How do you solve a problem like boxed mac and cheese?
- rworange Jul 12, 2010 10:06 AM
First ... I'll concede it is just as easy to make it from scratch and ooooohhh so much better. So please no 'witty' replies like "throw the box away'.
These are tough times. I remember my college days when the boxed mac n' cheese on sale at 5 for $1 were welcome ... not to mention quick to make when cramming for exams.
Usually I'd add whatever meat and veggies were leftover. The most creative I got was when I had a few apples that had started to go and added sliced apples and a bit of cinnamon. That was tasty.
What got me thinking about this was a recipe from a Honduran newspaper (don't ask) where they added cheese to the boxed macaroni and cheese ... what a concept. It never occurred to me. It is in Spanish, use an online translator if interested. Basically add chopped onion, garlic, ground beef, chopped chile, black pepper, Italian herbs, a bit of tomato sauce and the cheese of your choice.
Chow has a recipe for glop which adds ground sausage and a can of pork and beans
I also went to the mothership to see what Kraft thought to do with its little blue boxes
Even Kraft has recipes that add cheese to its boxed macaroni and cheese ... Kraft cheese, of course. They seem to focus on adding their own products to it such as various Oscar Meyer cold cuts, Kraft Italian salad dressing, Knudsen sour cream, Knudsen cottage cheese or Ritz crackers,
What other ideas for boxed mac & cheese?
The sriacha sounds good.
I've been Googling a little more about different ideas for the box. This one uses sriacha to make mac 'n cheese sushi rolls.
Seriously, you have to click on that link. This is hilarious. The presentation would make any four star restaurant proud. Sometimes it pays to play with your food. If one must eat boxed mack and cheese, why not make it look elegant?
the blogger writes " I think these would be a neat finger food to pass around at a party. The cool thing is you can make them way ahead of time, so it frees you up to just reheat at the party. I like the idea of foods that look fancy, but are really something that everyone is familiar with. "
i think it's really just a matter of the flavors you like - you've already got the general idea. veggies, spices, fresh herbs, meats, other cheeses, pesto, tomato sauce, leftover shrimp or other shellfish, canned tuna or salmon...
or you could always make fried macaroni bites/balls - prepare as directed (adding any optional ingredients if you want to), chill, form into balls, dip in egg wash, coat with panko, and fry!
Yes. A little more googling turned up this link where the blogger uses a lot of those items and manages to make the dishes look good
- Spicy Tuna Mac
- Chicken Alfredo Mac
- Sweet Pepper Salmon Mac
I'm just intrigued by this ... mac and cheese topped with Rice Krispies. It doesn't start from a box, but since the Rice Krispies are used for the topping, what is underneath could be anything.
Then, as long as doing low-end box cooking, why not go all the way and add SPAM
This blog went the opposite direction by trying to make the boxed stuff healthier and adding vegetable purrees
There's even a cookbook ... 101 Things to Do with Mac and Cheese
This blogger got the book as a gift and despite skepticism, found there were some good recipes. Here's the variation of the book's mac and cheese cake ... a sort of sweet kugel dessert
There are lots of soups in the book and it would never occur to me to use boxed mac and cheese. This site write
"Macaroni and cheese soups can be made by starting with a chicken stock base. Noodles, cheese, and vegetables are added to complete the soup. Vegetables commonly used in macaroni and cheese soup are onions, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, carrots, and corn. Ham or hot dogs can also be added for extra flavor"
Funny. Strietching a box of mac and cheese by making soup out of it.
The index link on the book site lists all the recipes. Here are a few
Pomodoro e Zucchina Minestra
Cheddar Mac Salad
Fruit Salad (really? Well, I did put apples in my mac and cheese)
Macaroni, Tomato, Corn and Basil Salad
Macaroni Chef Salad
Chicken Potpie (if the mac and cheese is used as the crust, that's a cool idea)
Dr. Pepper Bake
Potato Macaroni Gratin
Paladin Blue Macaroni
Creamy Basil and Almonds
Christmas Stew (kind of sad, if you think about it)
I was wonderingg about mac and cheese salad and found a recipe. It sounds both revolting and oddly alluring with Miracle Whip and gherkins and tuna (cucumber and tomato optional
Another idea, not a salad, was adding creamed corn to mac and cheese.
My go-to college mac and cheese "improvement" was to only use half the milk and butter, then let the batch sit in the fridge over night...
Sriracha and Spam are my favorite additions. Sometimes I'll drop a raw egg in there before everything sets.
My roommate in college used to add Nutella. Go figure.
rworance, I'm not sure how any of this is a problem. Boxed meals can be delicious or nostalgic all on their own and taste pretty good dressed up imo.
I love my boxed mac and cheese with tomatoes and a little squeeze of ketchup. Yum!
Those "Mock-i" rolls you showed would be delicious rolled in actual seaweed!
Tomatoes and a squeeze of ketchup for me too, I like my mac'n'cheese kept plain and simple!
When I was a kid it was always served with hot dog pieces and ketchup as add-ins.
My Mother-in-law makes it with a variety of veggies, a can of baked beans, and extra cheese then bakes it in the oven. A meal I've never quite acquired the taste for, probably because of the beans. My husband makes a homemade mac'n'cheese bake that's very tasty with egg holding it together, tomato layer on top then a cheese crust to finish it off.
This may not may use at all in an urban area, but for us'n rural poor, stretch the M&C by gathering. I just picked a bunch of sorrel & chanterelles; add dandelion greens, ramps, mussels, fiddlehead ferns, etc, and one has an ersatz goour-met meal.
But I have avoid Kraft since '72, it holds no childhood or young adulthood nostalgia for me.
I have, however, listened to Kraftwerk since '79.
Leftover broccoli and carrots, extra-old cheddar cheese, and if I'm really being bad, cut up hot dogs. Maybe with a small salad on the side to ease my guilty conscience:)
I find KD WAY, WAY easier to make than homemade, and if I'm being honest, it hits the spot in a way that homemade just can't. I can't even blame it on nostalgia - I doubt it was even around when I was a kid. Now fried SPAM on white bread with ketchup, that brings back memories!
I can't get Kraft three cheese shells at my regular grocery store, so my starting point is Back to Nature Crazy Bugs mac & cheese. (I saw a review where this was a winner, and they're right ... I've tried the other stuff from the same brand & it's not as good. The texture of the pasta is good and the cheese sauce has a nice nutty flavor. Not that you can taste the nutty by the time I get done doctoring it ...)
Then I brown a little ground bison with salt, pepper, freshly ground white pepper, soy sauce.
Cook the pasta al dente (8 min as opposed to 14-16 called for), then make the sauce with whole milk, the cheese powder, good shredded Parmesan, Velveeta, and organic butter! Add the bison, add the pasta, mix, serve immediately with sliced green onions or chives and grape tomatoes on the side.
I like add ins as well, but the biggest trick I've found is to only use about 3/4 of the pasta/macaroni. All the rest stays the same and/or gets supplemented. YUM!
I would cook as directed, adding a little bit of grated onion and fresh parsley. Then put in a casserole dish, top with real shredded cheese, then top that w/ some buttered panko and bake in the oven until cheese is melted and panko is browned.
In the early 90's one of the Seabee wives taught me how to make spaghetti/macaroni -
2 - boxes mac & cheese
1/4 - 1/2 lb hamburger
1/4- 1/2 C milk
1 can tomato soup
garlic powder, S & P
Brown the the hamburger (sprinkled w/garlic pwder, S&P) in one pan - in another pan boil mac. When the ground meat is done, check out the oil and if it looks like more than 1/2 cup, drain some. Your looking for between 1/4 & 1/2 cup fat, in place of the butter. Sprinkle cheese packets over meat and stir in, add milk, add tomato soup and stir add enough water that you like the consistency. It's done, and really good.
My husband and son love to eat Kraft mac w/ Doritos, either as a scooper or bottom of the bag crumbs sprinkled on top. My Gran always added Kraft singles torn up. I've never been a Kraft Mac girl, but all of these are pretty darn good.
i've made it, then spread out in a long oblong pan, so the mac is only 1-2 inches deep. let cool, then refrigerate. next day, cut into squares. put squares into freezer for twenty minutes.
break eggs into a dish and beat lightly with salt and pepper, and a dash of milk. in another dish mix panko with parmesan, herbs. dip squares in egg mixture then coat in crumbs and pan-saute. OR coat in beer batter or tempura batter and deep fry.
or put the squares between two slices of buttered bread and broil to make a grilled cheese on crack.
or make a casserole - layer mac, then cooked, or roasted, broccoli, onions, garlic, and tomato, then ricotta cheese, lather rinse repeat and end with a layer of mac, then top with grated parm and bread crumbs. baked til golden.
Maybe you can write to Jack's Bistro for the recipe for chocolate mac and cheese
"the chocolate mac and cheese which had a surprising but not unwelcome hint of smoky bacon in it. The chocolate was a mild milk chocolate so its not overbearing at all"
For white chocolate mac and cheese you would have to contact the chef at Sea Rocket Bistro
I cut the milk down tremendously, add the powdered mix and butter, and then add about 1/2 cup freshly shredded chedder, or a few ounces of cream cheese. Then I spice it up depending upon my tastes that day..sometimes a sprinkle of crushed red pepper and Mrs. Dash, often a shake of Goya's Adobo mix with cumin, and cracked black pepper...sometimes all of these. The white chedder mac and cheese is tasty with the green jalapeno tabasco. Sometimes,crushed butter crackers or panko bread crumbs with a tad of butter drizzled on it, also finds its way in. If I have an abundance of fresh herbs and leftover parm or goat cheese...these too are tasty with the white chedder mac.
One of my faves:
Frozen peas (in with the boiling pasta three minutes before draining) & pancetta or prosciutto (or crispy bacon in a pinch, even tuna with a couple drops of liquid smoke), add some parmesan or romano and substitute white wine for half the milk. For true decadence I'll use half & half if I have any.
My mom used to cook some ground beef with garlic salt and add that to the macaroni and cheese... Haven't had that in years, I think I'll have to introduce my dear husband to that :D
Well, I've already copped to loving the stuff so I can't get all highbrow, can I? There was a time a very long time ago indeed when little Marci was prevented from eating anything of that nature because Mom just "didn't want to support that kind of bourgeouis lifestyle choice." It set me up for a lifetime of overcorrection for it, and I even understand with my palate that it's glop, but it's a glop I really dig the taste of!
So, once upon a time, not very long ago at all, (last Fall, to be exact) I found myself with a pot of good minestrone simmering on one of those Noahstyle days we had last year, and Biscuit the Dog had taken off with my parmesan rind. Then to add insult to injury, I went into the pantry and found evidence that a mouse had been into the tubetinni, which is as far as I'll elaborate. I did however have a box of old faithful Blue-box Kraft, and after I looked around the kitchen furtively, I dumped it all straight in there. It was one of the best soups I've ever made, and I'd do it again!
I also used to add shredded cabbage, beansprouts and crumbled hamburger into it to make a dish that my Mr. dubbed "trash in a bowl" and then proceeded to eat three bowls of.
I'm the opposite. Make without milk and maybe only a Tbs of butter--fine if you don't have any one hand. Just keep a Tbs or so of cooking water to blend the cheese in. Then you get an intense, cheesy sprinkle effect on your macaroni. The regular recipe was always way to saucy for my taste, and when I needed to make some in college when I had no butter or milk I never went back to the old way.
Green, Red and Yellow peppers, roasted (or thrown in boiling pasta water) and added after the cheese was mixed in. Mentioned this on another thread. Pretty as well as tasty. Reheated some today and added a sliced up hotdog.
My neighbor just told me she stores the noodles in a plastic bag and uses the powder for a. cheese popcorn and b. corn on the cob. Not sure what to think. Isn't there a commercial powdered cheese whey product available? Isn't that basically what that is? Wouldn't it make more sense to buy a jar/can/box whatever of that? and if so where do you get it?
Brocoli florets thrown in with the pasta for the last 2 minutes of boiling are standard at my house. I have also added leftover or dried up bits of cheese to good effect.
But one of my favourites is to add ham or even better dry chorizo, black beans, and some pureed chipotle in adobo. YUM!
Oh, and ironically, I'll totally cop to being a snob about my boxed mac n cheese. It's gotta be PC white cheddar. No orange KD for me.
A secretive pleasure, left over from youth no doubt, but with the addition of just two ingredients, it is quite good. Lots of freshly- ground (coarse) black pepper- 1 to 2t. perhaps and I can of drained, albacore tuna mixed in. Fast and really good!
re: c oliver
Spam and boxed mac and cheese (tho not Kraft) are plentiful in Guatemala and usually in the average market ... even gourmet, so to speak, flavors of Spam such as garlic or cheese. Someone at Wal-Mart must like both ... a good percentage of the major grocery stores are Wal-Mart owned.
Now canned salmon ... that's a different thing. Almost unheard of. Occasionally there is the cheap ugly type with bones and skin in big cans, but even that is rare.
Hmmm ... mac and cheese and canned salmon.
I keep forgetting about WM which is about an hour bus ride south of where we are in Rio. We bought a ton of stuff, even appliances, there when first setting up our place. Maybe now that we don;t HAVE to go there, we should take the bus down and see what's what. Our usual grocery has 2-4 Campbells soups and they're about US$5!
My son made dinner for me one night and he added garlic, onions,and ground beef, sort of a homemade version of hamburger helper.With a salad, it was not really diet friendly but it tasted pretty good.
Yes cheese, it seems kind of silly to add expensive cheese to these things but I'll fess up, I've done it. I mean why suffer if you have fontina. Also, ricotta. Ricotta cheese has many good uses, not so rich as cream cheese and will really make some dishes so much better.
You could add canned tomatoes with chilies, or chilies alone.
And then a recipe for Cajun Chicken comes to mind, where you add chili powder, and blackened cajun spices, and perhaps cream. For our little guy that wants mac and cheese all the time, in a hurry we add hotdogs and I've added the Louisianna hots to it too d(not for him).for the big kid.
None of these are healthy,but maybe once in a while...
To a box of White cheddar macaroni:
Cook the Macaroni
In a small skillet, saute 1/2 cup of diced white onion, 1/2 cup diced fresh tomato, 1 minced garlic clove
Salt & Pepper
Pour Onion tomato, garlic mixture over hot cooked macaroni
Sprinkle with powdered white cheddar package.
I keep it in my kitchen store simply for the off times the grands will want it and I want to know it's there. If it's something they like, and they do, I'll have it there to whip up for them. I also have used it during times where I needed 'that' kind of noodle for something and that was my only source [so] glad for it. Also used the cheese packet inside for other times too having nothing to do with Blue Box Mac&Cheese
As I mentioned in another thread, my crazy husband loves to mix it with a can of Beefaroni after making 'it' according to package directions, to each his own I suppose.
and yah, wut up with der price?
To be honest, while I do enjoy making my own in a gazillion different variations, the "blue box" is something I just consider good old "comfort food" from when I was just a little sprout. A nice helping of plain Kraft Mac & Cheese alongside a few cooked frozen Gorton's or Mrs. Paul's breaded fish sticks & some tartare sauce, & a crummy day just melts away. :)
Two things I have done recently with Velveeta whole grain mac & cheese for my kids:
* Add 3/4 can low sodium cream of chicken soup. This makes it amazingly creamy, a little stronger flavor. My kids asked for seconds, which we usually don't do.
* Top the mac & cheese with taco meat or spaghetti meat.
A friend of mine was telling me of a mac n' cheese soup she makes for her kids...She adds ham, a can of tomatoes, and chicken broth. Actually sounded pretty good!
Sometimes I add tuna and cream of mushroom soup to make it a cheesy tuna casserole. You can also add broccoli or peas to it.
When I was a kid I had this children's cookbook, and there was a recipe that called for Kraft dinner and canned chicken mixed together, served in a bologna bowl (just fry up a slice in a frying pan and it will rise and make a kind of bubble).
I know it sounds super ghetto but it was actually tasty, haha!