Thursday, March 24, 2011

Southwestern Pasta and Cheese

I found this recipe in the February/March 2009 issue of Healthy Cooking. I was searching for recipes in Healthy Cooking because I was recently forced to face an ugly truth when planning my Spring Break wardrobe. As I tried on clothes that fit perfectly fine last summer, I realized that even my "fat day" shorts were fitting kind of tight.  A quick trip to the bathroom scale confirmed that I have packed on a good 12 pounds of winter "insulation" since Halloween. I was mortified. To add insult to injury, when I checked the fit of these clothes in the mirror, I was nearly blinded by the translusent white hue that my legs have taken on under months of heavy denim. Yikes! While it's a little late in the game to shape up in time for Spring Break (although believe me, I've logged some time with my workout DVD's this week in a last ditch effort), I realize that summer is just around the corner. I resolved to start counting calories again (Immediately!)...and to stop in for the cheapest spray-on tan I can find before we depart for The Sunshine State on Saturday. Because I'm "keeping track" again, I was ecstatic when I found this delicious pasta recipe in Healthy Cooking. First of all, it's a flavorful, cheesy pasta. It's not like I was going to nibble lettuce through dinner (too late for that anyhow.)Second, because the nutritional information was included, I knew just how many calories/fat grams were present in a serving size. For that matter, I knew what the serving size those statistics were based upon. For the record, it's 3/4 of a cup. Good thing that I really want my shorts to fit comfortably again, because I really, really, wanted more than 3/4 of a cup of this pasta!

I knew that it was going to be good because the recipe begins with bacon. I fried up 4 strips in my cast iron skillet and then removed them to drain.(No picture of this step) After removing the bacon, I poured off the excess grease, leaving about a tablespoon, but did not wipe out the skillet. Then I added diced red pepper and chopped green onion to the skillet. Saute until tender.

While the onions and pepper saute, mix together flour, chili powder, cumin, and salt.

Stir the flour into the pepper and onions with a teaspoon of chipotle pepper in adobo sauce until blended.

Then gradually stir in skim milk. Bring to a boil and cook until thickened.

Once thickened, I stirred in 1/4 cup of cheddar cheese until melted and then I added the crumbled bacon and 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro. Stir to combine.

Next add the cooked bow tie pasta. Toss with the sauce until the pasta is coated.

Top with more cheddar cheese and bake at 400 degrees....

until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

This was a welcomed twist on good old mac n' cheese and not too bad for you either!

Southwestern Pasta and Cheese from Healthy Cooking Magazine February/March 2009
8 ServingsPrep: 30 min. Bake: 20 min.
3-1/3 cups uncooked bow tie pasta
1 medium sweet red pepper, chopped
8 green onions, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil or reserve 1 tablespoon bacon fat
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon minced chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2-1/4 cups fat-free milk
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
4 center-cut bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
•Cook pasta according to package directions.

•Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute pepper and onions in oil until
tender. Stir in the flour, chili powder, chipotle pepper, salt and
cumin until blended. Gradually stir in milk. Bring to a boil; cook
and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in 1/4 cup cheese
until melted.

•Drain pasta; toss with sauce. Stir in bacon and cilantro. Transfer to
a 2-qt. baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with
remaining cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 400° for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly.

Nutrition Facts: 3/4 cup equals 240 calories, 8 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 20 mg cholesterol, 327 mg sodium, 32 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 12 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 2 starch, 1 medium-fat meat, 1/2 fat.

Notes: I made this in my cast iron skillet so that I didn't need to transfer the pasta into a baking dish for the oven. Less dishes!

To make this even lighter, you could substitute a reduced-fat cheddar and use turkey bacon.


Anonymous said...

You just make the most delicious food :-)

My best,

Heather S-G said...

Wow, that looks fantastic (and not light in any sense), I bet the fam would love it! LOL, winter insulation...I'm so using that ;) Have fun on Spring Break!

Tami said...

You have a beautiful blog. I found you through the Foodie Blogroll.

I'm adding this recipe to my menu this coming week. It looks delicious.

Thanks for sharing it!

Stephanie said...

I made this for dinner last night and just had some reheated for lunch today! It was very tasty and easy to put together! I added in some corn and it was a really nice addition. Also, (even though I'm a bacon lover!) I didn't really think the bacon was necessary. I think next time I might omit it and add in some chicken instead! Thanks for a great recipe!

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