Monday, February 14, 2011

EASY Baked Macaroni & Cheese (Vegetarian)

I'll be honest - I've never been a huge fan of the "blue box" packaged macaroni & cheese with the powdered cheese. In fact, I really don't recall eating macaroni & cheese much as a child! As I got older, I began to appreciate macaroni & cheese as a side dish, but only baked; something about the creamy, cheesy insides, topped with a browned cheese crust appealed to me. 

This recipe is actually a bit healthier (No bechamel! No breadcrumbs!) than most baked macaroni & cheese recipes; you can use light/low-fat ingredients without losing any of the rich flavor (I promise! I've done this recipe with both full-fat AND low-fat ingredients; however, I can't vouch for NON-fat ingredients). Even better, this recipe is incredibly cheap, easy and quick to prepare. 

An added bonus is that some of the ingredients like the macaroni, cottage cheese and sour cream are packaged in the exact amounts called for in the recipe. However, alhough you CAN buy 4 cups of shredded cheddar, the recipe will turn out MUCH better if you grate/shred your own cheese - the pre-shredded kind sold in stores has been dusted with cornstarch to prevent sticking, and never melts quite right as a result.

Baked Macaroni & Cheese

8oz elbow macaroni
1 16oz container (2 cups) cottage cheese (I prefer the small curd)
1 8oz container sour cream
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 cup milk
4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided (2 8oz blocks)

Why, yes, I DO shop at Target....

Boil the macaroni noodles according to the package directions; drain well. 

In a large bowl, combine the cottage cheese, sour cream, egg, salt, pepper, milk and 3 cups of the shredded cheddar cheese (1 1/2 blocks). 

Not the most appetizing shot, I know....

Stir in the cooked macaroni noodles and mix well to combine. 

Adding the macaroni didn't make it look any better...

Transfer to a greased 9" baking/casserole dish and top with the remaining cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand 5-10 minutes before serving.

Starting to look MUCH better....

Covered in melty, cheesy goodness...

Mmmm...creamy and cheesy, without being heavy or dense.


  1. i worked for a dining hall at school that had the MOST amazing mac and cheese. this looks JUST like it!!

    going to have to test it out ;)

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  3. Please let me know how it turns out! This recipe is easy and no-frills, because sometimes, instead of something fancy, you just want something homey and GOOD! :)

  4. Looks amaaaaaaaazing! I'm not sure hubs would eat it if he knew cottage cheese was in it (picky picky!)...what do you think I could substitute, if anything?

  5. JenB: I actually REALLY dislike cottage cheese, yet I like this recipe. I don't know for sure what you could substitute, but I would guess maybe something like ricotta cheese?

  6. Can I use a 12 oz box of mini shells instead of 8 oz of elbow pasta?

    1. Absolutely! In fact, I've done it before - you won't need the entire box, though. When you add the pasta to everything else, you'll be able to tell when too much is just TOO MUCH :)

  7. How do you think this would freeze? I thought about making a big batch then freezing it in smaller portions for my hubby and I as a side on our week night meals. Should I freeze it before baking? Maybe add the cheese on top before I bake it.

    1. I typically don't freeze dishes containing cooked pastas, the exception being lasagna, and, in those cases, I purposely undercook the noodles since they will continue to cook while baking. So, unfortunately, I don't know how well this will freeze.