"But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Philipians 3:13b,14

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Healthier Make Ahead Baked Mac and Cheese

I love casseroles. I like to make them early in the day when I have extra time, and then when it's dinner time, I can just throw them in the oven and not have to worry about dinner prep! I LOVE Eating Well's magazine, and I got this recipe off the website- they have some great recipes! 

What you need:
  • 3 tablespoons plain dry breadcrumbs, (just make your own, the store bought are a rip off)
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika (I think paprika is gross, hence, I left this out)
  • 1 16-ounce or 10-ounce package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 3/4 cups low-fat milk, divided
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 8 ounces (2 cups) whole-wheat elbow macaroni, or penne (I used white pasta) (don't judge me)

    Use your blender or Magic Bullet (LOVE the Magic Bullet) to pulse a few slices of bread and make breadcrumbs. I used whole wheat bread, since I used white pasta. See??! It all works out. 

    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. Try not to get a bag of tortilla chips and use this mixture as a dip. It would probably be gross anyhow (it isn't) so just don't do it.

    Yum. Just sayin'.

    Cook the macaroni for 4 minutes. It will still be a bit undercooked, which is fine since it will cook fully in the oven.

    I used large elbow macaroni, so I HAD to take this photo. Sometimes I get a little loopy while I'm in the kitchen fixing dinner. I apologize. Carry on.

    Add the cooked macaroni to the cheese sauce mixture and stir it up...

    Then grease a casserole dish and put half the macaroni mixture in, then sprinkle the spinach over that layer, then spread the rest of the macaroni over the top of the spinach. 

    Mix together the breadcrumbs and olive oil (and <gag> paprika, if you're using it) and top the casserole with the breadcrumb mixture. 

    Bake at 450 for 25 to 30 minutes, or until bubbly and golden. I prepared it up to the "put it in the oven" stage, then threw it in the fridge until dinner time. I increased the cooking time to 40 minutes. It was a hit. I thought it needed more salt, but I like things salty. So I just added some at the table.

    I got this recipe from www.eatingwell.com


    1. This sounds yummy. The spinach makes me happy.

    2. I always try and get extra spinach in wherever I can.... I have anemia and need the iron.... :)

    3. It looked good until I saw the spinach (which I cannot eat after it is cooked, for some reason). I may try this (sans spinach) with some homemade GF pasta, though...

    4. Maybe you could sub peas or corn instead! :)

    5. Hey, this looks really good! I love the spinach add-in.