Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Noodles, Noodles, Noodles

I tried a new Mac 'n Cheese recipe on my family last night (something that I make rarely), but it got the thumbs down and the kids reminisced about the Mac 'n Cheese that I used to make more often. With the reaction that I got, I'll have to make the good kind again for them soon. Here's the recipe for our family's favorite mac 'n cheese and the bonus is that it is not as fattening as some versions:

Macaroni and Cheese

Cookbook Source: Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites
Serves: Book says 4, but it works for our family of 5
Prep time: 20 minutes
Baking Time: 45 minutes
Nutritional Info.: Leave a comment with what you'd like to know and I'll reply.

1 1/2 cups 1% cottage cheese
1 1/2 cups skim milk or buttermilk
1 tsp dried mustard or 1 T. prepared mustard
pinch of cayenne
1/4 tsp. nutmeg (key ingredient)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground pepper
1/4 cup grated onions (actually I put chunks of onion in the blender during that step of the recipe below rather than grating it ahead ~ saves time; also don't omit the onions which give the pasta a little zing)
1 c. grated extra sharp cheddar cheese (4 oz.)
1/2 lb. uncooked elbow macaroni (For Gluten-Free, use Tinkyada noodles)
2 T. grated Parmesan cheese (yes, I use the processed kind)
1/4 cup bread crumbs (I'll be skipping this now that I'm gluten-free)

Preheat oven to 375. Prep a 9- or 10- inch square baking pan with a light coating of cooking spray or oil.
In a blender, combine the cottage cheese, milk, mustard, cayenne, nutmeg, salt and pepper (and in my case, onions) and puree until smooth. In a large bowl, combine the puree with the onions, cheddar, and macaroni. Stir well. Pour the mixture in to the baking pan. Combine the Parmesan and the bread crumbs and sprinkle over the top.
Bake for about 45 minute, until the topping is brown and the center is firm.

Update: Getting the idea from a Rachel Ray cookbook, we have added an ingredient to the recipe above. Now in the blender, I add a defrosted package of frozen winter squash and up the cheese to 6-8 oz. Sounds weird, but my family has had it this way three times and prefers it. It makes it even more creamy and adds more vitamins. With uncooked whole wheat noodles, the dish takes an hour to cook. My boys have enjoyed making this with me. They like measuring the ingredients.

Here is another noodle recipe from the same cookbook which my kids love:

Penne with Creamy Walnut Sauce

Serves: 6
Total Time: 20 minutes

10 oz. fresh spinach (I use a 10. oz. pkg. of chopped frozen spinach defrosted)
1/2 c. toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped (Toast nuts in a single layer on an unoiled baking pan at 350 for 5 minutes; can use toaster oven.)
2 c. low-fat cottage cheese
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
1/4 grated parmesan cheese (again, I use processed)
1/4 c. loosely packed chopped fresh basil
1/2 tsp. salt
ground black pepper to taste
1 - 1 1/2 lbs. penne (or any totally-tubular pasta)
1 head brocolli (sometimes I don't bother with this)

Bring a large covered pot of water to a rapid boil.
While the water heats, wash the spinach and transfer it to a separate large pot. The water clinging to the leaves should provide enough moisture to steam it. Cover and cook the spinach on med.-high heat for 4 minutes, until wilted but still bright green. Drain. (Or just use the defrosted pkg. of spinach.) In a food processor or blender, combine the spinach, walnuts, cottage cheese, garlic, Parmesan, basil, and salt and puree until smooth, working in batches if necessary. Add pepper to taste and set aside.
When water boils, stir in pasta, bring to a boil and cook pasta until al dente, about 7 minutes. While pasta cooks, cut broccoli into spears, blanch it in boiling water to cover until tender, about 5 minutes and set aside( I have added it to the cooking pasta during the last 5 minutes in the past to save time.) Drain the pasta and serve immediately in individually warmed bowls (yeah, right!), topped with the spinach-walnut sauce and several steamed broccoli spears. Sprinkle with grate Parmesan if you wish.

I'd love to hear from you if you try these recipes and like them as we do!

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