I find it incredibly revealing to look at the statistics on the blog from time to time. Especially what people search for and what recipes they are looking for. Consistently, over the year, two different categories rate the highest. The Mac & Cheese recipes and Lemon Meringue Pie. Now, personally I do understand the desire to create a great Lemon Meringue Pie but Mac & Cheese is just so... well so easy, right?
I am not really sure how to interpret this. We are talking literally way over 10,000 (ten thousand) hits during the year on Mac & Cheese recipes! I would tend to think that simply put many people are looking for the simple, easy, and good recipes with which they can eat and feed their families without too much bother and fuss. And many of these people are simply not chefs and cooks, and want an easy way to make good food. Which is something I suspected for a very long time. But I may be reading the statistics in a way I want to see them, however, nevertheless the fact remains the Mac & Cheese recipes @ Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen are very popular with Internet searches.
So in honor of this we are going to present yet another Mac & Cheese (coupled with mushrooms) today.
- One bag of Pasta - (I usually use either conchiglie (shells) or pipe rigate (elbow shells) - This should be about 1/2 Kilo or 1 pound. You can of course make less or more, depending on how many people you need to feed!
- Grated Cheese - Once again you can use any cheese you like. I use Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. You will need around 400 grams of Mozzarella (14 ounces) and 100 grams (4 ounces) of Parmesan.
- Olive Oil - For the bottom of the pan that you put in the oven.
- Fresh Mushrooms (I really do not like the canned or bottled mushrooms - but you can use them as well!).
- 1 Teaspoon fresh Oregano (just a touch) or you can use the spice jar.
- 1 Tablespoon of Salted Butter - My sister adds this, I do not. Your choice.
- Pepper & Salt to taste
Utensils You Need:
- Oven Tempered Pot or Silver Foil Pan
- Colander (Food Strainer)
- Pot To Boil Pasta
- First you have to get that pasta (macaroni) ready. So put it on the stove in water, (cover the macaroni and add about another 1/3 of water to the pot.
- Let it cook on the flame between 12-18 minutes. The Macaroni should be soft to the touch when you are done but not soggy! So this timing is really a matter of experience believe it or not, cause it should be an almost exact science!
- While the Macaroni is boiling on stove stop - cut up the mushrooms and get the oven pot ready by spreading a bit of olive oil on the bottom.
- Pre-Heat Oven to 350º Fahrenheit.
- When the Macaroni is ready (remember soft not soggy! don't let it cook too much!) pick up the pot and pour it all in the Colander so now you get rid of the water.
- Now put the Macaroni into your oven ready dish.
- Take around 100 grams of the Mozzarella cheese and put on top.
- If you are going to add butter just drop it on the top
- Add the Oregano on top.
- Now mix it all together - (cheese, butter and Oregano.)
- Now mix in all the cut-up mushrooms. (ACK! Forgot this step! Kali found the omission!)
- Now take the rest of the Mozzarella and sprinkle it all around the top. Don't mix it in. This is the cheese cover.
- Now take the Parmesan cheese and sprinkle it around the middle or around the sides, any which way you like. (See the photo above)
- In the end you should have a cheese top.
- Now cover the dish with silver foil - do NOT put that dish in the oven without it being covered! Otherwise the cheese will not melt at a rate that the Macaroni (pasta) is cooked.
- Now believe it or not, this depends on the temperament of your oven. When my oven is having a bad hair day it needs say 60-75 minutes. On a day when the oven is in a good mood and does not want to do some nasty stuff to me it takes 60 minutes! What you want to end up with, is a melted cheese on top and the pasta cooked evenly. I use a glass dish so I can see the macaroni next to the glass. My kids like it crusty!
- Now take that silver foil off, and let the dish cook for 5 minutes, so the cheese turns a nice light golden brown. Don't burn it so be careful here!
- Take it out - Serve or let it cool off and put in the fridge until ready to be heated up and served.
- By the way this is one of those special dishes that I say - go ahead and nuke a part of it when you want to heat it up real fast and you take it from the fridge. (2-3 minutes in the Microwave is usually enough!)
I love rating my own recipes. Our insane cook Paula cannot say a thing. HAH! But this is really a two - I kid you not. Not hard, easy on the hands, concentration and kitchen. Enjoy it!