MAR
05

Southwestern Mac and Cheese

Main Dish, Mexican, Pasta, Vegetarian | 2 comments

I think it is really funny that Mac and Cheese is one of those “kid foods” that my kids still don’t like. The attitude is all don’t want, don’t like, no thanks I’m not hungry when it comes to Mac and Cheese.

This isn’t a post about how I finally found an amazing Mac and Cheese recipe that my picky kids will eat. Nope. This post is about this tasty Southwestern Mac and Cheese recipe that I love and that I eat all by myself.

We have made some serious progress with the dinner time pickiness, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t nights that I crave something no one else will eat. And I’m not stressing about that.

I hope Logan and Madeline will like this Southwestern Mac and Cheese someday, because I think it is really tasty and a fun twist on a classic. I love to make fancy out of the ordinary Mac and Cheese recipes. If I’m the only one eating it, I might as well make it how I like.

southwestern mac and cheese recipe

3 Steps to Fancy Mac n Cheese

It’s time to get creative in the kitchen. Try these three, simple ways towards creative mac n cheese recipes. Sure we all love the traditional recipe, but it’s fun to mix things up once in a while.

fancy up the cheese

Master a basic cheese sauce and utilize that recipe over and over again, but each time you can experiment with different cheeses. Adjusting and tweaking the flavors to fit your mood at the time.

In this recipe for Baked Gruyere and Butternut Squash Mac n Cheese, Gruyere is accented by Mascarpone and Parmesan Cheese creates a rich, velvety sauce in this recipe. You could dream up infinite cheese combinations for your sauce.

Lacking inspiration?  Look up some of your favorites cheeses in The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity to find complimentary combinations.

use different pasta shapes

Embrace your inner child, or appeal to your own children with fun and different pasta shapes. Just because it’s “Macaroni” and Cheese, doesn’t mean you have to actually use macaroni pasta. In fact, I rarely do. I love shells, rotini, penne, wagon wheels and more.

add a few mix-ins

Adding accent meats and vegetables turns mac n cheese into a delicious, one pot meal with lots of flavor and color. I like to add steamed broccoli or chopped spinach to my mac n cheese, but this time I decided to experiment with squash. My two favorite meat mix-ins are ham and bacon. They both go so well with cheesy sauce, but experiment with others as well.

More Mac and Cheese Recipes

 

Southwestern Mac and Cheese

Yield: serves 8

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Print Save Recipe

Ingredients:

1 lb. penne, cooked according to package instructions and drained
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon southwestern seasoning (or a mix of cumin, chili powder, chipotle, garlic, salt, and pepper)
5 cups milk
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups pepper jack cheese
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 - 4.5 ounce can diced roasted green chiles
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9x13 pan; set aside.

Add butter to a small saucepan and melt over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and spices, then cook while stirring for 2 minutes or until mixed.

Add the milk, 1 cup at a time, while whisking. Continue whisking until all of the milk has been added and the mixture is smooth. Cook for 3 minutes or until the mixture begins to thicken.

Add the cheeses. Stir the sauce and cook until the cheese has melted and combined with the milk mixture. Gently stir in the pasta, tomatoes, and green chiles. Pour the pasta mixture into the prepared pan. Combine the melted butter and breadcrumbs. Sprinkle the top of the pasta with the breadcrumbs. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs are golden brown and the cheese is bubbly. Cool slightly before serving.

adapted from McCormick

FEB
26

Caramelized Onion, Spinach and Bacon Pizza

Pizza | 1 comment

Caramelized Onion, Spinach and Bacon Pizza 1

A lot of times in my cooking, I tend to get into a comfort zone and I don’t like to venture outside of that. Actually, I am like this almost always when I eat. I order the same sandwiches at the same delis; the same flavor of pasta at this certain restaurant and so on. [...]

FEB
12

Strawberry Fool – An Easy Valentine’s Dessert

Dessert, Fruit Desserts | 3 comments

easy strawberry cream dessert_thumb

I adore simple fruit desserts like this Strawberry Fool. It is decadent and rich, yet it’s as easy as can be to prepare. A fool is nothing more than freshly whipped cream with mashed fruit folded in. Fruit and cream is an age-old favorite. Whipping the cream into billowy clouds makes it feel extra special – [...]

FEB
10

Chocolate Chip Cookie Pudding Parfaits

Chocolate, Dessert, Puddings and Custards | 7 comments

chocolate chip cookie pudding parfait recipe

Chocolate pudding, even when homemade, isn’t exactly the most exciting option on the dessert menu. But it is easy. The ingredients are mostly always on hand. Kids love it. And, this should go without saying, chocolate pudding is, well, chocolate. All of which makes this mom love it. But, you can do a few things [...]

FEB
09

Valentine Round Up

Kid Friendly Recipes, Valentine's Day | 2 comments

Valentine Roundup

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be all about romance and candlelight. With kids at home, this February holiday can be a day focused on family fun and connections. I’ve pulled together a collection here of  kid friendly Valentine snacks, activities, and treats that will inspire memorable holiday moments with the little ones we love so [...]

FEB
01

20 Tasty Super Bowl Snack Recipes

Appetizers and Snacks | 1 comment

20 super bowl recipes gle

Whether you are watching the big game this weekend or not, the Super Bowl is a really good excuse to indulge in some delicious snacking. While “healthy” isn’t necessarily a prerequisite for Game Day, it’s almost always healthier to make your munchies from scratch with quality ingredients, even if you’re still making french fries. These [...]