Kitchen Mailbox: Get the fat out ... and still enjoy it

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Who can resist a plate of macaroni and cheese? This popular comfort food is loaded with fat and calories, but it doesn't have to be.

Today's recipe is from "Comfort Food Makeovers: All Your Favorites Made Lighter" by the editors at America's Test Kitchen.

To lower the calories, the folks at America's Test Kitchen substituted low-fat evaporated milk for whole milk and light cheddar cheese and cornstarch for thickening instead of a roux made with butter. Here's the difference in calories and fat: Regular macaroni and cheese: 750 calories, 40 grams fat, 25 grams saturated fat. America's Test Kitchen macaroni and cheese: 470 calories, 11 grams fat, 5 grams saturated fat.

My family loved this version and I think you will, too.

If you have a favorite low-calorie, low-fat recipe and would like to share it, please send it to and I'll share it with Kitchen Mailbox readers.


Noelle Nuckels of Adamsburg: "My mom used to work with a woman at Point Park University who made the most delicious chocolate-chip cookies. ... These were mound-like, measuring about 2 inches high and 2 inches in diameter. They did not have the "golden" color you would look for during baking, but were pale. There were no traces of any nuts, just pure chocolate-chip goodness. The middle almost had a cookie dough-like consistency, which is what really won me over!

"I adore baking as a hobby and asked her years ago for the recipe, but she said it was a secret family recipe. Very understandable, but I must know how she got that mound-like, cookie-dough consistency! Unfortunately, she moved to Arizona, and I have been without these cookies for at least 10 years.

"If anyone has a cookie that fits this description and doesn't mind sharing, I would greatly appreciate it!"


PG tested

  • 1 pound elbow macaroni

  • Salt and pepper

  • 3 12-ounce cans low-fat evaporated milk

  • 3/4 teaspoon dry mustard

  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

  • Pinch cayenne pepper

  • 1 tablespoons cornstarch

  • 12 ounces light cheddar cheese, shredded (3 cups)

  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs, toasted

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add macaroni and 1 tablespoon salt and cook, stirring often until just al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, drain macaroni, set aside.

Combine evaporated milk, mustard, garlic powder, 2 teaspoon salt and cayenne in the empty pot and bring to a simmer. Combine 1/4 cup of the pasta water with the cornstarch and whisk into pot. Continue to simmer, whisking constantly, until sauce is slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Off heat, whisk in cheddar, a handful at a time, until melted. Stir in cooked macaroni and add remaining 1/4 cup pasta water as needed to adjust consistency; sauce should be slightly soupy.

Transfer mixture to 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Toss toasted panko with melted butter in bowl, season with salt and pepper to taste, and sprinkle over top. Bake until sauce is bubbling around edges, about 30 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.

Serves 8.

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To request a recipe or send a recipe or question to Kitchen Mailbox, write the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, c/o Arlene Burnett, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, Pa. 15222 or First Published May 23, 2013 4:00 AM


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