Mac & Cheese with Hidden Veggies : They'll Never Know

My kids eat a lot of mac and cheese.  Not because I'm lacking in creativity, but because my daughter happens to shun just about every other dish.  However, a few years ago, my mother sent me Jessica Seinfeld's (wife of Jerry) cookbook, "Deceptively Delicious," and I've been guilt free ever since.  

I've always added cauliflower to Jessica's mac and cheese recipe and at this point, can make it as quickly as if it were in a pre-packaged box.  I followed her exact specifications the first few times and am now able to eyeball my sauce ingredients so that comes together in a snap.  I also steam my cauliflower and boil the pasta at the same time to speed things up.  When the kids were on baby food, I used to make the cauliflower purees and freeze them in cubes so I always had them on hand, but that doesn't happen so much these days.   

Don't forget to serve more veggies on the side.  Since my kids are used to having a vegetable with dinner and they don't know there's cauliflower mixed in, I've never been questioned.  Especially when there's dessert involved.    



MACARONI AND CHEESE 1 (WITH BUTTERNUT SQUASH OR CAULIFLOWER)
Prep time: 5 minutes, Total time: 25 minutes

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 1⁄2 cups elbow macaroni 

Nonstick cooking spray

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp all-purpose flour

1⁄2 cup non-fat (skim) milk

1⁄2 cup butternut squash or cauliflower puree

1 1⁄2 cups shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese (about 8 ounces)

4 oz (almost 1 ⁄4 cup) reduced-fat or nonfat cream cheese

1⁄2 tsp salt

1⁄8 tsp paprika

1⁄8 tsp pepper

Directions

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the macaroni, and cook according to package directions until al dente. Drain in a colander.
  • While the macaroni is cooking, coat a large saucepan with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Add the oil, then the flour, and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture resembles a thick paste but has not browned, 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Add the milk and cook, stirring every now and then, until the mixture begins to thicken, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the vegetable puree, Cheddar, cream cheese, and seasonings, and stir until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth. Stir in the macaroni and serve warm.
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