Stovetop Mac and Cheese w/Sloppy Joes

A Childhood Favorite Made Healthier!

Have you ever tried eating your Sloppy Joes on top of Macaroni and Cheese? If not, you’re missing out! This dish is a definite kid-pleaser and doesn’t necessarily have to be “unhealthy”. A few small modifications, this dish clocks in at <500 cals (and ready in <20 minutes)! Read on to hear a few tips and tricks I used to make this dish not only satisfying, but healthy to boot…

As there are two products in this post, I’ll try to take you through them side-by-side in a logical manner so you can best utilize your time to get both dishes complete and ready on the table in <20 minutes.

Ingredients:

Mac n’ Cheese (modified from Evil Shenanigans:

  • 8 oz Elbow Noodles (I used Barilla Plus, gives great nutritional bang without having the “whole wheat texture” that many healthy pastas have)
  • 6 oz Evaporated Skim Milk
  • 6 oz Freshly Shredded Cheddar Cheese (I used Cabot 75% reduced fat white cheddar)
  • 1 Egg (beaten into evaporated milk
  • 1 tbs Butter

Sloppy Joes (modified my Mother’s recipe, thought you’d never hear that, right Mom?):

  • 1/2 lb Ground Buffalo
  • 1/4 cup Tomato Sauce
  • 1 tbs Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp Spicy Brown Mustard
  • 1 tbs Apple Cider Vinegar (good stuff, we used Braggs)

Procedure:

Prep…before getting started, freshly grate your cheese and get all of your ingredients together. It will help you out in getting everything done faster.

First we had to defrost our ground buffalo in the microwave, don’t worry, it won’t hurt anything…do it all the time!

While the meat is defrosting, you’ll want to start a pot boiling for your noodles (the meat will probably finish before the water is ready boiling, it’s ok, let it sit for a few minutes). You’ll want to cook the macaroni 1 minute less than the manufacturer’s suggestion, it will cook the rest of the way when you add the rest of the liquid.

While the macaroni is cooking, get a skillet started and start browning the ground buffalo. Brown it like you would ground beef. Drain the fat before and add the other ingredients.

Stir and warm up the mixture, then you’re ready to go with the Sloppy Joes…you may have to reheat it a little bit before serving.

When your pasta is done, strain it. Add the tbs of butter to the pot and let it melt. Add the drained macaroni to the pot.

Add the egg and milk mixture to the pot and heat it on low to low-medium heat until it thickens. It may take a few minutes. This is when your macaroni will cook the rest of the way.

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When the sauce has thickened, take the pot off of the heat and start adding your cheese slowly in parts. Wait until one addition is melted before adding another.

When the sauce has thickened, take the pot off of the heat and start adding your cheese slowly in parts. Wait until one addition is melted before adding another.

After you’ve incorporated all of the cheese, you’re done!

Just reheat the Sloppy Joes quickly on the burner and you’re ready to assemble your meal.

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Layer Sloppy Joes on top of Mac and Cheese, then mix it all up to eat! It’s best mixed thoroughly.

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This recipe made 4 servings for us. We had a serving a piece at dinner, and one for lunch the next day. Best eaten stirred up! Mmmmmmmmmmm…

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Reheat leftovers with a bit of milk. Just be sure to stir the milk in really well! I used 1/4 cup of milk in parts. I added half the milk at the beginning, heated for 45 seconds then took it out, stirred it really well and incorporated the other half and heated for an additional 30 seconds.

Nutrition (1/4 recipe with ingredients I used):

  • 432 cal
  • 13 g fat
  • 42 g carbs
  • 4 g fiber
  • 35 g protein (!)

This was a favorite dish in my family growing up, albeit with ground beef (with Ketchup, not tomato sauce) and the good ‘ol blue box Kraft Macaroni and Cheese (our family of 5 went through 2 boxes and 1lb of beef, so double the recipe for larger families and hungrier children)! If you are really strapped for time, go ahead and use the blue box, but of course, homemade is always better…Also, older kids can prepare this dish in a flash, my Mom (normally) didn’t have to break a sweat and had it near the table when she got home from work.

What was your favorite childhood dish?