Thursday, August 20, 2015

Creamy Mac and Cheese

You may have noticed I have a lackluster dedication to fitness, but let me assure you my obsession with Mac and Cheese is far more committed. I have tried many, many recipes but this is the one that all members of my family love. It's creamy. It's easy on the guilt. It's quick. And with a few veggies or some chicken sausage you can take it to a whole new level. 
Mac and Cheese with Bacon,
Mushroom and Swiss Chicken Sausage

10 ounce large elbow macaroni
1 tsp garlic powder
2 cups chicken stock (or chicken boullion), divided
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 ounces cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste. You may not need it if you use bouillon)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1-2 cups extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain. Set aside.
2. In large skillet, stir in 1 cup stock and garlic powder; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute.
3. Combine remaining 1 cups stock, milk, and flour; stir with a whisk until flour dissolves. Add milk mixture to garlic mixture, stirring with a whisk. Bring to a boil; cook 5-10 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken. **Stir frequently. Do not over cook or your sauce will have a grainy texture. **
4. Reduce to simmer; add cream cheese, whisking until smooth; add cheddar stirring until smooth. Stir in salt and pepper. (If needed)
5. Stir in pasta.

We eat some variation of this recipe close to once a week. Here's how I keep it interesting:

Top with roasted butternut squash or sweet potatoes. 
Saute some carrots, broccoli, and green beans. Stir in just before serving for instant pasta primavera.
Add chicken sausage. We love Aidells Bacon, Mushroom and Swiss. 
Swap out the pasta with some Spinach tortellini. (Hidden veggies!)
Swap out the pasta for gnocchi and the flour with corn starch for a gluten-free version.
Bake some mild Italian sausage in the oven and throw it on top. (seriously oven baked sausage is the easiest, mess free way to make sausage. Pop it in the oven on 400 for about 20-30 minutes turning once. That's it!)

And there you have it! A family favorite, six different ways. You can almost eat it every day of the week. 

Adapted from Cooking Light

This recipe received two stars from my family.
*Plate-Licking Good
For more about my rating system, head over to the Eats page.

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