3 Mac & Cheese Hacks in Under 10 Minutes

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Preparations for the meeting are done, the dog has been walked, you’ve double checked the kids’ homework, and you finally got a chance to wash everyone’s underwear – you’re feeling ahead of the game for once! Then you hear it. The questions about dinner. “It’s already past six, shouldn’t we have eaten by now?” Every parent has those days where they reach for the box of macaroni in lieu of a gourmet meal.
Why not make it a little more interesting?
Here are 3 mac and cheese hacks that you can make in under ten minutes:

 

Creamy Garlic Smoked Salmon Mac & Cheese

 

mac and cheese hacks

Once a year I head across the provincial border into Quebec and travel up towards Mont Tremblant. There’s a little restaurant that used to be a train station in a nearby town which specializes in Italian, specifically in pasta. They make the most exquisite creamy smoked salmon pasta on this side of the planet. This is the first of 3 mac and cheese hacks, a 10-minute version of that delicious pasta made with a box of macaroni.

Ingredients:

1 Box of White Cheddar Macaroni

¼ of a Red Onion – Diced

2 Cloves of Garlic – Minced

2 Tablespoons of Butter

¼ Cup of Cream

75g of Smoked Salmon

Fresh Ground Pepper to Garnish

Start off by making the boxed macaroni according to the package directions. While the pasta is boiling, dice the red onion and start sautéing it in a large pan on medium heat with the butter and minced garlic.

From there add in half of the cream, then start stirring in the powdered cheese mix. Slice your salmon into roughly one inch pieces and toss it into the pan with the rest of the cream.

Here’s a great time saver: frozen packs of smoked salmon. Simply run the pack under hot water while the onions sauté to thaw the fish before tossing it in the pan. We prefer DOM Reserve Smoked Atlantic Salmon from Costco, every mom’s favourite store. Each box comes with 10 packs of 75g, the perfect portion size for this recipe!

By the time you’ve mixed in the salmon, the macaroni should be ready to drain. Toss the drained macaroni into the pan with everything else and mix it all together. Add some fresh ground pepper to taste, and then you’ve got yourself the first of 3 mac and cheese hacks: a fancy Italian pasta! And all in under 10 minutes. Look at you go!

Mom Tip: Pairs really well with an oak aged chardonnay. We suggest trying a glass of 2015 Featherstone Canadian Oak Chardonnay, an indigenous ferment with citrus and a spice that brings the whole dish together.

Bacon Jalapeño Popper Mac & Cheese

 

mac and cheese hacks

This is the kind of dish that goes down in game night history. Whether that’s watching the Blue Jays with the kids or Game of Thrones once they’re in bed, that’s up to you. It also makes for a great main course when you’re short on time due to a longer commute than usual and your kids coding class. This is the second of 3 mac and cheese hacks: Bacon Jalapeño Popper Mac & Cheese.

Ingredients:

1 Box of White Cheddar Macaroni

¼ of a Red Onion – Diced

2 Cloves of Garlic – Minced

½ a Jalapeño Pepper – diced

3 Slices of Low Sodium Bacon

¼ Cup of Cream or Milk

3 Tablespoons of Light Cream Cheese

3 Tablespoons Italian Bread Crumbs

1 Teaspoon Powdered Parmesan

½ Teaspoon Garlic Powder

Fresh Ground Pepper – To Taste

Start off by making your preferred brand of white cheddar boxed macaroni according to the directions on the box. While the water is boiling, cut the bacon into one inch pieces and add them into a large pan on medium heat. Sauté the diced red onion, jalapeño pepper, and minced garlic with the bacon.

Although fresh garlic is a great ingredient, we like to save time by using jarred minced garlic. It’s just as delicious and doesn’t involve the mess and stink of peeling cloves!

Once the onions and peppers start to get soft, add in half of the cream or milk (depending on your preferences) and the cream cheese to the pan with the powdered cheese mix. On the side, mix the Italian bread crumbs, parmesan, and garlic powder into a bowl. This will be used as a garnish and adds a nice texture to the mac & cheese.

By now your pasta should be ready to drain. Once it’s drained add it to the pan with the rest of the cream and mix together. Sprinkle on your bread crumb garnish and grind some pepper on top to taste. Voila! You’ve just mastered the second of 3 mac and cheese hacks, and you still have time to check the kids’ homework before coding class.

Mom Tip: While beer might be the conventional pairing with this typical “game night” snack, a semi-dry Riesling like Vineland Estates Semi-Dry  is light bodied and crisp with acidity – the perfect flavours to balance a creamy spice.

 

Bacon and Herb Sharp Cheddar Mac & Cheese

 

mac and cheese hacks

Ingredients:

1 Box of Sharp Cheddar Macaroni

¼ of a Red Onion – diced

1 Clove of Garlic – minced

1 Tablespoon of Butter

¼ Cup of Milk or Cream

3 Large Fresh Basil Leaves

Leaves of 2 Stalks of Fresh Oregano

3 Slices of Low Sodium Bacon

Fresh Ground Pepper – To Taste

Start off by making your preferred brand of sharp cheddar boxed macaroni according to the directions on the box. If you’re in a pinch, regular macaroni will do just as well. While the water is boiling, cut the bacon into one inch pieces and add them into a large pan on medium heat. Sauté the diced red onion, chopped basil & oregano, and minced garlic with the bacon. Once the onions start to clear and the bacon is looking a little less pink, add in the powdered cheese mix, milk or cream, and butter to the pan.

We prefer to keep the bacon softer rather than crispy, but if you’re a fan of crispy bacon or are looking to add more of a crunch to the noodle then make the bacon in a separate pan and keep it sizzling.

By the time this is all mixed together, the pasta should be ready to drain. Toss the drained pasta into the pan and stir together all the creamy herbed bits and bacon chunks. The final touch? Fresh ground pepper. Preferably lots of it.

There you have it, the final of the 3 mac and cheese hacks ready in under 10 minutes. Perfect for the recipe arsenal of the Mom on the go!

Mom Tip: A glass of Lambrusco, like Chiarli Castelvetro, is a fun Italian sparkler whose tannins are softened by the creamy cheese – yet the bubbles keep your taste buds feeling clean!

Have any timesaving food hacks that you’ve mastered? Let us know in the comments or with #citysavvymom!

Check these great and easy ideas to Make Breakfast Fun For Your Kids!

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Post Author: Amelia Pley

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