Monday, December 12, 2011

Hide-a-Veggie, "Lighter" Macaroni and Cheese


Mac and cheese is something that I never, ever thought that I would try to "lighten up."  I'm a firm believer in "some dishes are best left to their delightfully bad goodness"!  BUT, the more holiday baking I do, the more I need to lighten up dinner so that I can enjoy some tasty treats without feeling too terrible!  I'd heard of putting butternut squash in mac and cheese ... so, I got into the kitchen, picked a few ingredients, and went to work, sans recipe.  It took 3 tries, but we all think it is an absolutely delish result!  It's perfectly gooey and cheesy, and you'd never know there's a veggie lurking inside!  You'd also never guess that I nixed the milk and butter.  Give it a try - you'll be very pleasantly surprised!

xoxo,


Little Mommy's "Lighter" Mac and Cheese
Serves 5-6

Cooked macaroni noodles (6 cups, at least)
1/2 c. pureed butternut squash (close to half of a squash pureed)
1 c. chicken stock (99% fat free, low sodium)
1/2 tsp. salt (or less)
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp cayenne (or 1/8 if you don't like a lot of spice)
1 1/2 c. sharp cheddar
1 c. shredded parmesan
1/2 c. low fat, or fat free ricotta
panko bread crumbs
nonstick spray
olive oil

1.  Cut the squash in half, pour olive oil on the meat and bake on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet (squash face-down) on 400 degrees for 40-50 minutes (skin will peel right off when ready).
2.  Puree the squash in a food processor and measure 1/2 c. for the dish.  
3.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees for the macaroni, spray small ramekins, or shallow baking dish with nonstick spray.  
3.  Place the squash in a sauce pan on medium heat.  Add in the stock and the spices.  Mix well.
4.  Turn the heat down a bit, and add in the cheddar and the parmesan.  Stir constantly.  The cheese will not completely melt (***and that's okay - as long as it doesn't clump.  If it clumps, you have left it sit too long, or the heat is too high.***)
5.  Add in the ricotta at the least minute (only stir to mix the ricotta in, do not leave it on the heat).  
6.  Place plain noodles in the baking dishes, then pour the sauce on top.  Gently mix the sauce in with a spoon.
7.  Toss the panko bread crumbs in olive oil, salt, and pepper and sprinkle them on top of the ramekins, or baking dish. 
8.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Enjoy!  

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9 comments:

OneMommy said...

The husband and daughter love mac and cheese here - I will have to give this a try sometime!

Have a little award for you! Stop by to "pick it up!" http://theresjustonemommy.com/?p=1916

PERMANENT POSIES said...

Wow! That looks really good and different! Thanks for sharing it.

Carolina HeartStrings said...

That looks so yummy. Perfect for a cool winter evening. We have a fantastic Kahlua Cinnamon Cocoa. Come on over and try it out. While you are there be sure to check out the Southern Fried Women post and enter to win a great Christmas present from the author!

Tara from Crock-Pot Ladies said...

Oh now this is a great idea. I'm going to have to give this a try because my five year old is really not eating any veggies lately and has pretty much stopped drinking milk. So I've got to get some healthy stuff in here somehow and she loves mac n cheese! Thanks for sharing!

Kristy Lynn said...

i am an absolute mac and cheese fiend. if it's available, i'll eat it until it's gone. seriously. it's a bad, bad thing. that being said, i like the idea of "lightening" it up - sans non-fat ingredients. non-fat shit scares me. but i love adding veggies to stuff! b-nut it is!

PS. i usually chuck in some kale, onion, garlic, and sundried tomatoes too if you wanna come check it out. Veggies = good.

Bizzy B. Bakes said...

We are squash eaters. I can imagine, this is a wonderful combination.

Miz Helen said...

What a great way to dress up Mac N Cheese, this looks delicious! Hope you are having a great week and thanks so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
Come Back Soon!
Miz Helen

April @ The 21st Century Housewife said...

This is a lovely way to lighten up mac and cheese, and so seasonal with the squash. Thank you for sharing this post with Let's Do Brunch.

Chaya said...

This is a wonderful way to lighten up that mac and cheese. I love squash so I can see doing this.

This is being featured on Let's Do Brunch.