Baked Crab Mac-n-Cheese With Peas

18 02 2015

I love the decadence of crab mac-n-cheese! This recipe offers that rich, comforting flavor, but with a few healthier ingredients. In a meal like this, you can easily swap things like coconut oil in place of butter and whole wheat flour for all-purpose flour, as well as sneak in a veggie like peas. And if you’re an observer of Lent, this is a great dinner to dig into on Fridays!

Baked Crab Mac-n-Cheese With Peas

The following serves 3-4 (adapted from Will Cook For Smiles):

  • 2 cups dry whole wheat penne
  • 1 cup (8 oz) crab meat
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas
  • 3 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 and 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 3/4 – 1 cup white sharp cheddar cheese, grated from the block
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup panko
  • Chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 350. Spray casserole dish with non-stick spray and set aside.

Cook pasta in boiling, salted water according to package directions. Cook to al dente, then drain well and add back to pot. Add the crab meat and frozen peas to the pasta and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt coconut oil over medium heat and add shallot. Saute a minute or two until beginning to soften. Whisk in the flour and cook for 30 seconds to a minute. Slowly pour in the milk and constantly whisk until the mixture begins to thicken. Add the grated cheddar and salt and pepper to taste. Keep whisking, slowly, until the cheese is melted. Off heat, stir in half of the parmesan.

Pour the cheese mixture over the pasta, crab and peas and stir well to combine. Transfer to prepared casserole dish and sprinkle with the panko and the rest of the parmesan.

Bake covered for 20 minutes. Remove cover and finish baking another 5-10 minutes to help brown the top (you may want to up the heat or turn on the broiler). Allow to rest a few minutes before serving, then garnish with chopped parsley.

Creamy Squash Mac-n-Cheese With Chicken and Kale

8 01 2015

This comfy casserole will help keep you warm on a bitter cold night. There’s no flour, butter or excess cheese, so you can feel good about diving into this healthy take on mac-n-cheese!

Creamy Squash Mac-n-Cheese With Chicken and Kale

The following serves 4-6 (adapted from Food52):

  • 1 acorn squash, peeled, seeded and cubed, about 4 cups cubed
  • 1 and 1/2 cups unsweetened plain almond milk (or skim milk)
  • 1 and 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 small box (13 oz) whole wheat penne
  • Olive oil
  • 1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
  • Garlic powder
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 2-3 cups chopped fresh kale
  • 4 oz plain goat cheese
  • 1 cup grated parmesan, plus more for topping
  • Panko breadcrumbs

In a medium saucepan, bring the milk, stock and garlic cloves to a simmer. Add cubed squash and season with salt and pepper. Cover with a lid and simmer until squash is tender, about 20-25 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350.

Cook pasta to al dente, according to package directions. Drain and add to a large mixing bowl.

Heat a medium skillet over medium heat with a little olive oil. Season chicken with a little salt, garlic powder and red pepper flakes to taste. Add to skillet and cook until just browned. Remove the chicken from the pan and add to bowl with pasta. Bake in the skillet, add 2-3 cups of chopped kale – add a little at a time, wilting slightly as you go. Remove sautéed kale from skillet and add to the bowl with pasta.

When the squash is tender, remove from the heat and transfer (carefully) to a high-powered blender. Puree until smooth.

Add the puree, a little at a time, to the bowl with the pasta, along with the goat cheese and parmesan cheese. Mix everything until well combined and the cheese melts. I added a little puree at a time as I didn’t need to use it all, and will save some for another sauce. You want everything to look really creamy with a little extra sauce mixed in as it will thicken in the oven.

Pour mixture into a 9×13 baking dish sprayed with non-stick spray. Top with panko and more grated parmesan.

Bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and rest for a few minutes before serving.

Cauliflower Mac And Cheese With Keilbasa

7 02 2014

Here’s an easy and super healthy mac and cheese homemade right on the stove…but this isn’t from any box! Food Network came up with a brilliant spin on this comfort food, working in an extra serving a veggies that even the kids will enjoy. Wish I thought of this myself! You blend low-fat milk and cauliflower, then melt in reduced-fat cheese to make the sauce. No butter, oil, or extra flour. See, you can enjoy a delicious and healthy meal quickly, that doesn’t come from a box, the frozen section or carry out!

Cauliflower Mac And Cheese With Keilbasa

Cauliflower Mac And Cheese With Keilbasa

The following serves 2-4 (adapted from Food Network Magazine):

  • 3 cups chopped cauliflower (about 8 oz)
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1 and 1/2 cups shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
  • 1 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 and 3/4 cups whole wheat macaroni (about 6 oz)
  • Package of turkey kielbasa
  • Salt and pepper

Bring the cauliflower and milk to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce the heat to medium, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 8 minutes. Use an immersion blender or transfer to a blender and puree mixture until smooth. Return to the saucepan and stir in 1 and 1/4 cups cheddar and the parmesan.

Meanwhile, bring a medium saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as the label directs to al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water, then drain.

While the pasta cooks, slice the kielbasa in half down the center, and then again in half lengthwise. Add the kielbasa and a little water to a skillet, cover, and cook over medium heat until the water is evaporated and the kielbasa is browned, flipping occasionally.

Add the cooked pasta to the cauliflower mixture along with a little of the reserved cooking water. Cook over low heat, stirring, until the pasta is coated. Taste and season with salt if needed.

Divide mac and cheese among plates, top with the remaining 1/4 cup cheddar and black pepper. Serve with kielbasa.

Buffalo Chicken Mac-n-Cheese

3 02 2014

Reinventing the classic buffalo chicken dip never gets old because everyone loves it. Huddle up, kids…I turned the go-to party dip into a healthy mac-n-cheese for game day! Trust me, you’ll score a touchdown at your parties with this dish!

Buffalo Chicken Mac-n-Cheese

Buffalo Chicken Mac-n-Cheese

The following makes a 9×13 casserole (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 1 lb whole wheat macaroni
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, shredded or cubed
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 2 cup low-fat, low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 – 1 cup Frank’s original hot sauce (amount depends on your taste)
  • 2 (8 oz) bricks of reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 oz blue cheese crumbles
  • Chopped chives or green onion for garnish

Preheat oven to 375.

Bring a large pot of water to boil, add salt and cook pasta to al dente according to package instructions. Strain pasta and set aside.

Shred or cube the chicken while the pasta cooks and set aside.

Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in the same pot you used to cook the pasta and saute celery for a few minutes. Remove from the pot, add to the chicken and set aside.

Add the remaining 2 Tbsp of olive oil to the same pot. When the oil is heated through, remove from the heat and whisk in the flour. Turn the heat back on to medium and add chicken stock, whisking constantly – stir until sauce thickens a little and is smooth. Next add the cream cheese and just a pinch of salt to taste. Whisk the sauce until the cream cheese is melted, stirring occasionally. Next add the hot sauce and mix well. Start with 1/2 cup and taste the sauce, adjust to your liking. I ended up adding a full cup because I wanted the buffalo taste to be more prominent.

Once you get the flavor of your sauce adjusted to your liking, remove from the heat and add the pasta, chicken and celery to the sauce and stir until well mixed. Add the mac-n-cheese mixture to a 9×13 casserole dish sprayed with non-stick spray. Sprinkle the top with the blue cheese crumbles and bake uncovered a for about 20-25 minutes, until bubbly and browned on top.

You can either garnish with chopped chives or green onion for a pop of color, or serve them along the side for people to top themselves.

Whole Wheat Mac-n-Cheese with Broccoli and Turkey Kielbasa

27 06 2013

Who doesn’t love a comfy mac-n-cheese casserole? But most of us don’t need the extra butter, flour, cream and fattening cheese in our diets (although all of that does make a killer mac-n-cheese). I like to lighten up my Mama’s classic mac-n-cheese and then toss in whatever meat and veggies I have on hand. Once you have the technique down of making the cheese sauce, the extra ingredient possibilities are endless 🙂

Whole Wheat Mac-n-Cheese with Broccoli and Turkey Kielbasa

Whole Wheat Mac-n-Cheese with Broccoli and Turkey Kielbasa

The following serves 4 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 1 box whole wheat pasta, such as penne or macaroni
  • Half an onion, sliced
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into small florets
  • 1 package turkey kielbasa, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp dried mustard
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup non-fat half and half
  • 1 cup low-fat shredded cheese (cheddar or mozzarella)
  • Paprika

Preheat oven to 375.

In a large skillet cook the sliced onions, kielbasa and broccoli florets until they start to soften slightly, turning occasionally for a few minutes. Remove from heat,

Bring a pot of water to boil, add salt and cook pasta to al dente according to package instructions.

Heat olive oil in a saucepan – remove from heat and whisk in the flour and dried mustard. Turn heat back on and add chicken stock and non-fat half and half, whisking constantly – stir until sauce thickens a little and is smooth. Next add the shredded cheese. Whisk the sauce with the added cheese until melted, stirring occasionally.

In a large casserole dish sprayed with non-stick spray, combine the sauce with the cooked pasta, broccoli and kielbasa until well mixed.

Dust the top with paprika and bake uncovered at 375 for about 20-25 minutes, until bubbly and browned on top.

Because this is a lightened up version, it won’t be super cheesy or creamy, but it will still be delicious…and of course, healthier for you! Serve with a side salad to round out the meal and enjoy!

Lightened-up Mac and Cheese with Spinach

12 03 2012

I’m like a kid in a candy store when my new food mags arrive in the mail! Today was no exception, super excited when Food Network Magazine was waiting for me when I got home from work! Of course I just had to try something….hence tonight’s dinner. I had all the ingredients, and even added a few extras of my own, like working in the spinach for a serving of veggies. This really is a great, quick and lighted-up version to what can sometimes be a heavy meal.

Lightened-up Mac and Cheese with Spinach

The following serves 4 (Compliments of Food Network Magazine):

  • 12 oz fusilli or other corkscrew pasta (I used elbow macaroni)
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped (I used red onion)
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1/3 cup low-fat sour cream
  • 2/3 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese and 2/3 cup shredded low-fat swiss cheese (I used all mozzarella)
  • 3 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, basil and/or chives (I used a combo of parsley and chives)
  • I also added a pinch of red pepper flakes and about two handfuls fresh baby spinach

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as the label directs. When there’s about 3 minutes left to cook the pasta, I threw the spinach in to cook. Reserve 3/4 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta and spinach. I actually used low-sodium chicken broth instead of the water, but either would work.

Add the butter to an empty pot and melt over medium-high heat. Add the shallot (or onion and red pepper flakes) and cook, stirring, until slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Add the flour and mustard powder and cook, stirring, until flour begins to toast, about 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and the reserved cooking water (or chicken stock); cook, whisking until thick, about 2 minutes.

Reduce the heat to medium. Whisk in the sour cream, mozzarella, swiss (or double mozzarella) and 1 Tbsp parmesan cheese. Continue whisking until melted, about 1 minute. Mix the pasta, the sauce, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Transfer to a 2-quart baking dish. Preheat the broiler.

Combine the remaining 2 Tbsp parmesan, the herbs and salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the pasta (I mixed the herbs into the pasta rather than topping, but did top with the cheese). Broil until golden and bubbly, about 2 – 5 minutes.

Kielbasa and Cauliflower Mac-n-Cheese Bake

13 01 2012

Most everyone I know enjoys a comfy mac-n-cheese supper…and I’m no exception! I also enjoy coming up with new ways of making it with creative ingredients. It’s cold and snowy here in CLE, so tonight’s supper was all about feeling warm and comfy with the few ingredients I had on hand. I always start with my Mama’s mac-n-cheese recipe and then add goodies from there 🙂

Kielbasa and Cauliflower Mac-n-Cheese Bake

The following serves 4 with leftovers:

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried mustard
  • 2 and 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni
  • 1/4 cup buttered bread crumbs

Tonight’s additional goodies included: 1 package kielbasa chopped and sautéed with a little diced red onion and roasted cauliflower.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

First roast the cauliflower: Line a baking sheet with foil and toss about a half a head or less of fresh cauliflower florets with some olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Roast at 375 degrees for 25 minutes, tossing half way through. Remove cauliflower and set aside, leave oven set at 375 degrees.

While the cauliflower is roasting, saute the kielbasa in a medium-large frying pan until caramelized and slightly brown. Add the diced onion when the kielbasa is just about done, saute the onion until browned. Remove the kielbasa and onion onto a plate and set aside. I then used the same frying pan to make the cheese sauce, picking up all the kielbasa bits and flavor. Continue below…

In a saucepan melt butter (or in tonight’s case, use the frying pan you cooked the kielbasa in). Remove from heat, blend in flour with a whisk and then add salt and dried mustard. Turn the heat back on and add milk, stirring constantly. Stir until sauce thickens a little and is smooth. Add cheese and stir until melted, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, cook macaroni as directed (under cook al dente by a minute or two because it will finish cooking in the oven). Drain pasta and combine with sauce in a 2-quart casserole dish (also add and combine in the cooked kielbasa, onion and cauliflower at this point). Top with buttered bread crumbs.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes until bubbly and browned on top. Curl up on the couch with your comfy meal, a blanket and enjoy a movie on a cold Friday night!