Cheese Bake

After an afternoon of baking cookies, I was hyped up on sugar and in no mood to cook. Thankfully, hubby was ready to step in and make dinner adapted from a recipe he found online calling for 5 types of cheese in a baked macaroni dish (Original recipe: Wisconsin Five Cheese Bake found on allrecipes.com). Since we wanted to reduce the amount of ingredients we had to buy to make the meal, we adapted it to what we had in the fridge. You could easily sub in your favorite mixture of cheeses and whatever medium size pasta you have in your pantry.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (16 ounce) package bow tie noodles
  • 2 cups shredded Mexican cheese mixture
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 cup grated cheddar
  • 1/2 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon chopped dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking dish. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add bow tie noodles, and cook until tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain.
  2. In a large bowl, toss together the shredded cheeses. Remove about 1/2 cup for topping and set aside. In a separate bowl, stir together the ricotta cheese, Greek yogurt and heavy cream. Season with parsley, Italian seasoning.
  3. Pour the ricotta cheese mixture and drained pasta into the bowl with the shredded cheeses and toss lightly. Don’t worry about mixing it too thoroughly, it will melt. Pour into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the reserved cheese over the top.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven until cheese is melted, about 10 minutes, then turn the oven to broil. Broil for about 5 minutes to brown the top.

Final Results: Totally decadent, even with the minor fat reducing adaptations we tested. It did need some salt, so adding in garlic salt as the original recipe suggested to the cheese mixture would have been nice. It also could have used a little kick of something – perhaps a dash of tabasco to add some heat or a shake or two of cayenne or crushed red peppers flakes. I loved the crunchy bits on top, but if you don’t like a crunchy top to your baked pasta, don’t broil it at the end. The cheese will still be plenty gooey and creamy.

Here’s what the leftovers looked like packed up for hubby’s lunch the next day (I added some cherry tomatoes and cucumber slices to round it out).

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