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Kraft Dinner (blue box)

  • l

I read a book by Jane and Michael Stearn (of Road Food and Splendid Table) that was discussing Kraft Mac N Cheese Dinner.

They said to use 1/3 cup butter (instead of 1/4) and only a few TBs of milk and to steal an envelope of cheese sauce mix from another package and use DOUBLE.

On list of must tries.

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  1. I'd try that, although I love the stuff as is.

    1. Apparently you don't have to steal an envelope from another packet. Or even buy the blue box. Cheese powder available in bulk. Use your own noodles!


      2 Replies
        1. re: Leepa

          MIL gave me a packet (a large packet) of cheese dust years ago.
          I (like many others) had no idea of what to do with it because as far as I was concerned they may be full of words I can't pronounce.

        2. I don't do the double packet, but I always use less butter and milk than called for. Usually about 2 tbsp butter and 2-3 tbsp milk. I also like to let it cool to room temperature, then nuke it for 30 seconds.

          1 Reply
          1. re: mpjmph

            I use more milk and less butter. Makes me feel a little virtuous to cut down on the fat and up on the calcium. Good chance I'm fooling myself.

          2. If Jane and Michael say to do it, I'll do it! Those guys are as reliable as Julia was, I'll swear. I still cook several favorite dishes from "Square Meals" thirty years after I got it.

            Blue-box mac'n'cheese, or Kraft Dinner as it was then called, was one of Mom's best friends when I was growing up. She did an awfully good bechamel-cheese sauce version from scratch, but the stuff in the box was her quick-meal standby, and when we got older it was one of the first things we learned to cook by ourselves. It helped that it was just 25¢ a box, or often 20¢ on sale. I really like it with either hot dogs or link breakfast sausages cut up in it.

            9 Replies
            1. re: Will Owen

              Will, "Square Meals" is where I saw this. In the Nursery Food section. They talk about when there was a rumor that Kraft was discontinuing Kraft (regular) Dinner and going with only "Deluxe" (a travesty)

              They bought cases and cases of the blue boxes just in case, but it was only a rumor as it turned out.

              1. re: laliz

                One of my ALLTIME favorite reads/cookbooks. Awesome. I adore the Sterns.

                1. re: mamachef

                  I'm still trying to get up enough gumption to do the pea salad with Miracle Whip. There are obviously limits to my devotion …

                  1. re: Will Owen

                    Ya know Will, if the peas are of good quality and the cubed cheddar is nice and sharp, that's some pretty tasty business there! C'mon: if you don't like it, I'm sure you can palm it off on the neighbors. (Add a few sliced green onions tops, too.)

                    1. re: mamachef

                      The deal-breaker there is the Sterns' insistence that you MUST use Miracle Whip. That would require me to have a jar of it in my house, which is never going to happen.

                      1. re: Will Owen

                        Ya know what, I didn't even think about that and I know full well your aversion to La Whip. Try using best-quality mayo, and add a tsp/two of sugar. You'll be glad ya did!

                        1. re: Will Owen

                          Nobody's going to be watching, you can use Kewpie or whatever one you want, Will

                2. re: Will Owen

                  Will Owen wrote:"I really like it with either hot dogs or link breakfast sausages cut up in it."

                  Yah, or crispy bacon. Or kielbasa.

                3. I always use half the butter and no milk. Never had it until college . Deprived childhood that mom only served home made. How could she! :>) I still get a craving for the blue box now and then.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Island

                    I also use less butter & milk, & add a bit of Sargento 4 cheese Mexican blend, & smoked paprika...

                  2. I use way less milk, a good amount of butter, and dump in a drained can of tuna or a couple of kosher hot dogs, sliced and heated up.
                    That may be lunch tomorrow, come to think of it.

                    1. I always slightly undercook the noodles...use waay less milk and throw out about a 1/4 of the pasta to make more cheesy...I've tried the bulk cheese sauce, but not as good as the blue box...love this stuff. Have also gone to the 'Family size" i've seen in some grocery stores..it's a larger box , so ideal to get rid of extra pasta to make room for more cheesy goodness;)

                      1. We always skipped the butter and milk entirely and just used heavy cream to mix with the cheese powder. Along with a lot of cracked black pepper. Quite delicious. Every once in awhile I'll have a jar of cream culturing for butter making, so I use that...even better.

                        1. I make Kraft Dinner for one (really Kraft Lunch) by tossing half the macaroni before cooking which then "doubles" the amount of cheese. Heavy cream for me and then let it sit for a couple minutes before eating. Heaving peppered at the table.

                          1. Kraft Dinner left uncovered overnight in the icebox may be better than fresh off the stove.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Perilagu Khan

                              Absolutely. My college roommate was well trained to not eat the mac & cheese in the fridge - it wasn't leftover, just aging.

                            2. If I have to buy another box just for the cheese packet, it's gonna double the cost of the meal....Up to about two bucks.


                              1. I will be hung for this, but I don't believe I've ever tried Kraft Mac 'n' Cheese. Mom made homemade (albeit with American cheese). Sister rebelled and bought Kraft as a teenager, but I was scared off by the smell and the neon orange color. I've always just made my own when we decide to eat something so bloaty and almost nutrient-free!!!!!!

                                O.K., attack!

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: sandylc

                                  No attack needed. I make my own too. But just like a Twinkie or Cheap ice cream sandwich there are some flavors that are ingrained from childhood--and what kid ever even thinks about bloating or nutrients.

                                  1. re: escondido123

                                    Probably shockingly, I have never had a Twinkie, either. My sister ate them all of the time; I was a Suzie-Q girl.

                                    1. re: sandylc

                                      Twinkie, Suzie-Q, all the same thing, all junk food.

                                  2. re: sandylc

                                    I don't think you should be hung. It's un-American, but I believe in tolerating people and things that are un-American, especially if they are from other countries.

                                  3. Having grown up in Germany, this "dish" was practically unknown to me. I'd see it at my American friends' houses, and I think the first time someone gave my mom a box from the local commissary (where we weren't allowed to enter), it was so exotic and special I developed a soft spot for it. I was probably 9 or 10.

                                    In my teens, I would covet the little bowls of cheesy orange noodles leftover by kids my friend was baby-sitting.

                                    Fast forward a decade, and one of my best friends gave me 3 gift-wrapped boxes of mac n cheese for my birthday. I LOVED it.

                                    These days, I make it maybe once or twice a year just for shits & giggles. I always add stuff, tho --- red peppers, mushrooms and ground beef as well as good helping of hot sauce are generally the prime candidates.

                                    Since we only have skim milk in the house, I often use a splash of half & half in lieu of milk, and never skimp on the butter.

                                    1. A favourite guilty pleasure which I can't buy in my current central Euopean home, but while visiting family in Bangkok recently I stocked up on 6 precious boxes. I've also tried the bulk cheese but it doesn't integrate as well as the cheese in the package... it stays grainy and never fully integrates no matter how much butter/milk you use.

                                      I like mine with 1 tbsp of butter, 1/4 cup of milk, drained tuna, really good frozen sweet peas, two very health squeezes of siracha sauce and lots of black pepper.

                                      1. OK, who else read the thread title and immediately heard the Barenaked Ladies singing in their head?

                                        "If I had a million dollars
                                        We wouldn't have to walk to the store
                                        If I had a million dollars
                                        Now, we'd take a limousine 'cause it costs more
                                        If I had a million dollars
                                        We wouldn't have to eat Kraft Dinner
                                        But we would eat Kraft Dinner
                                        Of course we would, we’d just eat more
                                        And buy really expensive ketchups with it
                                        That’s right, all the fanciest ke... dijon ketchups!"

                                        Dammit, that song will be stuck in my head all day now :)

                                        13 Replies
                                        1. re: coney with everything

                                          Never heard that tune, but the lyrics are a panic! lol

                                          1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                            The last line of the song is

                                            "If I had a million dollars...I'd be rich!"

                                            BNL is a hoot in general, if you've ever listened to the theme of "Big Bang Theory", that's them

                                          2. re: coney with everything

                                            Love that song. My millionaire fantasies are just as prosaic.

                                            As for the blue box, it's worth your while to melt a slice of American cheese into it instead of using another powder packet. Cheaper and tastier in my opinion.

                                            1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                              Now there's an idea. Or maybe a slice of Velveeta?

                                              1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                                I usually add in extra cheese to mine, but my favorite is the Three Cheese kind not the standard orange cheese one. Extra cheese grated in and fresh ground pepper. Sometimes hot sauce.

                                                1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                                  Yep, that's exactly right. If you use the Kraft Singles, they're pretty close to Velveeta anyway. Cheaper and better than using up that expensive valuable powder.

                                                  I do buy the powder in bulk from the link above, but once you add in the shipping it's cheaper just to buy more boxes of the Dinner at Costco and throw away the pasta (or save for another use) unless you buy more than 15 lbs or so at a time. Which I do. (The powder is necessary for making the late, lamented Noodles Romanoff.)

                                                  1. re: acgold7

                                                    (The powder is necessary for making the late, lamented Noodles Romanoff.)

                                                    Which, of course, you should share with us also! :D

                                                      1. re: acgold7

                                                        The recipe or the method. Sorry for the ambiguity!

                                                        1. re: Leepa

                                                          No problem.

                                                          There are lots of copycat recipes all over the web but they are all pretty similar. I guess the real original Romanoff recipes from the 1800s called for cottage cheese, but the one we all remember and love -- The Betty Crocker, single-pot method from the box -- isn't too different from the Kraft Mac n' Cheese method, with the key factors being Sour Cream and Onion Powder (and maybe a little Garlic Powder as well). Don't use Onion Salt or Garlic Salt -- there is plenty of Salt in the Cheese powder.

                                                          So for roughly the same quantity as was in the boxed version, use about a half pound of egg noodles and boil the way you normally would, about five minutes or so. Drain (not necessarily well -- a little water left in the pot helps) and add about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon each of Onion and Garlic powders (depending upon how much you like each -- maybe start with the smaller amount if you are not sure) and a dash of white pepper, a tablespoon or two of butter, 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the cheese powder and 1/4 to 1/2 cup of sour cream. Stir madly. Exact amounts aren't relevant because it all depends upon personal taste and how decadent you like it.

                                                          Sprinkle with chopped parsley if you want to fancy it up a bit.

                                                2. re: coney with everything

                                                  'you always wanted a monkey!' LOL - now I have to pick up a box!

                                                  1. My dislike of Kraft Dinner was changed when a friend told me she adds a can of stewed tomatoes.
                                                    No butter. No milk. Just the cheese packet and a can of stewed tomatoes.
                                                    I just mix the cheese with some of the juice from the tomatoes.

                                                    The tanginess of the tomato cuts down on the richness of the cheese....stuff
                                                    Haven't had it in years though.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: Sparklebright

                                                      Throw in a couple cans of tuna (it used to be just one) and you have tunamato. A classic recipe, and the best way to eat M&C.

                                                      1. re: Sparklebright

                                                        My tomato version was different than that, make KD as per normal instruction, add a can of Campbell's Tomato Soup and some all purpose seasoning (Mrs. Dash I was using)

                                                        Throw in some cut hot dog sausages and that was a delight when i was a kid!

                                                      2. It is one of the few foods my picky son will eat (the other one eats almost anything)

                                                        When I take the water and elbows out to strain, I put the butter in the pan still on simmer heat so it just barely starts to brown (not too much or he doesn't like it) then add the cheese powder, then the milk and form the sauce before putting the elbows back in the pan.

                                                        Usually comes out pretty decent, for what it is.

                                                        1. You can also save even more time while the noodles are cooking by melting the butter in a microwave safe measuring cup, adding the milk and cheese powder to it, whisking and nuking until smooth. Then when the noodles are done, drain, dump in sauce, stir and eat straight from pot.

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: acgold7

                                                            This is what I do. It used to be the instructions on the box.

                                                            1. re: Leepa

                                                              Really? I thought I was a genius.

                                                            2. Related to this topic, do any of you remember Kraft Egg Noodle Dinner? This also came in a cardboard box, but the pasta was shaped like very small squares and the sauce had a chicken flavor. Loved this stuff, but it disappeared from shelves down in Texas several months ago. ):

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                Yes- my mother made it a few times back in the '50s and '60s, I liked it a lot, realizing even at that tender age that it wasn't good for me.

                                                              2. I use 3/4 of the noodles and throw the rest out so that the noodle to cheese powder ratio is more concentrated. I also add everything I can to make it more cheesy/creamy. Cream cheese, sour cream, cheddar cheese, heavy cream, lots of butter and I like a lot of pepper. I don't use any milk unless it's too thick and in that case I add a bit over heat while stirring to until it has a nice creamy and cheesy sauce

                                                                1. Once my friend and I, when somewhat drunk and very hungry, made it with the ghee I had painstakingly made that day. I had just received a package from Penzey's so we tried sprinkles of each jar on different bites. Wow! So good. Not that I would EVER do it again.

                                                                  1. Mom used to get mad, 'cause I'd steal the cheese (or is that cheeze) packet out and sprinkle it on heavily buttered popcorn. Add a lid to the bowl & shake like mad for neon orange cheese (cheeze) popcorn.

                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                    1. re: pine time

                                                                      Speaking of genius, you probably deserved a Nobel in physics for that.

                                                                      1. re: pine time

                                                                        Next time you are in the popcorn aisle at the grocery store, look for Kernel Season's... you can make neon orange cheese popcorn without raiding the blue box.

                                                                        1. re: mpjmph

                                                                          Ah, but Mom is now gone, and my last neon popcorn must have been 4 decades ago.

                                                                      2. Double the butter, don't use milk. Consider adding vienna sausage or a similar meat product.

                                                                        1. Jeez- I use maybe two pats of butter and the 1/4 cup of milk recommended. And a ton of pepper, you have to use that. Did you know that you can buy that cheese product in a round container like the green kraft parmesan? Well, I haven't seen it in years but I bet you can still find it. No need to rob one kraft dinner to go nuts on another one!

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: EWSflash

                                                                            It's still available in the blue cans but it's relatively expensive and a little hard to find. Much cheaper to rob Peter to pay Paul.

                                                                          2. damn you people! I just ordered an 8-pack from Amazon!

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. Make it how you want, but then stir in a dose of your favourite jarred salsa. So much yummier. Not that it's bad on its own.