Thursday, April 3, 2014

Go To Meals – Macaroni & Cheese

It's April, which means things are about to get busy around our house, and I'll probably have some extra mouths to feed with the AI crew that stays with us during the breeding season.  I'm all about a home cooked meal - but it needs to be quick to prepare.  I thought I'd post a few of my "Go To" meals that are easy & quick to make, can feed a crew, and are relatively inexpensive on the budget.

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So we love macaroni and cheese at our house.  Because…..well, we love cheese.
I mean who doesn’t LOVE CHEESE?!?
And while I really like a “homemade” macaroni & cheese, I’ve figured out a quicker way to make it.  In the front part of our Safeway’s, next to the deli, they have a case of refrigerated, prepared soups in plastic containers.  I buy a container of soup there usually once a week, and we eat it with a salad for a quick meal at home.  A few weeks ago when I was picking up a container of Clam Chowder for Clint, I saw a new “soup” they had - Macaroni and Cheese. 
Now I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be a soup or not because it’s pretty liquidy (let’s pretend that is a word) and there is A LOT of creamy, cheesey goodness in the container.  So what I do to make this a "go to" meal is boil some regular macaroni noodles, add the noodles to the container of Safeway Macaroni & Cheese, mix it all together, top it all with some grated sharp cheddar and call it a day! 
The extra noodles really stretch the meal, and there'll be leftovers for lunch the next day.  (And honestly, probably the next couple of days - this makes a lot.) 

What you need:
1 container of Safeway Signature Cafe brand Macaroni & Cheese – found with their refrigerated soups

16 oz Macaroni Elbows - cooked to package instructions
1-2 cups Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese – I use Tillamook Cheese, it’s the only cheese to use!  Sorry, the cheese snob in me is coming out.  But REALLY – this is the only cheese to use.  Want to make life easier?  Buy the pre-grated Tillamook cheese in the bag – I won’t tell. 
Directions:
Boil the noodles for the minimum time.  (If the instructions say to cook for 9-11 minutes, I'll cook for 9 so the noodles aren't mushy.)  Drain the cooked noodles and combine with the entire container of Mac & Cheese from Safeway.  Use a plastic spatula to get all of the cheesey goodness out of the container.  :)  Mix in the shredded cheese and serve warm.

Want to make it fancy? 
Add in some grated parmesan too!  Or pour the noodle mixture in a 9x13 pan, sprinkle with cheese & breadcrumbs or panko crumbs and broil for a few minutes until the cheese is bubbly and the crumbs are toasted!
Don’t worry – there’s enough sauce in the “soup” to cover the additional noodles thoroughly.  This also makes plenty for leftovers.

I serve the macaroni & cheese with a pre-made bagged salad or a bag of steamed brocolli and call it a meal.  Total prep time is less than 15 minutes (basically the time it takes to boil your noodles) and couldn’t be easier.

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If you have a "Go To" meal you make in your home, would you share?  

Clint is really good about eating whatever I make for dinner, but I think all of us could agree that it's easy to get stuck in a rut so I'm always looking for easy ways to diversify my meal plans!

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