Skinny Bacon Macaroni and Cheese

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smokey-mac-and-cheese

Having a mac and cheese craving? A classic mac and cheese gets a wonderful, skinny update with this smokey flavored one. It’s one of my favorite ways to make this cheesy classic. I tasted a decadent version while dining out with some friends and knew I had to create a guilt-free version. I used a combination of smoked paprika, dry mustard and garlic powder and just a small amount of crumbled bacon to create the fantastic smokey flavor. Each skinny serving has 310 calories, 8 grams fat and 9 Weight Watchers SmartPoints. Pure indulgence!

Prep Time: 20 minutes (includes cooking pasta)
Bake Time: 15 minutes


Ingredients

2 cups (8 oz) dry whole grain or whole wheat elbow macaroni noodles or penne pasta

2 slices bacon, see shopping tips

1 tablespoon reduced-fat butter or Smart Balance light

¼ cup scallions, sliced

1¼ cup fat-free milk

1 cup fat-free cottage cheese

¾ cup reduced-fat cheddar cheese

1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon smoked paprika, see shopping tips

1 teaspoon dry mustard

½ teaspoon garlic powder

A little black pepper, to taste


Ingredients for Topping

¼ cup reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese


Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9 x 9 inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

2. Cook pasta according to package directions but cook al dente (not over cooked)

3. In the meantime, cook bacon in microwave on paper towels. Be sure to cover the bottom and top of bacon with paper towels. Cook about 2 minutes, until crispy. Blot well with paper towels. Crumble and set aside.

4. Next, place milk and cottage cheese in a blender and pulse until smooth. Melt butter in a nonstick pot. Add scallions and cook 1 minute. Add the milk/cottage cheese sauce, ¾ cup shredded cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, paprika, dry mustard, garlic powder, salt and a little pepper. Stir constantly, over medium heat, until cheese is melted. Stir in cooked macaroni pasta and crumbled bacon. Mix well.

5. Spoon mixture into baking dish and spread evenly. Sprinkle the top with ¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes, until bubbly.

Makes 5 servings. Each serving about 1 cup


Shopping Tips


I’ve combed the supermarket shelves looking for one of the leanest regular bacon choices and Oscar Meyer Center Cut Bacon is my favorite, compared to most regular bacon. It’s much lower in fat and calories, 3 slices contain 70 calories and 4.5 grams of fat. Once cooked on paper towels, most of the fat soaks into the paper, not in the bacon, so the fat is further cut down. In my Skinny Facts, I subtracted out the fat that’s left on the paper towels!

I love the flavor of smoked paprika so much more than regular paprika! It smells like BBQ flavors and really enhances the flavor of any recipe that uses paprika. I strongly recommend using it in this recipe. You’ll find it in most supermarkets in the spice aisle. I bought mine at Trader Joe’s.

There are several brands of whole wheat or whole grain small pasta that will work for this recipe. I used Barilla Whole Grain Elbow Pasta. It looks like a macaroni shell. You could also use a whole grain or whole wheat penne or rigatoni pasta, if desired.


Weight Watchers SmartPoints
9
Weight Watchers POINTS PLUS
8
Weight Watchers
(old points) 6

SKINNY FACTS: for 1 skinny cup serving
310 calories, 8g fat, 3g sat. fat, 23mg chol, 22g protein, 40g carbs, 5g fiber, 446mg sod, 6g sugar
FAT FACTS: for 1 cup made with full fat ingredients
468 calories, 18g fat, 60mg chol, 28g protein, 49g carbs, 0g fiber, 625mg sod, 5g sugar