Make This

Zesty Chicken-Bacon Mac & Cheese

Comfort food with a twist

We love homemade macaroni and cheese — good old comfort food on a cold winter night — but sometimes plain old mac and cheese leaves you wanting more. So we changed things up a bit with our tried-and-true recipe and — surprise! — even the kiddos loved it! Serve this with homemade applesauce and a freshly tossed salad for a delightful meal sure to please any family!

Ingredients

  • 16-oz. box elbow macaroni
  • 1/2 lb. bacon, chopped
  • 1/2 lb. chicken, chopped (about 2–3 chicken breasts)
  • 23-oz. jar white queso con salsa
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 Roma tomato, diced in ¼-inch pieces (optional)
  • 1 cup Japanese-style panko bread crumbs

Tools

  • Large stock pot for cooking noodles
  • Medium skillet
  • Casserole dish or 9- x 13-inch pan
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • Cutting board
  • Knife

How To

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Put a large pot of water on to boil for the macaroni.
  3. Cut chicken and bacon into 1/4-inch pieces.
  4. Cook bacon and chicken together in skillet until done.
  5. Place cooked meat on paper towels to drain.
  6. Boil macaroni according to directions on packaging.
  7. When cooked, drain the macaroni, rinse and return to pot.
  8. Add queso, shredded cheeses, milk, garlic powder and diced tomato (if desired) to pot and stir well.
  9. Put macaroni mixture in a casserole dish or 9- x 13-inch pan sprayed with cooking spray.
  10. Sprinkle panko bread crumbs evenly over the top.
  11. Bake for 20–25 minutes or until heated through.

See extra hints for this recipe at right

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Hints
  • You can find queso in the grocery store’s chip aisle. Try queso without the salsa for a less zesty option.
  • Panko breadcrumbs can be found in the grocery store’s Asian food section.
  • This recipe can be made a day ahead and refrigerated before you bake it. Bake at 45–50 minutes at 350 degrees or until heated throughout.
  • Add other veggies such as peas and broccoli.
  • For extra zest, add a can of Rotel diced tomatoes with green chilies.
  • Change up the meat: use 1 lb. cooked and drained ground beef or 1 package of sliced hotdogs or kielbasa.

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