Cottage Cheese Baked Mac and Cheese with Broccoli

Cottage cheese baked mac and cheese with broccoli. Recipe by Nes
This is a healthier — but every bit as delicious — spin on everyone’s favorite comfort food: mac and cheese! I love this recipe because you don’t need to make the sauce on the stove — you just mix up a few ingredients in a bowl, combine with pasta and veggies, and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. It is SO easy, and has an awesome texture and flavor. I love sneaking cottage cheese into my cooking because it packs SO much protein. Seriously, have you checked the protein content of your cottage cheese lately? 1 cup of cottage cheese has 30g of protein!! (I use 4% cottage cheese. I believe the lower-fat versions may have slightly less). 30g!! That’s equivalent to 5 eggs or 1 cup of chicken! So I frequently try to substitute things like cream or cheese with good old protein-packed 4% cottage cheese. In addition, by adding in some nutritious green veggies to the dish, you totally won’t feel as guilty about going for seconds!

Cottage cheese baked mac and cheese with broccoli. Recipe by Nes
Cottage cheese baked mac and cheese with broccoli. Recipe by Nes
Cottage cheese baked mac and cheese with broccoli. Recipe by Nes
Cottage cheese baked mac and cheese with broccoli. Recipe by Nes
Cottage Cheese Baked Mac & Cheese with Broccoli [ Recipe by Neshikot.com ]

Ingredients:
1 lb pasta shells (You could substitute in whole wheat pasta for an even healthier dish)
1 lb broccoli, steamed (fresh or frozen)
2 cups 4% cottage cheese (Friendship is my favorite)
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese, plus 3/4 cup for the topping
1/2 cup milk (I used 1%)
1 tbs dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt

Directions:
Prepare pasta according to directions, cooking until al dente. Meanwhile, steam broccoli. When pasta and broccoli are done, drain well and mix together in a large bowl.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 13×9″ baking dish.

In smaller bowl, mix together the cottage cheese, 1 cup of the parmesan, milk, dijon mustard, and salt. Mix cream sauce into the pasta and veggies, and pour into the baking dish.

Bake, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, or until cheese on top is starting to lightly brown.

Inspired by:
24carrotlife

Cottage cheese baked mac and cheese with broccoli. Recipe by Nes
Cottage cheese baked mac and cheese with broccoli. Recipe by Nes

 

 

Cauliflower Sauce Baked Mac and Cheese with Peas

Cauliflower sauce baked mac and cheese recipe
I love this recipe because it is the perfect example of a “hidden vegetable” — it uses a whole pound of cauliflower to make the cheese sauce — and yet, it blends right into the sauce. Even if my toddler picks out all the delicious peas, he still ends up getting some veggies because the sauce is so full of cauliflower! It’s easy to make, and makes a ton of food, so is great for a party, or if you’re looking to make something that provides lots of left overs for lunch the next day!

Cauliflower sauce baked mac and cheese recipe
Mashing the cauliflower, which acts as the base for the sauce.
Cauliflower sauce baked mac and cheese recipe
Cauliflower sauce baked mac and cheese recipe
Cauliflower sauce baked mac and cheese recipe
Cauliflower sauce baked mac and cheese recipe
Cauliflower sauce baked mac and cheese recipe

Cauliflower Sauce Baked Mac and Cheese with Peas [ Recipe by Neshikot.com ]

Ingredients:
16 oz frozen cauliflower (I use Whole Foods Organic)
1 bag frozen peas
1 lb gemelli pasta (or any pasta you prefer)
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup whole milk yogurt
3 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions:
Cook cauliflower according to directions on package. I cook mine about a minute longer, to make sure they are easier to mash. Drain and place into a large mixing bowl.

Start cooking pasta according to directions on the box, to al dente. Also start cooking the peas according to the directions on the package.

While pasta and peas are cooking, mash the cauliflower well using a fork or potato masher. Mash until it resembles the mixture above — it does not need to be a perfect puree, but should be mashed enough that you no longer recognize any florets. Mix in the sharp cheddar cheese, yogurt, minced garlic, and salt. When pasta and peas are cooked, add them into the mixture and mix well.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a 13×9″ baking dish. Pour pasta mixture into dish.

In a separate bowl, mix together the bread crumbs and grated parmesan. Pour this mixture over the pasta using spoonfuls.

Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, rotating once during the baking time to ensure even cooking. Check occasionally to make sure topping does not burn.

Cauliflower sauce baked mac and cheese recipe
Cauliflower sauce baked mac and cheese recipe

30 Minute Dinner: Garlic Spaghetti and Broccoli

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When I only have 30 minutes to come up with dinner, this is one of my favorite recipes. The sautéed garlic sauce will make your house smell amazing while you are cooking it, and the broccoli bumps up the healthy factor to this pasta dish. I purposely make this with 8oz of pasta and 16oz of broccoli — it’s one third pasta and two thirds vegetables, meaning that my family is getting in lots of broccoli’s power packed nutrients (fiber, vitamin C, and iron, to name a few). If you want to make it a healthier, switch up the spaghetti for whole wheat spaghetti or quinoa pasta!

Also, I use the term “30 Minute Dinner” conservatively — I am an incredibly slow cook. I cooked this in 30 minutes, but there’s a decent chance you could get it done in 20 — give it a try and let me know!

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30 Minute Dinner: Garlic Spaghetti and Broccoli [ Recipe by Neshikot.com ]

Ingredients:
8 oz spaghetti
1/4 cup garlic olive oil
4 teaspoons grated garlic (Dorot is a great option when you are in a hurry)
1 cup grated parmesan
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 package organic frozen broccoli (16 oz)

Directions:
Cook pasta according to instructions. While pasta is cooking, steam broccoli according to instructions.

When pasta is finished, drain and set aside. In the same pot, add the garlic olive oil and turn the heat back on to medium. Then add in the garlic and cook for a few minutes, until garlic starts to sizzle and look slightly golden, but don’t let it turn brown. Turn off heat, and pour the cooked pasta back into the pot, mixing the garlic and oil mixture in with the pasta.

Transfer pasta to a large bowl, and immediately mix in 3/4 of the parmesan and the lemon juice. Then, mix in the broccoli, and the rest of the parmesan. Toss well and serve!

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Healthy Baked Ziti and Garlic Lemon Broccoli

neshikot-healthy-baked-ziti-garlic-lemon-broccoli-008My husband requests this at least once a week — and I’m always happy to make it, because it’s so easy, delicious, and makes TONS of leftovers, so it feeds the family for a least a couple of days. Baked Ziti is a total comfort food, and this is my way of making it a little healthier. It’s still pasta, but is made with whole wheat noodles instead of white noodles, and uses greek yogurt instead of sour cream or ricotta. The garlic lemon broccoli is a side that I add on to dinner at least 2-3 nights per week — it’s got the perfect mix of garlic and sour from the lemon.

Also… I totally know this is technically a “baked penne” dish. I haven’t been able to find whole wheat ziti, so I either use regular white ziti pasta, or whole wheat penne when I want to go with the healthier version. I call it “baked ziti” either way!

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Healthy Baked Ziti and Garlic Lemon Broccoli [ Recipe by Neshikot.com ]

Ingredients:
1 pound of whole wheat pasta (I used penne)
2 jars of marinara sauce (24 oz each)
2 teaspoons chopped garlic (I use Dorot frozen garlic)
1 teaspoon salt
6 oz provolone cheese
2 individual sized cups of Greek Yogurt (6 oz each)
8 oz shredded mozzarella
A few tablespoons shredded parmesan cheese

For the broccoli:
1 bag of frozen broccoli (I use Whole Foods Organic frozen broccoli)
2 tablespoons garlic olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Directions:
Boil pasta according to directions, subtract about a minute from the cooking time in order to cook the pasta al dente. Drain pasta and pour into large mixing bowl.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix in all of the marinara sauce, garlic and salt in with the cooked pasta.

Butter a 13×9″ baking dish. Layer the ingredients as follows:
1. Half of the pasta mixture
2. All of the provolone (you can rip up a few pieces in order to fit the whole pan)
3. All of the greek yogurt, spread out evenly over the provolone
4. The rest of the pasta
5. All of the mozzarella
6. A few tablespoons of shredded parmesan

Cover dish with foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, then remove tin foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes uncovered, or until your desired consistency. You can rotate your pan once during baking to ensure even cooking.

While ziti is baking, steam broccoli according to directions. While broccoli is steaming, use a small bowl to mix together the garlic olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic powder, and whisk it together. When broccoli is done, drain and pour in olive oil mixture.

Serve baked ziti with a side of broccoli, and enjoy!

Inspired by:
Colleen B. Smith

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Asparagus Garlic-Lemon Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes and Roasted Chickpeas

Asparagus Pasta with Tomatoes and Roasted Chickpeas
My theory on pasta is — if you are going to eat it, might as well mix in lots of veggies and healthy add-ons! I’ve had a bag of frozen asparagus in my freezer for awhile, and I’ve been looking for a way to use it. Then I happened to see this Asparagus Pasta Salad from Just a Taste and the bow-tie pasta looked oh-so-delicious with the bright green asparagus! I wanted to add some protein to the pasta, and use a different sauce, and I ended up with this recipe, which we will be making again and again! Asparagus Garlic-Lemon Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes and Roasted Chickpeas.

Asparagus Pasta with Tomatoes and Roasted Chickpeas
Draining, rinsing, and drying the chickpeas.

Asparagus Pasta with Tomatoes and Roasted Chickpeas
Asparagus Pasta with Tomatoes and Roasted Chickpeas
Asparagus Pasta with Tomatoes and Roasted Chickpeas
Asparagus Pasta with Tomatoes and Roasted Chickpeas
Look at these healthy little beans, packed with protein!
Asparagus Pasta with Tomatoes and Roasted Chickpeas
Juicy cherry tomatoes, which give the dish the perfect amount of sweetness.Asparagus Pasta with Tomatoes and Roasted Chickpeas
Asparagus Pasta with Tomatoes and Roasted Chickpeas
Asparagus Garlic-Lemon Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes and Roasted Chickpeas [ Recipe by Neshikot.com ]

Ingredients:
1 lb Farfalle pasta
2 boxes of precooked Chickpeas (I use Whole Foods organic chick peas, 13 oz each)
1 bag of frozen asparagus (I use Whole Foods organic frozen asparagus, 12 oz bag)
1 container cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup garlic olive oil
1 cup grated parmesan
2 tablespoons lemon juice
A few tablespoons shredded parmesan (optional)
For the roasted chickpeas:
1.5 teaspoons garlic olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
A dash of garlic salt

Directions:
Drain the chickpeas and rinse well. Transfer chickpeas to a large plate, covered in paper towels. Use another paper towel to blot the chickpeas dry. You may need to do this many times, in order to get them dry. During this process, the peels of the chickpeas will start to come off. You can either remove them (which I do) or you can leave them on (which my Mom does!). Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, toss the chickpeas with garlic olive oil, garlic powder, and a dash of garlic salt. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, and lay the chickpeas on the sheet in one layer. Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes. You can continue baking longer, if you would prefer them to be crunchier.

Cook pasta according to the directions. While pasta is cooking, rinse the cherry tomatoes and slice in half. Cook the frozen asparagus according to the directions, and chop each stalk into 3 even pieces.

When pasta is done, drain and pour into a large bowl. While pasta is still hot, mix in the garlic olive oil, lemon juice and grated parmesan cheese, making sure all of the pasta has been coated. Then, mix in the roasted chickpeas, the cherry tomatoes, and the apparatus. Top with a few tablespoons of shredded parmesan cheese.

Inspired by:
Just a Taste and Chop Suey/AllRecipes

Asparagus Pasta with Tomatoes and Roasted Chickpeas
Asparagus Pasta with Tomatoes and Roasted Chickpeas
Asparagus Pasta with Tomatoes and Roasted Chickpeas

One Pot Mac + Cheese + Peas

neshikot-one-pot-mac-and-cheese-peas-009I love this dish because it is: easy, fast, and only requires one pot (unless you make your peas on the stove, like me! Then you will use 1 pot for the mac and cheese and 1 pot for the peas). It is a healthier, much more “real” alternative to everyone’s favorite mac-and-cheese-in-a-box (although I still use my Annie’s Bunnies in a pinch every now and then!) Rather than eating powdered cheese sauce from a box, this is made with organic sharp white cheddar, whole milk, and protein-packed peas. And the best part? It doesn’t take any more time than cooking up a box of processed mac and cheese.

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The big difference between this easy peasy dish (get it?) and regular mac and cheese is that the pasta is cooked in whole milk, rather than water. That way, you skip time on draining the pasta, making the sauce in another pan, and then mixing it all together. You’ll first rinse the pasta, then into the pot, mix together: the pasta, the milk, and salt. Bring it to a boil over medium heat, then lower the heat and stir the mix and pasta mixture together until the pasta soaks up the milk and looks (and smells!) all delicious and creamy. (See recipe below for more specific directions on how to cook the pasta).

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Easy Peasy One Pot Mac + Cheese + Peas [ Recipe by Neshikot.com ]

Ingredients:
2 cups macaroni elbow pasta
2 1/4 cups whole milk, plus more to add during cooking
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar (will work with many types of shredded cheese)
1/4 cup shredded parmesan
1 bag of frozen peas (I used Whole Foods Organic Frozen Peas)

Directions:
Rinse pasta in a strainer for about 30 seconds.

In a large pot, mix together: the pasta, the whole milk, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. When the milk starts to boil, lower the heat a bit, and continue cooking the pasta for another 10-15 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked through and has soaked up most of the milk, leaving just a creamy sauce on the noodles. (See photo above for reference). If the pasta is not done cooking, and the milk has mostly evaporated and it seems like it might start to burn, pour in extra milk while it is cooking (roughly a couple tablespoons each time). Make sure to continue stirring pasta the entire time. It takes me about 10 minutes, and a couple splashes of extra milk, until my pasta is perfect.

When pasta is cooked, remove from heat, pour into a large bowl and immediately stir in cheeses. If the sauce feels too thick, add in some whole milk, a tablespoon or two at a time, to thin the sauce. Place a plate or lid over the bowl to keep it warm, and let it sit for around 10 minutes to help the pasta and milk sauce soak up all of the cheese.

Cook peas according to directions. I prefer to heat them up on the stove in a separate pot, but if you prefer the microwave, that will save on dishes, and will make this a “true” One Pot mac and cheese.

Mix peas in with pasta, sprinkle with some extra parmesan if desired, and serve!

Notes:
It’s very important to continue stirring the pasta while it is cooking, and not to leave the pot unattended.

I kept this recipe on the simple side, because I frequently make this for my toddler! However, it is a great base to add your own touches — I think it would be excellent with some nutmeg, garlic powder, and you could come up with so many more combinations and flavors to make it your own.

Inspired by:
WhiteOnRiceCouple and HeavenlyHomemakers

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