Friday, November 9, 2012

Healthier Macaroni & Cheese (Contains Vegetables!)

healthier macaroni and cheese recipe with vegetables
My boys love their mac and cheese. And my oldest loves vegetables in most any form. He’s truly an amazing eater. But my youngest won’t touch vegetables except the occasional (fresh, in-season) green bean. Not frozen. So…I have started hiding vegetables in our macaroni and cheese. And it isn’t really ‘hiding’. I don’t lie to my family. I tell them what’s in it. But they eat it anyway. And the one who turns up his nose at most veggies is only 15 months old.  And so far, he thinks it’s just mac-n-cheese and eats it with no complaint.
So. Let me tell you how I hide veggies. Specifically cauliflower, butternut squash or carrots.

Ingredients you will need:
1 2/3 cups milk, divided (I use whole milk. Actually it’s whole-fat milk from the local dairy. I think you could use 2%, though. But our dairy doesn’t sell that!)
4 t flour
1 cup cheese
1 box of whole wheat pasta
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups of cauliflower, butternut squash or carrot puree. (To make puree, simply peel, cut and steam the vegetable until tender. Then blend in blender until smooth. Do not add water.)
2 grated carrots (optional)
Step 1. Cook and drain pasta. I used rotini to be different.
healthier macaroni and cheese (2)
2. Grate the cheese so it is ready. I buy my cheese at a local dairy. It is garlic-herb yogurt cheese. Very tasty. But you can use any cheese. I’ve noticed that the better quality cheese used, the better the finished dish.
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This is what my cauliflower puree looks like. I make and freeze large quantities of it. I freeze them in small portions. Please disregard the melted container. It had a little accident with the stove. (I make stupid mistakes in the kitchen sometimes!)
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3. Now take the 4t flour and 3 T milk and whisk them together in a small bowl. Meanwhile, heat the remaining milk over medium heat in a saucepan until steaming. healthier macaroni and cheese (5)
4. Add the flour/milk mixture to the steaming milk in the pan. Whisk constantly and increase heat until the mixture bubbles and thickens. Once thick, add the cheese and continue whisking until totally melted. Add the salt, pepper, and minced garlic. Add the cauliflower puree. Mix well. healthier macaroni and cheese (6)
5. Add the pasta to the mixture. Add grated carrots, if using. Stir to coat the pasta with the sauce. healthier macaroni and cheese (9)
6. Transfer into a 9x13” baking dish coated with cooking spray. healthier macaroni and cheese (10)
7. Bake, covered for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Enjoy!

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