I never know when the wrench is going to get thrown into our day. I've gotten used to it though. I make an awesome plan and then wait for Scarlett to pull the high fever out of her back pocket thus thwarting said awesome plan. It's one of those things I didn't expect when I signed up to have children but I've gotten used to the idea that the best laid plans are meant to be completely hammered out of existence. Dinner is a little bit that way too. Some days I wake up with a menu for the day in my head. Do you do that? Ok, so we'll have oatmeal for breakfast, warm the chill from last night for lunch and then tonight I'll make the veggie burgers. Then 4:30pm hits and Scarlett and I are still playing/chatting in the school yard only to come home with little to no time to grate 10 million vegetables, make patties and cook them as well as get two sides together. Say hello to the wrench.
So what do I do? I go the casserole route. For some reason, throwing pantry staples into a single pot and baking it always seems easier than getting my entree and two sides together. I grew up on tuna casseroles but rarely make them in my house. Instead this homemade mac and cheese is on heavy rotation and, like my mother's tuna casserole, I mix just about anything into this dish. Today's version has frozen, chopped kale but I've been known to add frozen peas, spinach, broccoli or a combination of these. This has to be Scarlett's favourite mac and cheese and coming from a kid that's a big declaration. She asks for it all the time and her friends have even started to request it when they come over so I always know it will be received well. It may not have been on the plan but, as back-up plans go, this dish is just as great.
Kale Mac and Cheese
4 cups spelt elbow macaroni
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons spelt flour
¼ cup low sodium chicken stock
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup shaved cheddar cheese
1 ½ cups shaved Monterey Jack cheese, divided
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 slices dry bread
1 cup frozen chopped kale
1/2 cup of bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 350
Cook pasta according to package directions
In a medium size saucepan, melt butter over medium low heat. Once butter is melted, slowly add flour, whisking continuously.
Add chicken stock and milk and allow to simmer for 5 minutes so mixture can slowly thicken, stirring occasionally. Add mustard, cheddar and 1 cup Monterey jack cheese and lower heat. Mix until cheeses have melted and mustard is combined. Add kale, nutmeg and salt; stir until warmed and mixed together, about 2 minutes.
Place cooked pasta into medium size casserole dish and mix in cheese sauce, being sure to coat all the pasta. Sprinkle the top with the remaining Monterey Jack cheese and then top with bread crumbs. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until cheese sauce is bubbling and edges are a golden brown.