Instant Pot Shells & Cheese

Nothing’s quite as comforting as a big bowl of mac and cheese, and something so simple can solve so many of life’s problems- especially for my boys. Make things even easier by ditching the box and whipping up this Instant Pot shells & cheese recipe whenever the mood strikes with only a couple of pantry staples.

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Tex Mex Grilled Cheese

Although it only requires three ingredients (bread, cheese, and butter), grilled cheese is one of the most popular comfort foods in the world. The Ancient Romans were the first civilization to make a cooked bread and cheese sandwich, but many cultures have invented their own take on this ‘classic’ dish. In France, people enjoy Croque Monsieur (a grilled ham and cheese sandwich) while in Switzerland it is customary to melt the cheese and toast the bread separately before combining them. The American grilled cheese sandwich emerged in the 1920s when inexpensive cheese and affordable sliced bread became available. It is now a staple in cafés, diners, and school cafeterias across the country.

Despite this noteworthy past, and it’s longevity, today, it’s a sad world for the grilled cheese sandwich. Somewhere along the way it has been demoted from a classic comfort food to the dismal realm of the kid’s menu; thus, making it ‘socially’ off limits to the older-than-15-crowd. And when you’re an adult who just wants some melted cheddar between two buttery, toasty slices of bread…that’s a sad, sad thing. Being that I have the four sons, I jsut don’t care. Social norms be damned. If I want a grilled cheese, I’m having grilled cheese. Even if the waitress looks at me funny when I place an order for not 4, but 5, kid meals.

Still, being that April is ‘grilled cheese month’ and all, and I saw that waitresses’ questioning arched eyebrow,  I thought it was time for a revival. An upgrade, if you will, to make it worthy of a place in the world of socially acceptable adult fare. I know I’ve mentioned this in several posts before. I will never be to old for grilled cheese! At it’s most basic, it’s totally awesome. At it’s fanciest adaptation? It’s still freakin’ awesome!!

This is a far cry from your typical grilled cheese sandwich. Kick things up a notch with the salsa and chiles. If you happen to have a babysitter, enjoy it out on your patio with a margarita to make it REALLY good!

Tex Mex Grilled Cheese

4 Sons 'R' Us: Tex Mex Grilled Cheese

recipe adapted from Julie’s Eats & Treats

1 lb ground beef
1 packet taco season
1/2 c. salsa
1/4 cup diced, canned green chilies (optional)
12 slices bread
1 tbsp butter
1 lb Velveeta

Directions

1. Brown ground beef in medium sized skillet. Drain fat. Mix in taco seasoning and prepare according to package directions. Add salsa & green chiles.
2. Butter one side of each slice of bread. Cut Velveeta into 6 pieces.
3. In a large skillet place two pieces of bread, buttered side down. Top each piece of bread with one slice of Velveeta. On top of Velveeta spoon 1/6 of hamburger mixture. Place another piece of bread on top of beef with the buttered side up.
4. Cook over medium heat until bread is golden brown. Flip sandwich and repeat on other side. Repeat until all sandwiches have been made.

BLT Mac And Cheese

I found this recipe several years ago, perusing magazines in a waiting room. It’s a Betty Crocker recipe, and it’s delicious. My family loves macaroni and cheese. They love it from a box, they love it from scratch, they even love it with cut up hotdogs in it. I figured, given their love of the classic side dish they’d happily eat as a meal any time, any day, that this could either be a beautiful thing or a risky gamble. This recipe had me at BLT. I love them. Mostly, I love them because I love,love, love tomatoes. So naturally, I dove in and made this meal the same night I had come across it’s recipe. Since then it’s become a staple and a regular meal appearing on our monthly rotations. The flavors blend spectacularly! Even the rest of the family, literally everyone else, who all detest tomatoes about as strongly as I love them, ate every bite.

BLT Mac N Cheese

4 Sons 'R' Us: BLT Mac N Cheese

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BLT Mac & Cheese

Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Casserole, Dinner, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6
Calories: 1339kcal

Ingredients

  • 32 oz Velveeta cheese cubed
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 4 cups skim milk
  • 1 lb elbow macaroni
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar shredded
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes halved
  • 1 bag 9 oz, fresh spinach
  • 1 lb bacon cooked crisp and crumbled
  • 1 cup plain or Italian style, panko bread crumbs*

Instructions

  • In a dutch oven, or other large pot, add butter, milk, and cubed cheese. Cook over medium heat, stirring with a whisk, until melted and evenly combined.
  • Cook macaroni in boiling salted water 3 minutes less than indicated on the box in the directions. Drain.
  • Pour the drained macaroni in with the cheese sauce. Mix well.
  • Stir in the shredded cheese, spinach, and tomatoes.
  • Transfer to a 15×10 inch (4 quart) baking dish. Cover with foil.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake 30 minutes.
  • Uncover. Spread bacon and bread crumbs evenly over the top.
  • Bake 5 minutes longer or until the top is lightly browned.
  • Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Notes

*To ensure nice browned, crisped breadcrumbs you can toss the breadcrumbs in 1-2 tbsp of melted butter before adding to the casserole.

Nutrition

Calories: 1339kcal | Carbohydrates: 111g | Protein: 68g | Fat: 68g | Saturated Fat: 34g | Cholesterol: 177mg | Sodium: 3369mg | Potassium: 1289mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 25g | Vitamin A: 2873IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 1372mg | Iron: 3mg