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Let me guess- dinner tonight at your house will look about like this: Dad walking in the door just as you set a lovely warm dish on the table already laden with healthy sides and sparkling silverware. You'll call the kids and they'll come in calmly so you can all sit down together and have one of your usual fabulous family meals. I've got it right on, haven't I?? I knew it!
(Cue ripple in the record sound NOW... or about 35 words ago- ha!) Dinner doesn't look anything like that most likely, right? Dad working late and one kid just getting home from piano while another is leaving soon for dance or soccer, all while dinner needs to be happening is more like it! Stephen rarely ever eats at the very same time my little boys need fed and I'm often driving to help him or pick him up in the evening.
When we're thinking of what to cook tonight, we just want the best easy meal possible! Usually, about the time I should be getting something on the table already, I'm actually standing at my pantry door, hoping for a quick meal miracle :/ Then I move to the fridge and freezer and go through the same motions again- ha!
The other day my boys were watching Stuart Little 2 (at least I think that was the one) and I came in to the room right at the part where the lovely Geena Davis is cleaning up dinner for her family- all beautiful with her hair in a french twist, wearing pearls and the perfect little hostess apron, in a pencil skirt and fitted top. And I couldn't help but roll my eyes! For real, NO ONE looks like that when it comes to dinner time, right?
While I always manage to get my family fed, it's sure never very unique or interesting! I've been saying for so long that I really want to meal plan each week, but still have yet to really do it... story of my life too often I'm afraid! I knew when I had the chance to check out the new Kraft Recipe Makers, it would be a great solution for my general lacking in the dinner department.
These new meal helpers come in lots of yummy varieties! I went to Walmart and chose Verde Chicken Enchilada because I knew my boys all generally like spicy style. You can see more about my shopping experience HERE. :)
I had thought I'd just stick to making good ole' enchiladas, but decided I wanted to try using the ingredients that came in the box- ranchero sauce and tomatillo sauce- for something a little more original than my norm! No one likes making something their kiddos won't eat though, so I fell back to mac n' cheese and knew I could make THAT awesome with the Kraft Recipe Makers I chose- sounded yummy to me!
I first started a large chicken breast and a pot of water boiling for the noodles. I sprinkled my chicken with a titch of seasoning salt and cooked it in water- my favorite way to keep it nice and moist! When the chicken was cooked, I shredded it up and poured half of the bottle of Creamy Ranchero Sauce over it and mixed up- yum! If you're making more chicken, you'll have plenty of this spicy sauce, otherwise, you have some for another round later :)
When the water was ready, I added a box of penne pasta and mixed up a sauce for it as it cooked. The sauce included: one packet of the Tomatillo Sauce included in the Kraft Recipe Makers, 8 oz. of sour cream, one can of Cream of Chicken soup and a dash of milk. Honestly, I was just wingin' it, hoping I could up with a nice creamy sauce for the pasta that would taste yummy and unique- and it was so easy! This tomatillo sauce really is super good!
Neither of these sauces are anything I would ever make from scratch- I just don't know how and don't have that kind of time either. The Kraft Recipe Makers was helpful in more than just time saved- it also allowed me to be more interesting than I normally am by quite a ways!
pasta boiled, drained and coated, I spread it in a 9x13 pan and then spread a bit of cheese over the top. Next I spread the chicken I'd already mixed up over the top of the noodles and then added extra grated cheese to the top of that- looks yummy and smells really good!
Ready to go in! Really all that was needed was to warm it all up, so I put my pan in the oven at 350 for just 20 minutes.
All melty when it comes out of the oven! A nice touch on top might've been a coat of bread crumbs or crushed tortilla chips, but of course, I didn't think of that until I was done! I served this quick by adding a dollop of sour cream (ranch dressing for my little guys) and a bit of salsa to the top- shredded lettuce and olives would've been good too! Diced fresh tomatoes would've been awesome, but I didn't have any, plus I'm the only one that likes them around here...
I got thinking too that if you need a SUPER easy, fast option, you could make this same dish with store-bought parts and pieces. Grab the Verde Chicken Kraft Recipe Makers from the pasta and sauce aisle, then a bag of grated cheese in the dairy section. Then get a large portion of mac n' cheese from your store deli, along with a rotisserie chicken. At home, combine the tomatillo sauce with the mac n' cheese, shred the chicken off the bone and combine it with the ranchero sauce. Put the two together in a pan like above and bake- couldn't be faster!
I assumed right that my boys would enjoy this- it was a hit! The unique flavor combined with a classic favorite made it perfect :) And I like that I know I'm feeding them something that will keep them satisfied longer than half and hour- that's not easy when it comes to boys sometimes! So here's a better recipe to copy and print if you like: