Getting It Mostly Right The First Time

Gluten-free Mac & Cheese

I was thinking about macaroni and cheese one night and I realized I haven’t had it in about 9 months.  Most of us grew up on the stuff that comes in the blue box.  Yeah, you know the box I’m talking about.  People keep telling me, “They make it gluten-free,” when I bring up something I haven’t had in a long time.  I say it again, have you tried some of that stuff they make for us gluten-free people?  Cardboard.  So, unless you’ve personally tried it and loved it, don’t tell me there is a gluten-free option.  I know you’re trying to be helpful and make me feel like I”m not missing out, but it’s like telling a person newly diagnosed with diabetes that there are sugar-free options for the things they love.  Diet Coke.  Need I say more?

I’ve seen the Gluten-free Rice Pasta & Cheddar by Annie’s.  I like Annie’s products.  Before changing to a whole foods diet, I would occasionally buy her regular mac & cheese when I was in the mood for some.  Much better than the blue box stuff.  While Annie’s is fairly all natural, there are some additives which is why I haven’t tried it.

Since I kept thinking about the mac & cheese, I started looking up recipes online.  I knew I would need a combo of butter, milk, and gluten-free flour.  I could have made it without butter, but for things I’ve never made before, I stick to the recipe and the recipe I found included butter.  And yes, I used butter.  I don’t use it often, but I’d rather use butter than margarine.  Ain’t nothing like the real thing.

I made the sauce while the  pasta cooked and the pressure cooker whistled at me on the other side of the stove.  Fixing the two at the same time was a bit of challenge once the pasta was in the boiling water.  I found myself stirring both pots at the same time and engaging in some odd culinary form of wax on, wax off.

Chuck roast, Green Beans, Fresh Tomato, and Gluten-free Mac & Cheese

I used Tinkyada Brown Rice Shells.  Tinkyada has become my favorite gluten-free pasta.  The texture is better than the other brands I’ve had and it’s a better value.  Good for my health and my wallet.  Power combination.  I poured all the cheese sauce over the shells once I had them drained.  As I was mixing it, I was thinking to myself, This is a lot of cheese sauce.  I even said so to my husband when he came into the kitchen around that time.

The recipe said to cook it for 35-40 minutes on 350.  It looked like it could still used a little more time at 35 minutes, so I put it back in for 5 more minutes.  When I pulled it out, it still looked like it was too much sauce and the butter separated.  You can’t really tell from the picture above that it separated.  I let it sit and cool a bit while I pulled the roast out of the pressure cooker, made gravy with the juices of the roast and quickly cooked the green beans.  By the time I dished everything up on the plates, the cheese sauce had settled and no longer looked like it was too much.  It was nice and gooey when I spooned it onto our plates.

I didn’t have very high expectations at all going into this.  Homemade mac & cheese is one of the ultimate comfort foods.  I never had the homemade kind until I moved to Kentucky.  My mother-in-law makes a mean mac & cheese.  Mac & cheese sides were one of the barometers of a good bbq place for me and my husband.  If the mac & cheese melted in your mouth, it was good bbq.  Imagine my surprise when my mouth did a happy dance that first bite.  And the second bite.  And the third bite.  And…well…you get the picture.  It was so good I went back for seconds and so did my husband.  No big deal, you might be thinking.  It is a big deal.  Since changing my diet back in December, I don’t get seconds.   I’ll be making some modifications to the recipe, but it will definitely be in my repetoire from now on.

By the way, it was pretty darned smooth cold, too.