Monday, April 23, 2012

Cleaned Up Mac-N-Cheese

First, I apologize for the lack of blogging this past week. Three little letters take over my life this time of year..........V-B-S! I am the director of Vacation Bible School at our church and I am busy with a million details as my friend and co-director Sarah and I try to put this thing together again! I do love it but it does create some stress in my life. I have been working on a few recipes though.

Secondly, I found a keeper! I stumbled upon this recipe while browsing through recipes on my favorite site I was in need of a quick dinner recipe because like usual I waited until the last minute to decide what we would have for dinner. I knew this would be a bit different than the regular stuff but since I don't feed the kids the regular stuff anymore I figured they just might settle for this. In fact, I rarely make pasta so they were pretty excited when they came to the table.

So here you go!

I have no idea why I had whole grain pasta instead of whole wheat pasta. I must have grabbed the wrong box. It's really not that big of a deal but I actually prefer the whole wheat now so I always choose whole wheat. Anyway get your pasta cooking. You will need about 3 cups of pasta. Since the recipe actually asked for elbow macaroni and I didn't have any I used a little more than three cups I am guessing.

Start by sauteing one small yellow onion finely sliced in some olive oil and a little bit of buttery spread like Earth Balance.

Then be smart and add in some diced ham now instead of forgetting it like I did and saute a few minutes more. If you like mushrooms add those in now too and saute. No one in this house likes them so of course I left them out!

Then you will add about 1 tbsp. of flour. The recipe calls for brown rice flour but I didn't have that. I used spelt flour because it is a very fine and smooth flour which is probably why they asked for brown rice flour in the first place. If you don't have either of those then try using some cake flour. It is just one tablespoon, but you don't want it to get all clumpy. It needs to act as a binder.

Then add some salt and pepper and get your Dijon mustard ready.

You are now ready to add the first of two cups of milk and 1 tbsp of Dijon. Add them in stirring constantly.  I would normally go heavy on the Dijon but I wanted the kids to enjoy this and it was a new recipe so I stuck with just one. After tasting it, I concluded that I made the right decision.

Then add your second cup of milk gradually and let it thicken as it cooks a few more minutes. It won't get real thick but don't worry. The cheese is coming!

It is now time to remove it from the heat and add in your cup of cheese. I followed the recipe and used Swiss because I love it so and because it is a lower fat cheese. I was a little shy of one cup though so I had to add a bit of mozzarella. If you are aiming to please the kids then use a reduced fat cheddar for a more familiar taste.

Stir that until it is melted and thickened.

Mmmmm........cheesy goodness for sure!

It looked a bit anemic for me though so I found something green to make it look more alive and to make me happier about serving this blandish looking food. I sauteed the kale first in a bit of olive oil to get it softened.

Stirred it in and what do you know. I was happy!

I quickly chopped up some strawberries and served a raw veggie salad. That certainly helped out with the whiteness of the main dish I would say!

I didn't actually tell the kids I was making Macaroni and Cheese so they just thought it was a random pasta dish. I think that worked in my favor. If I had said mac and cheese they would have expected something else for sure.
Evan absolutely loved this. He devoured it quickly, told his sister to hurry up and eat hers because it was really good, and then got up for seconds.
After Faith picked out all the ham she ate hers delightfully as well. I have no idea what that was about because she declares that ham is her favorite meat. I am chalking that up to her two X chromosomes!

Here is the recipe just as it appears on the clean eating sight but you should give that website a visit and find a few new things to try. I have loved everything I have made from there! 

Traditional Twist Mac & Cheese


  • 3 cups whole-grain elbow macaroni
  • 1 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp natural olive oil buttery spread (TRY: Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread with Olive Oil) or organic unsalted  butter
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely sliced
  • 3 oz extra-lean, uncured, roasted ham, finely diced
  • 2 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tbsp brown-rice flour
  • 1/4 tsp each sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 cups 1% milk, divided
  • 1 cup grated low-fat Swiss cheese
  • Fresh micro herbs for garnish, optional


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil on high. Add macaroni and cook according to package directions. Drain and return macaroni to pot, covering to keep warm.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat oil and buttery spread on medium-high. Add onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add ham and sauté, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and sauté until browned, about 4 minutes. Sprinkle with flour, salt and pepper and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add Dijon and 1 cup milk, stirring constantly. Gradually add remaining milk, stirring after each addition. Continue cooking until slightly thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add cheese, stirring until completely melted. Add macaroni and stir until well combined. If desired, garnish with herbs and serve.

1 comment:

Jenny said...

This isn't about this post - but your Easter cupcakes made me think to ask...what frosting recipe would you use if you wanted it to taste good and hold up well? I feel like my icing has a tendency to run off my cupcakes, which is why I usually spread, rather than pipe.