You know what I'm going to do next year? I'm going to start shopping for Christmas gifts in September, start baking in November, decorate our place in the first week of December and then spend the rest of the holidays enjoying myself (and the delicious smug feeling that comes along with avoiding irritations everyone else is feeling). You know what I'm doing this year? Running around in a white hot panic. You?
One of the fun tasks on my list for this week was to think of a dish to bring to the potluck holiday party at Esme's daycare. Laura and I have been talking about party food that's good for adults and kids and this sweet potato mac & cheese really fits the bill, if I do say so myself. The sweet potato puree in the cheese sauce adds a nutritional boost plus adds colour found in certain popular packaged brands. I'm going to bring a big casserole dish of this to the party. If I were serving it at home I'd fill up some ramekins for the kids and then add some chilli sauce to grown up dish.
Esme and I made this together this morning. Our plan was to finish it, go out and run a few errands together and then come back and have it for lunch. But it was so yummy we both stood at the stove having "just one more bite" until we really didn't need lunch an hour later. But we did have a little more anyway.
Sweet Potato Mac & Cheese
1 sweet potato, baked about 45 — 60 until soft (I baked mine the night before while cooking the oven was on for something else)
3 cups wholewheat macaroni
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
1 cup cheddar, grated
1/2 cup parmesan, grated
1 cup frozen peas
pepper to taste
Place noodles in boiling water. Cook according to package instructions, about 8 minutes.
Slice open sweet potato and scoop out the flesh. Puree with a splash of water until smooth. You need about 1 cup.
In a heavy bottomed pan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Sprinkle flour into melted butter and stir. Allow to cook for about a minute, stirring. Slowly add milk, stirring constantly. Allow the sauce to thicken as you add splashes of milk. Once all the milk is in the sauce, add the grated cheese. Stir until cheese is melted. Add the sweet potato puree and stir until well combined. Taste the sauce before adding pepper. I don't add salt as parmesan is quite salty.
For the last 2 minutes of pasta cooking, toss in the frozen peas. Who needs another pot? Drain the pasta and the peas and put back in their pot. Pour the cheese sauce over and mix together well. Serve in small ramekins or in a large casserole. Serves 8.