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Canadian Recipes/ Featured

Broccoli and Cheddar Pasta

Broccoli and Cheddar pasta

Does anyone else have a super picky toddler? I swear, all my daughter wants to eat is scrambled eggs, toast with peanut butter and jam, pears, nectarines, yogourt and pasta. And not just any yogourt, but the Paw Patrol yogourt.  And not just any pasta – it has to be the tubed ones like rigatoni or penne. I try to sneak in veggies wherever I can – I scramble her eggs with chopped up spinach and I try to sneak in some veggies in her pasta dishes, but she usually just picks around them and just eats the pasta. Her daycare teacher tells me that she eats very well at daycare, but I find that hard to believe. Or maybe she enjoys eating with the other little kids, who knows. All I know is that dinnertime is such a hassle with her. My husband and I certainly don’t want to eat pasta every day, so what I end up doing is making a big pasta dish for her every other day, so that on the day that she’s eating leftovers, my  husband and I can actually eat something else for dinner!

This broccoli and cheddar pasta is her absolute favourite and she would eat it every day if I let her. When she sees me plating it up, she is grabbing at my leg, pointing, yelling “pasta, pasta!” , and can’t wait to sit down at the table to devour it. I don’t mind making this for her often because it is easy to make and takes only about 20-30 minutes. I sneak the broccoli in there but she just picks around it. I don’t mind though, because I like to eat all the broccoli out of it while she eats all the pasta. Win-win! I also like that you don’t have to cook your broccoli separately. I just cut it up into small florets, rinse them and leave them in the strainer. Then, when my pasta is done cooking, I drain my pasta through that same strainer. The boiling water from the cooked pasta will cook the broccoli just enough to turn them bright green but still retain some crunch.
Broccoli

I like to use Bothwell medium cheddar cheese for this recipe, but feel free to use marbled, mild or strong cheddar. I find that the medium adds just enough bite and flavour without being too bland or too overwhelming. I grate the cheese using the biggest holes on my grater – it just helps the cheese melt faster and more evenly. I use up the entire 170g block of cheese and you can often find these on sale at Safeway for about $4.99 for a small block.

Bothwell cheddar cheese

I highly recommend this recipe for picky eaters. Give it a try and let me know what you think. I’ll be making this again in the next few days so follow me on Instagram if you want to see the play by play on my Instagram stories!

Broccoli and Cheddar Pasta

Print Recipe
Serves: 4 Cooking Time: 20

Ingredients

  • Approx 500 grams of pasta (I buy the 454 gram boxes or packages of penne or rigatoni)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/3 cups of whole milk
  • 1 cup of half and half cream
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 small head of broccoli, chopped into small florets
  • 170 grams of medium cheddar cheese, grated
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

1

Chop your broccoli into small florets, rinse and leave in the strainer.

2

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook your pasta according to the package instructions; drain with the same strainer that the broccoli is in

3

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic and shallot and cook, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes.

4

Add in the flour and whisk for about 1 minute until lightly browned. Gradually whisk in milk, cream and Dijon mustard until it thickens, about 5 minutes. If you feel it is too thick, add in a little bit more milk. Season with salt and pepper.

5

Stir in pasta, broccoli and grated cheese until well combined, about 5 more minutes.

6

Enjoy!

Canadian Recipes/ Featured

Broccoli Mac & Cheese

Like any self-respecting foodie, I often have the Food Network on TV in the background of our household. At the gym, I also like to have the Food Network on while I’m doing cardio. My only complaint is that there are waaaaay too many cooking competition shows, and not enough true cooking instruction shows. I can’t stand shows like Chopped or Cupcake Wars because I feel like there is limited learning opportunities in those shows. I love the true cooking instructional shows like Giada At Home or Pioneer Woman.

This broccoli mac & cheese recipe is adapted from the Pioneer Woman recipe. And in true Pioneer Woman fashion, it is a simple, guilt-inducing, satisfying, comforting meal. I mean, it has three cheeses in it, one of which is Velveeta! I never thought in this lifetime I would purchase Velveeta!

I’ve adapted it somewhat – I didn’t have celery, so I omitted that. I added garlic into my recipe for some more kick. I also changed some of the quantities of cheese – the recipe called for a cup of cubed Velveeta, but I just used half the block so that the other half can be saved and used when I make this recipe again next week. I know it sounds contradictory considering this recipe contains processed Velveeta, but remember to buy real cheddar and Parmesan and grate it yourself! Canned, pre-grated cheeses won’t melt as nicely in this recipe. Tip: buy your cheeses from right from the deli aisle – the stuff that you find in the dairy aisles by the yogourts and sour creams are all processed and contain fillers. I made sure to buy a block of cheddar and a block of Parmesan right from the deli aisle, grated them myself, and they melted beautifully in this recipe.

The original Pioneer Woman recipe can be found here: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ree-drummond/broccoli-cheese-mac-n-cheese-3703650

My adaptation is below. I served mine with some baked chicken breasts and lots of Frank’s Red Hot Sauce. Enjoy this comforting dish and try not to feel too guilty about it!

Broccoli Mac & Cheese

Print Recipe
Serves: 4-6 Cooking Time: 25 min

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp salted butter
  • 1 box of macaroni (I used a 375 g box of Catelli macaroni)
  • 2 small heads of broccoli, broken into very small florets
  • 1/2 onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup half and half cream
  • 2 cups grated sharp Cheddar
  • 1/2 block of Velveeta cheese, broken into small pieces
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

1

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and a grease a baking dish (I just used a bit of olive oil in my 9x13 ceramic backing dish).

2

Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the macaroni according to the package instructions. Drain and set aside.

3

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and broccoli, stirring often for about 5-6 minutes. The vegetables should be soft enough that you can use your wooden spoon to break the broccoli pieces.

4

Sprinkle on the flour and the mustard powder and coat the vegetables.

5

Pour in the milk, chicken broth and half and half, stirring often, as it warms up. Do not let it boil.

6

Add the cheddar, Velveeta and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan and stir until they have all melted into the sauce.

7

Add the macaroni and stir. It should be beginning to thicken up now.

8

Add salt and pepper to taste.

9

Pour into the prepared baking dish.

10

Combine the breadcrumbs and the remaining 1/2 cup of Parmesan in a small bowl and sprinkle over the top of the dish.

11

Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.