There are exceptions to every rule. Take this macaroni and cheese for example. It contains Velveeta and a can of cream of chicken soup, neither one of those ingredients are something I normally buy or cook with. But, and this is a big but, this macaroni recipe was the cover recipe of Southern Living's new January issue and it totally stole my heart as soon as I saw it. I immediately added the ingredients to my grocery list and resolved to make it.
When I came home from the grocery store it was too dark to make this dish (gotta keep the pictures in mind). So, I set about making it the very next day and I was so pleased. The macaroni is extremely creamy, quite spicy (from the chiles and added spices), and very substantial with the added chicken. It was easy to put together and I think it looks stunning served in a cast iron skillet. If you want to indulge yourself I say go for it. There are definitely worse things you can put in your mouth. As for me, I'm sure I'll be fighting myself to keep from making this again. It was so worth it!
King Ranch Chicken Mac and Cheese
Adapted from Southern Living January 2012 Issue
1/2 (16 oz. pkg) pasta cooked al dente (I used shells)
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 (10 oz. ) can diced tomatoes and green chiles (a can of Rotel works great)
1 (8 oz.) Velveeta, cubed
3 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 (10 3/4 oz) can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup sour cream (I used 1/2 cup milk)
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1-1/2 cups (6 oz.) shredded Cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare pasta according to package directions.
Meanwhile, melt butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and bell pepper, and saute 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in tomatoes and green chiles and cubed Velveeta; cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes o until cheese melts. Stir in chicken, next 4 ingredients, and hot cooked pasta until blended. Spoon mixture into a lightly greased 10-inch cast-iron skillet or 11 x 7 inch baking dish; sprinkle with shredded Cheddar cheese.
Bake at 350F for 25 to 30 minutes or until bubbly.
I'm not being compensated or encouraged to say this, but I want to take this opportunity to mention that the January issue of Southern Living is a real winner. It's loaded with all kinds of comfort food dishes and I've bookmarked so many to try (most of them do not call for Velveeta or canned soups). My Mom actually stole my copy and took it to work to make copies. Definitely take a few minutes to look through it when you're at the grocery.