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Dine In: Mac and Cheese with Chicken Sausage

Mac and Cheese with Chicken SausageObviously, any recipe about macaroni and cheese is going to catch my eye; although, it will forever be impossible to top the version my friend, Stephanie, makes. However, in the days of watching my weight, Stephanie’s version, with its heavy cream, pounds of cheese and cheddar soup, is a special-occasion-only meal.

While hers reigns supreme, I’ve tried less caloric versions to get my mac and cheese fix. This version came from a blog I thought was called “The Dude Diet,” but when I went back and looked for it, I couldn’t find it again. Anyway, this includes cauliflower! My kids and I LOVE cauliflower.

We tried it last Friday night and loved it, especially with the addition of chicken sausage to add protein and to satisfy my meat-loving sons.

Mac and Cheese with Chicken Sausage
Serves 4

1/2 head cauliflower, florets removed
2 cups water
2 cups skim milk, divided
2 1/2 cups gluten-free elbows (or regular macaroni), uncooked
2 pre-cooked chicken sausages, sliced
1 3/4 cups shredded sharp cheddar
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1/4 cup part-skim ricotta
1/2 – 3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 pinch cayenne pepper

For the topping:
3 Tbsp whole wheat Panko bread crumbs
1 1/2 Tbsp grated parmesan
1/4 tsp smoked paprika

Start by cooking the cauliflower. Place the cauliflower florets, 2 cups water and 1 cup milk in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes until the cauliflower is very tender.

Bring a separate pot of water to a boil for your macaroni. When boiling, add the pasta and cook for about 6 minutes before straining. It should be slightly undercooked and still firm.
While the cauliflower and pasta are cooking, sauté the sliced chicken sausage in a non-stick pan for 5-6 minutes until lightly browned. Remove from heat and set aside until ready to use.
When the cauliflower has finished cooking, strain it and discard the cooking liquid. Transfer the cauliflower to a blender or food processor; puree until smooth. Return the cauliflower puree to the pot over medium-low heat. Whisk 1 cup milk into the puree then slowly add 1 1/4 cups of the shredded cheddar, the parmesan and the ricotta. Season the sauce with kosher salt and cayenne pepper to taste.

Stir the macaroni and chicken sausage into your cheese sauce.

Pour the mac and cheese into a skillet or baking dish.

In a small bowl, combine the Panko, parmesan and smoked paprika for the topping. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar over your mac and cheese, and top with an even layer of the Panko mixture.
Transfer your mac and cheese to the oven; bake for 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbling slightly. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 547, Calories from Fat: 196, Fat: 22 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (13 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 70 mg, Sodium: 1085 mg, Carbohydrates: 56 g, Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 10 g, Protein: 32 g

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