Hoping that your Thanksgiving was filled with peace, happy times, good food, and surrounded with family or friends. I’m always excited to celebrate one of my favorite holidays. To me Thanksgiving is one of the holidays that sort of closes out the fall season. Your home is filled with the smells of cinnamon and nutmeg spices from pies and desserts. Then it’s the aromas from pots simmering on the stove and the turkey roasting in the oven. I have always loved Thanksgiving since I was a kid because I get to eat really good..LOL. I think one of the most highlighted dish in our family for Thanksgiving was the dressing. Yes, the turkey was the star as well rather it was either fried or roasted. However, it was always something special about the dressing. It was a must to have cornbread dressing, bread dressing (with bread and dressing mix), or dirty rice dressing. Most times my relatives cooked all three of them for all of the holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and even on Easter. I was in heaven! Ya’ll, I would be like, just give me a plate of turkey and that homemade dressing. Sometimes, that was all I ever wanted…seriously. I’m sure it’s from growing up in south Louisiana or my Creole family who would make sure to have dressing as a side dish. Now, I have to always make some kind of dressing for Thanksgiving, Christmas and for Easter because I love it that much. I may cook dirty rice dressing a couple of times throughout the year, but I only make bread dressing for the holidays.
This year, our menu for Thanksgiving was kept pretty simple. My husband smoked the turkey, fried catfish, seafood dressing and he also made sweet potato pies from scratch. I made the bread dressing, baked mac and cheese and creamy kale. I’m including in this post a quick and easy recipe for making baked mac and cheese. Honestly, I don’t make mac and cheese very often from scratch and I rarely bake it in the oven. I also have another confession, that I tend to cheat and make my mac and cheese straight out of the box. I usually just add more cheese to the box mac and cheese while also adding my own seasonings to it. Good news is that I made this one from scratch and it is just as easy then the box. Plus, all that added cheesy goodness makes it taste even more delicious.
I want to note that I made this the day before Thanksgiving, but I did not bake the mac and cheese until Thanksgiving day. Doing it this way, saved me so much time because I was able to focus on cooking my dressing, kale and whatever else I needed to do. Unfortunately, I didn’t get an after pic when it was freshly baked and out of the oven. I wasn’t in the kitchen when my husband took the mac and cheese out of the oven and everyone started fixing their plate. That was the first thing they got.
- 1 pound Elbow Macaroni
- 3 quarts water
- 1 cup Colby and Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded
- 1 cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 1 cup Kraft Philadelphia Triple Cheddar shredded cheese
- 1 can Campbell's Condensed Fiesta Nacho Cheese
- 2 1/2 cups Half and Half cream
- 1/2 stick of unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon Benoit's Cajun Seasoning
- 1 teaspoon Ground paprika
- 1 teaspoon Chili powder
- 1 teaspoon Cumin
- 1 teaspoon Onion powder
- 1 teaspoon Garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon McCormick's Pumpkin Pie Spice or Nutmeg
- 1/3 cup Progresso Bread Crumbs, Italian Style
- 3 tablespoons All-purpose flour
- Dash of salt
- 1 teaspoon EVOO
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter 13 x 9-inch baking dish.
- In a 5 or 6 quart pot, bring 3-quarts of water to boil. Add a dash of salt when water boils then add elbow macaroni. Turn temperature down to medium, add EVOO and let macaroni boil to al dente. Drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, in a 5 or 6 quart pot melt 1/2 stick of butter. Add to pot 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour. Stir flour until light brown, about 3 minutes. Slowly stir two cups half and half. Add Benoit's Cajun Seasoning, McCormick's Pumpkin Pie Spice (it has nutmeg in it), ground paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, cumin and Italian seasoning. Stir seasonings, reduce to low while sauce is thickening. Add Campbell's Condensed Fiesta Nacho Cheese and remaining cheeses; stir well until melted. Add the other 1/2 cup of half and half if sauce is too thick. Add macaroni; stir and blend in with cheese sauce. Turn heat off and pour mixture in greased baking dish. Sprinkle Italian Seasoning and bread crumbs.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until cheese is bubbly and golden brown.
Stay tuned in another post for the dressing recipe. What is a highlight dish that you make for Thanksgiving?
Vanessa, The Creole Flamingo