Big & Little: Cauliflower Mac 'n Cheese





When I think of comfort food, I think of mac 'n cheese.

There are a million different variations of it.

I love every single one.

Really.  You can't go wrong with mac 'm cheese.

Big and Little are my versions of Adult and Baby recipes.

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I added cauliflower for this one.

Actually I added roasted cauliflower because I roasted it before I knew what I was going to make.

I love roasted veggies.  Love! These were great in the dish.

However, for the sake of ease (I doubt most moms are going to want to take the time to roast veggies)
so the recipe varies to eliminate the roasting step.

Feel free to roast as I did.

If your family is cauliflower resistant then use less cauliflower (to make the flavor less apparent)
and boil instead of roast (out of sight, out of mind).

You could also puree it and it will blend into the cheese sauce.

*I use milk in this recipe, it is cooked and therefor widely believed to be safe for baby around 8 months

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The beginning of both recipes starts as one big batch and then splits off to create
different variations for big and little.

Big & Little: Cauliflower Mac 'n Cheese
1 box elbow macaroni, I used Barilla Plus 14.5 ounces
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets the size of the elbows or smaller
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons flour (I used whole wheat)
16 ounces sharp cheddar cheese (I came up a little short and added gruyere), shredded
8 oz cream cheese, room temp, cut into chunks
2 1/2 cups whole milk
a few grates of nutmeg
smidge of pepper

For the Big version
1/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup shredded parmesan
salt, pepper
dash of hot sauce

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Boil your pasta in a large pot until soft enough for baby.
I usually go about 3 minutes over the directed cooking time.
In those last 3 minutes add your cauliflower to the boiling water.
Make sure both the macaroni and the cauliflower are mouth-mashable.
Drain macaroni and cauliflower and set aside.

In the same pot melt 2 tbs of butter over medium heat.
Add 2 tbs of flour and whisk vigorously
until the mixture thins and you can smell the yummy nutty scent.
This mixture of flour and fat is a roux.

Add about 1/4 cup milk and whisk it into the roux.
Steadily add the rest of your milk as you whisk away until it is all incorporated.
Continue to whisk over medium heat until the mixture thickens and starts to simmer.
Add your cheeses in and mix until melted.
Remove from heat.

Give your pasta and cauliflower a mix and add 2/3 to the melted cheese mixture.
Grate of bit of nutmeg, add a pinch of white pepper and mix.

This is where we split off to the different dishes.


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For the Little Version:
Add the remaining 1/3 of the pasta/cauliflower mix and you are done.
This yields a yummy but not too saucy/ too cheesy meal.
You can puree or pulse in a food processor to desired consistency.

For the Big Version:
 Add a generous pinch of salt and pepper (we used both black and white),
perhaps more nutmeg
as well as a few dashes of hot sauce, all to taste.

Mix the parmesan and bread crumbs together.

Pour the mac 'n cheese into a casserole dish and top with bread crumb mixture.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until the top is golden and the mixture is bubbly.

Enjoy!



*Variations for Little Version
-use different veggies like broccoli, asparagus, squash or carrots
-add fresh herbs or spices like parsley, sage or pepper
-top with fresh soft bread crumbs (simply place bread in food processor)
-add meat like chicken, turkey, pork or beef
-use a different size or shape pasta like orecchiette or even orzo

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*Variations for Big Version
-use different veggies like...well anything really
-get creative with your cheeses, try gruyere, roquefort, smoked gouda or chunks of brie
-add caramelized onions or sautéed garlic
-try different fresh herbs & spices like thyme, parsley and sage
-add proteins like bacon, ham (yum!), lobster (oh fancy!) or sausage


*Storage
Of course you can refrigerate and and reheat mac and cheese but can you freeze it?
Yes, you can.
You can freeze directly in silicone muffin (or mini loaf) cups
or refrigerate in regular muffin tins until solid,
transfer to a freezer bag and freeze until you are ready to use.

*Benefits
Use noodles with whole grains for added benefits!

Cheese contains calcium, magnesium, zinc, selenium, folate and vitamins A, E, K and D.

Cauliflower is known to have cancer fighting properties as well as fiber, vitamin C, potassium and folate.

Milk contains calcium, protein, potassium, phosphorus, vitamins D, B12 & A, riboflavin and niacin.

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