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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Recipe Friday: Cheesy Baked Shells and Broccoli

When it comes to comfort foods, macaroni and cheese has always been a go to meal for this Midwestern girl. I grew up on Kraft macaroni and cheese that came out of the box and used a powered cheese mix. My mom would make it following the boxed directions and serve it along with hot dogs, apple sauce, and green beans.

Now that I am a bit older, I still enjoy macaroni and cheese but prefer it made with all natural ingredients and with some healthy additions.

Cheesy Baked Shells and Broccoli


3/4 pound medium pasta shells
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk (skim, 1%, 2%, or whole)
2 cups grated cheddar cheese (use can substitute with any variety of low-fat or 2% fat cheeses)
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
kosher salt and pepper
1 16-ounce package frozen broccoli florets

  • Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain.
  • Meanwhile, heat the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
  • Whisk in the milk and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Add 1 ½ cups of the cheese and stir until melted. Stir in the nutmeg, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
  • Add the pasta and broccoli and toss to combine. Transfer to a 8-inch square or a 1 ½-quart baking dish.
  • Sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup of cheese.
  • Cook in 425 degree oven for 20 minutes or until cheese is nicely browned.

Cooking Tips
  • You can add 1 cup of cooked ham, turkey, or chicken to the dish for additional protein.
  • Experiment by substituting cheddar cheese with other cheese selections including shredded Italian blend, shredded Mexican blend, sharp cheddar, or Swiss cheese.
  • If you don't like broccoli, you can substitute the vegetable with green beans, peas, asparagus, or your favorite vegetable.
Happy Eating!
Creativity Bug ~ Sue


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