Single Serve Shells and Cheese
Today, we're making Single Serve Shells and Cheese!
Here's the plan for this...we only need one pot, a handful of staple ingredients, and about 15 minutes to get a creamy, gooey, cheesy, perfectly portioned bowl of shells and cheese for one.
We start by adding some milk, butter, spices, and pasta shells into a small saucepan. We're going to cook these together over low heat, and allow the pasta to cook low and slow in our flavorful milk mixture.
What's cool about cooking the pasta this way is that the pasta absorbs a lot of the cooking liquid, and that little bit of leftover milk that combines with the natural starch that extracts from the pasta creates the perfect creamy based for our cheese sauce. But, we are working with milk here. So, it's important to stir this mix pretty frequently so our milk doesn't scorch in the pot.
Now, it's important to note that we're using 1% milk in this recipe. This is one of those recipes where it makes a difference. A higher fat content of milk actually makes this pasta taste too “milky”. So stick with the 1%. If for some reason you must use a higher percentage of milk, you're going to want to dilute it with a little bit of water.
Once our pasta is cooked until it's perfectly al dente and our milk has transformed into a creamy sauce, it's time to add the cheese. All we need is some freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese and 1 slice of good ol' American cheese. It's really important to shred the cheddar yourself, because it makes a huge difference with the meltability of the cheese. The pre-bagged stuff comes with anti-clumping agents that interfere with the creamy melt we need in this dish. So, shred it yourself!
For me, American cheese is the staple cheese of anything cheesy and delicious. A lot of people hate on American cheese because it's a highly processed product. But I think if we're all being honest, we know we love the ooey gooeyness of this cheese. So, it's 100% the right move to break up a slice and throw it in our pasta.
Roughly 15 minutes later, we have a perfect bowl of creamy, cheesy pasta. No broken sauce. No weird egg texture. No fears of not eating it all and dealing with whatever weird concoction you come up with if you reheat it. Just a perfectly portioned, gooey bowl of love.
For the record, this pasta does refrigerate and reheat very nicely. And, you can totally double, triple, or quadruple this recipe to feed your family. But this single serve option is the perfect risk free option for a single gal like me.
Ok, everyone. This is where I leave you...covered in cheese sauce and with a belly full of pasta.
Until next time...let's eat!
Single Serve Shells and Cheese
- ¾ cup 1% milk
- ½ tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/8 tsp salt, plus more to taste
- 1/8 tsp garlic powder
- 1/8 tsp onion powder
- 2 oz medium shell pasta
- ¼ shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 slice American cheese, chopped
- pepper, to taste
- Add milk, butter, 1/8 tsp salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and pasta to a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a light simmer, stirring often to make sure the milk doesn't scorch. Once the milk starts to simmer, reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer for 10-11 minutes until the pasta is al dente, stirring frequently to prevent the pasta from clumping and milk from scorching.
- Once the pasta reaches your desired texture, turn off the heat. Add both cheeses to the pot, and stir until the cheese is completely melted and the pasta is coated. Taste for seasoning, and add a pinch of salt and pepper, if desired. Serve immediately!
- *It is important to use 1% milk for this recipe. Using a higher fat content of milk actually makes this mac and cheese taste too “milky”. If you have to used a fuller fat milk, dilute it down a little bit with some water.
- *The pasta will absorb the milk as it cooks. That's ok! That combined with the starch from the pasta is what helps to create the sauce. But, it is very important to stir this pretty frequently (probably one stir every other minute) so that the milk doesn't burn.
- *You'll want to shred your own cheese for this recipe. Freshly shredded cheese melts much better than pre-shredded bagged cheeses.
- *I recommend using a sharp cheddar for this recipe to really get the most cheesy flavor. You can use yellow cheddar, white cheddar, or a combination of both.
- *This recipe could certainly be doubled/tripled/quadrupled to feed a family.