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Culinary Basics: Using Ingredients To Revamp Recipes

Updated on June 2, 2010
flickr vulcan of walden
flickr vulcan of walden

Culinary Basics - Revamping Recipes

I love Paula Deen’s recipes and her recipe for crock pot mac and cheese is to die for.

However, it might kill me if I keep making it. I am all about reducing the fat and the calories and creating healthy recipes on a daily basis.

Here is a comparison of 2 ways to make macaroni and cheese – each are equally delicious and satisfying. You have to decide for yourself which type of recipe fits into your specific diet.  And sometimes it's okay to have the really, really fattening one - and sometimes it's nice to make the not so bad one!

Nutrition Facts

Makes 4-6 servings so roughly for 1/4 of this recipe

Calories 829

Total fat 53.8 g - 82%

Saturated fat- 32.4 g - 161%

Monounsaturated fat 15.2 g

Trans Fat 0.0 g

Cholesterol 299 mg - 99%

Sodium 1475 mg – 61%

Potassium 434 mg – 12%

Total Carbs –50.9 g – 16%

Dietary Fiber 2.4 g – 9%

Sugars 5.3 g

Protein – 35.5 g – 70%



  • 2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2-1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 10-3/4 ounce condensed cheddar cheese soup
  • Salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • Pepper to taste


  1. Cook macaroni for 6 minutes. Drain.
  2. Mix butter and cheese in saucepan. Over medium heat, stir until the cheese melts.
  3. In slow cooker, combine the cheese mixture, the eggs, sour cream, soup, salt, milk, mustard and pepper. Add the drained macaroni and stir.
  4. Cook on low for 2-1/2 hours – stir occasionally.

This is a fantastic mac and cheese!

Nutrition Facts

Makes – 10 servings – 1 cup each

Calories 411 (31% from fat)

Fat 14g (saturated 6.9g, mono 2.9 g, poly 0.9)

Protein 22.8 g

Carbs 49.9 g

Fiber 4.7 g

Cholesterol 39 mg

Iron 2.5 mg

Sodium 638 mg

Calcium 414 mg

Cooking Light's Mac and Cheese with Tomatoes

Years ago I came across this recipe and you can do the math and compare the recipes. As well as the traditional mac and cheese, it also has the benefit of tomatoes.


  • 8 plum (Roma) tomatoes cut into 1/4-inch slices (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
  • Salt if desired
  • 4 garlic cloves, thin sliced
  • 1 pound uncooked multi-grain elbow macaroni
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 5 cups 1% low fat milk
  • 1-1/2 shredded extra-sharp white cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Fontina cheese
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 13 x 9 pan with cooking spray.
  2. Cover a baking sheet with foil and spray with vegetable oil.
  3. Arrange tomato slices in single layer – drizzle olive oil over tomatoes and sprinkle with thyme, salt if using and garlic.
  4. Roast at 400 degrees for 35 minutes or until tomatoes start to dry out.
  5. Cook pasta according to package but eliminate salt and oil. Drain well.
  6. Mix grated Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs and paprika – set aside.
  7. Place flour in Dutch oven and gradually add milk, whisking to mix well.
  8. Cook over medium heat for 8 minutes or until thick and bubbling. Stir constantly with whisk. Add cheeses and pepper and continue stirring until cheese melts.
  9. Remove from heat and add tomatoes and drained pasta.
  10. Spoon into 13 x 9 baking prepared pan.
  11. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese, breadcrumb, paprika mixture over pasta.
  12. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes until bubbling. Let stand 10-15 minutes before serving.


I actually have made both these recipes and here’s my idea on changing up ingredients - by the way, I love both of them!


  • Substitute wheat or other whole grain pasta – use penne or other small pasta
  • Substitute margarine or butter-combo for butter
  • Substitute low-fat, low-calorie cheese
  • Substitute egg substitute for eggs
  • Substitute Greek yogurt or non-fat sour cream
  • Substitute Reduced Fat version for condensed cheddar cheese soup
  • Substitute nonfat milk for whole milk
  • Add roasted tomatoes!


  • Substitute unbleached flour
  • Substitute different herbs for thyme
  • Substitute nonfat milk - it works
  • Substitute low fat or partial-skim milk cheeses - it works
  • Substitute part walnuts or other nuts for breadcrumbs
  • Substitute browned panko for breadcrumbs
  • Substitute whole-grain penne pasta or other small pasta for macaroni

In short, you can tune up any recipe or revamp them at will. I have never had a problem working with a basic recipe and seeing where it can take me. Hoping you will do the same!


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    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      Thanks for stopping in, Kimbrena!

    • Kimbrena profile image

      Kimbrena 7 years ago

      I absolutely love Paula Deen's crockpot macaroni recipe; now I'm really looking forward to trying a few ways to make it much healthier! thank you! :)

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      I have to! It's the only way I test my recipes and get the cooking out of my brother-in-law used to always say about me....'she cooks for an army and only the regiment showed up' - I do love to entertain and cook...should have a B&B! That's what everyone calls us - the Kirchner B&B. Oh well - they could call us lots wooise!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Buckie, I love cooking for crowds, too!

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      Darlene - thanks so much for the kudos - I am unfortunately passionate about everything in my life. Food just happens to be one hobby. I think it is an expression of oneself to create healthy recipes for others (and yourself) so therefore I cook!

      Holle - comfort food 101 - mac and cheese. As a matter of fact, I'm making this next week when my middle son and mom are visiting. I love to have the opportunity to cook for more folks!

      Hello, hello - thanks so much for stopping in!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for a great tip and certainly will try it.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      I have 5 words for this hub: m m m m m!! I LOVE mac and cheese!

    • Darlene Sabella profile image

      Darlene Sabella 7 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

      I am so impressed with your hubs, they are so great and articulate, your style and your passion for food show through, thumbs up and awesome....

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      You are too sweet drbj - that's what I live for though - trying to revamp favorite recipes. We all love them and heck - it is all about comfort food - but ya gotta try and be smarter when you get to be 'my age'...thanks so much for commenting!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

      Audrey - with this beautiful hub, you will win the hearts of every mac and cheese lover who finds these innovative and lower-calories recipes of yours.