Bacon Cheddar Orzo & Cheese (with hidden brussels sprouts)

Bacon Cheddar Orzo & Cheese with hidden Brussels Sprouts
I have a confession to make- I love brussels sprouts. I think they're yummy. Strangely enough my kids also like them. The toddler stood on a stool while I washed them and ate the outside leaves I handed her. Shredded into this take on mac and cheese though I can serve them to their friends and they are none the wiser that there is a vegetable hidden in there. I make an adult casserole version and the kids servings get baked in muffin tins. They are easy to freeze this way and pull out for a quick toddler dinner on a busy day.

Bacon Cheddar Orzo & Cheese with Hidden Brussels Sprouts ($5.06/recipe- .84/serving)
(serves 6)

1/2 lb cooked orzo or other leftover pasta (1 lb box is 1.07) .54 (I used the other half of the box from our Orzo with Chicken, Artichokes, and Sun Dried Tomatoes the night before.)
2 TBS sunflower oil (you could use olive oil or vegetable oil)
1 TBS maple syrup
3/4 lb brussels sprouts, shredded (2.99/lb) 2.33
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 TBS butter (.75/stick, .09/TBS) .18
1 cup nonfat milk .25 (I use powdered milk to make nonfat milk for cooking and baking- it is significantly cheaper and we buy gallons of milk for drinking.)
2 TBS flour
8 oz shredded smokey bacon cheddar Cabot cheese (I bought an end piece at Cheese Traders near Burlington for 3.49/lb- .22/oz) 1.76

1. Preheat oven to 375. Remove any outer bruised leaves from the brussels sprouts and chop off the bottoms. I like how they look like tiny cabbages.

Shred the brussels sprouts in a food processor.

Saute them in a saucepan with the sunflower oil (or oil of your choice). I find it's easiest to put 1 TBS on the bottom, add the sprouts, and drizzle the remaining tablespoon on top. I use the tongs to move them around. After they've cooked for a minute they start to turn a brighter shade of green. I add a tablespoon of maple syrup. I think that it enhances the flavor of the brussels sprouts and brings out the bacon in the cheese. Also, I live in VT and put maple in everything. You could omit the maple syrup but I highly recommend trying it!

Turn off the heat on the brussels sprouts. Put a stockpot on the stove. I use a stockpot because it's big enough to mix all the ingredients in. Melt 2 TBS of butter over low heat and add 2 TBS flour. Stir the flour into the butter to create a roux. When it starts to brown a little bit add 1 cup of nonfat milk. Let it cook for about 3 minutes stirring occasionally.

While the milk is heating on the stove, I weighed out my cheese and shredded it in the food processor. This Cabot cheese is delicious. I think everyone in the family had a few slices while I was cooking. If you don't have access to Cabot try to find another bacon cheddar to use. If you only have plain cheddar I highly recommend cooking up a couple of slices of bacon to chop into the pasta because it makes all the difference!

Add the shredded cheese (save a little bit to sprinkle on top) into the hot milk and stir while it melts. This only takes a minute. The sauce should look smooth and shiny. 

Add in your leftover cooked orzo. 

Stir in your sauteed brussels sprouts. 

For the kids I spray muffin tins with non stick spray and dose their servings into there. 

The grownups get theirs baked in a casserole dish sprayed with non stick cooking spray and sprinkled with the reserved shredded cheese. 

Bake for 20 minutes. Enjoy! 

The kid's version- a cupcake of mac & cheese goodness.

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