Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Updated Mac & Cheese

Who doesn't love macaroni and cheese?  Rich, creamy, cheesy...yum!  My go-to recipe is one I've adapted over the years through trial and error but I'm still not 100% happy with it so I'm always happy to try new recipes.

The results on this recipe are mixed -- meaning the boys liked it (note they said "like" not "love") and they thought it was good (but not great), and I didn't like it mainly because of the spinach and cottage cheese.  This was the first time I used spinach in a mac n cheese dish, and I thought the cottage cheese gave the dish a sour taste that I did not enjoy.

The dish was easy to prepare but I don't think I'll make it again -- there are plenty of other mac n cheese recipes out there to try.

Updated Mac & Cheese
The Essential Eating Well Cookbook
Makes 4 servings

3 tbsp plain dry breadcrumbs
1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp paprika
1 16 oz or 10 oz package frozen spinach
1 3/4 cups 1% milk, divided
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese (6 oz)
1 cup low-fat (1%) cottage cheese
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
 8 oz (2 cups) whole-wheat elbow macaroni or penne

1.  Put a large pot of lightly salted water on to boil.  Preheat oven to 450F.  Coat an 8" square (2 quart) baking dish with cooking spray.
2.  Mix breadcrumbs, oil and paprika in a small bowl; set aside.  Cook spinach according to package directions.  Drain and refresh under cold water; press out excess moisture.  Set aside.
3.  Heat 1 1/2 cups milk in a large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat until steaming.  Whisk remaining 1/4 cup milk and flour in a small bowl until smooth; add to the hot milk and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce simmers and thickens, 2 to 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in cheddar until melted.  Stir in cottage cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper.
4.  Cook pasta for 4 minutes, or until not quite tender.  (It will continue to cook during baking.)  Drain and add to the cheese sauce; mix well.  Spread half the pasta mixture in the prepared baking dish.  Spoon spinach on top.  Top with the remaining pasta; sprinkle with the breadcrumb mixture.
5.  Bake the casserole until bubbly and golden, 25 to 30 minutes.

Per Serving: 503 calories; 17g fat; 54mg cholesterol; 60g carbohydrate; 31g protein; 8g fiber; 935 mg sodium
Nutrition Bonus: 200% DV Vitamin A, 60% DV Calcium, 27% DV Folate

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