The KC kids don't eat much boxed macaroni and cheese to begin with, unless we're traveling and need a safe, non-refrigerated option that won't make Roo break out in hives. In that case I'm all about a little Annie's or in a pinch, good old-fashioned toxic food dye-laced Kraft . It's not ideal, I know, but faced with a road trip choice of food dye versus anaphylaxis, I opt for the dye.
Anyway, the March issue of Cooking Light has a recipe for Cheesy Penne that looked relatively innocuous (and fast!) and being that it was 4:30 PM on gymnastics night and I happened to have everything on hand, I gave it a go. You should too.
adapted from Cooking Light
16 ounces short pasta (any shape)
6 cups broccoli florets
2 cups milk
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
3 tbsp cream cheese
1&1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup shredded 4 cheese Italian blend (or similar shredded, meltable cheese)
1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese, for topping
Cook the pasta according to package instructions. During the last 3 minutes of cooking, throw in the broccoli. Drain the pasta and broccoli together in a colander and transfer to a large bowl.
I, on the other hand, hate boxed macaroni and cheese with a passion, but this I can handle without a single grimace or whine. The Dijon and nutmeg do wonders to amp up the flavor a bit without overwhelming the more sensitive taste buds of preschoolers.
So, no carcinogenic food dyes were ingested, the pasta got eaten (along with sides of plain broccoli) and we made it to gymnastics on time. Really, I can't ask for more.