Loaded Broccoli Mac-n-Cheese

As I was prepping this dish I came to the realization that I have never posted a mac-n-cheese recipe!? That kinda blew my mind considering what a cheese-head I am, coupled with my love of pasta! Anyhow, my recipe for mac-n-cheese is a derivative of Alton Brown’s original recipe. I discovered it years ago and use his rue as a base for many of my sauces, most notably the cheese sauce in my mac-n-cheese. This version of the classic incorporates goat cheese for added creaminess, broccoli for veggie power (and a pop of green) and bacon… just because everything tastes better with a little bit o’bacon on top! Enjoy!!

Ingredients: feeds 6

  • 12 oz of your favorite pasta (I used orecchiette)
  • florets from 3 medium broccoli crowns
  • 5 tbsp butter, divided
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 2 oz goat cheese
  • 6 oz shredded cheddar jack, plus extra
  • salt and pepper
  • 3/4 cup seasoned panko bread crumbs
  • 4 slices precooked bacon, diced

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, rinse and set aside.
  2. Steam broccoli florets in an inch of water in a covered, microwave safe dish for 5 – 6 minutes or until they are tender yet bitey.
  3. Meanwhile prepare the sauce; in a large shallow pan, melt 2 tbsp of butter over medium heat.  Add the diced onion and sauté until translucent. Add the mustard and flour to the pan and whisk to incorporate the ingredients. Slowly add the milk and then half and half while continually whisking. Whisk until there are no longer any lumps.
  4. Reduce heat and let simmer, stirring occasionally as sauce begins to thicken. Add the goat cheese and then the cheddar jack and mix. Season to desired taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Using the empty pasta pot, combine the cooked pasta and steamed broccoli. Gently fold in the cheese sauce.
  6. Transfer mixture to a greased 9×13 casserole dish. Preheat oven to 350.
  7. In a small saucepan melt the remaining 3 tbsp of butter over medium – low heat and add the breadcrumbs. Stir to coat the breadcrumbs and allow them to cook long enough to start to brown.
  8. Top the casserole with a sprinkle of cheddar jack cheese, the toasted breadcrumbs and the crumbled bacon. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and broil for an additional 3 minutes.

Easy Slow Cooker Broccoli Mac-n-Cheese

This recipe is all my own; created out of love for both macaroni and cheese and my slow cooker! I used chick pea pasta for added protein as well as broccoli to help get more nutrients into my kids! My version of slow cooker mac-n-cheese is super creamy, delicious and sure to please! Enjoy.

Ingredients: Feeds 6 – 8

  • cooking spray
  • 12 oz frozen broccoli florets
  • 8 oz uncooked pasta (I use Banza chick pea pasta)
  • 1, 8 oz block of cream cheese
  • 1/4 lb of butter sliced into 4 – 6 pats
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken stock
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • dash of pepper
  • dash of paprika
  • 3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Directions:

  1. Spray the inside of your slow cooker with cooking spray.
  2. Place the frozen broccoli in the bottom then add the pasta.
  3. Nestle the block of cream cheese in the center and place pats of butter throughout.
  4. Pour milk and stock over the mixture and sprinkle with seasonings.
  5. Spread the shredded cheese on top, keeping it from touching the sides of the slow cooker.
  6. Cook on LOW for 2 – 3 hours or until pasta is cooked to your liking. One hour into cooking, give everything a good stir. Stir once more before serving!

Note:

  • Chick pea pasta can get mushy… quickly, and in this recipe tends to lose its shape/consistency. If you want your mac to remain intact/whole I suggest you use regular pasta!