“What are you doing?” I asked Mystic after watching him for a few minutes.
Taking the onions out of Nick’s sandwich.
Your son doesn’t like onions.
This was totally news to me, and I’ve known the kid for 9 years. I know he doesn’t like the smell of onions, and usually vacates the premises as quickly as possible when they’re cooking, but he’s never said he didn’t like the taste, and I’ve never noticed him pick them out of a meal.
But darn it if Mystic wasn’t right. Confirmed by the fact that I watched Nick carefully remove the little onion pieces from tonight’s dinner. Mystic is crazy observant. I thought I was, but he has me beat.
The first time Mystic cooked for me at his house, I was keeping him company in the kitchen while he finished plating the food. He stopped for a minute to rummage around in a drawer and handed me a little light bulb.
“What’s this for?”
Your ice maker light is out.
“I have a light for my ice maker?”
Um, yeah, observant like no other.
So tonight’s dinner had onions. And broccoli. In a healthified version of macaroni and cheese, courtesy of Skinny Taste. The broccoli cooks in the pasta pot, making it very soft when it’s done and super tiny. While I’m not hiding vegetables in this dish (I personally abhor that concept), they’re still visible. The kids did notice the broccoli, and I explained that if they took a bite of the broccoli with the pasta, they wouldn’t even be able to tell they were eating it. Most of the broccoli cooks down to smithereens, so they’re really getting plenty of broccoli in every bite. Two heads of broccoli went into this dish. Nick said it was good, and Madeline tried to pick out the broccoli, then we negotiated a bit, then I fed her, and she ended up cleaning her whole plate.
While this is not the end-all-and-be-all, stop the presses recipe for mac and cheese, it’s a creamy casserole type version that you can serve your family and skip the guilt. Because the cheese is low-fat, it’s not going to have the sharp punch of a traditional Cheddar, but it’s easy to make, tasty, and if it gets some extra broccoli in their little bellies, I’m there.
For those following Weight Watchers, this one clocks in at 8 points per one cup serving.
- 12 oz high fiber elbows like Ronzoni Smart Taste
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp light butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/4 cup minced onion
- 2 cups skim milk
- 1 cup fat free chicken broth (vegetarians use vegetable broth)
- 8 oz (2 cups) Sargento shredded reduced fat sharp cheddar
- salt and fresh pepper to taste
- 12 oz fresh broccoli florets (I used pre-cut bag)
- 1/8 cup grated parmesan
- 1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs (I used whole wheat)
- cooking spray
- Cook pasta and broccoli together in a large pot of salted water, according to package directions for al dente (or slightly under cook 2 minutes). Spray a baking dish with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 375°. In a large, heavy skillet, melt butters. Add onion and cook over low heat about 2 minutes, add flour and cook another minute, or until the flour is golden and well combined.
- Add milk and chicken broth and whisk, raising heat to medium-high until it comes to a boil; cook about 5 minutes or until the sauce becomes smooth and thick. Season with salt and pepper.
- Once the sauce is thick, remove from heat, add cheese and mix well until cheese is melted. Adjust salt and pepper to taste, add cooked macaroni and broccoli and mix well. Pour into prepared baking dish. Top with grated cheese and breadcrumbs. Spray a little more cooking spray on top.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes, then broil for a few minutes to get the breadcrumbs golden. (I broiled for five minutes at the end to crisp it up a bit)