Butterless Creamy Vegetable Mac and Cheese

This is my second post for new recipes in March. You can see my goals for March here, which include trying out four new recipes. Keep a look out for some St. Patty’s recipes on Sunday! :)

Macaroni and Cheese filled with veggies - no butter! | Puppies in the Kitchen

Last night I made this creamy mac and cheese. Mac and cheese is a staple in our house and every once in a while, I try to make it a little healthier by adding some veggies so the veggie part wasn’t new to me. However, when I saw this recipe for mac and cheese without butter, I had to check it out. The cheese in the dish already contributes enough fat and instead of using butter, I love that this recipe uses olive oil to cut down on cholesterol and saturated fats.

With butter, this recipe would have 391 calories with 13 g saturated fat and 61 mg cholesterol (if divided into 6 servings). Olive oil is still very fatty, but it has healthier fats and less saturated fat. With olive oil in place of butter, the calories remain about the same (395) but the saturated fat drops to 9.3 g and the cholesterol drops to 41 mg. Macaroni and cheese certainly is not the healthiest dish and we don’t have it too often but it is nice to indulge now and again. I do love that I can feel a little better though replacing the butter with olive oil. Last night, I added some cut up chicken breast to this and we had it as our meal, rather than a side. I unfortunately did not have broccoli, which is a favorite with mac and cheese, so we had to do without but this dish was still amazing.

Butterless Creamy Veggie Mac and Cheese | Puppies in the Kitchen

Butterless Creamy Veggie Mac and Cheese

Serves 2-3 as main dish or 6-8 as side dish

  • 1 cup broccoli, cut into small chunks
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow squash, diced
  • 10-15 baby carrots, sliced thinly
  • 2 cups whole wheat pasta (we like elbows or rotini)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 1 1/2 cups skim milk
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese
  • optional: 2 cups cooked chicken breast, cubed; 1 tsp red pepper flakes; 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Butterless Creamy Veggie Mac and Cheese | Puppies in the Kitchen

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F
  2. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil or spray with cooking spray and spread out vegetables
  3. Place vegetables in oven and cook for 15 minutes
  4. Bring water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions
  5. In another saucepan, heat oil on medium heat and saute garlic for about 2 minutes
  6. Add flour to oil and garlic, stirring constantly for 1 minute
  7. Add milk slowly, whisking constantly, and let thicken for about 5 minutes
  8. When milk sauce has gotten thick, add cheese and spices (if using) and stir until melted. Remove from heat
  9. After veggies have been cooking for 15 minutes, add chicken (if using) to tray and return to oven for another 5 minutes (otherwise just leave veggies in for 20 minutes)
  10. Add cooked pasta, veggies, and cheese sauce to a casserole dish and mix together
  11. Top with breadcrumbs and put under broiler for about 2 minutes
  12. Serve immediately
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Seasoned Smashed Potatoes

I found these potatoes on Pinterest a few weeks ago and this is already my second time making them. They are absolutely delicious! I originally found the recipe here and I knew they would be my first post about new March recipes!

Seasoned Smashed Potatoes

These potatoes are extremely easy to make and pretty hard to mess up. They would go great alongside steak. Tonight we had them with blackened tilapia and broccoli and last week we had them with baked “fried” chicken (another new March recipe but it didn’t come out quite right so I think I’ll try it again). I love how crispy they are on the outside but are like a baked potato on the inside.

Seasoned Smashed Potatoes | Puppies in the Kitchen

(Pardon my dirty pan – clearly I need to try this pin)

Seasoned Smashed Potatoes:

*I’m not putting down amounts for ingredients – just season to taste and use as many potatoes as you need!

  • Red potatoes (about 1-2 per person)
  • Olive oil for drizzling
  • Sea salt
  • Pepper
  • Herbs such as thyme, rosemary, sage, etc
  1. Boil potatoes in salted water until easily poked with a fork (about 20-25 minutes)
  2. Preheat oven to 400° F
  3. Spray a cooking sheet with cooking spray or coat with olive oil
  4. Place potatoes on sheet, leaving room between each potato
  5. Smash potatoes with a potato masher
  6. Drizzle or brush on olive oil
  7. Season with sea salt (or regular salt, though I prefer the texture of the large sea salt crystals for these), pepper, and herbs (I used thyme here)
  8. Place potatoes in oven and cook until golden brown and cripsy – about 20 minutes
  9. Serve immediately

Starting my garden indoors

It’s only March 3 and one of my goals is already complete! Today I planted the seeds for my garden that needed to be started indoors. These included tomatoes, peppers, and Brussels sprouts. I used to help my mom with her garden when I was younger but this is my first solo garden and I’m pretty excited. I’ve been really into making a lot of foods from scratch lately and I can’t wait to use ingredients from my own garden! Since it’s my first time, I’m starting pretty small and next year I plan on expanding. Here’s what I worked on today:

IMG_0840

On the left is an upside down tomato planter I got from Lowe’s for $5 (the brand was Buzzy). I’ve never used one before but it was pretty cheap so I’m going to plant some in the garden and some in the planter and see how each works out. The kit was really easy to use and so far, I recommend trying it out :)

The other seeds I planted today were cherry tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, bell peppers, and jalapeno peppers. I planted them in K cups! This is a genius idea I got from Juanita’s blog, which I found on Pinterest. They’re perfect for starting your garden, as they are nice and small, and also have a hole in the bottom for excess water to drain out. All you do is cut through the foil with a knife, remove the coffee, foil, and filter, and then wash the empty K cup with hot soapy water! I love this idea because I hate how bad K cups are for the environment and now I’m at least getting two uses from them :) Also this way, I don’t have to get starter containers.

I just labeled the sides of each with what seeds were in them and planted 3 seeds per cup. I planted 4 cups of cherry tomatoes, 3 cups of large tomatoes (left over from my planter), and 2 cups each of jalapenos, bell peppers, and Brussels sprouts.

Have you ever heard of Sprout Robot? I found it on Pinterest and I love it. It gives you detailed instructions for the different plants you want to grow such as when (and if) to start indoors, how to plant them, when to thin, when you should expect to harvest, etc. It’s a wonderful source of information for us first time gardeners :)

tucker and cody smelling plants tucker smelling pot

Today was nice enough that I could do all of this outside so I wouldn’t get dirt all over the house. The puppies were quite curious about what was going on. They love to eat dirt (they won’t leave one of my indoor plants alone) so I had to keep a close eye on them but eventually they just laid in the sun.

tucker blur

I brought my plants inside and placed them at the far end of our dining room table, right by the window. I can’t wait for them to start sprouting!

IMG_0853

What are you planting in your garden this year?

March 2013 Goals

I started this blog mainly to track my daily, monthly, yearly, and long term goals. Here are my goals for March:

-Run 52 cumulative miles – this goal actually extends into April and it’s my goal before April 6, when I’ll be doing the Color Mania 5k – I’m breaking this down into 2 weeks of running 2 miles 4 times a week and 3 weeks of running 3 miles 4 times a week

-Get rid of all our extra furniture – since moving in together, Chris and I have way more furniture than we need. I’ve been meaning to put the extra stuff up on FreeCycle for a while but haven’t gotten around to it. I will this month.

-Plant my seeds indoors – I’m planting cherry tomatoes, lettuce, arugula, onions, bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, and garlic and most of those should be started indoors this week!

-Sign each of the dogs up for training classes – both Tucker and Cody could use some more training and socialization and I plan to sign them up this month.

My puppies: Cody, 2, on the right, and Tucker, 6 months, on the left

My puppies: Cody, 2, right, and Tucker, 6 months, left

-Continue to stick to our budget – Chris and I did a pretty good job of sticking to our February budget. This weekend we’ll sit down and work on a new one for March.

-Try 4 new Pinterest recipes – I love finding new healthy (and sometimes not so healthy) recipes and trying them out. I plan on trying a new one each week this month.

-Try 1 new Pinterest craft – I’ve tried a couple but it seems I keep adding more DIY pins and not trying them out! I want to find time to start and finish one this month.