I been slackin’, yo.
Yes, it’s true. Not only did I have a super cool (read: extremely un-sexy, and worthy of an pirate patch) eye situation, but work has been INSANE for the past two weeks. I’ve pretty much been sustaining of black coffee, hummus and veggies, frozen Lean Cuisines-type meals (GASP!) and bagged salad. It hasn’t been pretty, folks. It hasn’t been pretty at all. *shakes head in self-disappointment*
But, I’m finally back on track! And not to mention, raring to go with a ton of ideas in the good ‘ol steel trap. But yesterday, the first day in recent memory I wasn’t working literally from 9 am to midnight, I just knew BF and I deserved some SERIOUS comfort food.
I’ve tried to create a skinny version of Mac and Cheese for a while now, and it always turns out kind of, well, blah. So when my mom called and said she had come up with a truly decadent but not-so-guilty version, I had to give it a try.
I switched up a few things and added meat to make it more of a main dish. I also added a bread crumb topping because I love the crunchiness vs. creaminess.
Now, keep in mind, it’s still mac and cheese. So while the calorie count IS under 400, it’s got some fat. But compared to Hamburger Helper (blech!) or rue-based mac and cheeses, this is a way, WAY better alternative. After all, you have to jump on the mac and cheese train every once in awhile. This is America, people. We like cheese.
And while I’m on the subject of cheese, unless you can find EXTRA sharp reduced fat cheddar, use the full fat kind. The reason all my previous recipes turned out tasting like watered down cheesy styrofoam was because I was trying to cut fat and calories with either fat free or reduced fat cheese. The consistency is all wrong and the flavor is just, well…off. You can try and use it if you absolutely must, but I’ve never had a good experience with it.
Not-So-Guilty Whole Wheat Cheeseburger Mac
1/2 lb whole wheat shells or elbow macaroni (half the box of dry)
10-12 oz extra lean ground beef
1 tsp Montreal steak seasoning (or to taste)
1 10.75-oz can Campbell’s Healthy Request Cheddar Cheese Soup
3/4 c. good quality extra sharp cheddar cheese (I used Cabot)
1/2 c. fat free or reduced fat sour cream
1 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 c. plus 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 c. whole wheat Panko bread crumbs
1 tbsp olive oil
Preheat oven to 350 and spray a baking dish with cooking spray. I used an deep oval dish, but an 8×8 pan would work as well.
Boil water for pasta in a large covered pot. While water is boiling, coat a skillet with a generous amount of cooking spray and heat over medium-high. Season the meat with Montreal steak seasoning, to taste, and add to skillet. Let one side brown for about 3 minutes before breaking up the meat with a potato masher or wooden spoon. Continue cooking for a total of about 10 minutes, or until meat is cooked through. Transfer meat to a paper-towel line plate to drain and pat off any extra grease.
Once water is boiling, salt it and cook pasta according to package directions. I normally cook whole wheat pasta a little longer than the package recommends – I find it gives it a slightly softer, less grainy texture more reminiscent of regular pasta.
While pasta is cooking, combine soup, cheddar cheese, sour cream, 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese, dry mustard and garlic powder in a medium sized bowl. Mix well. Once pasta is cooked, drain well and add to cheese mixture while still warm. Add meat and stir to combine. Transfer mixture to baking dish.
In a small bowl, combine remaining Parmesan cheese, Panko and olive oil. Combine with fork until most of the crumbs are moist. Sprinkle crumbs on top of pasta and bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly.
This keeps well in the freezer – put it in baggies in individual portions and add a side salad for a quick, easy lunch during the work week.
Sat Fat: 10g