Friday, April 10, 2015

Mac 'n Cheese If You Please

Mac 'n cheese is just so great on a dreary, rainy, chilly day. The weather has been miserable this week. Such a drag! Luckily is it supposed to be much nicer around these parts this weekend.

Normally Mac 'n cheese is full of cream, cheese, and butter. The good stuff. But I usually try to make a version that cuts down on these elements to an extent but still has the creaminess, cheesiness, and buttery factors in some way. 

Pile of heaven

I followed the below recipe from Cookin' Canuck with a few changes. I baked the sweet potato the night before to save time. I do recommend blending/pureeing the sweet potato rather than just mashing it if you don't want small chunks of sweet potato showing (if you are serving to children or picky adults, for example). I also added caramelized onions instead of regular onions for an element of sweetness since I felt it worked with the sweet potato. Oh and unsweetened almond milk instead of regular milk. And dried sage instead of fresh sage. 

Additionally I halved the recipe and only had bowtie pasta to use. Had to be resourceful! It is important as a home cook to learn and figure out how you can substitute and make changes based on the ingredients you have on hand or to prevent buying extra ingredients and, thus, saving money. A recipe is really just a guide and does not need to be followed to the T (tee?). 

Light(er) Sweet Potato Mac 'n Cheese
Adapted from Cookin' Canuck

1 lb. sweet potato
13 oz. whole wheat elbow-shaped pasta
1 tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil, divided
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp chopped fresh sage
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup vegetable broth
2 1/4 cups skim milk
6 oz. sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs, preferably whole wheat
3 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

·      Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly coat a 11- by 7-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
·      Pierce the sweet potato all over with a fork. Cook in a microwave until the sweet potato is very tender, about 5 minutes per side.
·      Cut the sweet potato in half lengthwise and, when cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh into a shallow dish. With the back of a fork, mash the sweet potato until well-mashed and almost smooth.
·      In a large nonstick saucepan, cook the elbow pasta about 2 minutes less than package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water.
·      In the same saucepan, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until the onion is tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sage and cook for 1 minute.
·      Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
·      While whisking, gradually pour the vegetable broth and skim milk into the flour mixture. Bring the mixture to a simmer and continue to whisk until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes.
·      Stir in the mashed sweet potato, grated cheddar cheese, Dijon mustard, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Heat, stirring, until the cheese is melted.
·      Add the cooked pasta to the cheese sauce and stir until well combined. Transfer to the prepared baking dish.
·      In a small bowl stir together the panko breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle the mixture over the top of the macaroni and cheese.
·      Bake until the casserole is bubbling, about 20 minutes. Place the casserole under the broiler for 1 minute, or until the breadcrumbs are golden brown. Watch carefully so that the breadcrumbs don't burn. Serve.

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