Friday, April 12, 2013

ultimate mac 'n' cheese with butternut squash & broccoli florets




Happy Friday!  I've heard lots of wonderful feedback from many readers who have been enjoying my best-loved healthy entrées, cooked during the regular course of my weekly meals.  Today I have one of my brand spanking new creations! Since first making Ultimate Mac 'n' Cheese to taste-test for the first time in early March, I have now created it three times!  Does that tell you how much I love it!

We all enjoy the comfort of digging into a big, beautiful bowl of steaming hot, baked macaroni and melting cheese, but tend to stay away to keep our waistlines semi in check!  The recipe I'm bringing you will give the memories of that hard to resist comfort food classic - in a slimmed-down version that is authentic, creamy, and decadent!!!  You will never think of macaroni and cheese as a stay away from food again.  Let me know if you agree after trying it yourself!  Oh, and with all the calories you're saving from this nutritious meal, definitely enjoy a class of wine with your serving. ;)






If you're new to a cup of mascarpone, here are my previous healthy entrées I've featured.  They are sandwiched in between my delectable sweet and savory posts, and are all delicious!  Just click the recipe name, and it will take you directly to the post.


Wishing you all a beautiful weekend!

Until next time...and "strawberry dream mascarpone filled cupcakes" (with a giveaway)...mangia!  xox

Carol






Ultimate Healthy Mac 'n' Cheese with Butternut Squash & Broccoli Florets
Serves 8

Ingredients:

1 cup cubed butternut squash or 1/2 cup thawed frozen cooked butternut squash
1 cup steamed broccoli florets
3 cups multigrain elbow macaroni (cooked al dente)
5 tablespoons grated pecorino (divided: 3 tablespoons for topping and 2 tablespoons for mac 'n' cheese)
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
2 1/4 cups fat-free milk
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons light cream cheese (cut into chunks)
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 1/2 cups shredded low-fat sharp cheddar

Create the Ultimate Healthy Mac 'n' Cheese:

1.  If using cubed butternut squash, bring squash and enough cold water to cover by 1 inch to boil in a small saucepan.  Reduce heat, cover until squash is tender, approximately 15 minutes.  Drain and transfer to a mini-food processor and puree.  (or use 1/2 cup thawed frozen cooked butternut squash)  Set aside.  Steam broccoli florets, enough to yield 1 cup steamed, and set aside.

2.  In a small bowl, mix together panko bread crumbs, 3 tablespoons pecorino, and evoo with a fork and set aside. Preheat oven broiler with rack in center of oven.  Spray a 2 1/2 quart ovenproof shallow baking dish with nonstick spray.

3.  Cook pasta, drain and set aside.  In same pot, whisk together milk and flour until smooth.  Add cut-up light cream cheese.  Cook over medium heat, whisking, until mixture comes to a boil, 5 minutes.  Whisk in salt, mustard, garlic, and cayenne.  Reduce heat, and simmer, whisking until mixture thickens, 2 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Stir in sharp cheddar, pecorino, and squash until cheeses melt.  Stir in pasta and cooked broccoli florets.

4.  Pour into prepared baking dish.  Sprinkle with topping.  Broil until bubbling, 4-5 minutes.  Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Per serving (1 cup):  307 cal, 9 g fat, 39 g total carb, 5 g sugar, 4 g fiber, 19 g protein, 309 mg calc.  Weight Watchers PointsPlus value:  8.

Carol's note:
Feel free to change up the broccoli florets in the Ultimate Mac 'n' Cheese, by adding in 1 tablespoon oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, 1/2 cup finely chopped ham, 1/2 cup thawed frozen peas, 1 cup cooked lobster, or anything else you enjoy to the basic recipe!

Recipe adapted from Weight Watchers Magazine.

88 comments:

  1. I've made mac 'n cheese with butternut squash before, but I love that you added broccoli. Can't believe you are a teasing us with thoughts of cupcakes, that's baking cruelty! ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Happy Friday, Laura! Me either on the broccoli...but it's like they were made for each other. Plus, adds a healthy, filling veggie to the mix. I had to keep myself restrained not to say any other comments on the cupcakes! My goodness...are they good! Have a great weekend!

      Delete
  2. What a warm golden color the squash gives to the macaroni! I have to try this, and I love your little glass bowl!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Sue! That it does - along with a nutritious creaminess! Have a beautiful weekend, and thank you so much for stopping by!

      Delete
  3. This looks and sounds so delicious, can't wait to try this recipe!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Holy moly! Now I can have my mac and cheese and eat it too! This looks so incredible and I adore the addition of butternut squash!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm laughing right now, Jocelyn, because I say holy moly all the time! ;) Besides adding nutrition, the butternut squash adds creaminess, and honestly you can't even tell it's in there! Thanks so much, and have a great weekend!

      Delete
  5. I'm loving your light and healthy recipes Carol!! Looks like the addition of butternut squash and broccoli are naturals in your healthier version of one of my favorite comforts food- mac & cheese;-) Have a wonderful weekend;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for saying that, Patty! So happy you're enjoying them! So true, the additions are naturals, and it still maintains that comfort food feeling as well! You have a wonderful weekend too!!!

      Delete
  6. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!:)

    ReplyDelete
  7. it looks and sounds amazing! i happen to love veggies in my mac n' cheese so this is right up my alley! beautiful!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Happy Saturday, Marissa? How are things in Italy? Do you know this is the very first time I put veggies in it, and I will never eat it any other way again, nor make a fattening mac n cheese, when this is so delicious. I want to try it with peas too; however, the broccoli fits with the whole healthiness of the dish. Thanks so much for stopping by!!!

      Delete
  8. I agree this looks amazing. Such a pretty picture! I actually bought frozen squash a while back to use in a macaroni & cheese dish but this recipe has even better ingredients. Funny that you paired it with broccoli. That is the go to vegetable that I serve with my macaroni & cheese. I love that it will be creamy inside & crusty on top. The perfect combo! Again, I am looking forward to making another one of your dishes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Fran! This is absolutely the best "slimmed-down" version of mac n cheese I have ever tasted. The fact that it uses real cheeses and not imitations, lend to its flavorful success. You'll have to let me know what you think when you try it. Have a great weekend! Kelly is visiting me for the weekend, so I'm a very happy camper today! xox

      Delete
  9. It looks so good Carol! I can make a batch of this and happily eat if for three days in a row!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Paula, Happy Saturday! That's exactly what I've done all three times I've made this to date in a very short time! lol Heading over your way to see what's new! :)

      Delete
  10. Jeannette Jordan aka MomApril 13, 2013 at 9:16 AM

    Another winner from the kitchen of my daughter. She is amazing. I know I'm partial, but she is. Can't wait to try it with a "glass" of wine on the side.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Mother...you embarrass me! :) Make this for you and Dad, I promise you will love it! ...and absolutely, add the glass of wine! xox

      Delete
  11. This looks too good to be true...I mean healthy! I would have never thought of using butternut squash in a mac'n'cheese dish - brilliant!

    p.s. I'm already craving your upcoming cupcakes. :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Val...it's a very comforting recipe that you don't even have to feel guilty about eating. I know you could use a little right now with your weather. Loving those gorgeous scones of yours, btw!

      Delete
  12. This is a perfect grown up mac and cheese.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Recipes like this leave more room for cake ;) It looks wonderful & I love the butternut squash! Can't wait to see the new cupcakes!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are absolutely right, Meghan! That's why I have to make recipes like this, because I love to eat what I make...then that leaves extra room for the sweets baking! I'm really excited about the cupcakes! They're amazing...photos, eh?!...but cupcakes are wonderful!

      Delete
  14. My face wants in on this mac and cheese situation!!! Yes, yes, yes!

    ReplyDelete
  15. I love your mac and cheese especially because you added extra veggies! Not only my children but we adults will enjoy this. And I love your pictures too - so inviting!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Nami! I plan on trying this on my grandson who is horrible about eating vegetables...he won't be able to resist! :)

      Delete
  16. Love mac n cheese with veg added (broccoli and butternut squash being two of the best!)Will be giving this a go :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So happy you like it! Thanks so much, Joy! You'll have to let me know what you think after you have a chance to try it!

      Delete
  17. I love sneaking in veggies when my kids don't expect it! We will have to give this recipe a try! Thanks, Carol!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Kristen! I'm planning on doing the exact same thing with my grandson, although it's very grown-up too! :)

      Delete
  18. A veggie filled mac and cheese???? LOVE this one, Carol!!!

    ReplyDelete
  19. I love a healthier and veggie deliciousness in traditional mac and cheese. Yum :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do too, Kiran...especially when it's as delicious as the fattening version! :) Thank you!!!

      Delete
  20. These photos look like they should be in a magazine, so beautiful! And I totally LOVE your healthy version of this traditionally not so healthy treat!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are too sweet, Chris...thank you so very much!!!

      Delete
  21. This mac 'n cheese looks so scrumptious, Carol! Great recipe!

    ReplyDelete
  22. This looks absolutely DELICIOUS. Right up my alley! Vegetarian and I'm always looking for a healthy take (without sacrificing the yummyness) on mac n cheese. Definitely going to make this! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The perfect vegetarian dish, Sophia! Thank you so much, so happy you like it...and absolutely, no loss in flavor!

      Delete
  23. Carol this looks like a super recipe for healthy Mac n cheese, the addition of the veggies sound wonderful to me.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I really enjoy vegetables in my mac and cheese Carol! This is a bonus because you snuck in two kinds. Love how you used the squash in the sauce - incredibly delicious and so comforting!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Reeni - for your sweet comment, and for stopping by!!!

      Delete
  25. Veggies and mac and cheese, ok! I normally like mine with all cheese but this I have got to try. Looks fantastic, Carol:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lora, I promise you it's worth a try...and no guilt! So glad you stopped by, thank you!!!

      Delete
  26. I would make it just as often as you, too! This sounds so, so gooooood!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Seriously, Kate...I'm thinking about it again for this week too! lol Thank you!!!

      Delete
  27. This looks truly delicious!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  28. I am bookmarking this recipe, sound amazing. Love the clicks -)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Yelena! We need this to leave room for all those wonderful sweets we create! BTW, love your latest cupcakes!

      Delete
  29. Carol, what a beautiful and colorful mac and cheese, I love the butternut and the broccoli...
    Enjoy your week :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Juliana! Thank you for your kind words, and for stopping by a cup of mascarpone! You have a beautiful week as well, Juliana!

      Delete
  30. That is one gorgeous bowl of mac and cheese!

    ReplyDelete
  31. I'd like to grab one of those forks. Delicious!!!

    ReplyDelete
  32. This sure is the ultimate mac and cheese, lots of awesome ingredients and flavor in this one, beautiful pics.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Mac and cheese is a personal weakness! This one looks so good Carol!!

    Nazneen

    ReplyDelete
  34. Wow Carol, this looks amazing!! I'm always a fan of trying to make recipes a bit healthier, and I'm also a fan of anything that makes me feel less guilty about a glass of wine :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Definitely need less guilt for a glass of wine! lol Thanks for your sweet comment, Cate!!!

      Delete
  35. Healthy mac & cheese? sign me up! :D Looks beautiful

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for your sweet comment, Kristi!!!

      Delete
  36. This is the perfect mac and cheese recipe. I've never eaten it by in its original state because there weren't many veggies in it but this is much healthier! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Lorraine...this is definitely much healthier, with no lack of flavor for all the nutrition. Thanks so much for stopping by!!!

      Delete
  37. My goodness. What a gorgeous bowl of mac and cheese. I love this updated version. Far more healthier (and just as delicious!) Thank you for sharing Carol. I'm glad I found your blog today!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Monet! Thank you so much for your kind words! So happy you found my blog too, and hope will continue to find other recipes that interest you. See you again soon! Have a beautiful weekend!

      Delete
  38. We just love Mac n cheese!!!! Looks delicious!!!

    ReplyDelete
  39. Carol, I wanted to let you know that I made this for dinner last night. DELICIOUS! Main dish for vegetarian daughter and me, and side dish for my husband. Thumbs up all the way around. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're such a sweetheart to stop by and let me know, Wendy! I'm so happy you, your daughter and husband all enjoyed it! Thank you so very much!!!

      Delete
  40. Love the veggies added to this mac'n'cheese - it's a great way to feel a little less guilty when you help yourself to a second (or third) helping!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're so right! ...and, I admittedly, have been known to do exactly that! ;) Thanks so much for your comment, and stopping by Chocolate Shavings!

      Delete
  41. Me 'n my husband ADORE mac 'n cheese. The only version I make is full of fat (and usually with cut up weiners too) so I rarely make it. Thank you thank you thank you for a healthier recipe that still looks decadent and amazeballs. I love that you have veggies in there. This looks fantastic, Carol!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nancy, you and your husband will love this! I'm so glad to have a comfort food that I don't have to feel guilty about...and truly, you won't miss all the fat! Thank you so much, Nancy!

      Delete
  42. I made this on Sunday to bring for lunch this week. I love it. It tastes better every day! I brought a little side dish of bbq chicken but the mac & cheese is so filling I don't need it. Thanks - Diane

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Diane, for taking the time to stop by and let me know how much you enjoyed it! I totally agree, it is one of those recipes that taste better the following day. I think all the flavors have a chance to blend together! Thanks again! -Carol

      Delete
  43. Carol, I made this tonight for my family and a friend and we all devoured it! You don't miss the butter one bit. The sauce is so cheesy and creamy! I will definitely be making this again. Have a great weekend!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a happy message to begin my Friday! Thank you so much for stopping by to let me know...you are so sweet! It always makes a blogger feel so good when others give their seal of approval! Have a beautiful weekend, Lisa!

      Delete

Hi! Thank you so much for stopping by a cup of mascarpone, and taking the time to leave a comment! I read, smile, and cherish each and every one of them! xox

Carol