Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Mac N' Cheese, Hold the Cheese.

Lies, all LIES!

 I've been trying lately to get our meals on a healthy footing. This has meant researching different recipes and making weekly meal plans. Oh so much fun! I've had a few successes and a few failures. We don't need to talk about the gluten free skillet cornbread. It's best if we all forget that ever happened. I think it made Scott feel sick and I actually refused to eat it. That was probably the only sound judgement made during the whole affair. Oh well. Nothing ventured nothing gained, right? Scott would have disagreed with that I think.

Ideally I would LOVE if the kids ate what we ate. Especially seeing as we've decided to improve our diet. So far they've ate every new thing I've feed them! What? No, you read that right. Miss. A, the worlds pickiest eater, has eaten everything I've presented her with so far. Baby K? Well if it is even technically classed as food she'll eat it. Thank goodness for that! Now don't get me wrong. We've never eaten poorly. As a whole I'd say we are pretty healthy eaters to begin with. Most things have been whole foods as opposed to processed, and a lot of things have been homemade. Where we've fallen short is in the variety department. There is always room for improvement. The goal is now to add more variety to our diet. There is a whole world of healthy foods out there to benefit from.

A kid friendly staple is of course Kraft Dinner. With that in mind today I made Mac n' Cheese for the family. It contains no actual cheese though. Which is the sneaky part. Just lots of healthy things I wouldn't normally be able to get the kids to eat.  Potatoes, onions, cashews, carrots and a few other things all mixed together. As soon as I put it on the table in front of them I held my breath. Would they eat it? OMG! THEY'RE EATING IT! I tried to look all nonchalant about it like why wouldn't they eat it? They had NO IDEA! It was awesome. Any who, I found this recipe on a food blog in case you are interested. It's called The Brazen Kitchen, and there are definitely a few other recipes I'm going to check out.

Here is the recipe that I used. Enjoy!

Mackin’ Cheese

(Ersatz and Enjoyable all at the same time)
Serves 6 but I ALWAYS double this. Because, well, why not?
Based on VegNews’ Macaroni and Cheese
4 quarts water
1 tablespoon sea salt
8 ounces macaroni or penne pasta
4 slices of bread, torn into large pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons shallots, peeled and chopped
1 cup red potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup carrots, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup onion, peeled and chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 cup water
1/4 cup non-hydrogenated margarine (I use Earth Balance soy-free)
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup raw cashews
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
¼ teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon paprika
In a large pot, bring the water and salt to a boil. Add macaroni and cook until al dente. In a colander, drain pasta and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
In a food processor, make breadcrumbs by pulverizing the bread and 2 tablespoons margarine to a medium-fine texture. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a saucepan, add shallots, potatoes, carrots, onion, and water, and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes, or until vegetables are very soft.
In a blender, process the cashews, salt, garlic, 1/3 cup margarine, mustard, lemon juice, black pepper, and cayenne. Add softened vegetables and cooking water to the blender and process until perfectly smooth.
In a large bowl, toss the cooked pasta and blended cheese sauce until completely coated. Spread mixture into a 9 x 12 casserole dish, sprinkle with prepared breadcrumbs, and dust with paprika. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese sauce is bubbling and the top has turned golden brown.
- drizzle with truffle oil right before serving
- Add some finely chopped spinach or kale when you toss the sauce and noodles together
- Add chopped garlic and some garlic powder to the breadcrumb mixture to make a garlicky topping
- Top with minced chives and/or parsley
- If you want a smoky flavor, add ¼ tsp of smoked Spanish paprika to the sauce mixture
- Saute leeks AND leek greens and fold into the sauce and noodle mixture

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