We are now unofficially in the holiday season. Thanksgiving will be here before you know it, followed all-too-quickly by Christmas and New Years! Where has this year gone? Wasn’t it just summertime yesterday? The one thing about this time of year that stands out for me above everything else . . . SWEETS!
Ovens are getting ready to be tested to their limits with an endless barrage of cakes, pies, cookies and everything else that is festive. Don’t get me wrong, I rarely meet a holiday cookie that I don’t like. I like to think though that by tasting one cookie from each batch that I am doing “quality control” for Santa. We wouldn’t want him eating a bad cookie, would we?
Well, in the midst of all the holiday delicacies we still have to find a way to work some real food into our diets. After all, we can not live by pumpkin pie and sugar cookies alone, despite how much we want to. That’s why I love this recipe. It’s fast, simple and sneaks some veggies into our bodies. My kids love it also and they don’t even realize that it is . . . good for them. Shhh! That’s just between me and you.
Mac-and-cheese is a kid favorite. I was practically raised on it. It’s cheap, easy to make and a blank canvas for creativity. I’m under the firm belief that Hamburger Helper was borne from a mom who wanted to add some zing to her mac-and-cheese. This recipe has plenty of zing and it comes from the Rachael Ray Yum-o cookbook. That means, of course, that there is plenty that your kids can do to help. Here is a link directly to the recipe at Rachael’s website: http://yum-o.org/recipe.php?id=164
Whole Wheat Mac-n-Cheese for the Family
•2 tablespoons butter
•2 tablespoons flour
•1 cup chicken stock
•1 1/2 cups milk
•2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
•Salt and pepper
•1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (this is your SECRET INGREDIENT!)
•1 pound whole wheat pasta, cooked to al dente
•1 head cauliflower, cut into florets and steamed until almost tender, 6-7 minutes
1.In a saucepot, melt the butter over medium-low heat, add flour and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in chicken stock and milk. Thicken the sauce for 5 minutes and stir in cheese, season with salt and pepper and stir in your SECRET INGREDIENT.
2.Toss sauce with whole wheat pasta and cauliflower. YUM-O!
I live to add ground turkey or bite-sized chicken pieces to the pot. This makes for an even yummier and heartier meal.
The recipe calls for cauliflower, but it’s also really good with broccoli. Try substituting your family’s favorite veggie. My family really likes asparagus cut into bite-sized pieces.
I buy extra shredded cheese so that I can sprinkle some on top when serving. And let’s face it, everything is better with more cheese.
I never measure the Dijon mustard. I squeeze some into the sauce, and add more to taste. If you are not a mustard person then leave it out. This recipe is just as yummy without it.
I don’t mess with the head of cauliflower. I buy the florets from the freezer section.
I love how hearty and filling this mac-and-cheese is. And since it makes such a big pot that means there are plenty of leftovers for my husband’s lunchbox the next day.
Have fun in the kitchen. Don’t be afraid to experiment. You are the artist. The empty dinner plate is your canvas. The masterpiece you create is totally up to you, even if it’s just adding your favorite veggie to mac-and-cheese.
I would love to hear your favorite recipes. One of my favorite things about cooking is swapping recipes with friends. What does your family enjoy? Do your kids have a snack that they created? Do you have a favorite dessert that has been passed down in your family? Anything goes! I would love to hear from you, and with your permission, I would love to share your favorites with the rest of Froggyland. Don’t forget to share any stories that go along with your recipe. Did your mom always make this for you when you were sick as a child? Is this your kids favorite birthday breakfast? Cooking is more than dinner. Cooking makes memories, so share those stories with your recipes. If you have any variations, shortcuts, and how you came across the recipe, share that also. Let me know what cookbook or website you got it from. I am always on the lookout for new places to find dinner ideas. You can message me on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/heather.mcribbits) or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org). I can’t wait to hear from you!
The next time we meet . . . pesto and cream cheese stuffed chicken breasts. Messy to prepare but super delicious to eat!