Delicious World of Chefette Spicy

formerly Ladles and High Heels


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Spinach and Corn Mac and Cheese

spinach mac and cheeseCreamy, jam packed with flavor and wonderfully versatile, this loose interpretation on mac and cheese has been on my mind for a really long time. Kishore loves his mac and cheese and he would eat only one version- Ina Garten’s. Although I made it exactly as she does a couple of times, I quickly realized that it was not an everyday mac and cheese. For one, it is full of cheese (always looks good on paper but not sensible to eat twice a month) and all purpose flour. To top that, Ina’s recipe calls for one whole stick of butter! I shudder at that thought.
spinach mac and cheese3Hence, I have been playing with ingredients for a really long time. Although I shaped it into a healthy version, one thing I did not want to play with was the flavor. So I kept jalapeño, broccoli and artichoke out of the dish. But last week, I wanted to change it up because I was not a huge fan of mac and cheese. As I mentioned before, I have been making this dish up for a very long time. A quick search on the internet proved that it does really exist. But I decided not to peep into any of those and do what I decided to. Hence, I combined my favorite dip, Warm Spinach and Corn (sometimes Artichoke) Dip and Macaroni and Cheese!

spinach mac and cheese2Spinach and Corn Mac and Cheese

Ingredients:
One pound macaroni elbows or any medium/small size pasta (I used Penne)

Four Tbsp all purpose flour

Four Tbs whole wheat flour

One and a half cups 2% milk

Half cup water

Eight Oz Container of low-fat cream cheese

Four to Five cups fresh spinach, washed and chopped

One cup cooked sweet corn kernels

Half tsp nutmeg

Four oz reduced fat Colby Jack cheese shredded

Four pods garlic, finely chopped

One Tbsp butter

Two Tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Method:
Cook the pasta according to package instructions, drain the water and keep aside.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. Add spinach and let it wilt. Add the sweet corn and cream cheese. Mix it well until the cheese melts. Add enough pepper and salt. Grease an 8″ baking dish. Pour the spinach mixture and bake it for ten minutes. Meanwhile, make the white sauce:

Heat the olive oil in the same pan you made the dip. Add garlic and saute on low heat until slightly cooked. Sprinkle both the flours and saute for a few minutes. This will take the raw smell off the flour. While that happens, mildly heat the milk in the microwave. With a whisk in one hand, slowly pour the milk as you whisk it into the mixture. All through this process, it is important that you leave the heat at low. Sprinkle in some salt, pepper and nutmeg. Slowly mix the sauce until it starts thickening. When it reaches a very thick consistency, pour in the water. Let it boil some more. When the sauce reaches a pouring consistency and passes the ladle streak test (dip the ladle in the sauce and draw a line with you finger on the back. If it leaves a clear line, it has reached the desired consistency), add the cheese.

Mix in the pasta. Pour the mac and cheese into the baked spinach dip and give it a mix. Return to the oven and bake for 30 minutes, until it is bubbling and gooey.

Cook’s notes: I know that water is frowned upon while making mac and cheese. However, I find it a delightful substitution for milk. If you’d rather, replace water with milk.

My 8″ pan was occupied, hence I had to make it in two (cake and loaf) pans. This helped with portion control.

Add red pepper flakes if you like spice. I did.

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Do You Know Carrot Greens?

hot carrot greens dip2Two kinds of foods exist in my world. The first is the one you plan for in your head, mull over for a couple of weeks, finally find the courage to make and end up beating yourself up with criticism. The reason for it is simple. I overrate what would be the out come, hence, not even the perfect result would suffice.

Then there is the latter kind: you want it. You have the ingredients in the pantry. You make it. And then you sink into the heaven that is this awesome dish. Today it was the Hot Carrot Greens Cheesy Dip. I am unimaginably in love with this dish and would love to finish what is left of it. But I cannot if I want to avoid the wrath of the hubster. Since we just returned  from our friends’ after a wonderful dinner of homemade pizza and eggless vanilla-Nutella cake (yum-o!), I am pretty sure I can hold my sticky fingers.

hot carrot greens dip3So why carrot greens? Why not? Greens are the most underrated part of most root vegetables (like beet greens). Most people associate it with rabbits but carrot greens are full of nutrition and they can be subbed for any dish that requires spinach. It has a slightly licorice flavor to it, I feel. I had an abundant quantity of carrot greens this week, my fridge had all the other ingredients I needed for the dip and it was a cold winter day that could use some improvement and the dip was it. All it needed was some toasted wholegrain bread. Heaven was achieved.
hot carrot greens dipThis is how I made the dip-

Hot Carrot Greens Cheesy Dip

Ingredients:
Two cups carrot greens, washed and chopped

One cup Greek yogurt

Quarter cup fat-free cream cheese

Half cup mayonnaise

Quarter cup Parmesan cheese

Quarter cup shredded mozzarella cheese (I used the pizza blend which was a combination of moz and cheddar)

Three cloves garlic, finely chopped

Quarter cup shallots, finely chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

A pinch pepper flakes

Method:
Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Whisk all the ingredients together in an oven safe bowl. Bake until cheesy, bubbly and golden brown, approximately for 20-25 minutes. We had it with cut up toasted bread. Anything in the bread-cracker family goes with it, really. Oh so good!!