Chronicles of a Chipotle Pepper; Entry 3: Four Cheese Chipotle “Macaroni” and Cheese

Yum.  This little experiment has been in my brain for a long time!!  Ever since I first posted on facebook asking my friends what their favorite recipe is with Chipotle Peppers in Adobo sauce, in fact!  A wonderful, genius-in-the-kitchen lady from my church commented and told me about how her family blends chipotle peppers into their macaroni!  I have only tried to make home made macaroni once before…it didn’t work too well.  It was in the crock pot, and the recipe had an option where you mix eggs in.  Well, being a young cook at that time (well, honestly…I’m still a young cook)…I didn’t think about how that could be weird.  I like to use everything in the recipe the first time I make it, to make sure I get the full flavor.  So I put in the eggs.  Yeah.  Eggs.  Macaroni.  Crock pot.  Not a good combo.  It was like scrambled egg macaroni.  Gag.

This attempt was the opposite of gag.  It was super successful and delicious!  And I am proud to say that this is very nearly “healthy macaroni!!”  I say “very nearly” because…well, frankly, it’s macaroni and cheese.  The “diet” we try to loosely follow, The Maker’s Diet, says that dairy should be raw and less than 25% of your daily intake.  This exceeds the dairy limit according to that standard.  However…as far as macaroni and cheese goes, this is pretty phenomenal because of the substitutions I used in place of some of the more traditional ingredients.   Curious?  Read on!

So, here’s what you need:

  • 1/4 C Ezekiel Bread Crumbs
  • 2 tsp Olive Oil
  • 2 C Almond Milk, divided
  • 1 Medium Butternut Squash (Alternately, apparently you can find frozen winter squash puree)
  • Small amount of butter or coconut oil
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 lb (2 Boxes) Ancient Harvest Quinoa Pagodas
  • 1 1/3 C Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Grated
  • 2/3 C Monterrey Jack Cheese, Grated
  • 1/2 C Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Powdered Mustard
  • Pinch of Chipotle Chili Powder
  • 2 Tbsp Parmesan, Grated

And here’s how you do it:

  1. First, you gotta get your squash started, because it takes the longest.  Obviously, if you are going the “frozen puree” route then you can skip these next couple steps.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Very carefully cut your squash in half long ways.  You may have to cut into the squash as far as you can, then use a rubber mallet or something similar to tap the blade through.
  2. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds.
  3. Place on a foil-lined pan.  Rub with a small amount of butter or coconut oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper!
  4. Bake until tender, about 40 minutes.  When done, turn your oven up to 375* for your macaroni.
  5. Grate your cheese.
  6. In your food processor, dump your ricotta, 1/2 C of the almond milk, 1 chipotle pepper with a tsp or so of the sauce (depending on how spicy you like it), garlic cloves, salt, mustard, and chipotle chili powder.
  7. As soon as your squash is cooked, spoon the flesh into your food processor.  Pulse until smooth and creamy!
  8. Time to start your noodles!  Cook them according to the package directions.
  9. Now, pour your squash puree into a pan over medium heat.  Stir in the remaining 1 1/2 C of almond milk.  Stir until combined and creamy
  10. When squash mixture is getting bubbly, mix in your ricotta/chipotle mixture and stir until combined.  When your noodles are cooked and drained, you can stir in the cheddar and Monterrey jack cheese.
  11. Dump in your noodles and stir to coat.  Dump into a baking dish (9X13 or comparable)
  12. In a small bowl, combine bread crumbs, oil, and parmesan.
  13. Sprinkle on top of the macaroni.  Slide into your preheated oven and bake about 20 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and bread crumbs are browned.  Flip your oven on to broil if you want more brown…but watch it close and only leave in there for a minute or two.  It’s amazing how fast things burn in the broiler!

Chipotle Macaroni .5First, you gotta get your squash started, because it takes the longest.  Obviously, if you are going the “frozen puree” route then you can skip these next couple steps.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Very carefully cut your squash in half long ways.  You may have to cut into the squash as far as you can, then use a rubber mallet or something similar to tap the blade through.

Chipotle Macaroni 1Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds.

Chipotle Macaroni 2Place on a foil-lined pan.  Rub with a small amount of butter or coconut oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper!

Chipotle Macaroni 6Bake until tender, about 40 minutes.  When done, turn your oven up to 375* for your macaroni.

Chipotle Macaroni 3However, that is a long time, so while you are waiting, prep everything else!!  Grate your cheese…which is really easy if you a fancy little grater attachment.  🙂  Gotta love wedding present goodies, even two and a half years later 😛

Chipotle Macaroni 4In your food processor, dump your ricotta, 1/2 C of the almond milk, 1 chipotle pepper with a tsp or so of the sauce (depending on how spicy you like it), garlic cloves, salt, mustard, and chipotle chili powder.

Chipotle Macaroni 7As soon as your squash is cooked, spoon the flesh into your food processor.

Chipotle Macaroni 8Pulse until smooth and creamy!

Chipotle Macaroni 9Time for your noodles!!  Now, I know that these technically aren’t “macaroni’s,” but as far as pasta goes, I have found these to be the best noodles as far as health nerds go…they have quinoa flour in them, they are gluten free…and yet they are still a great texture and taste!

Chipotle Macaroni 10Cook according to directions on your package.

Chipotle Macaroni 11Now, pour your squash puree into a pan over medium heat.  Stir in the remaining 1 1/2 C of almond milk.  Stir until combined and creamy

Chipotle Macaroni 13When squash mixture is getting bubbly, mix in your ricotta/chipotle mixture and stir until combined.  When your noodles are cooked and drained, you can stir in the cheddar and Monterrey jack cheese.

Chipotle Macaroni 14Dump in your noodles and stir to coat.

Chipotle Macaroni 15Dump into a baking dish (9X13 or comparable)

Chipotle Macaroni 12In a small bowl, combine bread crumbs, oil, and parmesan.

Chipotle Macaroni 16Sprinkle on top of the macaroni.

Chipotle Macaroni 17Slide into your preheated oven and bake about 20 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and bread crumbs are browned.  Flip your oven on to broil if you want more brown…but watch it close and only leave in there for a minute or two.  It’s amazing how fast things burn in the broiler!

Chipotle Macaroni 18Yummy!!!  Doesn’t that look heavenly?!

Chipotle Macaroni 19Crispy, creamy, cheesy…

Chipotle Macaroni 20Doesn’t that look amazing?!  It is!!  The perfect amount of heat…not overwhelming like a Chipotle Pepper has the potential to be…but just a kick at the end.  A fantastic saltiness from 4 favorite cheeses…and just a hint of sweetness from the squash.  And more than a hint of health because of that same squash!

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Gluten Free Kielbasa and Cheese Pasta!

Gluten Free Kielbasa Pagodas

Comfort food!! My favorite! This is a quick and easy dish that I often make at work, it gives me my protein and the satisfaction of a cheesy pasta…without the gluten that, unfortunately, I have discovered my insides are not fond of.  Sad day…  Oh wait…over it!! Cause you know what?! I declare that gluten-free does not have to mean delicious-free!

If you or someone you know is attempting a gluten-free lifestyle…and if you love macaroni and cheese and all that yummy comforting childhood food but want to avoid the wheat and that mysterious orange death powder…give this one a try, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised 🙂

What you’ll need:

  • 6-8 ounces of your favorite uncooked gluten-free pasta.  (Pictured is corn/quinoa blend pagodas. I’ve also made this recipe with gf macaroni…that was my favorite.  Be creative, you could certainly use spaghetti or even spaghetti squash!)
  • 1 lb fully cooked turkey kielbasa (or smoked sausage of choice), cut into slices.  Double check your package to make sure its gluten-free! According to Google it looks like Hillshire Farms is a safe brand.
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced (I am a “more is better” girl when it comes to garlic.  Can I get a witness?!)
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 C milk
  • 1 C fresh or frozen peas, or half a bag of frozen broccoli
  • 1 C (4 oz, or more to taste) cheddar or jack cheese, shredded
  • A few good cracks of fresh black pepper

The process:

  1. Read the package on your pasta, and get it cooking.  I would follow the instructions closely on this one…gluten free pasta can be finicky and you don’t want to end up with mush 🙂 Note: if your pasta gets done before your sauce…make sure to toss it with some olive oil so you don’t end up with a pasta brick 🙂
  2. While you wait for your pasta, melt your butter in a large pan over medium high heat. Toss in your kielbasa slices and garlic cloves. Cook until your kielbasa is starting to brown, but be careful! You don’t want your garlic to burn!!
  3. Combine cornstarch and milk until smooth.  Gradually add it to the skillet and bring to a boil.  Add peas or broccoli.  Cook and stir until it reaches desired thickness…probably 2-5 minutes.
  4. Add in pasta and cheese, and stir until it is all combined, melty, cheesy, thickened goodness!!
  5. Eat.  Be pain-free.  Enjoy!

Verdict: This meal makes me happy because I love pasta, cheese, AND kielbasa.  I thought I was giving up pasta when I decided I should give up gluten.  NOT SO!  I have made this twice with minor differences between the two…and definitely recommend the use of gluten-free macaroni, and cheddar cheese! If I do pagodas again I will cook less so the sauce covers the noodles better…which is why I changed it to “6-8 oz uncooked pasta” from the original “8 oz pasta.” Feel free to try adding your favorite herbs and spices and let me know how it goes!!

Here’s some more pictures of the process!! I put the recipe first cause I always scroll through to the recipe at the end when I am using recipes from other blogs, and I get annoyed having to pass all the pictures! But for you visual learners, here ya go!!

Cook your gluten-free pasta according to package instructions, drain when ready and toss with olive oil if sauce is not done.

While waiting for your pasta to finish cooking, brown your kielbasa and garlic in the butter!

Combine your milk and cornstarch and gradually stir into the pan.  Bring to a boil and add veggie of choice.  Stir, letting thicken for 2-5 minutes.

Add in pasta and cheese and stir until well combined and melty!!! Serve hot and enjoy peace of taste buds and peace of digestive system!