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Indulge in a creamy, healthier version of this classic casserole.
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Macaroni with Four Cheeses
Ask any group of people about their favorite food and I guarantee you macaroni and cheese comes up.
It is certainly a favorite in my family and my version has fewer calories and fat and I even sneak in a vegetable. I just cook 1 pound of macaroni for 5 to 8 minutes. This was very al dente because I'm going to bake it.
Now I'm going to grab my secret weapon and that is pureed squash. I love to have this around in the freezer. It is one of my favorite convenience foods and it really is a great way to sneak in vegetables because squash is a vegetable and no one is even going to know it’s there. So I'm just going to defrost this. It creates such a creamy texture. I'm using two 10 ounce boxes of the squash. Okay, let's get that in there. Get the heat on.
Add two cups of 1% low fat milk. So here I'm really saving a lot of calories by using the creamy vegetable and the milk, the low fat milk. While that’s going, I will grate my cheeses. Now this is four cheese macaroni and cheese so it’s really special. And each cheese adds its own wonderful unique flavor.
First, I'm using extra sharp cheddar and I'm using full fat because it really melts beautifully. Now for my second cheese, Monterey jack. It has similar flavor to cheddar but it does have kind of a different dimension to it so it’s not a sharp. It’s kind of tangy and it adds creaminess and it also melts beautifully. So two ounces of this one then I'm going to use a half a cup of ricotta cheese and I'm using part skim ricotta and this gives a real creaminess to the macaroni and cheese. And my fourth cheese is parmesan, just 2 tablespoons. I'm going to use this on the topping.
So now I’ll shut the heat off and put the cheeses in. the cheddar, the jack. So I don’t want to cook this cheese I just kind of want to let it warm through my creamy beautiful sauce. Just stir that up. The cheeses will melt in the warm mixture. And then I’ll add my flavorings. A teaspoon of dry mustard powder. A teaspoon of salt, and a pinch of cayenne pepper, maybe an eight of a teaspoon. So now I will just mix that in with my little elbow macaroni.
Now first it might seem like it’s a little wetter than you want it but it’s fine like this because I'm going to bake it for about 20 minutes and it will loose a lot of its moisture. So I’ll just lay all that into my little individual serving dishes I love this dish because each serving actually has almost a half a cup of vegetables in it. And you really can't tell. Now I’ll make the topping. Just two tablespoons of unseasoned breadcrumbs and I use unseasoned because I like to be in control of what seasonings go in there.
And in this case I'm just flavoring it with the parmesan cheese, two tablespoons and a teaspoon of olive oil. I’ll just kind of put my fingers just crumble that together and make like a cream topping. Let’s put a little bit over each one. It makes it really special and that parmesan flavor will hit you right away. Alright, that is ready and looking fantastic I'm just going to put that in the oven at 375 for 20 minutes. And after it bakes I’ll stick it under the grill for about three minutes so the top is crispy and brown.