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7 ways to upgrade your boxed mac and cheese

7 ways to upgrade your boxed mac and cheese

7 ways to upgrade your boxed mac and cheese
September 13
10:30 2018

Macaroni and cheese: A dish that is so beloved by Americans from coast to coast. An icon as patriotic as apple pie or the Bald Eagle. A favorite of students and businessmen alike. A meal that can only be described as “mac and cheese.”

This rich, soulful feast for the spirit comes in many shapes and sizes and is served up on plates and platters in college dorm rooms and five-star restaurants. However, not everyone can afford the high bill that accompanies a world-class serving of mac ‘n cheese. But do not fear: If you have some simple ingredients and a classic box of mac and cheese, grab your forks because these seven irresistible additions will have you craving this American delight for every meal of the day.

One way to elevate the taste of a boxed macaroni is adding a handful of cheese to the dish. There are many cheese options but gouda and cheddar jack are preferable. Kelsey Shoemaker

1. More cheese

It may sound basic, but by simply incorporating additional fresh cheese you’re bound to elevate your dinner delight to the next level. With so many cheese options out there, this easy upgrade can make your mac and cheese one of a kind, every time. My personal favorite flavorful cheese is gouda. It has that perfect balance of a creamy texture intertwined with a unique nutty flavor profile. However, if you are looking for a delicious meal that doesn’t hurt your wallet, classic cheeses like cheddar, jack or swiss are sure to do the trick.

2. Crispy bacon

While the nationwide bacon craze may have come and gone, this crispy, crunchy meat is a kitchen staple adored by Americans everywhere. It only seems logical to combine two patriotic treasures to create a masterpiece that serves as the perfect meal for whatever the occasion. Don’t have an oven? With the press of the microwave button, you’ll have crisp bacon in no time. Simply place two sheets of paper towels on a microwave-safe plate. Lay one to eight strips of bacon on top of the towels being sure not to overlap. Finally, place two pieces of paper towels on top and microwave for four to six minutes, depending on your desired crispiness. Simply crush some fresh bacon to top your mac and cheese, and you’ll have a boxed dinner unlike any other.

3. Hatch green chiles

Having been born and raised in Texas, hatch green chile season is a time to celebrate and devour this terrifically flavorful chile. The green chile is native in New Mexico, but when August and September come around, keep an eye out for chile roasters across the south because you’ll want to stop and indulge in this mild, rich, soulful staple of Southwest cuisine. If you happen to crave some fresh green chiles to add a unique spice to your mac and cheese, try stopping by your local grocery store to pick up a can of this one-of-a-kind Southern staple that will make an upgrade to your basic boxed mac and cheese.

To add a satisfying crunch to the macaroni and cheese, try sprinkling breadcrumbs over it. Breadcrumbs is an easy and tasteful upgrade for the dish. Kelsey Shoemaker

4. Toasted breadcrumb topping

There are two different types of people in the world: those who like a crunchy topping on their mac and cheese and those who don’t. I just happen to be a huge fan of a toasty, baked, scrumptious layer of breadcrumbs to adorn my cheesy delight. A solid, reliable box of breadcrumbs to grab at the store is Panko breadcrumbs. It’s made without the bread crust, leaving an airy, flaky result that is perfect for topping off your mac and cheese dish. However, if you are in dire need of some crunch to your meal and don’t have time to run to the store, try crushing up some crackers, pretzels, cornflakes, or even potato chips to make a snappy rendition.

5. Chili lime seasoning

As the Texas heat is slowly evolving into cool breezes and the green leaves of summer morph into the colorful shades of fall, many forget about spicy, savory flavors of potlucks and pool parties. However, chili lime seasoning is no fad — it’s here to stay. From corn and mangos to street tacos and grilled chicken, this seasoning is the perfect addition to nearly every dish out there, and mac and cheese is no exception. You could always try to create your own take on this sensational flavor, but if you want to have a taste from the pros, my go-to brand is the Tajin Clasico Seasoning.

6. Green onions

This garnish may sound unsubstantial, but with just a little sprinkle of this mild onion, the taste is noticeable but not so overbearing that it takes over the dish’s flavor. Plus, this versatile vegetable is very cheap, making a tasteful upgrade for both your taste buds and your wallet. If you’re wondering why your green onions always seem to wilt only hours after you buy them, you’re not alone. If you want to keep them fresh for up to two weeks, try placing the whole stalk in a cup with about 1 to 2 inches of water, then loosely cover the entire thing with a plastic bag and place in the fridge. To maximize the longevity, replace the water every three days and shock the onions back to life with an ice bath if they begin to wilt again.

7. Grilled cheese

This upgrade isn’t really a way to add flavor to your mac and cheese itself, but instead a unique idea to utilize your cheesy wonder. Next time you whip up a batch of mac and cheese try adding some to a grilled cheese sandwich to take your cheese level to the extreme.

There are endless ways to take a basic box of mac and cheese and turn it into a creation worthy of rave reviews by food critics and home cooks alike. So next time you just throw another generic cup of noodles and cheese into the microwave to chow down for dinner, try taking your meal to the next level with one of these seven easy, delectable, mouthwatering tips that are sure to leave an impression.

Featured Image: Kelsey Shoemaker

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Noah Hutchinson

Noah Hutchinson

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