Who doesn’t love macaroni and cheese? Its vibrant colors be it in the dish or the platter is already inviting. Cheesy, creamy and gooey – each spoonful reveals a treat of oozing cheese and soft macaroni. Just thinking about it is mouth-watering. Its aroma while cooking on the kitchen adds to your yearning and makes you want to eat it now… right now!
Macaroni and cheese or commonly know as mac and cheese is one of the dishes that can be easily appreciated by kids. It has a taste that makes them crave for more. It can be a kid’s comfort food – they want to eat it if they are sick, they want to eat it when they are feeling down, they want to eat it for no reason at all. They just want it.
Mac and cheese is a staple in the dining table. It can either be served during breakfast or dinner. It serves as an ordinary meal and it can also be a star of a special feast.
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Although boxed, instant mac and cheese are available in the market, nothing beats original recipes using fresh ingredients, prepared right in the very heart of your kitchen. From the classic recipe from grandma’s kitchen to the quick and easy versions for working moms, the dish is flexible.
Here are some versions of the celebrated dish with an added touch to make it more appealing for kids.
Classic mac and cheese
- 1 lb. of elbow macaroni, cooked according to package direction.
- 8 tbsps. of unsalted butter
- Half a cup of sifted all-purpose flour
- 3 cups of milk
- A dash of salt and pepper
- A cup of shredded cheddar cheese
- A cup of shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Heat a saucepan and melt the butter. Once melted, add the flour and continue stirring for ten minutes to avoid burning.
- Occasionally add the milk and bring it to a boil. Turn to low heat to continue simmering for another 15 minutes until the sauce is thick. Stir in the cheese and turn off the heat.
- Put the cooked macaroni in the sauce. Mix evenly.
- Pour into a baking dish and bake for 30 minutes for a crusty touch.
- Allow time to cool and serve.
- Note: You can skip baking if your kids don’t like it crusty. This makes 12 servings.
5-minute mac and cheese
- ½ lb. of cooked pasta
- 2 cups of shredded cheese
- 1 cup of whole milk
- ½ tsp. of salt
- ½ tsp. of freshly ground pepper
- Combine all ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl. Mix well and cover with a plastic wrap. Make sure that the cover is not too tight.
- Microwave for 3 minutes. Mix and put it back in the microwave for another 2 minutes. Keep mixing until it becomes smooth and creamy.
Ranch mac and cheese
- 1 lb. of macaroni, cooked and drained
- 1 cup of milk
- ¼ cup of butter
- 1 sachet of ranch salad dressing
- 1 tsp. garlic salt
- 1 tsp. garlic pepper
- 1 tsp. lemon-pepper seasoning
- 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 1 cup Colby cheese
- 1 cup sour cream
- ½ cup crushed saltines
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- In a saucepan, combine milk, ranch salad dressing, butter and the seasonings and heat for 2 minutes.
- Add in Colby cheese and Monterey Jack cheese until it melts. Remove from heat.
- Put the cooked macaroni in the sauce and toss for an even coating.
- Garnish with Parmesan cheese
Chicken mac and cheese
- 400 grams of macaroni pasta, cooked and drained
- 4 slices of cooked chicken, chopped
- 150 grams of soft processed cheese
- 25 grams of grated Parmesan cheese
- 150 ml whipping cream
- 2/3 handful of breadcrumbs
- 1 spring onion, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a saucepan, mix soft-processed cheese and whipping cream and bring to a boil.
- Remove from heat and add cooked chicken and spring onion.
- Toss in the macaroni and season with salt and pepper.
- Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs and place over a hot grill until cooked.
- Mac and cheese can also be a subtle way to make your kids eat vegetables. Here are some versions.
Colorful mac and cheese
- 1 ½ cups of cooked elbow macaroni
- 2 cups chopped zucchini
- ½ cup chopped onion
- 2 tbsps. canola oil
- 1 cup diced tomato, drained
- 1 can undiluted condensed cheddar cheese soup
- 2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- ½ cup of milk
- ½ tsp. dried basil
- ½ tsp. prepared mustard
- In a large saucepan, heat oil and saute zucchini and onion for two minutes.
- Add in the cheese soup, tomatoes, milk, mustard, and basil. Cooked uncovered for 6 minutes or until the cheese melts.
- Remove from heat. Add in cooked macaroni, remaining vegetables, and toss.
Sweet potato mac and cheese
- 1 medium sweet potato
- 2 cups whole wheat elbow macaroni, cooked and drained
- 2 tbsps. olive oil
- 2 tbsps. all-purpose flour
- 2 cups of milk
- ½ tsp. Dijon mustard
- 2 cups grated cheese
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- Bake the sweet potato for an hour at 400 degrees. Scoop out the flesh and mash.
- Heat olive oil in a saucepan. Add in the flour and whisk for a minute.
- Pour in the milk, while whisking slowly. Cook until thick.
- Add in shredded cheese, mustard, and mashed potato.
- Turn off the heat. Season with salt and pepper.
- Pour in the macaroni and toss evenly.
Cauliflower mac and cheese
- 200 grams of cauliflower florets
- 185 grams of cooked macaroni
- 1 tbsp. cornflour
- 250 ml of milk
- 55 grams of grated cheddar cheese
- 2 tbsp. of mascarpone
- 55 grams of grated gruyere cheese
- ¼ tsp. of Dijon mustard
- Steam the cauliflower florets for 15 minutes.
- In a saucepan, combine milk and cornflour and whisk for 2 minutes.
- Add in the cheeses, mascarpone, and mustard while stirring constantly.
- Add cooked cauliflower and season to taste,
- Add the cooked macaroni and continue cooking for two minutes.
- Topped with Parmesan cheeses and serve.
Spinach mac and cheese
- 4 cups of cooked macaroni
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 1 cup of skimmed milk
- 1 tbsp. flour
- 3 oz. grated Gruyere cheese
- 3 oz. grated cheddar cheese
- 1 egg
- 1 egg white
- 1 cup of blanched spinach
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a saucepan, melt butter and add flour. Whisk. Add milk and garlic and bring to a boil.
- Add cheese and mix well. Remove the sauce from heat and add the egg and egg white.
- In a separate bowl, combine spinach, pasta, cheese sauce, salt, and pepper. Toss until evenly coated. Serve.
Carrot mac and cheese
- 4 large carrots, peeled and steamed
- 4 cups penne pasta
- 2 cups cheddar cheese
- 1 ¼ cup of milk
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Process the carrots with a little milk.
- In a bowl, combine cooked pasta and carrot puree.
- Add 1 ½ cup of cheese, chives, salt, and pepper.
- Transfer to a baking dish, sprinkle with the remaining cheese and bake for 20 minutes.
- With these wide variations of the favorite dish, eating mac and cheese will always be exciting and will never be boring.