If you have children that are older than bottle/breastfeeding age, chances are you have become intimately familiar with a perennial childhood favorite: Macaroni and cheese. I know it was one of my favorites as a child…still is, as a matter of fact, and it seems to hold universal appeal for kids everywhere. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to love a really good recipe for baked macaroni and cheese â€” and I’m not the only one!
The ingredients for a really good recipe for baked macaroni and cheese are really quite simple:
- 12 ounces whole grain elbow macaroni (dry)
- 12 ounces ½-inch diced ham, such as Farmland, placed in an unbreakable bowl
- 1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained and placed in an unbreakable bowl
- 1 medium onion, chopped and placed in an unbreakable bowl
- 10 slices provolone cheese
- 10 slices American cheese
My husband grew up eating macaroni and cheese, but his mom did it herself, not from a box. I have to say, her version is definitely better! Plus, it offers more nutrition. The ham has protein, the tomatoes have lycopene, and there’s additional fiber and vitamin C in the onions. My 3-year-old son would help make a macaroni and cheese recipe every single week if we let him. We do make my mother-in-law’s recipe fairly frequently, but not quite that often. My little guy helps scoop in the ingredients and layer on the cheese, and you can get your kids involved in building the perfect mac and cheese casserole too. Just be sure the adults do the hot work. Here’s how:
How to make a really good recipe for baked macaroni and cheese with your kids:
- Preheat oven to 325F degrees.
- Cook macaroni according to package directions. This must be done by an adult.
- Drain and place in an unbreakable bowl.
- Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with cooking spray (also an adult).
- Line up all your unbreakable bowls filled with ingredients either on a long table or on a drop cloth on the floor in your kitchen. This method works particularly well when working with small children, as it’s easier for them to reach everything.
- Arm your child with a large spoon and help him spread half the drained macaroni in the bottom of the baking dish.
- Using that same spoon, let your child scoop on half the onions and half the tomatoes, dolloping evenly over the surface of the macaroni.
- Let him use the spoon or his fingers to scoop on half the ham.
- Handing just one piece of cheese to your child at a time, let him layer the provolone on top of that. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
- Work together to put the rest of the macaroni as a second layer; put the rest of the onions, tomatoes, and ham on top of that.
- Top with the American cheese slices (be sure to unwrap them!!) and cover the pan with tented aluminum foil. Most likely, the adult will need to make the foil tent, and it helps to spray the foil (underside only) with cooking spray also to help avoid sticking.
- Bake for 30 minutes, covered, at 325F degrees.
- Adults only: Remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes. You can also broil for a minute or 2 to brown up the cheese a bit.
Easy and delicious, and everyone in our family just loves Grandma Leen’s Mac and Ham Casserole it’s a really good recipe for baked macaroni and cheese! You’ll love it, too.
If you’re looking for a good macaroni and cheese recipe for macaroni and cheese carbonara, I’ve got one of those, too. It’s an excellent example of a more unique pasta prep than the typical cheddar or American cheese version, but still tastes awesome!
I’m always on the lookout for a really good recipe for baked macaroni and cheese, so when I find one I like, I print it out and put it into a giant 3-ring binder I’ve set up for all my â€œfoundâ€ recipes. That binder gets something added to it pretty frequently!