I spent this past weekend back at my parents house. It felt so great to relax and spend some quality time with my family, especially with how hectic my life here in Milwaukee has been lately. My stepmom and I got pedicures, went to the farmers market, and went on a long walk through the rolling farmland around their house. I made my chicken enchiladas and Mexican rice for dinner, which my father actually ate (if you knew what a picky eater my dad is, you would understand why this is a major feat). We spent Saturday night relaxing around a crackling fire. It was exactly what I needed to recharge my batteries.
After spending the weekend in Monroe, I’ve been totally craving comfort food this week. You know how there are those foods that just totally take you back to your childhood? This Velveeta mac & cheese is like that for me.
This was one of my favorite meals growing up. My stepmom used to make it without the chicken and serve it with a side of ring bologna, which is a strangely delicious pairing, even though it will most likely clog all the arteries in your body. Since ring bologna isn’t exactly something I often have laying around my refrigerator, I usually add chicken to mine so that I can at least say I had a little protein with my dinner. It totally makes me feel better about loading up on pasta and processed cheese.
Just look at how creamy and delicious that looks! I want to dive into a giant vat of it! I don’t understand how Velveeta ever came into existence, but I do know that when it’s combined with milk and butter and heated up, it becomes a thick and gooey sauce that is just begging to be tossed with cooked macaroni.
Although I almost exclusively use chicken breasts when I cook, I had found some chicken thighs on sale a while back and they worked perfectly in this recipe. Chicken thighs can be easily substituted for chicken breasts in a lot of recipes, which can really come in handy if you’re trying to be a little more budget-conscious since they’re usually much less expensive than chicken breasts. The only downside is that there is generally quite a bit more fat on chicken thighs than on chicken breasts, so you have to spend a little more time trimming them prior to cooking them. But once you’ve got them trimmed, they essentially cook up the same as chicken breasts.
As usual for my casserole recipes, this one reheats great. I usually add a little extra milk when I microwave the leftovers so that none of that delightful creaminess is lost.
Velveeta Mac & Chicken
- 3 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat (or 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts)
- 1 (16 oz) package Velveeta cheese, cut into chunks
- 3 tbsp butter, cut into pieces
- 2/3 cup milk
- 2 cups dry elbow macaroni
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 400. Season chicken thighs with salt & pepper on both sides. Place chicken in a small baking dish, and bake until internal temperature reads 165 on a meat thermometer, about 20 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate and let rest. Once slightly cooled, cut chicken into bite-sized pieces.
- Into a separate, medium-sized baking dish (a 11×7 pan or a 9×13 pan would work well), place Velveeta cheese, butter, and milk. Microwave on high in 1-minute intervals, stirring after each minute, until cheese, butter, and milk are melted together.
- While cheese is melting, place a pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil. Pour in macaroni and cook until al dente, about 5 minutes.
- Pour cooked macaroni and cooked chicken into baking dish with the cheese sauce. Season with garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Place baking dish in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove pan from the oven, stir macaroni again, and serve.