BFL – Emily Always Cooks

Fun enough for the kids. Just grown up enough for the adult palate as well. So simple to make. Ready for it?  Sure you are.

I’m Emily, the gal behind Emily Always Cooks.  Most of my time is spent in my small Chicago apartment kitchen, whipping up simple, tasty, family friendly recipes. The kind that make your friends jealous.  Seasonal ingredients and whole foods are my staple. Healthy, with just the right amount of indulgent comfort food.  Follow my blog to see what I’ve been cooking up lately. The pictures are pretty. The food is delicious.

This is a fun twist on macaroni and cheese. I like creating an opportunity to introduce children to new foods and expand their palates, while simultaneously eating something with a sense of familiarity.  Stove-top Gnocchi (not Mac) and Cheese with Peas … does just that.  It’s a rich, decadent cheese sauce. Move over kiddies, I’m diving in too.


If you’ve never cooked gnocchi (small potato dumplings) before, the time is now. Your family will love these little potato pillows.  Just bring a big pot of salted water to a boil (as you would for pasta).  Then add the gnocchi, give it a stir, and wait until they rise to the surface. About 3-ish minutes.  Once they’ve floated to the top, just strain out the water and you’re ready to go!  Easy peasy!

Prepare your ingredients ahead of time. Shred your cheeses and have your milk and seasonings out and ready.  The thing about cheese sauce is that things happen fast. Because you’re working with milk, butter, cheese and heat – this sauce can burn easily if you’re not careful.  By getting everything prepared ahead of time, you can focus on the cooking.

This dish comes together in under 30 minutes. Being prepared in one pot means minimal clean up. (We love that!) Happy family. Easy clean up. Delicious meal for the whole crew.

Stove-top Gnocchi (not mac) and Cheese with Peas


2 17.5 ounce boxes potato gnocchi
4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp flour
2 cups whole milk
1/4 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
2 cups freshly shredded cheddar cheese
1 cups freshly shredded fontina cheese
1/2 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
(Optional toppings: chopped fresh basil, extra Parmesan cheese)


Bring a large heavy-bottomed stock pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the gnocchi and cook according to package directions. Drain, set aside, and reserve.  Make sure to toss the cooked gnocchi frequently so they do not stick together when preparing the cheese sauce.

Next, make the béchamel sauce.  In the same pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Once the butter has melted, add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Stir in the flour and cook the mixture, stirring constantly until light brown in color with a slightly toasted aroma, about 3 minutes. Add the milk slowly into the flour and butter mixture, whisking constantly so you get all the lumps out.  Bring sauce to a low boil, whisking constantly, then simmer,  still whisking occasionally, for 3 minutes to thicken.  The sauce should thicken enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Stir in cheeses, mustard powder, salt and pepper until smooth.  Note: Do not add your cheese too fast or too soon as this could result in clumpy, greasy chaos instead of creamy, cheesy deliciousness.  Instead, wait for your béchamel to reach the right thickness.  Then, add the cheese in three batches, making sure each batch is completely melted before adding more cheese.

Add the gnocchi and peas, stirring to combine, and cook over low heat just until warmed throughout. Serve immediately with fresh basil and additional parmesan cheese.

Note: It will originally seem that there is too much cheese sauce for the amount of gnocchi. Trust me – the sauce will continue to thicken and you will be happy with the extra creamy, cheesy deliciousness.

Servings: 6
Cook time: 30 minutes

The finished product...yum!

The finished product…yum!

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