Tuesday, September 27, 2011

souped-up mac and cheese

Okay this one is more of a method than a recipe, really. I try to eat healthy at home, but I have a weakness for many types of processed foods. One of those is macaroni and cheese from the box. I don't know what it is about it, I love homemade mac and cheese as well, but there's something about those little, slippery, weirdly-colored macaronis from the box that I really enjoy.

BUT they are not very healthy, all carby and processed with questionable chemical ingredients. SO in order to justify eating box mac and cheese once in a while I do one magic thing that makes everything okay: add vegetables! I have added every kind of vegetable and then some to mac and cheese! Also, I try not to think about what's in that cheese packet. Sometimes I even buy the organic kind and tell myself at least I'm eating organic chemical cheese powder.

BUT anyway, here is how I typically soup up the box:

WHEN SUPER RUSHED: I just dump like 1 cup of frozen peas and/or corn in with the macaroni when it's cooking. Proceed as normal with the rest of the mac and cheese.

WHEN I HAVE MORE TIME: In a separate frying pan, while the pasta is boiling, I might saute some onions, fennell, zucchinni, bell pepper -- whatever vegetable I have on hand and think might taste good in there. After the veggies are cooked, I dump them in with the mac and cheese and mix it around.

WHEN I AM FEELING PARTICULARLY GOURMET: I will soup up the cheese sauce as well, I like to add in a small amount of mustard, some spicy sauce, sometimes herbs, salt and pepper, and when I add in a LOT of veggies I find it needs more cheese so I will put either cheddar or parmesan cheese in there and boil it a bit to melt it all down.

This one is what I made today, my first time adding kale and it was pretty good:


-- 1 box mac and cheese (or "kraft dinner" as they call it in my adopted homeland)
-- 3 T. chopped onion
-- 2 cups washed and chopped kale
-- milk
-- olive oil
-- few drops spicy habanero sauce
-- 1 t. mustard
-- salt and pepper
-- 2 T. cheese, broken into small bits

1. Get a pot of water boiling. Once it is boiling, dump in the macaroni and the kale. Time it for about 8 minutes or whatever it says on your box.
2. In a separate frying pan, get some oil heating up. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add in milk, when the milk is boiling sprinkle in cheese powder from box, and whisk until incorporated and vaguely sauce-like. You can add butter here if you want but I never do.
3. Add in the cheese, mustard, and habanero sauce, to the sauce.
4. When the pasta is cooked to your liking, drain the whole thing and dump pasta and kale into your cheese sauce.
5. Mix together, taste, add salt and pepper to taste (I found the kale really needed some extra salt here!)

VOILA you have created a masterpiece of a lunch in just 10 minutes!

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