Monday, January 23, 2012

Creamy Mac 'n' Cheese with Spinach

Hot. Creamy. Cheesy. Pretty much everything you ever wanted out of macaroni 'n' cheese.

I was originally going for straight cheddar, until I realized I needed a whole pound of it and only had half. Enter the cheese drawer.

I had a few ounces of this, a few ounces of that, oh gross and that has some mold on it, into the trash it goes. Needless to say, after scrounging around in the fridge, I had a hodgepodge of cheeses heaped on the counter.

A whole lot of cheddar. A chunk of cream cheese. A little block of Swiss. Some grated Parm.

And that spinach hiding out back there looks like it's on its last legs. Alright, you can come join the party, too. It might make me feel only slightly less guilty about adding an entire pound of cheese to

Eh, who am I kidding? I love me some cheese. Like a 7th grade celebrity crush love on cheese. Except better. Because I can actually have this.

Creamy Mac 'n' Cheese with Spinach
Adapted from: The Pioneer Woman

4 cups dried macaroni
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups 1% milk
1 teaspoon dry ground mustard
1 egg, lightly beaten
8 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded, divided
5 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese
2 ounces Swiss cheese, shredded
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated
3 ounces fresh baby spinach, chopped
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon thyme

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9x13-inch baking pan with cooking spray; set aside.

Bring a lot pot of water to boil over high heat. Add macaroni and cook 1 minute short of package instructions. Drain and set aside until ready to use.

In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter. Whisk in the flour and cook for five minutes, whisking continuously.

Increase heat to medium. Add milk and mustard, whisking until smooth. Cook for five minutes, or until very thick. Reduce heat to low.

Pour 1/4 cup of the sauce into a small bowl with the beaten egg, whisking vigorously to prevent the egg from cooking. Once smooth, pour egg mixture into the sauce and whisk until smooth. Stir in all the cheese except 3/4 cup shredded cheddar, until melted and smooth. Whisk in the seasonings. Fold in the spinach and macaroni, stirring until completely coated with sauce.

Transfer macaroni to the prepared baking dish and top with remaining cheddar cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and golden.

Serves: 8

Even though I was going for all cheddar, I'm so glad I miscalculated. The cream cheese totally adds a nice creaminess that cheddar alone could never achieve. (I still love you anyways Cheddar!) As for that spinach? Well, you can't even taste it, it makes the dish look prettier, and it kindofsortofatleastinmymind makes the dish healthier.

Next time around I may pass on the egg and all that tempering business and the whole baking the mac 'n' chee. That's just prolonging the amount of time between cheese heaven in a bowl and my belly. Not cool.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 203g
Amount per serving
Calories 469Calories from fat 220
% Daily Value
Total Fat 24.4g38%
Saturated Fat 14.9g75%
Cholesterol 95mg32%
Sodium 408mg17%
Total Carbs 40.4g17%
Fiber 1.8g7%
Sugars 6.1g
Protein 21.7g
Vitamin A 39%Vitamin C 5%
Calcium 43%Iron 13%


  1. Haha the same thing happens to me with my cheese drawer. Looking forward to trying this one out with whatever the stock is in my fridge ;-)

  2. Oh my I just love spinach in everything. This is a great way to incorporate a vegetable in a dish for your kids.

  3. Holy Creaminess!! This looks to die for!!

  4. I love mac and cheese and WITH spinach! YUMMY!

  5. Wow, this looks perfectly creamy :) And I love the spinach, very nice touch!

  6. This looks so creamy. Exactly the way mac n cheese should be.

  7. I love how cheesy this looks and I think the addition of spinach is a wonderful way to get Iron (the nutrient) into your diet. Saving this recipe!

  8. I always end up with odds and ends of cheeses! Now I definitely know what to do with them =)

  9. Yum. Mac N Cheese is not something I have on our regular meal rotation but I am so happy whenever I have it. This looks great. I have heard before that adding cream cheese is key for creamy consistency.

  10. All that cheese and the the addition of health...spinach...
    love it !

  11. I made this for diner tonight and love the recipe, it turned out great but 4 cups of macaroni is way too much pasta for the amount of sauce it has you make. (I used the big macaroni noodles) I can hardly even tast the sauce and my pasta is dry. Next time I'm not going to cook as much pasta.



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