The recipe wasn't quite right for me as originally written, so I have been making changes: four about ingredients, two about methods.
- Cut it down: The first modification happened before I even made the first batch: I thought that 1 pound of cheddar cheese was too much, so I cut it in half.
- Frozen: Next, I tried freezing the cottage cheese. The recipe calls for 8 ounces of cottage cheese and I buy it in 16 ounce containers, so I froze the extra 8 ounces and used it in a batch a few weeks later (after defrosting). It was fine — the freeze / thaw cycle didn't have any negative effects on the dish.
- The whole story: Hearing so much about whole grains, it was worth trying a whole wheat pasta. The pasta cooked properly and made the flavors a bit more robust.
- Choppin' lots of broccoli: The final ingredient tweak has been to add some chopped broccoli halfway through the baking time (when the mixture is gently stirred). The broccoli cooks nicely and adds nutrients and flavors.
- Simpler combine: The original recipe calls for the milk, seasonings, and cottage cheese to be blended together, and then the mixture combined with the pasta and grated cheese in a large bowl. Instead of mixing everything in a bowl, why not pour the pasta and grated cheese into the blender jar and then mix it by hand? It's slightly challenging to get a uniform mix in the blender jar, but that can be corrected in the baking dish. (Of course, an immersion blender could also be used in a mixing bowl to blend the cottage cheese, milk and seasonings, and then the pasta added to that bowl.)
- One tool, two jobs: A few weeks ago, I had a question while I was washing dishes after making the recipe: Could I use a food processor to grate the cheese and blend the ingredients, thereby cutting the 'wash list' by one? The answer is yes. Step 1: use the food processor's grater disk to grate the cheese. Remove the cheese and put it on the plate you are going to use for dining to save a dish. Step 2: switch to the blade and process the cottage cheese, milk, and seasonings. Step 3: add the dry pasta and grated cheese to the bowl and mix everything together by hand. Step 4: pour into the prepared pan.