I prepared it, however, because I liked the idea of this Prevention magazine recipe having fresh carrots, squash, frozen peas, and onions baked alongside whole-wheat macaroni and cheese—with a bread-crumb and cheese topping. Very one-dish, very healthy.
Don't expect these muffins to emerge looking as though they belong in the pastry category just because they're baked in muffin tins. The recipe doesn’t contain flour, baking powder, baking soda, or the typical ingredients that would yield a bread-like texture. Baking the mixture in muffin cups merely creates interest for kiddos. (The recipe also suggests ways kids can help, such as dusting on the crumb topping and filling the muffin cups.) It also could be baked in a lightly greased casserole dish with the crumb/cheese topping—a yummy option.
Forgot to mention that the Dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce gave this mix just the right degree of perkiness. Hubby and I were pretty happy with this Mac and Cheese keeper.
Mac and Cheese “Muffins”
8-ounces whole-wheat elbow macaroni
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, coarsely grated
1 package (16 ounces) frozen peas
1 box (12 ounces) frozen cooked winter squash, thawed (I used cooked, sliced, fresh squash)
1 1/4 cup whole or 2 percent milk (I used skim)
1 3/4 cup shredded 2-percent Cheddar and Monterrey Jack blend
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup fresh whole-wheat bread crumbs
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly coat 12 muffin cups (1/2-cup capacity) or a 2 1/2- to 3-quart baking dish with olive-oil spray. Prepare macaroni al dente according to package directions. Heat oil in large pot over medium heat while macaroni cooks. Add onion and carrots; cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in peas, squash, and milk. Bring just to a simmer. Add shredded cheese, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir until cheese is melted. Remove from heat. Drain macaroni; immediately add to squash mixture. Toss until well-combined. Mound in prepared muffin cups. Toss together bread crumbs and Parmesan; sprinkle mixture evenly over top of macaroni. Bake in middle of oven until tops are golden brown and cheese sauce is bubbling, about 20 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before you serve. Makes 12 servings. (Source: March 2012 Prevention)