Sneaky Mac & Cheese Recipe plus Cool New Menu Planning Tool

I have a confession. I hate veggies. Actually, hate is not a strong enough word. I LOATHE them. So, in order to get my requirements, I have to be sneaky. My oldest two will try just about anything. But my youngest is just like me.

About a year ago, I purchased the book Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld. She has lots of good recipes that hide veggies in very clever ways. Her secret is to puree the veggies and then hide them in mixes of flavors your kids will normally eat. She's got everything from Chicken Strips made with Sweet Potato puree to Brownies with carrots and spinach. One of my favorite dishes is homemade Macaroni and Cheese. Jessica has two recipes in her book, one that uses beans to up the protein content and the other uses butternut squash. They are both very good, but they are a bit on the thick side. I prefer a slightly thinner one. Here is my twist on her recipe:

8 oz Shell Macaroni
1 TBS Olive Oil
1 TBS Flour
3/4 cups non-fat milk
1/2 cup carrot puree (about 10 baby carrots)
2 cups shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese
2 oz low fat cream cheese, cut in to cubes
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Prepare carrots by steaming for about 10 minutes. Puree in a food processor until smooth. You may need to add a spoonful of the steaming water to the processor to get a smooth mix. Set aside.

Prepare macaroni per package directions.

While macaroni is cooking, spray a large sauce pan with cooking spray. Add oil and heat slightly over medium heat. Add flour, stirring to form a thick paste, continue to heat for about a minute, being careful not to let the flour brown.

Add milk to mix, stirring frequently until it begins to thicken up (less than 5 minutes). Add the cubed cream cheese and stir until it starts to melt. Add remaining cheese, puree, salt and pepper and stir until thoroughly melted and heated through.

Drain pasta and add to sauce mixture. Stir until pasta is completely coated.  Enjoy.

Now, I received a link today to a really cool meal planning tool. It's called Say Mmm.  The site brings together recipes from all over the blogosphere and helps you plan out your meals for the day, week or month.  It even puts together a shopping list for you.  You can import your own favorites from all over the web, too.  Did I mention the site is free?  It's really awesome and you need to check it out.