Lightened Up Mac & Cheese Bites

My first experiences with macaroni & cheese took place at the Ryan’s Buffet in Wichita, Kansas. Although this haven of all-you-can-eat steak is now closed down (eliciting great distress from my dad), I still remember my plan of attack at the buffet spread: First, a spoonful of mac & cheese – with the baked cheese crust on top.

Next, a visit to the mashed potatoes diagonally across from the mac & cheese. I would put a dollop of mashed potatoes on my plate, then – most importantly – brown gravy on top of both the potatoes and the mac & cheese. Thus, it was of utmost importance to visit the mac & cheese pan before sojourning to the mashed potatoes. Let’s not even talk about what happened if all the baked cheese crust had already been taken from the mac & cheese pan. Sob city.

My mac & cheese passions fluctuated over the next decade or so (gah how old am I??). The summer before high school, when I was exhausted and absolutely ravenous from the full days of summer P.E. class (ughhhh), I actually melted sour cream with cheese, then poured it over pasta. Never. again. In college, though, I was more a fan of Kraft Easy Mac Cups. Now those, those I could talk about for days. Three and a half minutes to cheesy pasta heaven.

Recently, I’ve been craving mac & cheese again. This craving happened to coincide with my hosting a (small) Halloween party this past weekend. Basically, it was an excuse for me to make a lot of food, eat, and decorate…which are three of my favorite activities in the entire world. Though, really, I can’t take credit for the decorations. My best friend Hannah (who I’ve known since basically the womb) visited me this past weekend (yayyy!), and worked some serious crepe paper magic.

In terms of food, though, I really wanted to make mac & cheese. I mean, who doesn’t like mounds of cheese heaped on pasta (AmIright? Crayola even named a crayon after it!). But, I wanted an option that didn’t require all sorts of fork/plate/mouth/napkin/messy shenanigans. So when I saw this recipe for mac & cheese bites – baked in a cupcake tin!!! – I knew I’d found a winner. Buttt. Since I also wanted a recipe that I could eat at least five of and not feel guilty about, I looked around for a “healthy” mac & cheese option as well.

These mac & cheese bites are a product of both of these recipes, plus some of my craziness/perpetual messing around with recipes. I also baked them in a mini cupcake tin to perfectly fit in the palm of your hand! But I do need to highlight one thing: Greek yogurt, people. Say it with me: GREEK YOGURT! I’ve used it before to substitute for butter in baking, and man oh man. Who knew it was so perfect in mac & cheese as well? Now you know. No excuses.

So, tell me, am I a crazy person? Or do you, too, go through mac & cheese phases/cravings/recipes galore? Hit me up with your mac & cheese recipes!

P.S. I now have a twitter – @3PastriesaDay. Follow me for delicious blog updates and drool-worthy pics!

Mac & Cheese Bites (Adapted from Annie’s Eats and The Realistic Nutritionist)

Yield: About 24 mini bites

Ingredients

  1. 6 oz whole wheat macaroni
  2. 1 cup whole wheat butter cracker crumbs (like Ritz)
  3. 2 cups packed shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  4. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  5. 2 tablespoons nonfat Greek yogurt
  6. 1/2 cup packed shredded mozzarella cheese
  7. 1 large egg
  8. 1/4 cup non-fat milk
  9. 1/4 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
  10. Pinch of salt
  11. 1 teaspoon chili powder

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook the pasta according to the package directions until just shy of al dente, then drain well.
  2. Meanwhile, spray mini muffin tin with cooking spray.  In a medium bowl, combine the cracker crumbs, 1/4 cup of the shredded cheese, and 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt. Mix with a fork until combined. Divide mixture evenly into muffin tin, then press down to fit tin.
  3. Once the pasta is cooked and drained, add it to a large mixing bowl with the remaining shredded cheese. In a liquid measuring cup, combine the egg, milk, and Greek yogurt and whisk to combine.
  4. Add the liquid mixture to the bowl with the pasta.  Stir in the salt and chili powder and mix until evenly combined.
  5. Divide the macaroni mixture between the prepared mini muffin wells.  Bake until light golden, about 10-15 minutes.  Let cool in the muffin pans at least 10-15 minutes, then carefully remove from the pan and serve warm.
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15 thoughts on “Lightened Up Mac & Cheese Bites

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