There is no doubt that we all have fond memories of Macaroni & Cheese meals through the years-- and I am sure many of them during childhood!! That said, I don't think I have ever met a kid who has ever said no to a macaroni and cheese lunch or dinner.
And why not give it to them? For parents and adults, it's quick and easy to reach for that blue box to re-create those warm and cozy Mac & Cheese meals for their kids (and for themselves, of course!). But who wants macaroni and cheese from a box? You see, what many do not know, is how fast and easy it is to whip up from scratch!
I know what you're thinking: Despite it being from scratch, why would Cooking Sprouts even dare to think about posting a recipe that relies solely on cheese and macaroni? Well, well, well... Because if you do the research, you can very strategically throw in some veggies, and kids will never ever know they are there!
I knew it was time for a kitchen experiment.
Cruising the aisles of whole foods, with four recipes in hand, I stocked up on ingredients, came home, cooked. I discovered the whole process full of food preparation techniques that are easy and fun for kids as well. They'll love to grate the cheese and chop the veggies! Thus, another successful kitchen experiment! Here's what we came up with this time:
Makes 8 Servings
2 tbsp salted butter
2 tbsp whole wheat flour
pinch of salt
sprinkle of black pepper
pinch of nutmeg
1 package (about 8 servings) whole grain macaroni elbows or shells
1 c. pumpkin puree
1 c. 1% milk
1 c. cheddar cheese, freshly grated (any kind! I used extra-sharp)
sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 c. brussel sprouts, sliced in half
1 c. porcini mushrooms, sliced in quarters
1. cup baby spinach
1. In a medium pot, heat 2 quarts of water on medium heat, until it reaches a boil. Add noodles, stir, and drain.
2. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. Mix together brussels sprouts and mushrooms in a bowl with olive oil. Lie flat side down on a baking sheet, and roast for 10-15 minutes.
3. In a large pot, whisk together flour and butter until melted, then add salt, pepper, black pepper, and whisk again until smooth.
4. Add pumpkin puree and milk, and whisk until thick.
5. Add cheese, and a bit of the spices, and mix until well-blended. Add salt to taste.
6. Stir in macaroni until all are covered. Stir in veggies, and then finally, the spinach. Cover until wilted. Stir and serve.
Voila! From now on, say no to blue boxes!