4. Light(er) mac & cheese
So, you want to make a mac & cheese that's good for the taste buds and the waistline? Obviously mac & cheese isn't inherently a healthy dish, but there are tricks for adding some more nutritional value and cutting calories.
First off, you can use reduced fat or low-fat cheeses. If you're using such a cheese, it's important to cook the mixture slowly since low-fat and reduced fat cheeses (like a skim milk cheese) clump up more easily. You may need to add a few extra teaspoons of flour if your cheese starts to clump.
Second, you can swap regular pasta for whole grain pasta to add some fiber. And third, try adding in some color! Throw in a bunch of arugula, herbed zucchini or tomatoes roasted with garlic to get some more antioxidants.
5. How to nurse a tryptophan hangover
To me, the ultimate diner breakfast isn't the eggs you find there, it's the potatoes - especially when they're in the form of home fries. In this mac & cheese, those home-fried potatoes get their just due by acting as the crowning glory on the creamy, cheesy pasta underneath. And of course, because this IS a mac & cheese, there's also melted cheese on top of those potatoes too. I don't have to wonder what Dr. Atkins would have said about a potato-on-pasta dish, but this is one splurge worth its weight in carbs.
Breakfast Mac 'n' Cheese
1 Tbsp, plus 1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus more as needed
8 oz small or medium shell pasta
1/4 cup, plus 2 Tbsp olive oil
1 pound small red potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch chunks (do not peel)
Freshly ground pepper
1 small onion (about 4 oz), cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 medium green bell pepper (about 8 oz), cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 medium red bell pepper (about 8 oz), cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole or reduced-fat milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
12 oz cheddar cheese, coarsely grated (3 1/2 cups)
2 tsp hot sauce
1/2 tsp dry mustard powder
Ketchup, for serving (optional)
Position an oven rack about 6 inches below the broiler and preheat to broil. Butter an 8-inch square (1 1/2-quart) metal pan or six 8-ounce ramekins. Set aside. (Note: Do not use a glass pan or a ceramic dish for this recipe. It can break when set under the broiler.)
Fill a 4- to 5-quart pot about three-quarters full with water and add 1 tablespoon of the salt. Bring to a boil and add the pasta. Cook, stirring once or twice, until tender but firm, 4 to 6 minutes for small shells, 8 to 10 minutes for medium shells. Drain, and reserve the pot.
In a large skillet, heat the 1/4 cup of the oil over medium heat. Add the potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until the edges are darkened and the potatoes are crisp, 10 to 12 minutes. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Using a slotted spatula or spoon, transfer the potatoes to a plate.
Using the same skillet, cook the onion and bell peppers, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft and beginning to caramelize (darken) around the edges, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the oregano and salt and black pepper to taste. Turn off the heat and set aside.
Using the same pot you used to cook the pasta, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Slowly whisk in the flour and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and stir constantly until a paste forms, 30 to 45 seconds.