Yet Another Mac&Cheese!
I love Mac & Cheese but not the “calorie cost”!  So I am always on the lookout for a good, easy, tasty and of course nutritionally friendly variation.  I was reading my current Cooking Light and  they had a Stovetop Sausage Mac and Cheese recipe that looked interesting.  I made it exactly like the recipe was printed (ok almost exactly) and was disappointed in the flavor.  It was a little too bland for me.  I like a lot of flavor from any food that I make.  
My husband and I ate the first two servings Sunday night.  The second night I decided to work on it.  I used turkey Italian sausage instead of the sun dried tomato chicken sausage. NOTE:  When making the recipe the first night, I separated half of the recipe and did not use the Sun Dried Tomato Sausage. I wanted to make it with the turkey sausage the second night.  
The following are the changes I made.   I sauteed the turkey sausage and then I sliced  8 oz of cremini mushrooms (of course any mushroom would be great) and sauteed them with chopped onion, turkey sausage and seasoned the mixture with salt and pepper.  I cooked the mushrooms until they were browned or caramelized.  This step allows the mushrooms to release a lot of their water and they taste better!  I then added a handful of minced Italian flat leaf parsley and the two servings of mac and cheese from the previous nights recipe.  I had to add a little water to “cream” it and also 1/2 cup of frozen green peas.  When you add the water, which was about 1/4 cup, it is enough moisture to thaw the peas.  Heat the mixture thru, adjust seasonings if needed and put 1 1/4 cups in each bowl.  I also used the same bread crumbs sprayed with butter spray that I added to the original recipe and with just a couple of minutes under a broiler I had a really tasty mac and cheese.
The original recipe called for the following:
4 ounces chicken and sun-dried tomato sausage (Gerhard’s), chopped
1 1/2 cups fat-free milk
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
1/3 cup (about 1 1/3 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
1/4 cup (2 ounces) 1/3 less fat cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
5 cups hot cooked elbow macaroni (about 8 ounces uncooked pasta)
chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
I also changed the above just a little.  Instead of the cheddar and Jack cheese, I used the light Colby shredded cheese (4 1/3 ounces) You could also use soy cheese if you want.
I toasted 1 slice of Gluten Free Bread and ran it through the food processor and made toasted bread crumbs for the top of the macaroni.   The bread crumbs added a nice crunch.
Heat a nonstick saucepan over medium high heat.  Add the sausage (be sure to remove the skin) and saute until browned.  Combine the flour and skim milk in a small bowl, whisk together.  Add this mixture to the sausage and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Reduce the heat to medium.  Stir in all the cheeses, onion powder, garlic salt; and cook for about 3 minutes or until the cheeses are melted.  Be sure you stir constantly.  Stir in the pasta and parsley.  
4 ounces turkey Italian sausage (if you want more meat you can add more turkey sausage.  You can also use ground turkey or ground beef.  
8 oz sliced cremini mushrooms
1/2 chopped onion
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup frozen green peas
1/4 cup water
You can also add  spinach in place of the peas.  Let me know if you use other vegetables or toppings.  
NUTRITION:  For each 1 1/4 cup the original recipe had 433 calories; 13.9g fat; 236g protein; 53.1g carb; 2.7g fiber; 56mg chol; 538mg sodium; 340mg calcium.  You would have to add for each slice of bread 80 calories; 0g fat; 2g fiber; and 160mg sodium.  You will also have to add the calories, etc for the frozen peas.  
There are many variations.  You could use lean ground beef, use Mexican light cheese in place of the Jack and Cheddar, add a can of chopped green chilies and cilantro in place of the parsley.  You can also use crushed baked tortilla chips in place of bread crumbs.  
Yet Another Mac&Cheese!
Thursday, March 22, 2007