I am not a big fan of recipe contests. I've entered in two. The first one was these Fried Cherry Cheesecake Bites for OXO's Cherry Recipe Contest. I won. A big prize too, $500 worth of OXO loot. My kitchen is well stocked now! Then I entered these Black Bean and Lime Crusted Fish Nuggets into a Beanitos Recipe Contest. It was close... but I didn't win.
NOW I am working on contest #3. I have complete anxiety before entering something to be judged. It's hard for me!! This contest is a for Hannafords (My local grocery chain). They are running a contest for healthy kid foods. They must include a veggie or a fruit. The winner gets $1000 to Hannafords. That's a months worth of grocery's for this hungry family of 5!!!
So I set to it. What is the first kid friendly meal that comes to mind?
Mac n' Cheese. Have you ever met a kid or adult that does not go crazy for ooey gooey macaroni and cheese?
If you answered yes to that question. WHO? Seriously name them. Because I don't believe you. If you say YOU don't like it... well then I'm not so sure we can be friends anymore... It's just wrong. You must love macaroni and cheese!
To healthify it a tad. Instead of using pasta I went with Quinoa. Why you ask? Well Quinoa is full of so many great things like fiber and protein. Then I tossed in some spinach. One thing I know from being a mom of 3. 2 of which are picky boys. You smother anything in cheese and they will eat it. I assure you. Spinach is your friend. You just need to sneak it in on the kids!
Other than those two small changes it's a traditional macaroni and cheese topped with bread crumbs and baked.
My husband who was a once proclaimed quinoa hater.... was floored by how good this was. He actually said I should nix pasta from our mac n' cheese from now on!
Win for mama!!
So I figure since this was such a family hit here.... it must be a winner right? Why not enter it into the Hannaford contest.
Let me know what you think! Enjoy :)
Quinoa Spinach Mac n' Cheese
3 cups cooked quinoa (cooked according to package directions)
3 tbs of unsalted butter
3 tbs of all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
Few dashes freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
8 oz of shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 handfuls fresh baby spinach
4 additional tsp of butter
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
In a medium sauce pan add 3 tbs butter and flour to the pan over medium heat. Whisk continuously until a paste forms. Whisk in milk. Increase heat to medium/high bring to a boil whisking the whole time. Stir nutmeg, salt and cheddar cheese. When cheese sauce is smooth remove from heat.
In a large bowl mix quinoa, cheese sauce and spinach together. Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Transfer into a casserole dish.
In a small bowl mix butter and bread crumbs together. Sprinkle over the top of the casserole.
Bake on 350 until bubbly. About 20 minutes.
Remove from oven and enjoy!