Okay, obviously home made mac and cheese from scratch is divine. I’ve made a number of different mac and cheeses from scratch, including my Grandma’s amazing mac and cheese and Ina Garten’s famous classic mac and cheese. I want to try Ina’s variations on her classic too. She makes a “grown up” version with blue cheese and bacon and a lobster version that I can’t wait to try. If you have the time, home made mac and cheese from scratch is the way to go. But if you don’t have the time or if you’re just lazy like I was the other night, I’ve found a store bought variety of mac and cheese that comes dangerously close to the delicious home made versions we all know and love. I’ve never really enjoyed the store bought versions because they never come close to the decadent, creamy, home made real stuff…until now. This I would buy again. It was so spur of the moment too! I happened to be at Target (love Target!) and just threw a package of Archer Farms Italian Style Four Cheese Macaroni & Cheese Dinner into my shopping cart. It turned out to be a delicious decision. But if you’re looking for a healthy recipe, look away! There is NOTHING healthy about this…except for the portabella mushrooms.
Now, of course, I doctored it up. I can’t leave well enough alone, so I added in some bacon and portabella mushrooms and loads of black pepper. But really all the hard work was done for me. I didn’t have to make a roux or a bechamel sauce because the cheese sauce comes right in the little package (it’s not a powder either). You can be creative and add whatever you like to it. Bacon and mushrooms just sounded good to me. You could certainly add cooked chicken and jalapenos for a Southwest version or some blanched veggies like asparagus and peas. Sundried tomatoes would be another nice addition. Let your imagination run wild! Go with whatever sounds good to you. That’s what’s so nice about a package mix, you can make it your own without having to do all the hard work.
8 slices of bacon cut into bite size pieces
1 package of baby portabella mushrooms sliced
1 box Archer Frams Italian style four cheese macaroni and cheese dinner
The recipe is simple because half of it is store bought:
Follow the box directions. Start by boiling the water for the pasta
While the water is boiling, heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the bacon. Cook until crisp. Remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon and let drain on a plate lined with a paper towel.
Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to box directions.
Meanwhile, Drain off most of the bacon fat from the skillet, leaving 1-2 tablespoons in the pan.
Add the sliced mushrooms to the bacon fat in the pan and sautee until cooked through (about 5 minutes).
Drain the pasta and add the cheese sauce to the pasta and mix well until the cheese sauce coats all the pasta (according to the box directions). Next add the crisp bacon and the portabella mushrooms to the pasta and mix well until everything is combined. Top with lots of freshly cracked black pepper.
Yum, yum, yum…Again not an every day occurance, but once in a while a decadent dish like this is well worth it! And it’s basically store bought!