Cheap Recipe: Cheesy Skroodles

11 Sep

For a printable version of this recipe and complete ingredients listing, click here.

Who wants boxed macaroni and cheese when this is so easy and so much tastier?

Who wants boxed macaroni and cheese when this is so easy and so much tastier?

Okay, so right off the bat, I’ll confess: this recipe is basically macaroni and cheese in disguise, but it’s my ultimate comfort food in the world, so I have declared it post-worthy. Also, there are several educational bits (even some high school-level chemistry!!) that I have included in this recipe post, so you might just learn something interesting along the way, anyhoo.

Now, I must insist that part of what makes this dish better than macaroni is the wonderful swirly noodles. They get such a great bite to them when cooked al dente, and they’re just downright fun. Even my toddler can tell you that. 🙂

It seems weird to me that millions of people on this planet think of this boxed product as the definitive macaroni and cheese. In fact, I was 20 years old before I ever tasted it. That just wasn’t how we ate macaroni at my house growing up and I’d never been exposed ot it. I see now that I didn’t miss out on anything!

Some folks call them “salad twirls”; other people call them “rotini pasta“–but around these parts they’re known simply as “skroodles.” They can be purchased in all-plain, yellow, pasta-color only, or in different varieties of colors such as

You're just a handful of ingredients away from yummy comfort food!

You're just a handful of ingredients away from yummy comfort food!

 green, orange, red or purple. (These multicolored assortments are often called either “garden rotini” or “rainbow twirls,” in case you’re looking for them.)

Sometimes the assortments are veggie-flavored and sometimes they’re not. Either way, they’re scrumptious and fun and absolutely my favorite food. 🙂

So, that being said, I give you…Cheesy Skroodles:

Begin by filling a large pasta pot♥ with water.

Chef’s note: If you don’t know what a pasta pot is, it’s a truly wonderful and handy pot that looks like a normal stock pot except the lid has two distinguishing features: (1) Half of the lid is punctured with many, many small drainage holes, and (2) the lid has a twisting lock mechanism that allows you to remove or fasten the lid for the purpose of draining pasta water without having to hold onto the lid with one hand while allowing

Ah, my beloved pasta pot. The absolute handiest wedding gift I never registered for...

Ah, my beloved pasta pot. The absolute handiest wedding gift I never registered for...

water to run out one side. These pots eliminate that devastating moment of “AAACK!” when the lid of your pot shifts slightly and results in a sink drain full of cooked and suddenly-unusable pasta. Someone gave us one for our wedding, and it is hands-down the most useful thing that was never on our wedding registry. (Thanks, Peach!)

So, anyway…fill a large pot with water and set on a burner over high heat. If you like, you can add a small amount of oil or butter to the pasta to prevent sticking, but if your pan is teflon or nonstick, it’s probably not necessary.

Now, there is one good tip at this point I will share with you. It is quite possibly the only

Sprinkle in some salt to raise that boiling point!

Sprinkle in some salt to raise that boiling point!

 bit of knowledge I learned and retained from high school chemistry class, other than that the cutest boy in school also happened to be very good at chemistry and willing to help at least one struggling, clueless girl. (Nostalgic sigh.)

But I digress. Here is my Chem 101 tip: Add salt to the water while you fill the pot. It’s not for flavor; it’s to help speed up the cook time on your skroodles, which you will discover take much longer to become tender than elbow macaroni due to the thick center of their swirly noodle bodies. Salt raises the boiling point of water.

Now, I know what you might be thinking here: But, GracieIf it raises the boiling point, won’t it take longer to cook? But alas–the water will be HOTTER when it does hit a boil (and the excess time in reaching that boil is not long), lose less heat when you add the dry noodles to it, and penetrate their stiff little spirals in quicker time. Haha! I told you I knew what I was talking about! I wasn’t kidding, either!

So…you add some salt, fill the pot about 3/4 of the way full, and cook rotini (skroodles) according to the times on the back of the package.

Don't add all the cheese at once or you'll get a mammoth lump. Add them a piece or two at a time, stirring between additions.

Don't add all the cheese at once or you'll get a mammoth lump. Add them a piece or two at a time, stirring between additions.

While the pasta is boiling, Unwrap about 8 or 9 slices of cheese (for a 12-oz. package of skroodles; more if you are using a 16-oz. package), making sure each one is “collated” so you can grab them one at a time (but quickly) when the pasta is ready.

Once pasta is tender, turn off burner and drain water. Begin adding slices of cheese two-at-a-time, stirring between each addition.

Once all cheese has been incorporated, add about 3/4 cup of milk to the pot and stir until the mixture becomes creamy.

Add salt and pepper to taste; serve immediately.

So creamy...

So creamy...


6 Responses to “Cheap Recipe: Cheesy Skroodles”

  1. Ross4Teflon September 14, 2009 at 12:50 PM #

    Hi Gracie – Thanks for recommending using a Teflon pan while making your mac and cheese in disguise 🙂 I represent DuPont and it’s always a pleasure to see people recommending our products in their recipes, and avoiding butter and oil is great for healthy cooking.

    If you are interested in some other recipes or great cookbooks to look at for your blog, drop me an email and I would be glad to help you out! Thanks. Cheers, Ross

  2. redforkhippie September 14, 2009 at 6:35 PM #

    Just be careful never to heat an empty Teflon pot if you own birds. Unless the formula has changed, the nonstick surface, when heated, will off-gas a chemical that is toxic to birds. All the parakeet/budgie/finch/canary books used to advise caution when using coated pans.

  3. Gracie September 15, 2009 at 4:30 PM #

    Well, I never heat the pot until after I’ve filled it with water, so I’m sure this recipe is fine for bird-lovers, too. But that’s good advice for other types of dishes when you start with a warm skillet. I always heard not to heat an empty Teflon pot, not because of the toxicity but because I recall ruining a couple of Mom’s glass Teflon pans when I was in high school by getting them too hot when they were empty and damaging the surface. Stuff stuck to them after that when it didn’t before.

  4. Rheannon September 17, 2009 at 5:29 PM #

    OH MY GOD, when I saw your “scroodles” post I was instantly taken to the HHS cafeteria. I don’t know if that is what inspired you to call your dish scroodles or not, but in my mind it is. You are so famous now, all kinds of fancy people are commenting on your little blog. No one famous visits mine

  5. Rheannon September 17, 2009 at 5:33 PM #

    So I got over zealous in posting my last comment and did not read all the way through. What cute boy at HHS was good at chemistry, because I went there too and the only boys I remember being good at chemistry are Brian Gordon, and well actually that’s it. I think we share the same opinion regarding Gordy’s hottness so who was it?

  6. Gracie September 21, 2009 at 9:06 AM #

    Haha. It definitely was not Gordy. He was not even in my chemistry class, just physics with you senior year! I’m not going to type on here who it was because I still bump into him and that would be very weird as we are both married and I am now a fat pregnant loser who writes about food all day…but email me and I’ll tell you, for giggles! 🙂

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