Monday, November 21, 2011

Sweet Potato Mac and Three Cheese

The season of fall and Thanksgiving is full of certain flavors like apples, pumpkin, sage, and pumpkin pie spices.  As much as I love all those fall flavors, I wanted to highlight the sweet potato.  This highly nutrient dense vegetable is one of my favorites and I think it should be apart of our regular diet.    My local grocery store had sweet potatoes on sale for 3lbs for a $1.  Well, I'm a little embarrassed to say I bought 24lbs of sweet potatoes. Please don't judge me. LOL!  It's a deal and I love a deal.  Plus the sweet potatoes should last me a while and I am planning to make full use out of all that goodness.  So here is my first sweet potato dish.  I bumped up the nutrition in this main dish mac and cheese by not only adding the sweet potatoes, but whole grain pasta and low fat cottage cheese for extra protein.  At the end of the day, it was a pretty fantastic one pan dish and we all loved it.  2lbs of sweet potatoes gone... 22lbs more to go. : )


1box (16oz) whole grain pasta any shape
2lbs of sweet potatoes diced small
2 cups milk
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
3/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 medium onion chopped
2 serrano chilies diced (seeded if desired)
1 tsp cumin powder
1 Tbs chicken bullion powder
1 tsp red chili flakes
 cloves of garlic grated

             2 cups of cottage cheese or ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup of butter
1Tbs of flour
For the topping:
12-15 Ritz crackers   
1/4 tsp of garlic powder
1 Tbs of parsley (dried is fine)
1/4 tsp of paprika

Peel and diced the sweet potatoes.
Boil in a large pan of salted water until very tender.  Strain and mash well with a fork.  You can also put them in a food processor to puree.  I personally like getting bits of sweet potatoes in the mac and cheese.  I used a slotted spoon to get the potatoes out of the water and reused the water that I boiled the sweet potatoes to boil the pasta.

Note:  When cooking your pasta read package instructions.  Make sure you cook the pasta only partially.  I cooked it shy by 3-4 minutes of the package instructions because I knew I was going to cook the pasta on the stove and in the oven.  You do not want to over cook your pasta, otherwise your final dish will be mushy.

After draining the pasta, heat 1Tbs of canola oil in your pan.  Saute your diced onion and chilies for a few minutes. Then add your grated garlic and saute for 30 seconds.  Next add 1/4 cup of butter and your spices (cumin, bullion and chili flakes).
Then add 1 Tbs of flour and cook for 30 seconds. Next add your 2 cups of milk and your cheese.  I used 2%, but you can use any fat level milk you like. Stir well. Allow milk/cheese gravy to thicken up a bit.

Now add your mashed sweet potatoes and stir well. Taste for seasoning. Then add your pasta and mix well.

The next step is optional.  I took 2 cups of low fat cottage cheese and added 1 egg and 1/4 tsp of freshly grated nutmeg.  Stir well and add to your mac and cheese. Mix everything well. 

Spray a casserole pan with some nonstick spray and pour your mac and cheese into it.  Then take your ritz crackers and the seasoning for the topping and crush well until it is a crumbly topping. Cover the top of the casserole with the cracker topping.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes.  Allow the mac and cheese to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Serve and Enjoy.

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