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I promised that Meat-Free Fridays would be back this week with a great new vegetarian dish, and I’m here to deliver! But first, did you see my super exciting news from yesterday? I won one of eight scholarships to the Foodbuzz Festival from Bertolli Sauces – my cioppino is officially on the menu! But in order to have the opportunity to demonstrate and serve it at the Festival, I need your vote! To vote, go HERE and click the little green “buzz it” checkmark.

Ok, so back to the mac and cheese. Last Sunday was one of those cold, lazy days where I didn’t want to do much more than lay on the couch, watch football, and eat comfort food. So that’s what I did. This isn’t your 5 year-old’s mac and cheese: This mac is the ultimate adult comfort food. A rich and creamy cheese sauce blankets elbow noodles and chipotles peppers add smoke and spicy. Then, the whole thing is topped with a crispy layer of bread crumbs. What is like your kid’s mac and cheese though is that the chipotles tint the sauce orang and make it look almost like that old standard that comes in the blue box. This is great served on its own, but a half portion would also make a great side dish.

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Standard mac and cheese can be loaded with calories, but I had a few tricks up my sleeves to lighten this dish up. First, I made a white sauce with skim milk and just a touch of cream. Then I loaded it up with (not too much) part skim cheese. That got poured over my favorite jerusalem flour pasta and topped with whole wheat breadcrumbs.
For the cheese, I like to use queso oaxaca because it melts beautifully and the flavor pairs really well with the chipotle. If you can’t find any, you can substitute a blend of mozzarella and Monterey jack. Because queso oaxaca is very mild, I also added a touch of Mexican Blend to pump up the flavor a little bit.
If you taste the sauce while its cooking, it might taste really intense – that’ll subside after you add the pasta and read though. Also, my version was pretty spicy – you can adjust the spice by using less chipotle. You can even leave it out totally if you don’t like it at all, but really do feel like it adds a nice smokiness that makes the final dish a little more upscale.
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Chipotles Mac and Cheese
  • 2 Tbs butter, divided
  • 1/4 white onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups fat-free milk
  • 1 Tbs mustard
  • 6 ounces oaxaca cheese, shredded (can sub mozzarella and jack blend)
  • 1/4 cup shredded Mexican 4 Cheese Blend
  • 4 ounces white wine
  • 3 Tbs chipotles in adobo, chopped
  • 16 ounces elbow pasta, cooked
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 slices wheat bread, torn into small pieces

Heat oven to 350.

Melt 1 Tbs butter in a medium saucepan. Add onions and cook until soft and golden. Whisk in flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly add milk, cream, and mustard whisking constantly to prevent clumping. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture begins to thicken into a sauce. Stir in cheeses, wine, and chiptole. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Combine with pasta.

Melt remaining butter in small pan. Add garlic and cook until golden. Pour mixture over bread, and stir to coat the bread evenly.

Pour pasta into a casserole dish. Spread breadcrumbs over the top. Bake for 30 minutes, ot until the cheese is bubbling and the breadcrumbs have toasted and formed a nice crust.

Serves 10.

Approx. 250 calories, 10.5 grams fat, 2.5 grams fiber, 10 grams protein

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I am submitting this recipe to Natasha’s 5 Star Makeover: Mac and Cheese.


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