Sunday, October 27, 2013

Veggie Loaded Mac & Cheese

It's squash season! A couple of years ago I was intimidated by these yummy things. It seemed so daunting to cook them much less figure out what to cook them with. Intimidated no more my squashy friend! I love finding ways to cook healthier versions of our favorite dishes. It's also great when its budget friendly! This week I've been playing with my friend, butternut squash, and we have come up with some fabulous yummy dishes!


Have any of yall seen the Bethenny show, hosted by Bethenny Frankle from the Real House Wives of New York? If you haven’t, she started out as a healthy food chef and has now made part of this a segment on her show. Last week she made a "healthy" mac & cheese. WINNER, one of the hubby's favorite dishes! Check it out here. This, of course, made me start thinking about what can I do to jazz it up just a smidge more and make it into a meal. Here is my version of a healthy mac & cheese…


5 chicken tenders
1/2 cup bell pepper (whatever you have works)
1/2 cup broccoli florets
12 ounces whole wheat mini pasta
1 cup skim milk
1 1/4 cup freshly shredded Parmesan
1 1/2 cup reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup butternut squash puree (don't feel like making it? It's in the freezer isle) (see notes)
1 teaspoon salt plus some for seasoning chicken
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon pepper plus some for seasoning chicken
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp chili powder
2 tablespoons whole wheat bread crumbs
Reduced fat Monterey jack cheese, shredded


1.       Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. On a baking pan lined with foil, lay out chicken tenders and salt and pepper on the top. Cook in the oven for about 10 minutes or until cooked.

2.        Boil pasta shells in salted water until slightly firm, according to package directions. Once cooked, drain and blanch broccoli florets in the water. Once they turn a bright green they will be cooked. Remove pan from heat, drain and splash broccoli with cool water. Return both pasta and broccoli to the pan  

3.       In another saucepan, combine the skim milk, Parmesan, cheddar, and butternut squash puree over medium heat until melted and combined. Turn off the heat. Add salt, mustard, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and chili powder.

4.       Using two forks, shred chicken to desired size.

5.        Add cheese sauce, chicken and bell peppers to the pasta and broccoli. Mix together well.

6.       Spray a shallow baking pan with cooking spray and put the pasta-cheese mixture in it. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and Monterey jack cheese. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

Notes: For a quick and easy butternut squash puree, see my recipe here.

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