This Smokin’ Mac n Cheese is a simple “family” meal that kids and adults alike will love… it’s quick and easy.. a perfect weeknight meal.
I had a hankerin’ for mac n cheese (like that?.. hankerin’… living in the south has surely had an influence on me!)… but .. problem number one is … it’s not high on Warren’s list… “Mr. I Don’t Like Cheese” … well the Mr. has changed over the years… now he qualifies it by saying.. he doesn’t like to eat just cheese (cubed cheese etc)… but put out a tray of cut-up sausage and cheese with fruit.. and lo and behold… Mr. eats away… (big sigh)… ya gotta love a man that stubbornly refuses to acknowledge a woman may have been right…
So back to my mac n cheese… he has liked my Mexican Mac n Cheese… so I have to think of ways to change it up a little… I had a package of Lil Smokies from Hillshire Farms in the fridge that I wanted to use… so I went to the Hillshire Farms site… and sure enough.. they had a recipe with Lil Smokies added to Mac n Cheese… not rocket science there.. but the recipe used half and half instead of milk and didn’t make a roux for the sauce first… (I went back to the site to find the recipe and now I can’t find it… oh well you will have to trust me)…so I thought I’d give it a try… of course I had to add my little twist to it..
I also added one can of Rotel Mild Tomatoes and Chilies… and I must say.. it was a great combo.. even Mr. I Don’t Like Cheese liked it! ….. even loved the left overs… big sigh.. I do have to remember when creating recipes he doesn’t like cheese.
The sauce came out perfect… very smooth and cheesy and gooey… but I know half and half adds calories and fat… you can still make a traditional cheese sauce and add the ingredients in the recipe..
I cut the Lil Smokies into thirds… you can add them whole… but cutting them makes a great presentation.
If you don’t want the zip from the Mild Rotel Tomatoes.. use a can of Petite Cut Tomatoes instead…
I didn’t drain the tomatoes.
I used elbow macaroni.. but you can use any other shape you prefer.
Truly an easy meal.. and really tasty too!
Recipe: Smokin’ Mac and Cheese
All you need:
3 cups dried elbow macaroni (any type you like)
1 package Hillshire Farms Lil Smokies
1 can Rotel Mild Tomatoes with Chilies
2 cups half and half
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
2 cups shredded Mild Cheddar cheese
For Topping (topping is optional):
4 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
1 tablespoon (Fajitia or Taco Seasoning)
1 cup unseasoned dry bread crumbs
All you have to do:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large pot, cook the macaroni according to package directions for al dente… you want it cooked but still chewy because you will be baking the casserole in the oven later.
Drain the pasta and return to the pot.
Meanwhile, in a medium pot add the half and half, 2 tablespoons butter and shredded cheese. Cook over medium heat until cheese has melted and sauce is smooth, stirring frequently.
Add the sausage and tomatoes to the cooked macaroni and stir well.
Add the cheese sauce to the pot of macaroni, stir well.
Pour the mixture into a 9 x 13 baking pan.
To make topping: (this is optional)
Put butter into a 2 cup measuring cup or bowl and melt in the microwave.
Add the seasoning and bread crumbs.
Sprinkle the crumb mixture on top of the casserole.
Cover loosely with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
Remove the foil and continue to bake for about 20 minutes or until the casserole is bubbly.
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