We're finally settling in and getting used to being back-to-school over here. A routine is in place and things are starting to run more smoothly. It's such a busy and emotional time for parents and the kids, especially if you're starting up in a new school as my little one is. I've been determined to get my daughter off on the right foot by offering her more wholesome and meals and snacks during this transition.
I know first hand that it can be a challenge for many parents to find ways to making healthy eating both delicious and appetizing. My daughter is one of those picky eaters, which makes things all the more difficult when meal planning. One thing that almost any kid enjoys though, is macaroni and cheese!
With fall coming up on us, I decided to make a season inspired pumpkin macaroni that is not only better-for-you, but also delicious and super easy for a great weeknight meal that you can your kids can both feel good about.
To start this mac-n-cheese off, I grabbed some of this new Horizon Organic Cheddar Cheesy Deluxe, along with it's accompanying shredded cheese and reduced fat milk. Since this is a baked macaroni, I bulked up one package of the cheese sauce with some pumpkin puree and the milk and shredded cheese; sort of making my own nearly homemade pumpkin cheese sauce.
Once done with that, this is all just tossed in the oven to be finished off and bubbling hot. The rosemary in there with the pumpkin makes for the pumpkin fall flavored bite of cheesy macaroni that is sure to be a hit.
What's even more amazing about this mac-n-cheese is that you could make this ahead in the morning to have ready to toss in the oven for dinner later. It also makes a pretty awesome leftover lunch the next day, if there happens to be any leftover that is!
I served my Baked Pumpkin Mac-n-Cheese over some wilted baby greens and topped it all off with some reduced sodium center cut bacon crumbles for good measure.
Skinny Baked Pumpkin Mac-n-Cheese
Servings: 4 • Size: About 1 1/2 Cup • Calories: 388.9 • Fat: 8.9 g • Carb: 57.6 g • Fiber: 3.1 g • Protein: 16.4 g • Sugar: 8.6 g • Sodium: 561.8 mg
1 Box Horizon Organic Cheddar Cheesy Deluxe
1/2 Tbsp. Butter
2 1/2 Tbsp. Whole Wheat White Flour
1 1/2 C. Salt-Free Chicken Broth
1/2 C. 2% Horizon Organic Milk
1/2 C. Pumpkin Puree (Not Pumpkin Pie Filling!)
1 Tsp. Dried Crushed Rosemary
3/4 C. Horizon Organic Shredded Cheddar Cheese
2 Tbsp. Grated Parmesan
Salt & Pepper to Taste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and lightly coat the inside of an 8x8" or 9x9" baking dish with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.
Cook the pasta according to the package directions, drain and set aside; no cheese sauce added at this point yet.
In a large skillet, melt the 1/2 Tbsp. Butter over medium heat and sprinkle in the 5 Tbsp. Whole Wheat White Flour.
Don't mind the first picture here. I accidentally doubled the flour. Whoops!
Slowly whisk in the 1 1/2 C. Salt-Free Chicken Broth, 1/2 C. 2% Horizon Organic Milk, 1/2 C. Pumpkin Puree, 1 Tsp. Dried Crushed Rosemary and the packet of cheese sauce.
Bring it all just to a simmer then reduce the heat to low for nearly 5-10 minutes or until the mixture begins to thicken.
Once the sauce has thickened, turn the heat off and slowly whisk in the 3/4 C. Horizon Organic Shredded Cheddar Cheese until it's all melted.
Combine the pumpkin cheese sauce with the noodles and transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish; top with the 2 Tbsp. Grated Parmesan cheese.
Cover with foil and place in the oven to bake for 15-20 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese has all melted.
Divide evenly among bowls and enjoy right away.
I served mine over some wilted greens and topped it all off with with bacon crumbles for a perfectly easy back-to-school weeknight meal!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Horizon Organic. The opinions and text are all mine.