Lightened-up Cheddar Macaroni & Cheese

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I’m back from an unplanned hiatus of sorts. I’m sad I haven’t updated in so long, but keeping up with this blog has been difficult over the past few months. Not only am I busy with work during the week and then with friends/family on the weekends, but my new apartment has very little natural light and the seasons changing to winter doesn’t help. I recently purchased a clip-on lamp that I’m hoping I can somehow use to take photos when it’s dark out. I’m also hoping for a new lens for Christmas which I think may help things.

In addition to my lack of blogging, I also haven’t been cooking as much. It makes me sad that I don’t cook as often, but I feel like work has just been draining my energy and motivation. When I come home from work, I do have time to cook but unless I have a recipe in mind and all the right ingredients, I will probably be resorting to leftovers or a frozen meal. I’m hoping this is something that will change as time goes on. This is my first true full-time job, so I feel like it’s just been a bit of a shock to my system. When I do get around to cooking a meal, I instantly start to relax and remember how much I love cooking. I think I just have to remind myself of that when I’m feeling lazy.

Anywho, enough of the excuses. Lately I’ve been craving a good mac and cheese. My favorite store-bought kind is Annie’s Shells & White Cheddar. To be honest, I was never big on the blue box kind. It always tasted slightly chemically and just unauthentic to me. (When I feel picky or like a food snob, I blame my dad for bringing us up on  good quality food and homemade meals.)  Sharp cheddar cheese has always been my favorite kind of cheese so when I was introduced to Annie’s a while back, I fell in love. That’s what inspired this recipe.

I was looking for a slightly lighter version of classic homemade mac and cheese. I stumbled upon this recipe from Cooking ala Mel which uses Greek yogurt in place of a roux (a butter and flour-based thickening agent). I’m always all for creating a lighter version of a classic and using Greek yogurt is a great way to do so. This mac and cheese is nice and cheesy, though it was a bit clumpy and didn’t quite form a smooth cheese sauce like some other recipes might. The flavor was delicious and as long as you don’t mind a little texture, it’s pretty satisfying. Nothing like comfort food on a cold winter day.

I used a combination of sharp white cheddar cheese and Meunster cheese, though you can use just about any good-melting cheese. I’ve read one of the keys to making good homemade mac and cheese is to use freshly grated cheese rather than the kind that’s pre-shredded. It will take an extra few minutes, but the meal as a whole is still a cinch to throw together. You could use low-fat cheese and whole wheat pasta to make this dish even healthier if you prefer. I tend to find that full-fat cheese melts better, though. I didn’t find the tanginess of the yogurt to be very prevalent, but I also don’t have much to compare it to because this was my first time making homemade mac and cheese!

Lightened-up Cheddar Macaroni & Cheese
adapted from Creamy Greek Yogurt Mac & Cheese on Cooking ala Mel

Ingredients:serves 3 – 4

  • 8 oz. pasta shells (about half a 1-lb box of pasta – I used closer to 2/3 of the box)
  • 8 oz. freshly grated cheddar cheese (about 2 cups – I used slightly less)
  • 1 Tbsp butter or margarine
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder + 1/2 tsp mustard powder + 1/4 tsp salt
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Forgot to picture the milk and onion powder – typical

Directions:

  1. Cook your pasta according to box directions. While pasta is cooking, begin grating your cheese.
  2. Once pasta is cooked to al dente, rinse and drain. In the pot used to cook pasta, melt butter over low heat and add milk and Greek yogurt. Gently whisk until smooth, and stir in grated cheese until melted, along with spices.
  3. Pour pasta over cheese sauce and stir to combine. Serve immediately and enjoy :)
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While your pasta is cooking, grate up your cheese

December Food

When your pasta is done cooking, melt your butter in your sauce pan. Add milk and Greek yogurt and simmer over low heat. Stir in your cheddar cheese until melted.

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Stir pasta into cheese sauce and serve immediately.

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I finished my mac and cheese of the way I personally like it – doused with hot sauce.

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:)

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About Hungry Hannah

I work at a children's hospital by day, and become a mad scientist in my kitchen by nighttime. The focus of this blog is fresh and healthy cooking, though sometimes you'll find some sweet treats or rich dishes. Enjoy!

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