Anyone in their right mind (which doesn't include me) who is in the midst of a kitchen renovation doesn't join new groups of bloggers which require weekly posting of recipes of one sort or another.
Like I said, I'm not in my right mind, so when I stumbled on Craving Ellie in My Belly, I knew I wanted to join them. They're cooking from The Foods You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life by Ellie Krieger. Maybe you've seen her on Food Network, making food that does look good, and is allegedly not as bad for you as the drive thru at your favorite fast food joint.
Since my kitchen will revert to being a construction site tomorrow, I thought I'd jump in and make the macaroni and cheese the rest of the group made last week. I found the recipe here, and decided to make a half recipe since M is traveling, and me and macaroni and cheese would have way too much fun together without adult supervision. It called for a couple of things I didn't have (like frozen pureed squash, three kinds of cheese and bread crumbs). I found canned pureed squash and extra sharp cheddar at Trader Joe's, but opted to not buy bread crumbs for the one tablespoon that the halved recipe would need, and I decided to skip the Monterey Jack (I would only need one ounce) and use all cheddar instead. I had to go to another market for part skim ricotta (TJ's only had the whole milk, which I'm sure would be amazing in the dish but defeat the purpose of eating something you crave and not needing bypass surgery.)
Once I heated the milk and squash and added the cheeses, the sauce almost looked curdled. I figured it was because of the ricotta and forged on. I substituted smoked Spanish paprika for the cayenne, because I love it and haven't cooked with it (or frankly, any spice) for quite a while with the kitchen torn up.
Since I didn't have the bread crumbs, I skipped the oil, but I did sprinkle it with the parmesan cheese and I still broiled it for a few minutes to get some color on the top. I was very skeptical about this dish but I have to say it's very good. I think the smoked paprika helps to mask the flavor of the squash. It's not as creamy as my regular mac and cheese, but it's also a lot better for me. It yields a nice serving size for those of us who like to eat a lot (me!) and tasted great served over some roasted vegetables. If you have kids who won't eat vegetables, I bet they would eat this and not even realize it was good for them!