Monday, April 21, 2014

Classic Mac and Cheese and Chili Roasted Carrots with Kale

Last week I wanted to make classic Mac and Cheese for dinner. My mom always made a nice simple Mac and Cheese for us growing up, and I really like this recipe because it is so simple, there is no base cheese sauce to be made, no breaded topping, just a few ingredients mixed in for a rich and cheesy classic dish.

Classic Mac and Cheese

Cook and drain one pound of elbow macaroni and return to pot
Add three cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup of cream (you can also use whole milk if you don't have cream)
1/8 cup of prepared yellow mustard (more as desired to taste)
freshly ground pepper to taste

Stir everything together in the pot until everything is thoroughly combined, add a bit more cheese if desired, add more mustard if desired, I like the way the mustard balances the sharp cheddar cheese so I tend to add a bit more than an 1/8 cup. I like pepper as well, but my kids prefer it less peppery so I don't add as much pepper, just enough to season to taste. Add more milk or cream if pasta looks a bit dry, just a splash or two more if needed. Then pour the mac and cheese into a casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray, and bake at 375 F. for about half an hour until the cheese has melted and the top starts to get a bit golden and crispy. If you prefer the top to be less crispy you could cover the casserole for the first half of cooking, then remove to lightly brown the top.

For an extra treat I served our mac and cheese with Lit'l Smokies, growing up back in the 70's and 80's our school lunches would serve mac and cheese with little smokies and they were always something I loved, that and the cafeteria's apple crisp! :) A nice side of veggies would round out this meal nicely.

Speaking of veggie side dishes, last week I also made a delicious rustic side dish, Chili Roasted Carrots served on a bed of sauteed Kale. It was delicious, and the whole family really enjoyed it. 

Start by washing and peeling a 3 pound bag of carrots, then roughly chop the carrots into 1/2 inch chunks, I like to cut on alternating angels to give them a more varied look rather than all uniform, but of course any way you choose to cut them would be fine. :) Then in a bowl drizzle olive oil over the carrots, I didn't measure this, just add enough to give the carrots a thin coating of olive oil. Then I sprinkled chili powder over the carrots, along with some freshly ground sea salt and pepper, then stir to make sure seasoning is spread out evenly. Just season to taste, if you like a little more spice, add a bit more, if you are cooking for people with less tolerance to spice add a bit less, the chili powder I used was fairly mild, and just gave the carrots a nice zip to balance out the natural sweetness of a roasted carrot. 

Then pour carrots into a roasting pan, spread out into a layer, and roast at 400 F. until the carrots are tender, and have some color (but not too dark). Depending on the size of carrot chunks this can take between forty minutes and an hour, stir every 15 to 20 minutes, and keep an eye on them so they don't burn, the sugar in carrots can burn quickly once they get to roasting. 

While the carrots are roasting, prep the kale, I used a large bunch of curly kale, wash it thoroughly, and then rip the leaves off of the main stem, and tear into pieces, removing any larger stems. In a large saute pan melt a few tablespoons of butter, and also add a drizzle of olive oil, over medium heat, once the butter has mostly melted I add two cloves of garlic that I press through my garlic press ( if you don't have a garlic press very finely mince the garlic), then stir that garlic a bit, and then add the kale. Saute the Kale over medium to medium high heat until it is tender. I sometimes add a little water to help steam down the kale, and to make sure it doesn't stick to the pan. When the Kale is almost done cooking I add a few dashes of lemon juice, about a half a lemon would do, or two teaspoons of the bottled variety that I keep in the fridge for when I am out of fresh lemons. 

Time the cooking of the kale to right before the carrots are done, when the carrots are fully roasted add them into the kale and toss the carrots with the Kale in the Saute pan until combined, then serve.

I served this chili roasted carrot and kale side dish with a delicious beef roast, and it was the perfect side dish for our roast beef dinner. 

I love roasting veggies, it really gives them a nice flavor, you might also enjoy my Roasted Carrots and Mushrooms side dish, which is also one of our favorites. 


  1. Oh! Yum! Carrots and Kale two of my favourites and you have brought them together! I cannot wait for kale to be back in season here so I can try this. Love Mac'n'Cheese. I oven bake mine, and while I'm working on the stove top I put my oven~proof dish in to heat through with a knob of butter, finely chopped onion and finely chopped fresh herb of choice {sage or rosemary work well} before adding the cheese and pasta. Love playing with food!

  2. The Mac and Cheese looks really good. I have never tried kale. I think you have inspired me. :-) Thanks for linking up with "Try a New Recipe Tuesday." I hope you can join us again this week.

  3. I love the addition of carrot and kale. I need to try it :)


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