Cheddar and broccoli macaroni and cheese

Lately, I’ve been experiencing an irrevocable craving for Kraft Dinner. Those who know me well, will know that I’m always craving cheese and pasta. Always. This didn’t help my cause.

An attempt to create the anti-KD

Nor did it help when one of my roommates had a bowl of uncovered, day-old Kraft Dinner sitting at the front of the fridge. If there is anything I love more than the cheesy, freshly made KD, it is slightly crusty, old pasta. Seriously. Judge me now and never read this blog again. Regardless of how much my culinary horizons have expanded through this blog, I will always enjoy cowering in the corner of my dining room picking away at clumpy noodles.

That’s one thing I’ve noticed over the past few weeks. As much as I love good food, I also love the guilty pleasure bad stuff. Like Kraft Dinner. Likely poorly grilled chicken nuggets. Like pizza that is just greasy enough that the weight of the oil forms deep trenches across the melted cheese.

I will eat soup noodles in my bedroom until the day I die.

To try and change my habits, I wanted to take one of my guilty pleasure foods – KD in this case – and make something healthy (yet just as satisfying) out of it. Hence this cheddar and broccoli macaroni and cheese, inspired originally by some random recipe I found on my Epicurious iPhone app. My dinner quickly became an improvised mac and cheese recipe, and I was melting butter, grating cheese and preparing cute little broccoli florets (okay, this is a lie, I bought the frozen, pre-cut ones…).

And tada – there you have it. An easy substitute to KD, featuring a vegetable that I gave the nastiest stink eye to as a kid. Turns out that when covered in melted cheese, broccoli can actually be something quite wonderful.

Mr. Elephant approved.

Recipe: Cheddar and broccoli macaroni and cheese
– 2 cups macaroni pasta
– 2 cups broccoli florettes (mine were frozen and pre-cut this way)
– 2 tbsp butter
– 1/8 cup flour
– 1 cup milk
– Salt and pepper
– 1 bay leaf
– 1 ½ cup old cheddar cheese
– 1/2 cup bread crumbs

In a large pot of salted, boiling water, cook the macaroni until andante (almost cooked but still a little chewy). Drain and rise with cold water. Set aside.

Meanwhile, melt the butter on medium heat in a small saucepan. Stir in the flour. Add the milk, salt and pepper (to taste) and the bay leaf. Bring the milk to a simmer and let it sit with tiny bubbles forming around the edge of the pot. Whisk in the cheddar cheese, being extremely careful to not lose one tiny morsel of this delicious addition. Stir until the cheese has melted and incorporated itself into the sauce.

In the pot that you made the macaroni in, combine the cooked pasta with the cheese sauce. Mix well until everything is coated. Scoop into a casserole dish or, if you’re me, your favourite large Pyrex dish (if one dish isn’t big enough, use another one. Problem solved). Sprinkle the top with bread crumbs. Bake at 400°F until the bread crumbs are browning and the sauce is bubbling slightly.

Makes about 4 servings.

 

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