Thursday, February 10, 2011

Cheap, But Sweet Valentine's Meal Sans Meat

This year for Valentine's, Brendan and I are staying in, opting for a cozy and romantic date cooking at home. Valentine's falls on a Monday this year, so I think this idea is the perfect solution for couples who still want to acknowledge the day but are coming home from a busy day at work. And hey, Valentine's isn't just for couples. This meal makes 4 servings, so grab some friends and make a night of it. Brendan and I will be cooking something different for our Valentine's, but I want to share this idea ahead of time for those who are looking for ideas. This meal is cheap, delicious, and incredibly simple to make. It's so great that I wish I had thought of it, but full disclosure Brendan first made this dish for me, and Brendan's Dad first made it for him, so think of it as a family recipe. The only thing I came up with is the name. I call it...

Pleasey Cheesy Baked Mac n' Cheese 
This delightful dish requires few ingredients. You will need pasta. Though I couldn't find any, I think heart shaped pasta would add an adorable touch to this dish. You need cheese, and the good news is, you can buy whatever is on sale, or use what you have lying around. For ours we used Wisconsin Cheddar, Gouda, Edam, Shredded Mozzarella, and Shredded Parmesan. I serve it with a side of refrigerated sliced canned beets (if you want to go all out, grab a cookie cutter and do this) and Pacifico beer. Brendan has made me pretty obsessed with beets, which are healthy and tasty. The total cost of this meal (including beer) $19.50. That's less than $5.00 a person (for 4 people or 2 people with 2 servings of leftovers) with alcohol included. Can't beet that (haha). Now for the hard easy part:
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Boil Pasta according to directions on package. 
  • Slice about 2.5 ounces of each whole will have about 8 ounces total. 
  • Spray a 1.5 quart (medium) baking dish with non-stick spray (we use Pam).
  • Strain pasta. 
  • Spoon pasta into baking dish filling it up about 1/4 of the way, top with 1/3 of your cheese (remember to add in some shredded cheese if you want to). Spoon in another layer of pasta, add another 1/3 of the cheese. Spoon in the last layer of pasta, add the rest of the cheese on top.
  • Put on the center oven rack and let bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. 
  • Let cool for 5 minutes, cut with a knife, serve with spatula and love! 
Pleasey Cheesy Baked Mac n' Cheese

Total Prep/Cook Time: 40 minutes 
Deliciousness Factor: 5/5 (we reserve this for the best of the best, but as Brendan points out "With that much cheese, how could it not be a 5?!) We love the crispy top, and the blended flavors of the five cheeses. The dish is nostalgic, bringing back childhood memories from when life was simple. Beer and cheese make an amazing combo...and serving it with beets? We couldn't be happier. 

Thank you Brendan's Dad, not only for making Brendan, but for making this amazing mac & cheese! It's almost hard to decide which one to love more...just kidding.

Oh, and before I forget, Graham and Maisie made it safely to India. Here is the view from their Hotel in New Delhi.

Here's to trying new things!

<3 Stacy, Lola & Zoe


  1. I pride myself on my mac and cheese recipe, which takes yours one step further by making the cheese into a rue (using butter, flour, and a little bit of milk or cream with some salt/pepper/nutmeg and crushed red pepper (optional). Baked with breadcrumbs on top, just like my mom makes!

  2. Wow, that sounds good. We'll have to try your version out sometime!

  3. I made this the other night for a friend's anniversary as a surprise for his significant other. They both said the dish was fantastic. I also made a light roux-based cheese sauce to go with it, but the original recipe is spot on for tastiness. Great job!

  4. Thanks for letting us know! Glad that everyone enjoyed it.


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