This Easter dish was inspired by a sponsored post for Collective Bias and Kraft in the #FreshTake #shop. All opinions are my own.
Easter is a big deal in my family. We take the whole day to celebrate and reflect on all our blessings, new and old. No, we don’t have a big fancy meal, but we do get together with friends and family and share an intimate pot-luck. Is there such a thing? Haha!
It’s a lot of fun, but sometimes bringing a dish to the Easter get together is tricky. You see, I’m in church all morning. Easter dinner is around 3 or 4, but the kids can’t wait that long for something to nibble on. So I fix up what sort of resembles a lunch and then have little time to prep for the pot-luck. That’s why I love making this Macaroni Casserole ahead of time and Kraft’s new Fresh Take makes it even easier!
The best part about making this ahead of time; I can recruit my daughter to help. We all know that cooking with our kids can extend the meal preparations a little. But the lessons learned are well worth the time. Since we cook together quite often, my daughter is very confident in the kitchen and loves to make breakfast all on her own. We go through the whole process together; from Walmart to the table.
At the store Audrey kept asking, “What are we going to cook mom?” I didn’t want to tell her there, lest she start jumping up and down, squealing like she sometimes does when I cook her favorite things. And she loves my baked Macaroni! Every time I try to cook the stuff from the box she protests, “What is this!?” So she was delighted when I told her what she was helping me with. I gave her the responsibility of the topping.
Although Audrey can’t help with every aspect of this recipe, I still try to explain as much as I can about what I’m doing. Using words like boiling, tender, preheat etc.; I take the opportunity for a little vocabulary lesson. Who needs books right?
As we cook, we share laughter, observations, and memories. And when we finally get to taste the fruits of our labors, it’s even more delicious because of the special bond that was nurtured during its creation. That’s what I want every Easter to look like.
If you want to make more time for Easter memories, make this casserole ahead of time. Simply follow the recipe below except do not put the topping on.
Refrigerate a day ahead of time, and when you are ready to bake, simply open the Fresh Take mix, spread it on top and bake for 30 minutes; turning broiler on low for the last 5 minutes.
Our Cheddar Jack with Bacon Fresh Take topping really brought out the bacon flavor. We loved it! You know it’s good when your husband comes back for 3rd’s.
- 2½ cups Macaroni
- ½ cup fresh green beans chopped (or your favorite veggie)
- 6 strips of Bacon cooked and cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 tbsp Butter
- 1 tbsp Flour
- 2 cups Milk warmed
- ¼ tsp Garlic Powder
- Salt and Pepper
- ½ cup extra shredded cheese (Cheddar or Monterey Jack)
- Kraft Fresh Take Cheddar Jack with Bacon
- Prepare a 2 quart baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
- Cook the macaroni for about 8-9 minutes; al dente. Then add your fresh green beans and turn off the heat. Let it sit for 1 minute. If you don't use fresh veggies you don't need to do this part, just cook the pasta al dente.
- Drain the macaroni and green beans and set aside. Return your pot to the heat and add the butter and flour. Whisk and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the warmed milk, whisking continuously. Season with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Cook until slightly thickened.
- Turn off the heat and add the extra cheese plus ½ cup of the Fresh Take cheese. Whisk until combined.
- Remove from the heat and add the cooked bacon, macaroni and green beans.
- Pour in your prepared baking dish and cover with the rest of the Fresh Take mix.
- Bake at 375 degrees, uncovered for 15 minutes. Then turn on the broiler and cook for 5 more minutes.
I’m so glad #CollectiveBias introduced me to Fresh Take. It really adds a boost of flavor to the casserole as well as an extra crispy crust. You can even save $1 on any Kraft Fresh Take when you buy fresh chicken!
After the Macaroni Casserole is finished, it won’t be the meal that you’ll remember from Easter dinner; it’ll be the memories you’ve made around it.
And then again, maybe you will remember this one.
What are you making for the Easter meal? Do you have a secret to great baked macaroni? I would love to hear about it!