Dan does not like mac and cheese. At some point in his childhood, something dreadful must have happened that prevented him from loving that lovely, neon orange, artificial dusty cheese and noodles dish that was a staple of my youth.
I’ve tried offering boxed mac and cheese to Kate, only to have her toss noodles over her high chair and into Belle’s open mouth.
But a couple weeks ago, my playgroup mommies were raving about another mommy’s homemade mac and cheese recipe. It sounded divine, so I decided to whip it up and try to convince my anti-mac and cheese family members to join me on the carbs and cheese train.
(PS – Lest you think Dan and Kate are on some low carb diet, I can assure you that is not the case. These two simply cannot get enough carbs. In fact, I would say their diet mainly consists of carbs. But for some reason, mac and cheese isn’t their thing. So I set out to change that.)
Okay, this mac and cheese is not truly a “traditional” mac and cheese. So I suppose die hard mac and cheese lovers will rate this dish as mac and cheese fraud. However, I would classify this as a more adult mac and cheese for those looking to add more veggies to their diet.
Here are the ingredients:
-1 pound dried pasta
-2 1/4 cups milk (I used skim, use whole for added decadence)
-1/4 cup flour
-1 teaspoon salt
-3 cups shredded cheeses (I used parmesan, cheddar, and mozzarella. However, one of my gal pals added gruyere, which I think would be out of this world.)
-1 pound bag of frozen, chopped spinach (You could use fresh, but I found that to be a total pain. Frozen is easy peasy.)
-1 pound broccoli (I used frozen. Do you see a theme here?)
-1 package of chicken sausage (The flavored ones are best. I used Roasted Garlic and Gruyere from Aidells.)
-2 tablespoons garlic (We love garlic over here, so I toss it in like it’s going out of style. If garlic is not your thing, scale back.)
-2 tablespoons margarine or butter
-1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
-1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Saute garlic, chicken sausage, and spinach together until chicken sausage is cooked through. While that cooks, steam your broccoli and cook your pasta. Heat milk either on the stovetop or the microwave (I used the microwave.). Melt butter in a large pot, add flour, and cook on medium heat for about a minute. Add milk slowly while whisking mixture. (Okay, I know this is sounding like Black Diamond Level cooking, but I assure you, it’s easy. And if you fudge this part a little – as I did – it still turns out.) Continue whisking for 8 – 12 minutes until mixture thickens. (Is it not really thickening that much? It’s okay. Just move on, it still works.) Take pot off heat and add your spices – add more than a teaspoon or less than a teaspoon, whatever is more to your liking. I do urge you to use the nutmeg, it makes a difference. Add cheese and whisk until smooth.
Combine chicken sausage, garlic, and spinach mixture into the cheese mixture. Add in cooked pasta and broccoli. Then serve and receive many accolades.
This mac and cheese is awesome. And totally customizable. Don’t like chicken sausage? Try cubes of ham steak or turkey bacon. Add more cheese or less. Forget the broccoli. Add mushrooms instead. Or, go totally crazy and add mushrooms and broccoli!
You could also choose to bake this dish. I baked it once at 375 for 30 minutes, and that method is also good. If you do bake it, I suggest topping it with panko and sprinkling some EVOO on top.
The possibilities are endless. Enjoy!