Modified Macaroni & Cheese: 4 Ways

Reading Time: 3 min

4 Easy ways to the load the perfect, inexpensive comfort food with vegetables or protein. Because for some reason we keep trying to improve upon perfection. Macaroni & Cheese made the easy and cheap way, with real food.

 

For some reason, we feel the need to improve upon perfection. Homemade Macaroni & Cheese is basically the perfect comfort food. It has pasta, melted cheese, salt, and it’s ready in less than 20 minutes.

But for some reason, people try to ruin it with things like tuna fish and peas.

Granted I’m the type that finds that combination simultaneously junky and delicious. But it still feels like a jab at Macaroni & Cheese. Tuna fish and peas is obviously a college kid’s attempt to add protein and vegetables to a meal decidedly lacking in both.

Let me share with you some alternatives. If you have guilt associated with eating the world’s most amazing comfort food, these will help.

 

4 Easy ways to the load the perfect, inexpensive comfort food with vegetables or protein. Because for some reason we keep trying to improve upon perfection. Macaroni & Cheese made the easy and cheap way, with real food.

 

4 Easy ways to the load the perfect, inexpensive comfort food with vegetables or protein. Because for some reason we keep trying to improve upon perfection. Macaroni & Cheese made the easy and cheap way, with real food.

 

4 Easy ways to the load the perfect, inexpensive comfort food with vegetables or protein. Because for some reason we keep trying to improve upon perfection. Macaroni & Cheese made the easy and cheap way, with real food.
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The One with Broccoli

This is not the proper way to steam broccoli. By all means, check the 8 million Google search results for steaming frozen broccoli. Or read the back of the package. This is my lazy/fast way to cook frozen vegetables.

Author: Steph Jenkins
Ingredients
  • One 12-oz bag frozen broccoli
  • 1 batch Macaroni & Cheese
Instructions
  1. While the pasta for the macaroni and cheese (recipe here) is simmering, Fill a medium size pot with 2-3 inches of water. Set it over medium-high heat. Pour frozen broccoli into the water. Cover with the lid and bring water to a boil.

  2. When it’s boiling, turn the heat off and let broccoli sit for 3-5 minutes, just until bright green and fork tender.
  3. Immediately strain the broccoli in a colander (this prevents it from overcooking in the hot water).
  4. When broccoli cools slightly, place it on a cutting board and chop it finely.
  5. Stir it into the macaroni and cheese and serve.

Recipe Notes

FLAVOR TIP: Instead of using frozen broccoli, saute 1/4 cup each finely chopped onion and peppers with finely chopped fresh broccoli. When the onion is translucent and broccoli is tender, stir it into the macaroni and cheese.

 

4 Easy ways to the load the perfect, inexpensive comfort food with vegetables or protein. Because for some reason we keep trying to improve upon perfection. Macaroni & Cheese made the easy and cheap way, with real food. 

 

4 Easy ways to the load the perfect, inexpensive comfort food with vegetables or protein. Because for some reason we keep trying to improve upon perfection. Macaroni & Cheese made the easy and cheap way, with real food.
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The One with Beef
Author: Steph Jenkins
Ingredients
  • 1-2 cups ground beef, browned*
  • 1 batch Macaroni & Cheese
Instructions
  1. When macaroni is done simmering, stir in the beef with the shredded cheese.

  2. Serve warm.

Recipe Notes
  • *Make Ahead Ground Beef works great here. If possible, use a salt-free batch - macaroni and cheese is plenty salty on its own.
  • TIP: You can also add 1-2 cups diced tomatoes (canned or fresh - saute the fresh ones until soft).

 

4 Easy ways to the load the perfect, inexpensive comfort food with vegetables or protein. Because for some reason we keep trying to improve upon perfection. Macaroni & Cheese made the easy and cheap way, with real food.

 

4 Easy ways to the load the perfect, inexpensive comfort food with vegetables or protein. Because for some reason we keep trying to improve upon perfection. Macaroni & Cheese made the easy and cheap way, with real food.
Print
The One with Greens
Author: Steph Jenkins
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 4 cups fresh greens, chopped (2-3 cups if using frozen)
  • 1 batch Macaroni & Cheese
Instructions
  1. While pasta is simmering, set a frying pan over medium heat. Add and melt 1 tablespoon butter or oil. Saute finely chopped onion and peppers until onion is translucent. 

  2. Add greens and cover pan. Reduce heat to low and cook until greens are wilted.

  3. When macaroni and cheese is done, stir in vegetables.

Recipe Notes

EASY VERSION: Skip the onion and peppers. Instead, toss the chopped greens directly into the pasta as it boils and then simmers, cooking both simultaneously.

 

4 Easy ways to the load the perfect, inexpensive comfort food with vegetables or protein. Because for some reason we keep trying to improve upon perfection. Macaroni & Cheese made the easy and cheap way, with real food.

 

4 Easy ways to the load the perfect, inexpensive comfort food with vegetables or protein. Because for some reason we keep trying to improve upon perfection. Macaroni & Cheese made the easy and cheap way, with real food.
Print
The One with All Three
Author: Steph Jenkins
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 4 cups fresh greens, chopped (2-3 cups if using frozen)
  • One 12-oz bag frozen broccoli, chopped finely (or fresh)
  • 1-2 cups ground beef, browned*
  • 1 batch Macaroni & Cheese
Instructions
  1. While pasta is simmering, set a frying pan over medium heat. Add and melt 1 tablespoon butter or oil. Saute finely chopped onion and peppers until onion is translucent. 

  2. Add broccoli and greens and cover pan. Reduce heat to low and cook until greens are wilted and broccoli is tender.

  3. When macaroni and cheese is done, stir in beef, to taste.

Recipe Notes

EASY VERSION: Skip the onion and peppers. Instead, toss greens directly into the macaroni as it boils and then simmers, cooking both simultaneously. Steam broccoli separately (to prevent overcooking). When Macaroni and cheese is done, stir in broccoli and beef until it’s one messy, cheesy, conglomerate of glorious, one-pot meal.

 

Your Turn.

What do you add to your Macaroni & Cheese?

 



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