Replace the “Blue Box” – Rice Cooker Mac and Cheese
So our Get Real topic got me thinking about some of our favorite pasta dishes and how they have changed in the last couple years as our whole/real food journey progresses. I used to be a BIG couponer. You know the kind of shopper who carries a binder around the grocery store and holds up the line using 25 coupons in one transaction? (No offense to couponers! It is an art and well worth it if you have the time and can make it work for your family. More power to ya!) I admit that I happily stocked my shelves with little blue boxes (you know the ones) when they were at rock bottom prices, and happily ate them for a quick lunch or dinner.
When I quit buying the little blue boxes (and all of those other boxes and packages that come in various fun colors) I had to come up with a suitable substitute. I considered switching to the organic box, but honestly they didn’t seem that much better. Just organic junk food. And have you noticed that they’re 2-3 times the price? There are lots of delicious stove top and baked mac and cheese recipes out there. But they take more time and dirty a lot more dishes than the blue box. Enter rice cooker mac and cheese. I was skeptical at first. I’d never made anything but rice in my rice cooker. It sounded to good to be true. But trust me it wasn’t! This is now one of our favorite lunches or super quick dinners in our house.
Here’s the run down: 4 ingredients (I guarantee you have them in your pantry now), one pot, 20 minutes, lots of options to customize, oh and did I mention cheesy and delicious? What’s not to love? And one more note, if you’ve been looking for a way to incorporate more homemade bone broths into your diet (or your children’s diet), this is a great way to do it. Hope you enjoy this real food as much as our family does.
Rice Cooker Macaroni and Cheese
Kim @ Onceamonthmom.com
- 2 cups small shaped macaroni (Whole wheat is best. Elbow, bow-ties, shells, wagon wheels, etc.)
- 1.75 cups chicken broth (Homemade is best. Opt for organic store bought second.)
- .25 cups of milk (You can use up to .5 cups if needed to make it smooth.)
- 2 cups shredded cheese (Use your favorites. I usually use mostly cheddar and a little Parmesan)
- .5 cups frozen mixed vegetables (Optional. Other fresh or frozen veggies work well too, broccoli is another favorite of ours.)
- .5 cups cooked meat (Optional – bacon, chicken, ham, etc.)
- salt and pepper to taste
Place pasta, vegetables (if using), and chicken broth in the rice cooker. Cook 15-20 minutes until pasta is tender and all liquid is absorbed. Stir just once during the cooking time. Turn off rice cooker and add milk and shredded cheese. Stir until cheese is melted and creamy sauce forms. Add more milk as needed (up to .5 cups). Stir in cooked meat (if using). Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Not recommended. However, this recipe makes good use of freezer staples like homemade chicken broth, frozen vegetables, and precooked meat.
Servings: 2 adult (4 toddler or side dish servings)
**conversion chart image provided by Erik Spiekermann