Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Weeknight Dinner: Shells and Cheese

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Hope you all had a very Merry Christmas, if you celebrate.  If you don't, I still hope you had time with your family and friends.  We had a great time in New York but were snowed in yesterday!  Didn't get home until last night and so I apologize for the lack of Monday post.  Boston has been blizzarding and New York was no better.  Ugh.  Luckily John is a pretty good snow driver, being from Maine and all, so we made it back without a hitch.

The minute we got home, I knew John would be hungry and I had saved some Shells and Cheese (as I call it, because technically, it is NOT macaroni) in the freezer from the last time I made it for such an occasion.  It's creamy and delicious and, really, I use skim milk and reduced fat cheese so it's not that bad for you, but the rue keeps it creamy and decadent!  I top it with a handful of homemade breadcrumbs and it is DELICIOUS on a cold winter night like the ones we've been having here lately.
My delicious rue!
Once the rue and the shells are made, it comes together quickly, easily, and gets popped into the oven.  It's pretty awesome for a weeknight dinner--my mom used to make 2 big trays of this and keep one handy in the freezer for those nights you just DON'T want to cook.  It's great as a reserved dinner.

Shells and Cheese
Serves:  4
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups skim milk
1/2 box of small shells, cooked and drained
8 ounces of cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  In a casserole dish, layer the small shells and six ounces of the cheddar cheese.  In a skillet, melt the butter, slowly add flour, stirring constantly.  Then, slowly add the skim milk, again stirring constantly to make a rue. Add the remaining cheddar cheese into the rue, whisking until well incorporated.  Pour the rue over the shells and cheddar stirring until all are well-combined.  Smooth the top and top with breadcrumbs.  Bake for about 45 minutes, until cheese is bubbling and top is golden brown.

This makes a great make-ahead dinner!  I personally, always used elbow macaroni but John loves the shells and it's a great alternative to shells and cheese that you can get out of a box (which is why I think John prefers the shells!).  Making it ahead of time means defrost it overnight and bake it for 45 minutes.

Until the next time my oven is on...


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Welcome! I'm Dani (aka the Growing Foodie), just a girl balancing her career and passion for all things edible in NYC. I hope you'll join me in my adventures in life, through food. (Click for More)
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