Monday, March 18, 2013

Broccoli Mac and Cheese

On my list of priorities, making homemade macaroni and cheese falls pretty far down the list somewhere between backing up old photos and ironing the duvet cover - not a euphoria-inducing endeavor, but not quite torture either.

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.
Broccoli Mac and Cheese
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.
Combine the milk and flour over medium heat in a saucepan. Whisk the mixture until it's nice and smooth, then continue to cook until it starts to thicken, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in all the remaining ingredients, except the Parmesan. Whisk until smooth.
Pour the cheese mixture over the pasta and broccoli and toss together. Distribute into individual bowls and top with freshly grated Parmesan.
Much better than the bright orange carcinogenic stuff, don't you think? In all fairness my masterpiece went over about as well as boxed mac and cheese with the KC kids. They asked me to leave the broccoli on the side next time. They didn't like it cheesy.

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.


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    The Chicken Chick

  3. Myyyyyy goodness! Best mac and cheese I’ve ever made…my husband loved it as well! (I added some crispy bacon during the last step with the noodles and broccoli and also threw some on the top) but everything else I followed the same. Very flavorful.

    Karlyn@Simplement D Liche