously in the overcrowded fridge and tipped (after thawing of course), spilling milk everywhere. So I took every single item out of the fridge, including the shelves and drawers – I mean, it was just a big, cold, empty box. After I scrubbed everything down, I went through the piles of random stuff, and believe me it was A LOT of stuff. Three partially used bottles of Pizza Squeeze, two bottles of Smart Balance “butter” spread (neither of which I’ve used in probably years), multiple little jars of flavored mustards from Christmas bazaars, partial bottles of barbecue sauce, three jars of apple butter, two jars of salsa, all sorts of unlabeled leftovers that weren’t QUITE to the level of science project and so on.  Cheddar cheese and Parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese and goat cheese and cream cheese. Oh, and all the salad dressing in the world.  I eat salad at home maybe three times a year. It was insane. I tossed stuff willy-nilly and re-organized and now I actually know what’s in there and can find what I’m looking for. I give it two weeks, tops, to stay this way.

I also had – and to quote Dave Barry, I am not making this up – seven cartons of cottage cheese. Now, I like cottage cheese, and eat it relatively frequently, including as a topping on baked potatoes, but that’s a lot of cottage cheese. (Two of the cartons were half full, so I combined them, and then used them on a potato, so I got it down to five pretty quickly.) I had a vague memory of seeing a cottage cheese-based mac and cheese in my various searches, so I went back and dug one up, and voila! Now I’m down to four tubs. (But I’m out of potatoes, so it may hold steady for a while.)

Cottage Cheese Mac

Adapted from


  • 8 ounces penne pasta
  • 8 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 12 ounces cottage cheese
  • 8 ounces sour cream
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan (see notes)
  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup butter, melted


  • Preheat the oven to 350.
  • Bring a well-salted pot of water to boil and cook the pasta to al dente. It will cook more in the oven, so this is a time you don’t want it too soft.
  • Drain the pasta and mix with the cheddar cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream, and Parmesan cheese.
  • Spread in a 9″x13″ baking dish.
I have all the cooking gadgets
ever made but apparently not a 9″x13″ pan.
  • Mix the bread crumbs and melted butter in a small bowl and sprinkle over the top of the casserole.
  • Bake 30-40 minutes until the topping is golden brown.


I know a lot of people don’t like cottage cheese and may not have made it this far, but this turned out to be an interesting and tasty recipe. The cottage cheese and sour cream take the place of milk, and while it’s not super saucy/creamy, it’s about the same as other baked macs; and the cheddar is the most noticeable flavor. Plus it’s quite a bit simpler than the stove top method of making a roux and then melting the cheese, etc. Just boil the pasta, stir everything together, and bake.


  • I had shredded up part of a wedge of Parmesan before I noticed that it called for grated Parm. I rarely use the stuff in the can for cooking, but decided to follow the recipe.

Posted May 31, 2020

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