Thursday, April 25, 2013

::way:better:mac:&:cheese::


Growing up we never had a lot of processed foods on our plates when we sat down for breakfast, lunch or dinner. 
Of course there were times where my Sister and I would lament on how we want chicken nuggets and Kraft dinner because all our friends were eating it. 
To be quite honest, looking back I am glad that my parents wouldn't allow it into the house. 
I'm not saying that people who did eat {or are eating} it are "crazy", I just learned from an earlier age than most that processed foods were simply not "good" for you. 
I guess it is also coming from what I have been reading for school...about how "evil" processed foods are...because honestly, that's what they are...evil! They *wreak* havoc on our bodies and we just don't know it because we don't *see* it. I think it is very important in today's day and age to feed our children and ourselves with nourishing, good quality foods. Not crap! 
I could go on a whole big rant about processed foods and the company's and people that back them up but that is going to take way too long and I don't think anyone cares at this point on a Thursday morning. 
Like, is it the weekend yet? 
Anyways...

Kraft dinner was my point. Lol. 
I just think KD is CRAP. It is so unhealthy, it is not even REAL food...yea, it's "convenient" for when you are busy...but seriously, take a half hour out of your day and make the real stuff and make a bunch so that you have leftovers! It's going to obviously be a helluva lot healthier than the other crap. 
I always used to make it for my boyfriend when we were on a time crunch or I just didn't feel like cooking dinner one night, but I realized the other day as I was looking at my boyfriend and then turning to the pantry and staring at a box of KD that I can't feed him that garbage.
I refuse to eat it.
So therefore, I went and perused a bunch of sites and found some healthier alternatives to KD. 
Honestly, if you can't take some time out of your day to make food from scratch and feed yourself healthy foods then you obviously really don't care about your health or well-being nor do you care about your future self. 
So start eating healthy.
It won't kill you...but the processed crap eventually will.

Now I know that even mac and cheese in general isn't the healthiest option for you if you had to choose between that or a salad with grilled chicken BUT, it is better than all the ingredients {that you can't pronounce!!} that are included into that little blue and yellow KD box.

Now this recipe does include shrimps {surprise, surprise, I know} but you can totally omit that. This mac and cheese looks so much better, I mean, come on!

Bon Appetit!


Cajun Shrimp Mac & Cheese
Yield: 8 servings / Prep Time: 45 min / Cook Time: 20 min
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Ingredients
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning, divided
Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
1 pound cavatappi pasta {or shaped pasta of your choice}
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
12 ounces Pepper Jack cheese, shredded {about 3 cups}, divided
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded {about 2 cups}, divided
1 cup Panko bread crumbs

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 9x13-inch casserole dish. Heat a large pot of water over high heat for the pasta; cover. 

2. In a 10-inch skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium heat. Add the shrimp and 1/2 teaspoon of the Cajun seasoning and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is all pink and cooked through. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

3. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook the pasta according to the box directions for al dente {if your box doesn't specify al dente, cook it for 1 to 2 minutes shorter than the time called for - it shouldn't be cooked the whole way through}. When the pasta is finished cooking, drain it in a colander.

4. While the pasta is cooking, make the sauce. In a large saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, whisk in the flour and cook for about 1 minute, until the flour starts to brown a bit and smells nutty, whisking constantly. In a slow, steady stream, whisk in the milk. Allow the sauce to come to a simmer.

5. Once the sauce comes to a simmer; stir in 9 ounces each of the Pepper Jack and 6 ounces of the cheddar cheese, adding a handful at a time and stirring with a wooden spoon until completely melted before adding the next handful. Season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning, salt and pepper, and turn off the heat. 

6. Add the cooked, drained pasta and shrimp to the sauce. Stir with a wooden spoon until everything is completely combined and evenly distributed. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish. 

7. Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter. In a small bowl, mix the melted butter with the Panko bread crumbs. 

8. Sprinkle the macaroni and cheese with the remaining shredded cheeses. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture on top of the cheese. 

9. Bake until browned and bubbly, about 15 to 20 minutes. Allow to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before serving. 


And there you go! A helluva lot better in taste this is sounding! 
Sorta sounded like Yoda there. 
Anyways, give it a try and let me know what you think! I might just add the shrimp to this recipe. 
The boyfriend might kill me thought, lolol. 


-S.*

2 comments:

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