Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mac 'n Trees

I tried out a new recipe tonight that I got from a friend (thanks Jess!) last week. It's called Mac 'n Trees - super cute name for a fun and yummy dish. Maybe even cute enough for those picky eaters out there?? ;)

I gathered my ingredients and got ready to begin making the dish.

  • Salt
  • 1 pound whole wheat or whole grain rotini or penne with lines
  • 1 large head broccoli, trimmed and cut into small florets
  • 3 tablespoons light butter
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat chicken stock
  • 2 cups low fat milk
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded reduced fat mozzarella cheese, divided
  • Pepper
  • 1/4 cup chives, chopped or 2 scallions, thinly sliced (optional)
  • Pre-heat the broiler.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Salt the water and cook the pasta to al dente, according to the package directions (about 10-12 minutes total, depending on the brand).
  • When the pasta has been cooking for a couple of minutes, add the broccoli to the water and finish cooking everything together, 8 minutes more.
  • Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepot over medium heat.
  • Add the garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute, then whisk in the stock and milk.
  • Let the sauce thicken to coat the back of a spoon; stir in 2 cups of cheese and season with salt and pepper.
  • Drain the pasta and broccoli and toss with the sauce.
  • Adjust the seasonings, to taste.
  • Place in a large casserole dish and top with the remaining cheese and chives or scallions, then place under the broiler to bubble and brown the top.
And here is the finished product...

And now for my changes...Instead of a 1-pound box of pasta, I used a 13.25 oz box of Healthy Harvest whole wheat penne. I used regular stick margarine instead of light butter and I used whole wheat flour. Next time I think I will use white flour for a better consistency to the sauce. I used probably 1 cup of cheese on top (in addition to the 2 cups in the sauce) instead of just 1/2 cup. This was the best part and I would definitely recommend the extra. ;) I did not use the chives or scallions on top at all.

As for changes to the directions, there is really only one main one that I would recommend. Definitely start the sauce portion before worrying about the pasta and broccoli. I waited forever and ever (OK, it seemed like forever, but maybe it was actually just 5-10 minutes) for the flour/milk/chicken stock mixture to thicken, but ran out of time to wait, so I added the cheese before it had thickened up. The sauce was still very runny then when I mixed it all together, which resulted in it being much soupier than I think it was supposed to be. It still tasted good, but next time I will plan for this and allow it to thicken like it was supposed to. ;)

All in all, it was a good dish that I will definitely make again. Ethan loved it, which always makes it a winner/keeper! I think it is intended to be eaten as a main dish since the recipe said it made 6 servings (7 WW points per serving). We were eating it as a side dish, so we had tons leftover (just an FYI in case you do the same). If you do make it, let me know what you think! :)

Fueled up on pasta, Ethan and Josh had a fun time running around the coffee table in the media room about a million times this evening...

...which always ends with lots of tickles! :)

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