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Bog Brains II--The Sequel

Green macaroni & cheese slightly brain-shaped

My original Bog Brains recipe tastes like Green Goddess dressing but unfortunately, not everyone likes Green Goddess! So, this is a pared-down version of green macaroni & cheese. It's not as complex but it's still delicious and of course, perfect for Halloween!

1 pound box of cavatappi (corkscrew) pasta (you can also use elbows or rotini)

1-10 oz package of frozen chopped spinach, completely defrosted

1 TBS oil (I prefer olive oil but grapeseed, canola or other neutral-flavored oil works)

1 medium onion, peeled and chopped

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced

1-8 oz package of cream cheese, softened and cut into cubes

¼ cup milk

2 TBS unsalted butter

2 TBS flour

2 cups milk

½ cup grated Parmesan

½ cup grated Italian blend cheese

¼ - ½ tsp garlic powder (or to taste)

Salt & pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta al dente according to package directions.

Meanwhile, place the spinach in a clean, lint-free kitchen towel. Draw up the ends of the towel and twist, squeezing out as much of the water as possible. Set aside.

Heat a skillet on medium heat. Add the oil. Add the onions and cook for 2 minutes or until the onions become translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds making sure it doesn’t burn. Add the spinach and stir well. Cook for 2 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool for 5 minutes.

Place the spinach into a food processor or blender and pulse. Add the cubes of cream cheese and the ¼ cup milk. Pulse until well-combined. Remove the mixture from the processor and set aside.

Heat a large skillet on medium. Add the butter. Once the butter is melted, whisk in the flour. Cook for 1 – 2 minutes to remove the raw taste from the flour. Slowly add the milk, whisking the entire time. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook for 2 – 3 minutes or until thickened.

Remove the sauce from the heat and whisk in bit-by-bit the spinach mixture, Parmesan, and the Italian blend cheese until the cheeses are melted and the sauce is smooth. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, and the ¼ tsp of garlic powder.

Add the cooked pasta to the cheese sauce and fold it in until well-combined. Check for seasoning and add more salt, pepper, and garlic powder if needed.

To serve:

1) Serve the pasta as is.

2) Place the pasta in individual bowls or one large bowl and gently push it down with a spatula. Wait a minute or two. Then place a plate on top of the bowl. Carefully flip the bowl and plate upside down. Remove the bowl. The pasta should be roughly brain-shaped. Using the edge of the spatula or a butter knife, push down an indentation in the center of the pasta to represent the two hemispheres of the brain. To further gore-ify the Bog Brains, add a few thin strips of roasted red peppers to separate the hemispheres.

3) Place the pasta in a casserole dish and bake at 375 degrees for 20 – 25 minutes or until golden brown.

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