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My kids love macaroni & cheese and will typically ask for it at least once per week. One of our favorite mac ‘n cheese dishes is Baked Macaroni and Cheese Fiesta. This is a family recipe that was inspired by my mother-in-law’s amazing baked macaroni and cheese. This is not your typical recipe. It still has the cheesy goodness of mac ‘n cheese, but also includes delicious ground meat and peppers. It’s also topped off with Goldfish crackers for the ultimate family dish. This recipe will yield at least two casseroles which will be plenty for two days worth of dinner. A win-win for this busy mom.
Baked Macaroni and Cheese Fiesta
1 16oz box of macaroni
1 lb of cheddar cheese
8 oz block of monterey jack cheese
8 oz block of sharp cheddar cheese
7 tbsp butter
6 tbsp flour
1 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp of pepper
2 3/4 cups of milk
2 cups of Goldfish crackers
1 lb of ground turkey (or beef)
1/2 green pepper diced
1/2 red pepper diced
1 packet of taco seasoning
Cook macaroni al dente per box instructions. While macaroni is cooking, use a cheese grater to shred the block of monterey jack cheese and sharp cheddar cheese. You can buy it already shredded if you prefer. Drain and set macaroni aside.
Next, add a little butter to your saucepan and cook chopped green and red peppers until tender. Add ground meat and cook until meat is browned. Add taco seasoning and follow instructions on packet or use a homemade version if you prefer (we like to make our own). Set meat aside.
In a saucepan over medium heat, melt 7 tablespoons of butter and add 6 tablespoons of flour until it thickens a bit. Add milk slowly and whisk. Next, add cheddar cheese, salt, pepper and continue to stir until all the cheese has melted. I find that if I cut it up in small cubes it melts a lot faster. In the meantime, you can get one of your kids to help out by having them crush Goldfish crackers.
Next start layering your dish. I used one 9×13 and another smaller pan (8×8). Make sure to grease them well with butter or non-stick spray. First layer with macaroni, pour cheese mixture over macaroni, spoon half the meat mixture and repeat for another layer. Top off with the shredded cheese and crushed Goldfish crackers.
Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes until cheese is melted. If I’m in a crunch I’ll bake it at a higher temperature for less time, but you have to pay close attention so I don’t recommend it if you tend to get easily distracted. 🙂
My 10 year old son is definitely a fan. He also had some of the leftovers for lunch the following day.
This dish is a family favorite and a nice change from the original baked macaroni and cheese dish.
Do your kids ask for their favorite dishes on a weekly basis like mine? As always, I love hearing from you!