Macaroni, Peas, and Cheese

I’ve always been something of an entrepreneur. At seven, I’d opened up “Chaos Cleaning” with my cousin Michael, a low level cleaning business that was not only profitable, but probably would have served me well if my chosen line of work involved racketeering. Technically speaking, we did clean. That part of the operation was legal and legit. It was the part where we paid small children to create the messes and “chaos” (which eventually led to bribery and mild forms of torture) that may have inched us from savvy business owners to small time mob bosses. And perhaps there were a few child labor laws infringed upon.

The next time I turned a profit on a business scheme, I was starring in my own written, directed, and choreographed shows. Specifically, charging my family a premium to watch me act, sing, dance, and/or cry in our living room. Tears weren’t always scripted. Me in sequins, glitter, and a very unbecoming leotard. A desperate shade of lipstick that should have been packaged up and shipped to Dolly Parton before my chubby fingers got hold of it.

Mind you, my family was getting one hell of a show. Theatric masterpieces. Plot lines generally involved facing adversity, friendship, fairies, crime, and more often than not, speaking frankly with animals. Scorsese meets Peter the Gnome, if you will.

I’d go so far as to say this business venture was my most promising. The most impressive because I was price gouging at the door for not only tickets, but also concessions. A simple process of popping corn my mom had purchased earlier in the week, thinking about how much money two Bonne Bell Lip Smackers would run me, and then charging that amount, give or take $5. No need to worry about accurate calculations. Mom, consider it supporting local arts.

Building on this entrepreneurial dream was an even wiser money-making scheme. A restaurant. A romantic little ristorante right in the heart of my aunt and uncle’s dining room. It was appropriately titled, Michelandrea’s (a cutesy coupling of my cousin’s name and mine). And let me tell you, no eatery in the Greater Boston Area was serving up Kraft in quite the same way. As far as we were concerned, adding peas to blue box macaroni and cheese was really pushing the envelope in modern gastronomy.

And quite honesty, four times out of ten, the restaurant was a hit.

This macaroni and cheese pays tribute to my money-grubbing youth. Though I’ll admit to finding Kraft to be disarmingly delicious, it doesn’t compare to a bubbling, homemade dish. Chewy spirals of pasta, comfy and cozy in a rich and creamy cheddar- parmesan bath, baked until the slightest butter crumbed crust forms on top. The speckling of petite green peas adds gentle sweetness and color. I’ve always had hopes that green and yellow would get married.

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-heat.

Add flour and whisk until the mixture is thick and paste-like, about 20 seconds.

Slowly stream in the milk, whisking constantly. Stir until the mixture has thickened and no clumps remain, about 1 full minute. If necessary, add more milk.

Add garlic powder, ground mustard, pepper, and salt. Add the parmesan and cheddar cheeses and stir until they’ve melted and the mixture is completely blended.

Add your cooked pasta and peas and toss to combine.

Divide the cheesy pasta among two small, 8-10 oz ramekins that have been coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle the toppings evenly on each ramekin and broil for 1 minute, or until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown slightly.

Macaroni, Peas, & Cheese

(serves 2)

  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 2 TBSP flour
  • ¾ cup 2% milk
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp ground mustard
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups cooked pasta (any short, stout variety will do)
  • ½ cup sweet peas (fresh or frozen)

Toppings:

  • 1-2 TBSP freshly grated parmesan
  • 1-2 TBSP grated sharp cheddar
  • 2 Ritz crackers, crushed (you could alternately use breadcrumbs)

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-heat.

Add flour and whisk until the mixture is thick and paste-like, about 20 seconds.

Slowly stream in the milk, whisking constantly. Stir until the mixture has thickened and no clumps remain, about 1 full minute. If necessary, add more milk.

Add garlic powder, ground mustard, pepper, and salt. Add the parmesan and cheddar cheeses and stir until they’ve melted and the mixture is completely blended.

Add your cooked pasta and peas and toss to combine.

Divide the cheesy pasta among two small, 8-10 oz ramekins that have been coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle the toppings evenly on each ramekin and broil for 1 minute, or until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown slightly.

Comments

  1. says

    I just made JJ some mac n cheese with brocolli last week and he turned his nose up at it.

    ???

    Proof he’s an alien posing as my son.

    I could live off that dish, and most likely will for the rest of the week.

    It feels like comfort food week!

    MMMMM

    love your antics. ALWAYS!

  2. says

    hahaha- I bet you were an awesome kid. I use to sell my neighbors rocks… awesome right? I love adding veggies to my mac n cheese. The toasting on top of yours looks like perfection. I’d buy this 😉

  3. says

    You were quite the young business woman! Ha, bribing the kids to make the mess – love it!

    Your mac n cheese looks so good I want to reach into my computer screen – can’t go wrong with anything with cheese!

  4. says

    Haha, I was a foolish child- I never charged my patrons admission to my performances (or ‘formances, as I called them). My version of “Somewhere Out There” from An American Tail was legendary. Just think of the profits I could have made!

    And mac ‘n cheese, yes. Blue box is good. Individual ramekins? Now we’re talking.

  5. says

    that looks so yummy and the peas give it a nice color.

    I have lactose intolerant issues but I would love to try this dish. Maybe I can re-create it to be manageable for my stomach.

  6. Brianne says

    I made these little mac and cheese ramekins last night for a side dish with pork chops and a salad. I didn’t have peas so I substituted halved cherry tomatoes. Thanks so much for the recipe! What a nice idea for a portion controlled mac and cheese serving. These worked great so I didn’t end up eating heaping portions. My sister loved them too.

  7. jan anderson says

    I love your recipe, was just wondering if you do count calories just how many calories this recipe has and how you figure the nutrition. Love your site.

    • says

      Hi Jan! Thank you for your sweet message! I haven’t been posting the nutrition information- but I’d recommend a site like SparkPeople.com for their recipe calculator. It allows you to just plug in all of the components of the recipe and the number of servings. Thanks again!

  8. says

    Hi I just love this recipe you are a GREAT cook. All of your recipes look so good. I posted a link to your mac recipe on my other blog about food.

    Thank you so much for sharing your divine cooking know how.

    Cheers!

  9. Cherish says

    glad that I discovered this website. Read your what I miss from 135 pounds ago, and it really inspired me. Can’t wait to try out this recipe, as I am on a healthy trek. Very simple, no fancy-smhancy ingredients.

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