This is my healthy spin on mac & cheese! I use lower fat options for the dairy and whole wheat bread crumbs…but you won’t even taste the difference. It may be lower-fat, but it is not low in flavor at all! I also love baked mac and cheese versus stove-top because the inside is creamy, while the top is crispy; it is the ultimate mixture of textures. This mac & cheese will definitely be a crowd pleaser and it is a healthier option...just don’t tell them (haha)!
2 lbs (2 boxes) Medium Shell Pasta
1/2 cup Reserved Pasta Cooking Water
2 tbsp Butter
2 tbsp Flour
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Salt
3 cups of 1% Milk
2 cups Reduced Fat Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1/3 cup Reduced Fat Cream Cheese
2 tbsp Butter
1/2 cup Whole Wheat Bread Crumbs
1 cup Reduced Fat Cheddar
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Using a large pot, bring salted water to a boil.
3. While waiting for the water to boil, in another medium pot, melt 2 tbsp butter. Add the flour and whisk until it forms a paste.
4. Whisk in 1/2 cup of the milk into the roux until the flour is incorporated. Whisk in the rest of the 2 1/2 cups of milk, bring to a boil then turn to a simmer and cook until the sauce sticks to the back of a spoon (around 5 min), whisking occasionally.
5. Add the pasta when the water is boiling and partially cook (it will cook more in the oven), around 4-5 minutes or until slightly malleable. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water, drain the pasta and pour the pasta into a throw-away deep-dish casserole tin.
6. Turn off the heat of the sauce and add the cream cheese and cheddar cheese. Mix until it the cream cheese is melted and the sauce is uniform in consistency.
7. Pour the sauce evenly over the pasta and the 1/2 cup pasta water. Mix until the sauce is evenly incorporated into the pasta.
8. Now make the topping: In a small bowl, melt 2 tbsp butter. Add the bread crumbs and cheese and mix until fully combined. Evenly top the mac and cheese with the bread crumb topping.
9. Cook the mac and cheese tin in the oven uncovered for 30 minutes and then broil for 2-3 minutes or until the top is perfectly browned. Serve immediately!!