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Mac and Cheese Bake

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This kid-favorite dinner is given a healthy makeover with whole-wheat pasta and frozen spinach. The delicious blend of flavorful cheeses makes this a new mom and dad favorite too.

Mac and Cheese Bake Ingredients:

⅓ cup dry whole-wheat bread crumbs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 package (16 ounce) frozen spinach
3½ cups milk, divided
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
2 cups shredded Gouda cheese
2 cups low-fat cottage cheese
½ teaspoon nutmeg
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 pound whole-wheat penne
½ teaspoon nutmeg

Supplies needed:
Two - 8x8 foil baking dish

Directions:

1. Generously spray both baking dishes with cooking spray. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

2. In a small bowl, toss together bread crumbs and olive oil.

3. Cook spinach according to package directions. Drain and refresh under cold water. Press out excess moisture. Set aside.

4. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, bring 3 cups milk to a low simmer.

5. In a small bowl, whisk together remaining milk and flour until smooth. Whisk flour mixture into hot milk mixture, whisking constantly, until sauce thickens.

6. Remove saucepan from heat and stir in Cheddar and Gouda, stirring until cheese melts. Stir in cottage cheese and season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper.

7. Cook pasta in the pot of boiling water for 3 minutes less than package directions, about 6 minutes. Drain in colander and add to cheese sauce, stirring to combine.

8. Spread one-quarter of the pasta mixture in the prepared baking dishes. Spoon spinach over top. Top with remaining pasta and sprinkle with bread crumbs.

9. To serve now, preheat the oven to 400°F. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly.

Makes 2 entrees, each entree serves 4

To freeze:
Let cool completely. Generously spray a sheet of plastic wrap with cooking spray and lay on top of mac and cheese. Tightly wrap with heavy-duty aluminum foil.

Label:
Remove from freezer to defrost. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Remove foil and plastic from dish. Bake for 30 minutes or until heated through and bubbly.

Nutritional facts:
Calories 417
Fat 21g
Cholesterol 72mg
Sodium 181mg
Carbohydrate 31g
Fiber 7g
Protein 25g