My P.S. (Partner in Sustenance /hubby) likes to cook from boxes. Whether they’re from the cupboard or the freezer, they’re a good starting place when he’s throwing together a meal. Being a big fan of macaroni and cheese, that is often the base of his meal or a side when he’s grilling. Recently he gave a box of mac n cheese a makeover. I took pictures and gave a little advice. Just a little!
In a large saucepan he brought salted water to a boil and cooked the pasta until it was al dente. He added the cheese packet, butter and milk and stirred until the mac n cheese was all ready.
While the pasta was cooking my P.S. prepped his vegetables, cutting zucchini and summer squash into slices. We had leftover roast chicken and he cut that into pieces as well. He heated a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat with a drizzle of oil and sautéed the zucchini and squash with a pinch of red pepper flakes for a few minutes until the squash began to soften.
The chicken went into the skillet next. He stirred and heated the chicken through, adding salt and pepper to the skillet of meat and vegetables. When the chicken was warmed he added a large handful of halved cherry tomatoes. He stirred and let them cook for a few minutes. We didn’t want them to go mushy, just warm a bit.
Next my P.S. stirred in the now completed mac n cheese. Although it was already heated, he let the mixture heat several more minutes in the skillet.
My P.S. decided you can’t have too much cheese in a mac and cheese dish and added another handful of cheese to the skillet, this time some shredded gouda, and stirred well. We happened to have a lot of gouda but any kind of cheese would be excellent. When the cheese was melted, dinner was served!
This dish was like an adult version of mac n cheese. With all of the lovely garden vegetables and chicken it was a deliciously satisfying meal. Starting with a lone box of spiral macaroni and cheese my P.S. did an excellent job of taking it up a step. Several steps, really!
Each bite was a different experience in flavors. Sometimes a vegetable, sometimes chicken, it was all so good there were plenty of “mmmm”s said while we ate our dinner that evening. Leftover it was easily microwaved and even more flavorful. I love when casserole flavors blend and are even better the next day!
Makeover Mac N Cheese
1 small box macaroni and cheese; prepared according to box directions (we used spiral, any shape would work)
1 small zucchini; sliced and halved (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 small summer squash; sliced and halved (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 cups roasted chicken; diced into large cubes
1 cup cherry tomatoes; halved
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of red pepper flakes (or more if you desire more heat)
1 cup gouda; shredded
Cook pasta according to box directions.
In a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat sauté the zucchini and summer squash with a pinch of red pepper flakes in a drizzle of oil about 5 minutes, or until it begins to soften. Add chicken and stir occasionally until it is heated through.
Add cherry tomatoes right before adding the pasta to the skillet. Stir and heat a few more minutes until the tomatoes are warm.
Add gouda, stir again, and serve.