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Healthy Sides Pair Well With Homemade Mac and Cheese

I don’t think I’ve ever said no to a box of mac and cheese, but I do really miss the homemade stuff once in awhile. When you’ve had the real thing, the boxed stuff just doesn’t always cut it. You don’t get that crispy top layer, and you’re confined by what the mac and cheese aisle of your local grocery store has to offer.

So this week we’re making homemade Bacon and Tomato Macaroni and Cheese, and pairing it with a side of Lemon Thyme Brussels Sprouts and a Strawberry and Feta Spinach Salad. This recipe is way better than the boxed stuff will ever get, and you get some green stuff on the side – if that makes you feel any better.

Bacon and Tomato Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces of bacon
  • 16 ounces of elbow macaroni
  • 4 cups of cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 cups of mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 1 pound of bacon, chopped
  • 3 large tomatoes, chopped

Instructions:

  1. Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until bacon is crisp, about 13 minutes.
  2. Add tomatoes to skillet and cook for about 5 to 10 minutes, until liquid is evaporated.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook elbow macaroni for 2 to 3 minutes (less than the package suggests, since it will continue to cook later in the oven).
  4. When the pasta is close to being done, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  5. Drain pasta and return to pot.
  6. Add bacon and tomato mixture and 4 cups cheddar cheese. Mix until combined.
  7. Pour the pasta mixture into a 9×13 inch baking dish and top with 2 cups mozzarella cheese.
  8. Bake in oven until cheese is melted and crisp, about 10-12 minutes.

    Roasted Lemon Thyme Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients:

  • 16 ounces of Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 3 garlic cloves, diced
  • 6 sprigs of lemon thyme, minced
  • ¼ cup of olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon of pepper

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Place trimmed Brussels sprouts on large sheet pan and coat with olive oil.
  3. Add diced garlic, minced thyme, salt, and pepper and toss to combine.
  4. Roast in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, shaking the pan every 10 minutes so that the sprouts brown evenly.

Strawberry and Feta Spinach Salad

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces of baby spinach
  • ¼ cup of Feta cheese, crumbled
  • 9 medium-sized strawberries, sliced and halved
  • 2 tablespoons of parsley, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons of sunflower seeds
  • ¼ cup of balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp. of salt
  • ¼ tsp. of pepper

Instructions:

  1. In a large bowl, add spinach, Feta cheese, parsley, sunflower seeds and strawberries.
  2. Whisk together balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.
  3. Add vinaigrette and enjoy!

With these delicious recipes, you’ll be sure to fulfill that authentic mac and cheese craving!

All images courtesy of Josh Guirguis

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