Calling All Mac & Cheese Lovers!


My commute to work is 45 minutes with traffic and 30 minutes without.  That may not seem so bad when I tell you that I work at a company with true flex time.  What does that mean?  It means that I can come to work and leave whenever I want as long as I work my 40 hours a week (actually, for me that’s only 24 hours a week because I’m part-time).  In my Pre-K (pre-kids) life, I frequently worked 7-3:30pm.  My commute was always without traffic.  Life Post-K isn’t that easy.

The problem is that the later I leave for work, the later I get home.  We start getting our kids ready for bed around 7:15pm and my husband gets home at 6:30pm, so we need to be eating dinner as soon as he walks in the door to give our kids some time between dinner and bedtime.  This means that I need to prepare a healthy dinner while watching 2 little kids that haven’t seen me all day.  My son is all over me and the baby cries unless I hold her. 

How in the world can I get dinner on the table by 6:30 and give my kids all the love and attention that they need? I ask this question every day.  Yesterday, I planned some meals for the week and decided that one of them would be Veggie Mac & Cheese.  While this meal is easy to make, as any vegetarian knows, it takes time to chop all those vegetables (ion non-work days, I usually do my chopping at nap time).  Last night, I had the brilliant idea to make it before I went to bed so I had nothing to do when I got home today except pop it in the oven.  Even better, I made 2 of them and froze one for another crazy and chaotic night.

What I love about this recipe is that it is homemade (none of that processed, powdered cheese) and there are more veggies in it than pasta.  The original recipe was listed in Taste of Home magazine years ago.  I’ve made my own modifications to accommodate my family.   It tastes as good as it looks.

Veggie Mac & Cheese

2 cups whole grain elbow macaroni
3 cups chopped broccoli
3 cups chopped cauliflower
4 carrots, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup flour
1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup milk
3 cups sharp cheddar
salt & pepper
paprika

Saute the onion in olive oil.

 

Bring a pot of water to a boil and then add your macaroni.  Cook according to the package directions.  When there are 6 minutes of cooking remaining, add the broccoli, cauliflower and carrots to the boiling water.  When finished cooking, drain and return to the pot.

 When the onion is softened, add the flour and mix well. 

After about 30 seconds, add the milk and vegetable broth.  Bring to boiling, stirring frequently until it starts to thicken.

Add in cheese and stir until cheese is melted.  Season with salt and pepper.

Once the cheese is melted, pour into pot with pasta and vegetables and mix well.

You can either make one large serving of this dish by pouring the mixture into a 13×9 dish or break it up into 2 smaller serving dishes.  I have a 9×9 and an 8×8 dish that I used.  Sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Enjoy!

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