Zesty Mac 'n Cheese Casserole ~ ElephantEats.com

Good news! I got back in the kitchen again this week and actually made and photographed a recipe!

Sorry I’ve been so lacking on recipe posts, I guess I’ve just been really lazy since my Christmas break and haven’t been able to get back into the groove.

This has been compounded by the fact that my computer is at death’s door and I dread having to use it because it’s SO SLOW and the battery dies in about 20 min. I’m going to start using Nate’s computer but it’s a Mac and I’m putting it off as long as possible since I’m a PC girl.

Zesty Mac 'n Cheese Casserole ~ ElephantEats.com

But anyway, let’s get to this recipe. I think we all know that homemade mac and cheese doesn’t hold a candle to the stuff in the blue box– although I’m partial to the Velveeta Shells and Cheese variety that comes with the pack of squeeze cheese.

Whenever I make macaroni and cheese from scratch, the cheese sauce looks so smooth, creamy and delicious in the pot, but then after you toss the noodles in it and put it in the oven, it kind of separates and turns to a texture I don’t like at all. It gets kind of dry (which I guess some people like) and just not cheesy at all.

Zesty Mac 'n Cheese Casserole ~ ElephantEats.com

Ever since I was little, I’ve loved Velveeta cheese. In fact I just remembered that for breakfast I used to eat an english muffins toasted with Velveeta melted on it and sprinkled with bacon bits. I don’t know how I came up with this, but MAN was it good….and I kind of want one of those sandwiches right now…

Anyway, I know Velveeta is artificially colored and probably so bad for you, but I’m convinced that in order for mac and cheese to be palatable, it needs to contain some of this delightful cheese product. Well this recipe is the best of both worlds. The cheese sauce is made using my favorite artificial cheese, keeping it smooth and delicious even after it’s baked, but then there’s real cheddar sprinkled on top for even more cheesy deliciousness.

Zesty Mac 'n Cheese Casserole ~ ElephantEats.com

This particular recipe gets a little kick from the tomatoes with green chiles, and I’ve made it extra healthy by adding loads of veggies. I also added tofu since Nate and I don’t love chicken but I wanted some added protein. You could definitely sub chicken if you’d like.

I could not stop myself from eating this!

Zesty Mac 'n Cheese Casserole ~ ElephantEats.com

Zesty Mac 'n Cheese Casserole
Serves 6
A spicy, cheesy pasta casserole chock full of veggies!
Write a review
  1. 16-oz. package corkscrew pasta (or whatever shape you like)
  2. 2 tablespoons butter
  3. 1 medium onion, diced
  4. 1 green bell pepper, diced
  5. 8 oz. mushrooms, diced
  6. 1 (10-oz.) can diced tomatoes and green chiles
  7. 10-oz. pasteurized prepared cheese product, cubed (like Velveeta, which comes in a box or shredded)
  8. 10 oz. frozen chopped broccoli, thawed
  9. 8 oz. super firm tofu, cubed and drained- i found a pre-cubed version (you could also sub chicken if you want)
  10. 1 (10 3/4-oz.) can cream of chicken soup
  11. 1/2 cup sour cream
  12. 1 1/2 cups (6 oz.) shredded Cheddar cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Cook pasta for slightly less time than package recommends so it's al dente. It will cook more in the oven so you don't want it to be too mushy.
  2. Melt butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and mushrooms and sauté 5-10 minutes or until tender.
  3. Stir in tomatoes and green chiles and prepared cheese product; cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes or until cheese melts. Stir in broccoli, tofu, soup and sour cream and stir well. Mix in hot cooked pasta until blended.
  4. Spoon mixture into a 9x13 baking dish; sprinkle with shredded Cheddar cheese.
  5. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until bubbly.
Adapted from Southern Living
Adapted from Southern Living


  1. I actually…don’t think I’ve ever had velveeta! My mom always used to make mac and cheese with American cheese, and that is what totally does it for me now. But I love the spice you infused into this!

    • Oh my gosh, really?! Well you must try velveeta…I could see how your mom’s version is what’s your fave though :) I’ll have to try using american cheese. I’ve only ever used cheddar!

  2. One you go MAC, you’ll never go back.

    I’m not kidding when I say 2.0 would probably maim someone for this casserole. And I’d be right behind him…

    • Haha. Well whenever I use Nate’s computer I love it, but I just worry that there are certain things I won’t be able to do that i’m used to….not to mention all my stuff is on my computer!
      Thank you! I hope you try this casserole then! It’s mighty tasty :)

  3. consuelohoneyandfigs

    Sorry to hear about your computer darling! Hope it’s all fixed soon. When mine is broken, I cringe at the thought of using someone else’s… I only like writting on mine, I guess.
    Anyway, I think this casserole looks perfect! I love how you added some veggies and extra protein to make the dish extra-filling. Win win ;–) And cheddar on top sounds delish!

    • Aw, thanks, Consuelo. Yeah, I think i’ll use his for a while, while mine is still alive and see how many times I find myself needing it. Once it gets to zero I’ll make the switch :) This casserole was totally satisfying!

  4. Amy, you’re killing me with your comfort foods… first the saucy, succulent meatloaf and now this velveeta vixen ;-). It looks like the picture of warmth and delight on a chilly February day. The addition of tofu is such a great idea to add a little protein to the mix. I love coming here whether it’s for food, home renovations or your beautiful artwork — just keep doing your thing, xx.

  5. i want this right NOW: there’s a sheet of ice all over my driveway and it’s black as night outside: thundersnow or lightningice or something today, WHO KNOWS. either way, this is the most perfect, sunny comfort food to counteract that.
    i agree with movita: once you go Mac, you never go back. i have all the apple things, and i wouldn’t trade them for anything. my baby laptop needs a new battery (i’ve got you beat: i have maybe 10 minutes from full power to death), but it runs like a champ otherwise.

    • Hehe. Well I hope that you do make this on one of your dreary days when you’re stuck inside with the Wee One. Perhaps a lunchtime project? I do love all things Apple, but I’m still scared…:(

  6. I realize that it’s horrible for me, but sometimes you just need some melty gooey cheese, and nothing but Velveeta will do. I love adding the tomato/peppers to pretty much everything I make. Adds some heat and kicks up the veggie content of any recipe. This looks tasty – like something I could use to trick FH into eating tofu ;)

  7. numnumnum, oh man do I love Velveeta. I just can’t help myself. and i’ve long been suspicious of homemade mac n cheese, but this sounds like something i could get on board with. MAC ATTACK!

  8. I like your take on this, makes a nice chance to the normal mac and cheese.

  9. Hi, everything looks good, but no way I am eating Velveeta! I didn’t think I liked cheese, because Velveeta is what we had at home when I was a kid. Sorry.

  10. This looks awesome with all the vegetables in there. I’m definitely a dry mac and cheese person. I make a cup of béchamel for a whole pound of pasta… and then I use tons of cheese!

  11. Amy, I can’t get the thought of the toasted english muffin with velvetta and bacon bits out of my head now. That sounds like the best pizza bite ever! Seriously, sounds soo good…
    I love mac & cheese but I rarely make it or even order it because it loves to stick to me and with me. I almost feel like my mac & cheese days are over but I have to remind myself I can enjoy it, just not huge portions of it like I’d like. I know this recipe you’re sharing must be so good. Nothing wrong with some Velvetta. (PS – I am also a PC girl and worried about my eventual move to Mac…let me know how it works out)

    • Hahaha, I hope you try it! It’s sooooo good. I had forgotten about it again so I’m so glad you reminded me. I’m so buying those ingredients at the market today ;) You can totally enjoy a small portion of mac and cheese…or if you make this version, there’s so many veggies and things that you really don’t have to feel bad making it your meal.

  12. Oh, computer problems are the worst! Though as a Mac girl, I say you should definitely switch. :) I love mac and cheese and all the fun veggies in this sound so good! I’ve recently learned that velveeta is the secret ingredient in several dishes that I love, so I think I need to give it a try.

    • I know, i really should switch! My issue now is that like all my docs and photos are on my computer, so i’m very frustrated. I have to find a good way to switch everything over. Glad you’re on the Velveeta bandwagon ;)

  13. Mac’n’Cheese is the ultimate comfort food and yours looks fantastic Amy! Eeks, sorry to hear about your computer problems – my husband has a Mac too but I don’t really use it since I am used to a PC too and am too stubborn to learn hehe.

  14. I remember a year ago, maybe longer my old pc was at death’s door.
    And I debated whether to stay pc or go mac.
    I went mac and was scared but man oh man, what a world of difference switching over!
    So glad I did. It was scary in the beginning because there are a few things different, but the organization, the editing of photos, clarity, etc… I could go on and on!
    Good luck! I know how scary it is, but you’ll be fine!

    • Thank you for the encouraging story…I think I, sadly, am going to have to make the switch. I know that it will be better in the end :)

  15. Say wha? Look at this gorgeously cheesy mac. You’re right, Velveeta creates the perfectly smooth and cheesy mac that no other cheese can. It may not be good for you, but everything in moderation, right? That English muffin breakfast sounds divine. I own everything Mac puts on the shelves, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. I used to be a PC girl, but now I’m a Mac girl. No lookin’ back for this gal.

    • Yes! I’m glad you get it. I do love Macs but I just don’t wanan give up on my computer…i haven’t used it in weeks now though because it’s SO SLOW.

  16. Wow!! THis looks amazing!! I would love to eat some! YUM! Hope that you have a lovely weekend!

  17. Amy, this looks sooooo good! I’m a velveeta fan too. Great idea to use tomatoes with green chilies!

  18. Yum! Love that you added tofu. And the corkscrew pasta looks so yummy. I don’t think I’ve ever made mac and cheese with it.

  19. That looks so yummy!! I almost never have mac n cheese, but the times I have had it it was very comfort food (except for one time, where it was just plain icky!).

    {Teffy’s Perks} X

  20. OH MY GOODNESS! Give me some of that cheesy goodness please.

    PS: I’m a total PC girl too

  21. I’ve had a very long day and this mac and cheese looks like heaven. Pure comfort food, my friend!

  22. Oh yes, PC girl forever too! *High 5*. We have a mac for IOS developing and I feel so lost when I have to use it. *whimper*. Ok so this mac and cheese, yes yes yes yes! Come to mama.

  23. Gotta love Velveeta!! This mac and cheese sounds awesome. I love the addition of green chiles. Yum!

  24. I haven’t had Velveeta since I left the states. I did find a recipe for making it at home and saved it to make one day but I haven’t done it yet. :) I love this mac n cheese!

  25. This is definitely a nice twist on mac n cheese that I’m sure my family would enjoy. It makes me hungry just looking at it.

  26. Wow, this looks like a terrific mac and cheese! I love the hit of spice and I’m certain the Velveeta makes an amazing sauce!

  27. Oh my cheesy goodness!!! So glad that you are back sharing with us, but I totally understand about the computer. Mine is on it’s last leg and I really need to invest in a new one.

  28. It’s funny how easy it is to get out of the blogging habit, right? It’s like, wow, there are so many extra hours in the day now…ha! And I’m a PC girl who is baffled by Mac, so I feel your pain! As to better news, this mac & cheese sounds awesome! I hate it when cheese sauce gets dry or crumbly, too, and this one sounds like it’s the perfect texture!

    • It’s so true…not blogging is so much easier than blogging, haha. Hopefully I can get back in the groove soon. Thanks, Elizabeth!

  29. Looks absolutely delicious! Yummy cheesy dish!!!

  30. That’s some yummy looking mac and cheese! Hope you find your groove again as you do have great recipes… although I can totally relate. Sometimes blogging is a bit of a love hate thing for me. cheers… wendy

  31. This looks amazing!! So yummy!! The cheese looks so delicious! YUM :)

  32. Anything mac and cheese is perfect for me. I love this!

  33. Oh my! This has me drooling. I love all the flavors in this mac & cheese. YUM!

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