Thursday, April 14, 2011

EASY Mac and Cheese .... no box required

These days, even the classic, beloved blue box of mac and cheese is off my grocery list. How do I substitute without lots of time and effort, and make my kids happy at the same time? EASY.

I have 2 kids, so this is just about enough for (2) 1 cup servings. Multiply as needed.

4 oz dry small whole wheat/grain pasta (shells, elbows, spirals, ABC's, etc)
1/2 c orange vegetable puree OR 1 c shredded orange vegetables
1 c milk
1 TBSP corn starch mixed with 2 TBSP cold water
1/2 c shredded mild cheddar cheese
salt and pepper (pinch to taste)

Cook pasta to package directions. If you are using shredded veggies, add them to the pasta during the last 5 minutes of cooking.
When you drop the pasta into the boiling water, start cheese sauce. Combine puree (if using), milk and cornstarch mixture in a small saucepan. Whisk often over medium low heat. When it starts to bubble, add cheese and turn off burner as soon as sauce has slightly thickened (WHY? the cornstarch mixture will thicken the sauce once it boils, but you don't want to overboil because it will curdle). Stir until cheese is melted in well, and add a little salt and pepper.
Drain pasta and return to pot. Pour cheese sauce over and stir well. VIOLA!
(Note: This will need a minute or two extra to cool since the temperature was slowly brought up to a boil unlike the milk/powdered cheese sauce)

I recommend for this recipe you use: carrots, butternut squash, pumpkin, yellow squash, or sweet potatoes. You can cook the vegetables and make a puree, use canned pumpkin/squash/sweet potato, or use raw and shred them up. (If your kids are texture or vegetable fussy, I highly recommend puree). You can also use baby food to save time or if you have them laying around.

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