Whew! By my merely accepting that something had to go, my sense of stress has been greatly reduced. While I love blogging, I am glad that I am not putting any more undue pressure on myself by thinking of it as a "must-do" activity. That little change in my perception has already been a huge relief. By admitting that I needed a mental break, my whole outlook has improved quite a bit. I can see that my plan will work...my more relaxed attitude will bring better recipes and an overall better blog in the future. I am really glad I decided to sort out that bit of business.
Anyway, last night I had a little dinner fiasco. I planned to make a different vegetarian recipe, only to find that the phyllo dough that I needed to use had to be thawed overnight...in advance. Whoops. After I literally cooked half of the dish, I figured it out. Luckily, the part I cooked stored well in the fridge and we will have the entire recipe tonight. However, my little mix up made me scramble for a last minute meal. I didn't have any protein items thawed, so I was pretty much left with making another vegetarian dish as my only option. I had this Rick Bayless recipe (that I found on my friend Claire's blog, of course) slated for later in the week so I just rearranged my menu plan and substituted this recipe in at the last second. I would say it worked out well, because it was fast to put together and we all really enjoyed it!!!
Rick Bayless Salsa Mac and Cheese...My Light Version
Adapted From: Rick Bayless, Season 7: Mexico - One Plate at a Time
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups fat-free milk
1 1/2 cups of your favorite salsa (I used one whole jar)
2 cups low-fat 2% sharp shredded cheddar cheese
Salt to taste
1 pound of dried whole wheat pasta (I used small shells)
Organic corn tortilla chips (optional)
Pour 4 quarts of water into a large pot, cover and set over high heat.
In a medium-size saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, then stir in the flour and whisk until the mixture turns a deep golden, about 2 minutes. Add the fat-free milk and continue to whisk constantly until the mixture thickens and comes to a full boil, 4 or 5 minutes. (Whisk diligently and there will be no lumps.) Stir in the salsa, remove from the heat, then stir in the low-fat cheese. Continue stirring until all the cheese has melted. Taste and season generously with salt, usually 1 1/2 teaspoons. Cover to keep warm until the pasta is done.
When the water has come to a boil, add the dried pasta. Stir well to keep the pasta from sticking together and boil until the pasta is al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain thoroughly and add the pasta to the sauce. Stir until all the pasta is covered in the salsa cheese sauce. Crumble a couple corn tortilla chips on top for an added crunch, if desired. Serve and enjoy!
As I said, this was super-easy and we all really enjoyed it. My "light" substutions worked out well and reduced the original calorie count per serving. Also, I freshened the whole meal up a bit by adding a baby spinanch salad as a side dish. This will be a dish I make again; but next time I will just make this recipe first, instead of on the heels of an 'almost' dinner disaster.