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Sunday, May 4, 2014

King Ranch Macaroni and Cheese

April 27, 2014: The first meal I ever made Andy was my King Ranch Chicken. I was SO crazy nervous about having him over for dinner that I thought it'd be best to make something that I knew well. I had no doubt that the iconic star of my blog and one of my top hits on Pinterest would make a fabulous first meal to serve this cute new boy I liked.
Andy and me on the bench at Cabana #3 where he proposed a few months before this picture
Well, I flopped. I was so nervous that I forgot to drain everything- the peppers, the tomatoes, I just dumped in the whole can and kept on going. It turned out more like King Ranch soup. Womp, womp- I was embarassed, and Andy probably thought he was stuck with take out for the rest of this, what was sure to be short relationship. Good thing I was wrong about a lot of things that night. Andy, being the sweet guy that he is, smiled, scarfed it up, and even asked for seconds. It wasn't until months later that I had the conversation with him about the soupy meal, and he admitted that it wasn't the best thing I'd ever made. Well, phew, luckily I was also wrong about my flop being a relationship deal-breaker, because here we are, almost four years later and getting married in a few months!
Andy and me at our surprise engagement party right after he proposed on October 26, 2013
I found this recipe on Pinterest for a big ol' King Ranch casserole-type meal, but it was based in mac n cheese instead of tortillas. It was like your side and a main course all in one. I made the King Ranch Macaroni and Cheese about two years after I'd made my King Ranch soup, and it was definitely more of a hit than my first King Ranch experience with Andy. Lucky for me, I have a pretty sweet fiance who would probably grin and bear just about anything I put on a plate in front of him. At least now he isn't embarassed to tell me when something is "not the best thing" I've ever made, but let's be honest- I think he's just thankful to be marrying a gal who knows her way around the kitchen!
Andy and me at Martin House Brewing Company
If you like King Ranch Casserole, you're sure to like the mac n cheese version of it. It makes enough to feed a small army, and it freezes and reheats very well. 

King Ranch Macaroni & Cheese
Servings: 20; Weight Watchers PointsPlus Value: 6
King Ranch Macaroni and Cheese
  • 13 oz whole wheat elbow macaroni
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 (10 oz) can diced tomatoes & green chiles (like Rotel)
  • 8 oz Velveeta or other packaged pasteurized cheese product, cubed
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts- cooked & cubed
  • 1 (10 3/4 oz) can reduced fat cream of chicken condensed soup
  • 1/2 c fat free sour cream
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 c fat free cheddar cheese
King Ranch Macaroni and Cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Prepare pasta according to package instructions
  3. In a large, deep saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat
  4. Add onion & bell pepper, sauté 5 mins or until tender
  5. Add tomatoes & green chiles and Velveeta- stir until cheese melts
  6. Add chicken, cream of chicken, sour cream, chili powder, and ground cumin- mix until well blended
  7. Add cooked pasta- mix until all is well blended
  8. Spoon mixture into a non-stick cooking spray coated 11x7 baking dish
  9. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese on top
  10. Bake at 350 for 25-30 mins
Keep on cookin!

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