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!
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  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

Tex Mex Mac n Cheese

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. As you may or may not know, I’m getting married in 4 months and I decided to take on quite a bit of DIY projects for the wedding. Any free time I have has been spent cutting, painting, gluing, and sewing.

Here’s just a peek of one of the projects I have going on…wedding signage!

wedding signage

The white parts are an old picket fence I picked up off the street. The directional signs I made use the pointed parts of the fence, but this one doesnt since it doesn’t need to be pointing anywhere. Painting on the letters was quite time-intensive, but I’m so pleased with how it came out! The rest you’ll have to wait and see when I post wedding pics ;)

Anyway, on to the food. I think this must be my third or fourth mac and cheese recipe on the blog, but honestly I don’t think there can ever be too much mac and cheese! (I totally just typed man and cheese by mistake…there can’t be too much of that either!)

Tex Mex Mac n Cheese

This one takes advantage of the fresh corn in season now. It was kind of annoying to roast the corn and peppers but at least it could be done while the pasta was cooking. The chorizo and mexican blend cheese take it to a whole other level!

All in all it came together pretty quickly, which was good because I didn’t have much time.

Tex Mex Mac n Cheese

Since I had plans to meet friends after work later in the week, I knew this would be a perfect meal to start the week off with since it would last for several days. Nate could just portion some out and reheat it in the microwave.

The chorizo totally made this! It added so much flavor to the meal. I also topped my portion with buffalo sauce :)

 Tex Mex Mac n Cheese

I doubled the recipe, but think perhaps I didn’t need to double the sauce. There was a LOT there, but i just left a little out when mixing it up.

Overall, I’d give this two thumbs up for when you’re looking for something a little different than your regular old macaroni and cheese.

Tex Mex Mac and Cheese

Slightly adapted from Southern Living

Print this recipe!

Serves 8-10

1 cup cherry tomatoes
2 red peppers, diced
4 ears fresh corn, husks removed, kernels stripped from cob
16 ounces uncooked rotini or fusilli pasta
1 cup chopped cooked Mexican-style chorizo (the hard, cured kind…not raw)
5 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
6 cups milk
6 cups shredded pepper Jack cheese
2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1.5 cup crushed tortilla chips

Preheat broiler with oven rack 5 1/2 inches from heat. Broil peppers, tomatoes and corn at the same time on an aluminum foil-lined jelly-roll pan. Broil 20 minutes or until charred, turning every 5 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 400°.

Cook pasta in boiling salted water to cover 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain.

Melt 5 Tbsp. butter in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat; whisk in flour until smooth, and cook, whisking constantly, 2 minutes or until golden brown. Slowly whisk in milk, and cook, whisking often, 10 to 12 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat, and gradually add cheese, stirring until smooth. Stir in chopped peppers, corn kernels, chorizo, salt, and pepper. Gently stir together cheese mixture and pasta in a large bowl. Spoon into a 9×13 baking pan.

Sprinkle with crushed tortilla chips. Bake at 400° for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.