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Slightly shocking Kraft dinner variation

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A good friend was wallowing at home for a much-deserved weekend alone during which she indulged in a diet of junk food and bad movies. Now, you have to understand that this person is almost fanatical in her commitment to healthy eating - heavy on the veggies and fish - so when she told me what she had for dinner Saturday night I almost had a heart attack.

Kraft dinner. Bad enough. But then she said she was all out of milk and used white wine instead. She told me it was delicious - a little like fondue on pasta.

This just sounded like a Chowhound news flash to me. But should I have posted it on "Not about food?"

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  1. Ummm... What's a Kraft Dinner? I assume it's a pre-packaged meal made with dry artificial ingredients of some sort. Is it sort of like the flavorless radioactive waste Kraft mac n cheese?

    9 Replies
    1. re: biltong

      It is Kraft Mac N Cheese. It's a regional thing. The only folks I know that call it Kraft Dinner are Canadian.

      I have to admit, it's a guilty pleasure, indulged once a year or so.

      1. re: Gayle

        My husband goes for Kraft, whereas I prefer Top Ramen for one of "those" indulgences.

        Now and again it is fun to "fall off the wagon" in this way--all white wine instead of milk--sounds intriguing.

        1. re: Funwithfood

          When I think about the volume of Kraft Mac N' Cheese, Top Ramen, and canned soup I ate as a kid I find it hard to believe I ever made it here...

          1. re: JudiAU

            do you mean to tell me this stuff isn't good for you??

        2. re: Gayle

          They used to call it Kraft Dinner back in the 40's. Listen to just about any Great Gildersleeve radio show and you'll hear it.

        3. re: biltong

          Oooo I forgot it's not called that in the US. What we in Canada call Kraft Dinner is called Kraft Macaroni and Cheese (I think) in the states and yes, it's that neon orange ersatz cheese sauce with pasta mixture.

          When my kids were small I used to buy it by the case. Once in a while I would think I was giving them a thrill by making real macaroni and real cheese and they didn't like it. Nowadays the only time it is prepared in my house is when we have visitors with small children who are addicted to the stuff. Or, about once a year, when I am feeling depressed and need to comfort myself with gluey food.

          1. re: Nyleve

            I grew up pretty much in the US and my family called that stuff Kraft Dinner. Much to my mother's chagrin, since she was trying to feed 4 kids quickly after teaching all day, I would not tough the stuff. My brothers liked it and my sister was oaky with it but there was no way I was going to eat something that color. Prior to discovering that crap in a box she used to make the real thing. I was spoiled for anything less.

            1. re: Nyleve

              Until 30-40 years ago it was called Kraft Dinner here, too. After the fancier (and to my taste hugely inferior) "creamier" version came out, that was called Macaroni and Cheese to distinguish it from Kraft Dinner, and then somehow the nomenclature evolved into Original M&C and Deluxe M&C.

              I do make several varieties of Mac & Cheese, all very good if I do say so, but every so often I REALLY want those skinny straight noodles and the radioactive-orange cheeselike substance...

              1. re: Will Owen

                "every so often I REALLY want those skinny straight noodles and the radioactive-orange cheeselike substance..."

                And really, who wouldn't?

                Actually when my kids were small and addicted to the stuff, I couldn't even fool them with my homemade, even if I used bright orange cheese because it isn't possible to buy those straight elbows. The crooked elbows are a dead giveaway.

          2. Growing up, I had NO kitchen duties at all. So when I got to college and had to cook for myself, I had a number of kitchen mishaps.

            The most famous one was - in the middle of making Mac 'n Cheese I discovered I was out of milk. Looking in my fridge, I thought "mayo is white"....

            boy was that gross...it tasted like a gloppy cheese sandwich so I added pimentos for a new southern dish -- "Mac 'n Pimento Cheese". Of course, it wasn't good enough to repeat.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Pssst

              LOL- my brother and I used vanilla ice cream in place of milk once.

              1. re: salsailsa

                Genius!!! Desperate times call for desperate measures!

            2. Not Kraft, but my college 'dinner wonder' was a package of Alfredo Noodles 'n Sauce, 1 lb ground beef browned, and 1 block frozen spinach cooked, everything tossed together. All the food groups and made like 3-4 dinners' worth.


              1. s
                Splendid Spatula

                My first dish UI ever made, and source of intensely pleasant memories was Kraft mac and cheese, baked with slices of spam on top. To really gild the lily, you put brown sugar on the spam and run the casserole under the broiler.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Splendid Spatula


                  Split weenies work pretty well too...

                2. I had never heard of macaroni and cheese, let alone Kraft's version, until I went to college (quite a long time ago) - my mother wouldn't bring stuff like that into the house. But my housemates did - IIRC, on sale, they were 5 or 6 boxes for about 89 cents, maybe less (as I said, it was a l-o-o-o-ng time ago), very amenable to a student budget .

                  I am embarassed to admit that not only do I still love the stuff, but I prefer it to real (and even upscale) mac and cheese. I guiltily eat it only every couple of years or so, because my "gourmet" variation is to make it with butter and heavy cream (ah, the days when one used full fat dairy products with impunity)and use only about 2/3 of the packet of the day-glo orange powder.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: JRL

                    Here in Canada on one of the TV networks, there is a commercial for Kraft Dinner. It is a scenario where a couple of college guys are attempting to boil a pot of water on a hot water radiator in order to cook their beloved Kraft Dinner. It is a poor students staple but now the price has reached .99 cents Canadian which these days is not too far from the American price.

                  2. c
                    california Sunshine

                    Growing up in Boston, one of five kids, my mother made it fairly often. In the 50's at least, it was still Kraft Dinner. In the 80's I made it occasionally for my kids (who really did not appreciate it!) My brothers and sisters and I always added ketchup on top - I wonder why????? I still prepare it once a year or so for myself, when in need of some comfort food. I've never noticed that it's now Kraft Macaroni and Cheese - some sort of blind spot, I suspect!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: california Sunshine

                      Not to keep beating a dead horse here, but I think the first I knew they'd changed the name was when I was looking for Kraft Dinner, and the grocery store guy didn't know what I was talking about.

                      Of course, I also remember when it was about a quarter a box...

                      1. Kraft Mac n Cheese is, or was, without a doubt the best hangover food ever. Been years since I've had it, but in the days of my youth I wouldn't be without a couple boxes.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Bobfrmia

                          I can't believe you and I are the only ones who know this is hangover food. Not one other post about it.

                          Has to have ketchup on it though.


                          1. re: Davwud

                            No to ketchup for hangovers. Sorry. Really has to be plain.

                            1. re: Davwud

                              wasn't that a Kids in the Hall skit years ago?

                          2. My variation on the regular Kraft Mac and Cheese is to add a little sour cream, garlic powder and onion powder. This pretty much recreates the Pasta Roni Romanoff boxed dinner that isn't available anymore. I loved that stuff as a kid. I found a website of someone else that loved it and had figured out how to recreate it. I made it three times in a month after I discovered the site! (I’m better now).

                            The only problem is that I like to make it with the skinny, thin egg noodles so I have to buy a Pasta Roni Fettuccini Alfredo and a box of Kraft Mac and Cheese. I use the noodles from the Fettuccini and the orange powder from the Mac and Cheese. I throw out the Alfredo packet but keep the elbows - I know they'll come in handy someday!

                            1. When I use a cheap box of M&C, I will break an egg into a measuring cup, add buttermilk and the cheese packet and mix all. This gets mixed with the cooked macaroni, and then a handful of shredded cheese gets mixed in, with a little going on the top. Bake until the custard sets.

                              I think of this as my upgraded version.

                              1 Reply
                              1. Wow. We used to have Kraft Mac & Cheese a lot when I was a kid. But there was no yellow powder and the pasta was the bent elbow kind. It came with a can of bright yellow "cheese sauce." I loved the stuff as a kid, and could devour some today too! But I haven't had it in years.

                                I've been trying to recreate it in a homemade version, but I can't get real cheese that smooth. I suspect it's like trying to recreate the Twinkie.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Cagey

                                  Try adding a little starch to break the stringy proteins down. That's why you add starch to cheese fondue.

                                  Thanks Alton Brown!

                                2. Dommy(I miss your ! by the way)...

                                  Have you tried this yet? For whatever reason, lately, I've been craving Kraft Mac N' Cheese, and was wondering about this variation and if any Chowhounders had tried it?!

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: Katie Nell

                                    LOL! Aww! Thanks... :) I miss my exclaimation point too! That is why I still sign all my posts... My SO wrote a post for me recently and I told him that all he needs to do is put in a lot of exclaimation points and a few smilies and he's got a "post by Dommy!"... LOL! :)

                                    I can't believe I missed this post the first time around... but no, I haven't tried this wine variation... I do love the box stuff though and haven't had it in years! When I was a poor college hound, I would make it every month or so as a fun side dish for my roomies (adding real butter, lots of pepper, a bit of cream and a sprinkle of parm and sharp cheddar on top) But it also used to drive them NUTS because I used to make it and then BAN them from eating it until the next day. Because Mac N Cheese, EVEN by Kraft, always tasted best the next day... ;)

                                    But it sounds like I found my weekend experiment! :) I'll def. report back! :)


                                    1. re: Dommy

                                      I had a roommate who would cook up a big batch of Kraft Deluxe, dump a can of Hormel Turkey Chili on top and watch videos of ice dancing.

                                      This topic reminded me of her.

                                      1. re: Dommy

                                        I like to add a can of drained pineapple chunks to the finished mac and cheese. Served with a slice of ham, it is a meal I invented in my early 20's and still is one I enjoy today.

                                        1. re: pilotgirl210

                                          must taste sort of like Hawaaian pizza....m-m-mmmmm

                                        2. re: Dommy

                                          Oops Dommy! For some reason, I thought this was your post originally! Sorry Nyleve!

                                          Well, I tried it last night! For whatever reason, my bf wanted hotdogs for dinner, and what goes better with hotdogs than mac n'cheese?! I decided to do half wine, half milk, because I was a little worried it would be too winey! I really couldn't taste much difference, so next time I need to try full wine. I always remember Kraft tasting better than it actually does, but it still hit the spot last night!

                                          1. re: Katie Nell

                                            No problem. I'm glad to have someone else take credit for this particular culinary post.

                                          2. re: Dommy

                                            Dommy! I love your exclamation point too! It makes you seem somehow insane in a really good way!

                                        3. I grew up on the stuff. My mother actually used to make what she called "Tuna Noodle Casserole" which was essentially Mac N' Cheese, mixed with a can of tuna. You prepare the Mac like normal, but once it's all done and cheesy, you mix the can of tuna in and place it all in a casserole dish. Then you put it in the oven for a while til it gets nice and crispy on top. My mother used to then top it off with stewed tomatoes, but I prefer it without. It's actually a delicious dish. It's my comfort food and I make it about once a year.

                                          The white wine recipe sounds very interesting though...may have to give that a shot.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: cincodemayo1

                                            Wow! After reading the above incredible posts, I feel totally liberated to reveal that my favorite comfort food meal is a well-done hamburger, (canned) creamed corn, rice, and mushroom gravy (made with cream of mushroom soup). Of course, no one else in my family will touch this, but it warms the cockles of my heart in a way that mac and cheese never has.

                                            1. re: pikawicca

                                              Braaaaaaahahahahhha! OMG, Pika, in context this is one of the funniest things I've ever read. How are you liking your new lifestyle?

                                            2. re: cincodemayo1

                                              Tuna noodle casserole w/ some frozen peas mixed in and panko and butter toasted on top. Yum!

                                              1. re: cincodemayo1

                                                Kraft Mac and Cheese with a can of Cream Of Mushroom soup and a can of tuna added. You could add a can of peas if you had them. This was something a roommate introduced me to in college. It was filling and relatively cheap.

                                              2. Now you all have me actually craving Kraft Mac and Cheese. As a child, it was a "treat" that Mom didn't understand. I would eat it on the weekends for lunch. When I married my husband, my stepdaughter had this nearly everyday and I would enjoy getting the scrapings from the bottom of the pot. I think I will have to purchase a box for old times' sake.

                                                1. I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA in the '50's eating Kraft Dinner. When we moved to California, my parents got divorced, and one of my father's dinners he'd make when we'd come over was Kraft Dinner (the DELUXE kind!) and hot dogs. (His other dinner was canned green beans and broiled flank steak with Worcestershire sauce.) I still love Kraft macaroni and cheese, but just can't justify the chemicals, so I buy Annie's brand. I think it actually tastes better (especially after I add some extra cheese and bake it in a casserole topped with buttered breadcrumbs.) It's one of my college student daughter's most requested meals when she comes home on vacation.

                                                  1. I grew up on it too! - would be interested to know how old we all are. I thought it was just a seventies thing but I guess not.

                                                    I haven't eaten it in, I dunno, 20 years. Had a bad wannabe-nostalgic experience with Alphaghetti (sp?) -it was insanely sweet and not what I remembered, LOL- and stopped with the nostalgia food.

                                                    BUT we did used to have a great KD variant. My dad cared about food and was a great cook. We used to break his heart with our neverending demands for KD, Kraft cheese slices, Pop Tarts, Wonder bread, all that processed crap. The only KD he could countenance was the standard recipe, but with the addition of TONS of sharp mustard, fresh black pepper, and some chopped genoa salami. IIRC it was pretty good :-)

                                                    1. I have a similar guilty pleasure that i recently discovered. I only bought the Velveeta and shells dinner mix because it was like $1.50 at walgreens on a half price sale.

                                                      Of course I had to tweak it - and it came out dee-licious! To the cooked pasta and velveeta swill, I added a whole head of well cooked pretty finely (1/2")chopped broccoli, 1/2 cup sour cream (or quark), and 1/3 cup good grated parm.

                                                      I like the fact that it was so very easy, relatively healthy, and shockingly lip-smackin' good.

                                                      1. A really fun post to read. I love Kraft Dinner! It's bad to eat I know. But once in a rare while it MUST be made, and I always love it. The basic mac n cheese is always great. Grandma's variation added a can of stewed tomatoes. Very good! And cheap hot dogs sliced...diagonally...are perfect with mac n cheese. I must try the white wine variation, which sounds great. And since fruit and cheese go together well, I'll bet a bit of raspberry or peach preserves might be a nice surprise. But I'm just guessing.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: scuzzo

                                                          I agree, there are some great ideas in here. Very apropos for these "tough economic times" (ugh, hate that expression). I'm dying to know if anyone ever tried the full wine version, but I think I really have to try the tuna noodle casserole variation from above. Of course, tons of childhood memories of KD, mostly with wieners cut in, but I think I always longed for the more decadent Kraft Shells'nCheese. Something about that little can, chock full of gooey cheese sauce, made it seem so much more luxurious.

                                                          1. re: sgogo

                                                            You know, as a fan of penne alla vodka, I have to wonder how the hard stuff would do.

                                                        2. My college favorite was mac n' cheese n' tuna n' peas. I mix up a mess of it once a year or so, when I"m in a mood, and even if it isn't real food, it's really satisfying.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: aimless1

                                                            Hell yes it is. It's nostalgia food for me. I didn't get it as a kid, though I was aware it existed and wanted some REAL bad. Hippiemom wouldn't have bought something a. from a box or b. from Kraft. So I had to wait until I was on my own, but...went after it with a vengeance. On a starving student's budget, it was a welcome change from the ramen/hamburger/celery/cabbage chow meiny thing that was my staple food. I ate Kraft mac n cheese in college, when I was hungry, studying, drunk or hungover. (Most of the time that was how it was.) I ate it with my husband when we were newlyweds who didn't have much money, and I gave it to my kids when I was a single parent with NO money. And ever since I found the Blue Box, I have never looked back. It's about once a year for me too, generally after a difficult day - and the portion is, extra real butter, and one box. For moi. Get your own. Go away.

                                                          2. My brother loves kraft dinner, but I only eat it once in a while. When i crave macaroni and cheese I prefer to make it from scratch, with tuna and peas, and without the neon orange powdered cheese.

                                                            There's also a variation to boring, old macaroni and cheese that's sold here in Canada. I think it's called Kraft dinner macaroni salad, and it exchanges the cheese for mayonnaise and hot spices. I actually found this site trying to find a healthier recipe for it.

                                                            1. winter is over and my snow supply never used - I keep a couple of boxes of kraft deluxe that don't need water - so guess I will eat my two boxes sometime and not buy any until next winter - but having a box or two when you can't get to stores is handy

                                                              1. I wasn't a fan when I was a kid (as soon as it got cold, forget it), but Kraft dinner holds a special place in my heart as the first meal I ever cooked (not just assembled) on my own. While I was making it, I realised "this must be how you make all pasta - neat!" I was excited by my "discovery", and suddenly started spending a lot more time in the kitchen.

                                                                I abandoned it not long after (bulk pasta was cheaper), but my one KD innovation was to add dried onions to the water. I thought I was very fancy!