Gussied Up Mac & Cheese {Recipe Redux}

From the Redux team: Go through your pantry, cupboards, freezer, or fridge; what ‘treasures’ have you found? Pick an ingredient/spice/condiment that’s been hanging out for a while and give it the attention it needs. Share a healthy recipe made using your new-found pantry prize.

gussied up mac and cheese

One thing that is always present in my pantry is boxes of (whole grain) macaroni and cheese.  Yes, the old-school kind with the powdered cheese.  We like that the pasta is already portioned out – three to four servings-worth versus a 1 lb box – and only takes 6 – 15 minutes to cook depending on the brand, making it almost too easy to bypass to turn to take-out.  We always have spices/sauces on hand and frozen chopped vegetables in our freezer, so we are always prepared to gussy up a box of mac for a quick and easy dinner.

Typically I like to pair the mac with canned smoked fish (another item that is a pantry must-have for us), but since I wanted to share this “recipe” with the wider Redux audience I decided to go vegetarian this time with a can of beans.

The great thing about this dish is that it is so easy to customize to accommodate what you have on hand.  I tested the recipe with canned items but obviously you could sub in fresh varieties no problem.  If using fresh broccoli, just precook it and add it with the other vegetables.  I recommend ignoring the directions for adding milk and butter to make a cheese sauce and using sour cream instead, but if you don’t feel like buying sour cream this would still work if you made the sauce according to the back of the box.

Mexican Mac & Cheese, serves 4

  • 6 oz box macaroni and cheese
  • 2 heaping cups frozen broccoli
  • 1/4 cup low-fat sour cream
  • 15.5 oz can low-sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup sliced black olives
  • 1/2 cup diced mild green chiles
  • (optional topping suggestions) caramelized onions, hot sauce, shredded cheddar, chopped avocado
  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions.  When 3 minutes remain in the cooking time, stir in the broccoli and cook it along with the macaroni.  Strain the cooked pasta and return to the pot.
  2. Add sour cream and cheese packet (no milk or butter!) to the pasta.  Stir in sauce, along with olives and chiles.  Carefully fold in beans.
  3. Divide pasta among 4 bowls and top as desired.

gussied up mac and cheese

What items are always stocked in your pantry?

2 thoughts on “Gussied Up Mac & Cheese {Recipe Redux}

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