Things To Eat. A lot of. (MACARONI & CHEESE LOVERS, UNITE!)

You guys. I found this recipe.  For homemade mac & cheese. And it's easier than the boxed kind.

Everyone knows that I am a Mac&Cheese aficionado. You know that if any restaurant has M&C on the menu, I am duty-bound to try it. Now that I have relocated into the boondocks, restaurant M&C has become rare enough that I am no longer gaining ten pounds a month from it (don't worry y'all, I am maintaining my city weight beautifully). So I have had to resort to making my own, and so far, this one is pretty epic. I love Pinterest. It's just so... all engrossing. It's like the tar baby that swallows you whole and you can't escape, but really, it's so warm and squishy and nice, why would you want to? In one of my romantic Pinteresting sessions, I found this recipe, and it was so easy, I almost didn't even have to recheck it. In fact, I only rechecked it once to make sure I did it right because it seemed WAY TOO EASY. Which is pretty much my favorite way to cook.

Creamy Yogurt Mac & Cheese

And it actually even LOOKED like this when I was done. Which is how I could justify not taking my own picture, just using hers. (copyright © 2014 | Cooking ala Mel by Melinda Novak) Here also, is her (stolen) recipe. Thanks Mel! 

Creamy Greek Yogurt Mac & Cheese

  • 8 oz. (about 2 cups) elbow pasta (I used whole wheat)
  • 8 oz. (about 2 cups) shredded cheese (a sharp cheddar is great)
  • 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt (I love Chobani)
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
Place the spinach leaves in the bottom of a strainer, and pour the pasta over top to drain and wilt the spinach. Save about 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Return the cooked macaroni and wilted spinach to the pot.Cook the macaroni according to the package’s instructions (about 8-10 minutes), until al dente.

Add about 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water to the pot, and stir in the cheese until melted. Stir in the greek yogurt, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper, until smooth and creamy. Stir in the remaining pasta water to thin, if necessary. Serve immediately.
And that's it. 

Lest you labor under the misconception that I go without fancy M&C altogether now, I should fill you in on what I found at the Manito Taphouse when I spent a debauched (as in: drinking 8 beer samples before a doctor's appointment) afternoon drinking beer samplers with my cousin. In addition to two million different beers on tap there, which is reason enough to plan an entire weekend on location, they make a Green chile Mac & Cheese with chicken that was, in a word, heaven. It ranks right up there with Ten Barrel Brewing in Bend and their Pancetta MnC. So. Fracking. Good. And for the record, I will include my top 5 M&C's (to date) from around the region in NO particular order:

  1. 10 Barrel Brewing , Bend, OR - 10 Barrel Mac & Cheese (used to be made w/ pancetta but appears they use  andouille sausage now. I'd be willing to try. If forced.)
  2. Manito Tap House , Spokane, WA -  Green Chile Mac & Cheese - just, yum. 
  3. Brother Jon's Public House, Bend, OR - The Creamy Mac & Cheese is just plain divine comfort food. The Spicy Buffalo Mac is crazy awesome. If you're in a crazy awesome mood. 
  4. Deschute's Brew Pub, Bend, OR - Mirror Pond Mac & Cheese. If you've ever had a Mirror Pond ale, there isn't much explaining needed. 
  5. No-Li Brewhouse, Spokane, WA - Spicy Mac & Cheese, with that andouille sausage again, you know it's gotta be good... 
Each of these should be tried along with beer. Plenty of beer. And maybe something chocolate for dessert. Because life is too short to not eat chocolatey things whenever they are available. Which is why I make brownies (interpret:coerce teenage daughter to make brownies from comfy spot on couch) to chase my homeade Mac & Cheese. I just gave you all of the reasons to eat comfort food tonight. Consider the rain outside an added bonus.

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