Sunday, May 23, 2010

Veggie Mac 'N Cheese

My daughter is starting to eat more finger foods and I have been trying to feed her more of the food Alex and I eat.  It's amazing how you start to evaluate your meals when you know your child is going to be eating it too.  Mac 'N Cheese is a childhood favorite of every kid.  My personal favorite was the stuff in the box...UG!  One thing that has become very important to me with my daughter is to ensure she is eating unprocessed foods.  I have made her baby food since day one...(1) because I like to cook and have all the handy gadets, (2) it is CHEAP! and (3)  It hasn't sat on a shelf for who knows how long and I know what is going into her food.   Don't get me wrong, I'm not an organic zealot, I just like to know she isn't eating a lot of processed foods.  Me on the other hand...I eat WAY TOO many processed foods.  Hence the need to evaluate what things she is getting off my plate.

I found this PHENOMENAL recipe for Veggie Mac 'N Cheese at  It has all the cheesy goodness of Mac 'N Cheese...much more cheesy goodness than the boxed stuff...and it is packed with veggies.  I honestly can't get over how much I dig this recipe. 

Veggie Mac N cheese

1 1/2 cups dried tubular pasta, such as elbow macaroni
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut diagonally into 1/4-inch slices
10 oz. of frozen or fresh broccoli, stems sliced, florets separated
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 cup low-fat plain cottage cheese
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard (country style)
1/4 tsp. Tabasco sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
4 to 8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely shredded (depends on how cheesy you want it)
4 oz. part-skim mozzarella cheese, coarsely shredded
1 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray or margarine.
2. Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water for 4 minutes. Stir in the carrots and cook for 2 minutes. Then add the broccoli and cook for 2 minutes more. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid, and return the pasta and vegetables to the saucepan. Stir in the peas.

3. In a food processor, combine the cottage cheese with the reserved liquid from the cooked pasta. Add the mustard, Tabasco sauce, salt and pepper and blend until smooth. Stir into the pasta and vegetables. Mix in the cheddar and mozzarella and pour into the baking dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan.
4. Bake uncovered until the top is golden brown (about 20 to 25 minutes), then let it set for 10 minutes to firm up. Serves 4. Note: This dish can be prepared a day before it is baked.

I was kind of afraid of the whole cottage cheese part when I saw this recipe, but it replaces the need for making a roux.  Very ingenious on the part of the recipe-makers. :)  This was the first time my daughter had pasta, so she was kind of trepidatious.  But I suspect she is going to be shoveling this stuff into her mouth in a couple of months.