Easy Mac and Cheese,  not from the blue box

I always have blue boxes on hand for easy meals. We don’t resort to them much, but I am not afraid to break them out. Boxed macaroni and cheese tastes…fine. It tastes like what it is. It’s dependable.  But I wouldn’t say it tastes…good.

So over the past several years, I have toyed with homemade mac and cheese. Sometimes the sauce breaks. Sometimes it’s bland.  Or gritty.  And if I get too crazy with the cheese variety,  the kids won’t like it. It wasn’t until I stumbled upon some shortcuts that I was able to make a version that was fool proof and kid proof.

Shortcut 1: Use canned condensed cheese soup. I use Campbell’s.

Shortcut 2: Use a couple ounces of Velveeta. Just go with it. Just enough to give the sauce viscosity without giving it that overwhelming, delicious salty plastic flavor.

With these two ingredients,  I can use whatever other cheeses I want. Smoked gouda? Fontina? Pepper jack? Yeah, use them all. Shred it, add it, melt it, taste it, add milk…work with the consistency and flavors that your family loves.

Sorry for the lack of recipe.  Once you get the process down,  it’s not really necessary.  And it’s about adding the type of cheese you like and fussing with it until you get the cheese sauce of your dreams.

To make our meal tonight, I will include diced ham, and a Caesar salad.

Do you have any mac and cheese secrets?

P.S. This version of macaroni and cheese is purely for the kids. I have learned over the past few years that I must invent kids versions and adult versions of the same dish. If I was having a dinner party, my m&c would include a roux…bacon…and a delicious mixture of “adult” cheeses. “Adult” cheese sounds dirty. I’ll just leave you with that.

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Doritos Taco Pizza

This is 100% for the kids. Before having them, there is no way on George Clooney’s green earth that I would make this for myself. It’s ridiculous. It’s sacrilegious to even call it taco anything. But oh, well.

Ingredients

  • 2 premade pizza crusts
  • 1 pound of ground beef, browned with taco seasoning, pepper, and Mexican Oregano
  • Some shredded cheese
  • 1 can of refried beans
  • 1 can of Enchilada sauce (el pato is life)
  • Lime
  • Cilantro
  • Crushed Doritos

Method

Brown meat with seasonings. Shred cheese. Layer thusly: first spoon on enchilada sauce. Then beans. Then a drizzle of more sauce. Then meat. Then cheese. Bake. Then add Doritos, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime.


Jenn’s “I don’t know what the hell I am doing quiche”

…or as I have to call it for my husband to eat it: Manly egg, bacon, and potato pie. He walked into the kitchen as I was making it, looking dubiously at me as I cooked.

“Coffee?” he asked.

“Nope,” I answered. “It’s not personal…I just got sidetracked by this *gestures*.”

“No coffee is always personal. What are you making?”

“A manly egg, bacon, and potato pie.”

He nodded and left the kitchen.

The only quiche I have eaten in my life came from a grocery store, and it was way better than it had any right being. The kids even loved it. So, as I was sitting on the couch this morning with my girl, watching the 239th Sesame Street of the morning, I had a flash of inspiration: I have a pie crust in the freezer! It might be a little freezer burnt, but I like to live dangerously.

So I have no idea if this will work…let’s be adventurous.

Ingredients

  • five eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk + 1/4 cup sour cream
  • some grated cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • blind baked pie crust
  • 3 strips of pepper bacon
  • whatever was leftover in the bag of frozen hashbrowns, browned in a skillet
  • half of a diced onion, sauteed in bacon fat

Method

Blind bake pie crust. Mix eggs, sour cream, and milk, and throw whatever cheese you have in there, too. Salt and pepper.

Brown bacon. Crumble. Saute onion. Set aside. Brown hashbrowns.

Throw everything into pie crust. Bake at 400 for 15 and at 350 for 30. Hope for the best.

In the meantime, tell her to get out of my onions!

raw onion.jpg

Yet another dinner from a pie plate

I am loving my glass Pyrex pie plates lately.  Stuffed shells Sunday night and now tamale pie Tuesday night. This is the perfect weeknight dinner. I had it done in under an hour and the kids devoured it. Here’s the rundown:

  • 1 box jiffy cornbread Mix
  • 1/2 cup creamed corn
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 egg
  • 1 pound hamburger
  • Cumin,  Mexican oregano, new Mexico chili powder,  garlic powder, salt and pepper all to taste
  • Enchilada sauce
  • Rotella tomatoes,  drained
  • Tons of grated cheese

Method:

Mix cornbread mix, egg, sour cream,  and creamed Corn. Pour into buttered pie plate and bake at 400 for 20 minutes.

In meantime, brown hamburger in spices,  add drained tomatoes,  and enough enchilada sauce to make saucy.  Simmer til cornbread is done.

When cornbread comes out, poke holes in it. Rough it up. It’s slightly undercooked and that’s ok. Top cornbread with enchilada sauce. Let it soak in. Top that with meat mixture and cheese.

Bake for another 15 minutes.

Devour.

Stuffed shells with Annabel

Wow, what a night. The 20 month old has been throwing a tantrum on and off for 3 hours. The almost six year old clocked a neighbor kid in the head with a swing, cutting him in the face. Why? He was laughing at him. 😣 In the midst of chaos, Annabel and I managed to make dinner. Somehow.

Here’s the rundown:

1 pound of sausage, browned
Pasta sauce, enough to coat bottom of pan and cover pasta
Cottage cheese
1 egg
Spinach, chopped
Italian seasoning
Garlic
Shells
Parmasean
Method:

Boil pasta til almost soft.

Brown meat. Cool.

Mix cottage cheese, egg,  parmasean cheese, salt,  pepper, Italian seasoning.  Add spinach and cooled sausage.

Stuff shells.

Top with sauce and cheese.  Bake at 350 til bubbly.

Top with torn basil.