Melissa’s magnificent mac & cheese

My gal pal Melissa made this mac and cheese for her annual New Year’s Eve party this year, and it is truly magical. Like all good recipes, this one has been passed on – I got it from Melissa, who got it from her sister Teresa, who got it from a friend – and, now, it’s time you all give it a go!

It’s quick and easy.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups elbow or corkscrew macaroni (I measured 2 cups dry, then boiled it for 6 minutes, until al dente – remember, it will cook a little more in the oven!)
  • 1/2 of a small onion, finely diced
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 Tbsp. flour
  • 1/4 tsp. dry mustard
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • sprinkle of pepper
  • 2 cups milk (I used 2%)
  • 1/2 pound (an 8 oz. brick) of sharp or extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 3 slices white bread, cubed

Here are the steps:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F
  • Cook your pasta til al dente (about 6 minutes), drain, then put in a large mixing bowl
  • Dice the onion very fine to avoid biting into big chunks, then add it to the bowl
  • Cut up the butter into smaller pieces, then add it to the bowl, spreading it around
  • Grate the cheese – I grate it on a piece of wax paper to lessen the mess and for easy transport to the bowl!

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  • Cube up your bread – I stacked the 3 slices on top of each other, then made several vertical cuts. I then took the long pieces, and cut those to make cubes
  • Add the grated cheese, flour, dry mustard, salt, pepper, milk, and cubed bread
  • Stir all ingredients, then pour into a 1 1/2 quart baking dish
  • Bake for 10 minutes, stir, then bake another 10 minutes
    (Note: If the dish still looks too wet, bake for 5 minutes more then check again)
  • After 20 minutes, turn your broiler to high and broil for 3 – 4 minutes, watching so it doesn’t burn. This will give your mac and cheese a nice, crusty top. (If you don’t like a crusty top, no sweat, skip this step!)

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Low-fat cheese… I knew better

Today, I tried a low-cal recipe for mac and cheese with veggies. I have to admit, it was not a home run. It was more like a foul ball. But, with a few tweaks, I think it could be good. Here’s the story…

I modified the recipe from one I found when searching Pinterest. I added more veggies, and also non-fat plain Greek yogurt for creaminess – both of which I liked.

What would I change next time? I’d stay completely away from low-fat cheese, I’d use more cheese, I’d add kale, and I’d trade the gluten-free pasta for the protein-packed kind. Those changes alone could take this dish to a very good place.

Next time, I’ll use these ingredients:

  • 3 cups uncooked high-protein pasta (my recipe called for gluten-free pasta)
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 orange pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 green pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 cup baby portabella mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 very large handful of kale, tough ribs removed, then cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 individual-serving size tub of non-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cups skim milk
  • 3 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese – 2 cups in the mix, and one cup on top to get bubbly and crispy (my recipe called for 1 1/2 cups of low-fat grated colby jack – 1 cup in the dish and 1/2 cup on top)
  • Freshly ground black pepper

And here are the steps:

  • Cook the pasta til al dente (remember, you’re also going to bake it!)
  • While the pasta cooks:
    • Heat a large skillet on medium-high (7 out of 10) for about a minute
    • Add 1 tsp olive oil to the skillet and let heat for about a minute more
    • Add chopped peppers and onion, and cook for about 2 minutes
    • Add the chopped mushrooms and corn, and cook for 3 minutes more
    • Add the kale and cook about a minute longer (the kale should be bright green and softened a little)

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Wouldn’t kale have looked pretty and added some healthy leafy greens?

  • Remove from heat, pour veggies in a large bowl, then add milk, yogurt, 2 cups shredded cheese, and black pepper
  • Add the cooked pasta to the bowl, then mix everything together
  • Put into a 9X12 baking dish, and add the remaining cup of shredded cheese to the top
  • Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes, or until the top is brown and bubbly (use the broiler for a minute or two if needed to get a good crisp on top)

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This definitely needed more cheese on top!

Enjoy!