Broccoli Bacon Mac n’ Cheese

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As husband and wife, you vow to take care of one another in sickness and in health. Due to my less than stellar immune system, my husband is constantly tested on this vow, as I am always the one who needs a little extra care. Even when we first started dating 5 1/2 years ago, Eric quickly became an expert in helping me through bronchitis, ear infections, laryngitis, or whatever other random illness was ailing me. And I have rarely been able to return the favor. Apart from a few minor head colds, Eric is rarely sick. But the one time he did get the flu, I was determined to do what I could to make him feel a little better. The only thing that he thought would make him feel better was his favorite soup. Broccoli and Cheddar soup from McDonald’s. He doesn’t ask for much. So I visited not one…not two…but three different McDonald’s in search of this soup. When I finally found his beloved soup, his brief stint with the flu had already cleared up. So rather than wait until the next time he gets sick, I thought I would just use his favorite soup as inspiration for a weeknight dinner. I found this recipe in Cooking Light Magazine, and after seeing that it had his beloved broccoli and cheddar combo, and bacon as main ingredients, I had a feeling it would be a winner. The recipe employs butternut squash as a way to make a creamy sauce, without the extra fat and calories. However, due to the strong flavor of the bacon and cheese, you can’t taste the flavor of the squash. It isn’t the most appetizing looking pasta dish, but it sure was delicious. Enjoy!

Ingredients: Serves 6, Recipe from Cooking Light Magazine

  • 2 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup 1% milk
  • 10 oz butternut squash puree (you can buy this packaged in the frozen food section, or simply boil cubed butternut squash for 15 minutes, drain and mash)
  • 10 oz uncooked large macaroni
  • 3 cups chopped broccoli florets
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Preparation:

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add bacon, and cook 4 minutes or until crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove bacon from pan
  2. Drain all but 2 teaspoons bacon drippings from pan. Add minced garlic to drippings in pan. Salute 30 seconds
  3. Add stock, milk and squash to pan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally
  4. Add uncooked pasta , cover, and reduce heat. Simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in broccoli and cook 3 minutes, or until pasta is done and sauce is thickened.
  5. Stir in salt, pepper and 1 cup shredded cheese. Sprinkle bacon and remaining cheese on top. Cover, let stand 1 minute

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