I struggled with what to call this one. “Made Up Mac” would have worked, as would “Cleaning Out the Fridge & Pantry Mac” or “Using Up the Random Leftover Cheeses and Pasta from Previous Recipes Mac.”
But Mixed Medley had a little bit nicer sound.
I really did just pull a bunch of stuff out of the cheese drawer and make this up as I went. And the ditalini pasta box (from way back when I did the Mac & Cheese Bites) was taking up space on the pantry shelf with barely a cup of noodles left, so into the mix it went.
I was somewhat stressed because once again, I’m several days behind. After nearly 2 weeks (2 days in the hospital and 10 days recuperating at my parents’ house) I returned to my home last Friday. I thought I was feeling pretty good, but the weekend had its ups & downs and Sunday was mostly down, and cooking was just not an option. (As I told a co-worker, this “recovery from surgery” thing is not linear. One day I feel pretty good to almost normal, and the next I feel worse than I did the first week.)
And then I returned to work on Monday and THAT was not particularly fun – I was exhausted, sore from sitting upright instead of reclining; and had a brutal migraine as well. I barely crawled home, there was no way I was going to cook. Thank heavens for the friend who delivered dinner! Tuesday, I felt quite a bit better, but still really tired, so it was off the list again. Today, Wednesday, I woke up at 4am and after an hour went by and I couldn’t get back to sleep, I decided to just get it over with. Actually, my first plan was to just take the pictures of the assembled ingredients, and then cook this evening, but once I had everything out, I just continued on.
No, this does not mean I am now a morning person.
Anyway, as I said, I just kind of made this up as I went … you could substitute nearly any type of cheese for any of the others, the proportions are more important than the specific variety. The outcome/taste will vary, of course.
Mixed Medley Mac
- 1 cup ditalini pasta (about 4.5 ounces)
- 3 Tbsp. butter
- 1 ½ cups whole milk
- ½ cup whipped cream cheese (see notes)
- 2 cups Italian blend cheese (see notes)
- ¾ – 1 cup Cougar Gold cheese (see notes)
- ¼ cup crumbled Feta cheese
- Bring a pan of salted water to boil and cook the pasta for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water to prevent sticking, and set aside.
- Melt the butter over medium heat, then stir in the milk. I deliberately opted not to use flour and make a roux as I wanted a more alfredo style sauce this time. Simmer over medium-low heat until just on the edge of bubbling.
- Add the whipped cream cheese and whisk until melted and smooth.
- Add the Italian, white cheddar, and Feta cheeses and stir until fully melted.
- Pour over the pasta and serve.
It tastes pretty good. It’s milder than I expected considering the Cougar Gold white cheddar, but still has a nice flavor. The sauce was a little grainy – I’m not sure which cheese didn’t melt as well (honestly, probably the Cougar Gold, especially since it had been frozen), but I’m hoping upon re-heating it will smooth out. Because I was making it up as I went, at 5:00 in the morning no less, there were a couple of miscalculations and I ended up with quite a bit more sauce than technically needed for the pasta – however, I have most of a loaf of sourdough bread that my friend included in the dinner she brought me, so the sauce, which is kind of like a cousin to Alfredo, will absolutely not go to waste. This is a nice soothing bowl of pasta that will hit the spot when I’m not feeling up to figuring out what to eat.
- I wanted a lighter, creamier sauce, so I used the whipped cream cheese instead of regular, but regular should work, the sauce may just be a little more dense.
- I started out with 1 cup of the Italian blend cheese (leftover from the Pizza Mac) and ½ cup of the Cougar Gold cheese left over from the Cougar Gold Mac, and the sauce seemed thin and not very flavorful, so I threw in another cup of the Italian blend (bonus, that used it all up) and somewhere between another ¼ – ½ cup of the Cougar Gold. That did the trick to both thicken up the sauce and put a little more pow in the taste.
- If you don’t have access to Cougar Gold cheese or have run out, first – I’m sorry; and second – you can substitute any extra sharp white cheddar. Just know that it will be BETTER if you use Cougar Gold.
Posted October 7, 2020