Jane of all Trades: New Recipe Edition

I thought I'd go all Martha Stewart on y'all and add a recipe aspect to my blog. I already post about home, crafts and plants, why not add cooking to the mix and make this a real domestic-diva situation.

To set this up, I have been a vegetarian for 10 years and subsequently developed a love of cooking. I make up a lot of my own recipes and devise all kinds of meatless and healthier versions of traditional comfort foods. For this post, I will share with you my newest creation: Healthier Mac n Cheese with Garlic-Parmesan Breadcrumb Topping and Roasted Tomatoes. 

My secret weapon to make this classic dish a little lighter (it's still actually quite rich) is pureed cauliflower. It of course adds a little veggie action (good if you have picky kids), and it eliminates the need for milk/cream or a roux as it creates a thick, creamy base. Yay cauliflower!

1 package elbow macaroni
3 tablespoons butter
3 cups cauliflower florettes, cooked until very tender and pureed in food processor until smooth
1 1/2 cups mild cheddar cheese
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried mustard
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper

For the breadcrumb topping, pulse 3 slices good-quality white bread in the food processor until fine. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in skillet and add breadcrumbs. Toast over medium heat until lightly golden. Finely chop or Microplane a clove of garlic and add to breadcrumbs along with some dried or fresh parsley and 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Toast another minute and set aside.

Cook the macaroni in salted boiling water until just under al-dente. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water before draining.

In a large saucepan, melt the 3 tablespoons butter and add the pureed cauliflower, salt and pepper. When heated through, add the cheeses and spices. Stir until well combined, then add to cooked pasta along with a little of the pasta cooking water to further moisten.

Lightly butter a baking dish and evenly distribute the mac n cheese. Sprinkle on breadcrumb topping and bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until the top is golden.

A nice side to my mac n cheese is some roasted tomatoes. To make them, slice 1 pint of cherry tomatoes in half and toss with a teaspoon of sugar, pinch of salt, and a splash of balsamic vinegar and drizzle of olive oil. Bake at 400 degrees until tender and juicy.


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