Monday, January 24, 2011

Mexican Mac 'N' Cheese

This was a simple, delicious recipe I threw together.  It was first inspired by Lara at Recipe Shoebox and her Nacho Mama Mac N Cheese.  I decided, however, to adapt her method, leaving out the corn and tortilla chips for some better-for-you vegetables instead.  I snuck in pureed cauliflower and carrots.  They blended right in with the sauce and seasonings.  Your kids won't even know they are there!  But hopefully they'll gain the vitamin C, fiber and possible cancer-fighting substances that go along with eating those veggies. 

As I was taking photos of this dish, it reminded me of Hamburger Helper.  Hahahah!  Anyone ever cook with that stuff?  Ugh! It makes me want to throw up a little in my mouth just thinking about it now.  However as a teenager and a new wife, I didn't mind using the packaged noodles and seasonings.  Now it's so easy to make my own sauces and use whole grain noodles.  I can make it more beneficial and healthier for my family and me. 

So enjoy this recipe!  And thanks to Lara at Recipe Shoebox for giving me the initial inspiration for this meal too! 

Mexican Mac 'N' Cheese

(Serves 6 to 8)

3 cups of spiral whole grain or whole wheat pasta (I used whole grain rotini)
1 pound of lean ground turkey (or other beef, chicken)
2 sweet peppers (I used one red and one orange pepper)
1/2 cup of cauliflower puree
1/2 cup of carrot puree (or use finely shredded carrots)
1/4 cup of light butter
1/4 cup of whole wheat flour
1 envelope of taco seasoning, mild or original flavor
2 cups of fat-free evaporated milk
2 cups of reduced fat (2%) shredded Mexican cheese

Spray a skillet with cooking spray.  Place the ground turkey and peppers in skillet and cook until brown, cooking on medium heat.  Drain or blot away any excess grease.  While preparing the meat, boil the noodles in a separate pan.  Cook noodles according to package directions.  Drain the noodles and set aside.   Once the meat is brown, add in the taco seasoning mix, butter, flour, carrot and cauliflower purees.  Simmer mixture over medium heat.  Begin adding the evaporated milk and bring to a boil.  Stir and simmer for about three minutes, until it begins forming a thickened base or sauce.  Remove the pan from heat.  Add in the reduced fat shredded cheese and drained noodles.  Stir until cheese is melted and noodles have been coated with the meat and veggies.   Serve right away. 

Freeze any leftovers in plastic storage bags or containers.  Reheat in microwave or on stove in a sauce pan.  Add about 1/4 cup of milk or water to thin the mac 'n' cheese while reheating.    

I love how the veggies were easily hidden in this one and it helped stretch the meal and make it more filling!  Enjoy it!  We sure did.

Do you have a different variation for a mac 'n' cheese recipe?  Have you ever sneaked vegetables inside of it? 

1 comment:

  1. With all the flavor in this dish, pureed veggies would be totally incognito. Next time I make it (this week) I'll try it on my kids too. Glad you enjoyed it! :)