Quick and easy mac & cheese recipes

Mac & Cheese always reminds me of being a kid and feeling at home in a sort of cheesy, gooey, comfort food bubble.  Fast-forward past Easy Mac and college meals to a more sophisticated, healthier spin on the traditional box Mac & Cheese from an influx of Pinterest-inspired dishes.  Adding vegetables, heartier grains, and subtracting additives and unnecessary ingredients transforms the traditional Mac & Cheese dish into an equally delicious, yet healthier alternative.

There are endless options to spice up the traditional take on Mac & Cheese; however, the three that have received my stamp of cheesy approval are Cheesy Quinoa Mac & Cheese, 5-Ingredient Mac & Cheese, and Avocado Mac & Cheese, all found on Pinterest.

Cheesy Quinoa Mac & Cheese

Ingredients

1 ½ Cups Quinoa
Pinch of Salt and/or Seasoning Salt
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
2 Large Eggs
1 Cup Soy Milk or Non-Fat Milk
1 ½ Cups Grated Chedder Cheese
Panko Bread Crumbs for Topping

Directions

Cook quinoa according to directions on package.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix eggs and milk in large bowl, add quinoa and cheese, and stir until some of the cheese melts. Transfer to a baking dish of your choice, top with Panko breadcrumbs, and bake 30-35 minutes until breadcrumbs are browned.  The quinoa and Panko add a delicious crunch offset by the cheesy, creamy sauce.

5-Ingredient Mac & Cheese

Ingredients

1 Box Noodles of your choice (personally, the shells are the best at creating gooey, cheesy pockets of goodness)
1 Can Evaporated Milk
1 Can Chedder Cheese Soup
1-2 Cups Shredded Cheese
4 Tablespoons Butter

Directions

This Mac & Cheese is combined similarly to the boxed mac & cheese.  Cook and drain the noodles.  Add the noodles back to the warm pot, stir in the butter, cheese soup, and half of the evaporated milk.  Add 1 cup of shredded cheese and add more as needed (you can keep the burner on medium to low to help melt everything together).  Add the rest of the milk a little bit at a time until you achieve the desired consistency.  This 5-ingredient mac & cheese is better than the chemicals and artificial additives of the boxed variety, yet still quick and easy to make.  You can also add different toppings and ingredients such as vegetables, salsa, or hot sauce.

Avocado Mac & Cheese

Ingredients

1 Box Elbow Macaroni
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
2 Avocados, Peeled and Pitted
2 Tablespoons Lime Juice
1/3 Cup Chopped Cilantro
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons Flour
1 Cup Milk
2 Cups Shredded Pepper Jack Cheese

Directions

Cook and drain pasta.  For the avocado sauce, blend garlic, avocados, lime juice, cilantro, and salt and pepper to food processor or blender.  For cheese sauce, melt and stir butter, flour, and milk in a saucepan until thickened.  Add cheese until melted and creamy.  Place pasta in large bowl and add sauces one at a time until well coated and mixed.  Add cubed avocados to garnish.

What is your favorite spin on Mac & Cheese?

Photo credit: fritish

Kristin Coppens

About Kristin Coppens

Kristin Coppens is responsible for BCBSM coverage of the West Michigan, Northern Michigan, and Upper Peninsula regions. Kristin is a writer, social media enthusiast, and information junkie. A self-proclaimed foodie, techie, and political nerd, she is a dedicated promoter of Grand Rapids community development, urban engagement, arts, healthcare, wellness, supporting and buying local, entrepreneurism, and the city as a whole.
 
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