questionswhat to add to a box of mac and cheese?

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Bacon
Another kind of cheese: gruyere, a nice Maytag or Stilton blue, or pepper jack for a little spice
Bacon
Buffalo mac & cheese - add shredded chicken and some hot sauce
Sprinkle bread crumbs on top and put it under the broiler to toast them slightly
Bacon

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I like tuna in mac and cheese also. Back in college when I didn't have tuna I would cook a couple hot dogs and slice them up to throw in with a box of macaroni and cheese.

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Add a can of no-beans chili. Extra shredded cheese on top is always a good idea. Add chili seasoning if you want it spicier. Extra work, saute red/green/or yellow peppers and some onion. Kind of a mex-mac.

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tuna and cream of mushroom soup (just don't add the canof milk)

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Mac and Cheese is one of my favorite things ever. So not to sound snobby or anything but I avoid the box stuff as much as possible and make my own from scratch. I use the box kind only when I have no time at all or am too sick to cook real food. :D

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@natedogg828: Add a can of peas to that. My mom use to make that all the time.

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Toss it into a cake dish with some breadcrumbs on top and bake it for a little while.

Any pork products (of course including bacon) - also try ham slices - pan fry them a little bit too. Brown some ground beef (or ground turkey) for some protein.

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My wife adds peas...yuck!

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Everyone else pretty much covered my main add-ins of hot dogs, ham, and chicken. I generally get ham from the deli section, though pre-packaged works too. As for the chicken, I like to cheat and use the canned variety (usually near the canned tuna section). For some odd reason, I really like corn with mac and cheese, which I believe stems from my childhood and always mixing my chicken, corn, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese and creating my own little KFC bowl (stupid Colonel stealing my ideas). As with any of the ideas people are posting, remember to re-season before you serve!

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I always add a little mustard to my mac 'n cheese to give it some zing. Just a teaspoon mixed in a bowl livens it up nicely.

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Brown some beef with garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Add to mac n cheese. Sooo good.

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If I'm making mac and cheese, I'm usually in a rush, so I'll dice up half a can of lite Spam and a handful of frozen veggies, usually peas, to toss in.

The mustard and bacon ideas are good, too.

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Cut up hot dogs!!

I prefer Hebrew National. Adds some good flavor!

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A local restruant makes lobster mac. They sell it for around twenty bucks a plate so its gotta be good?

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Wait until you're ready to consume, and then take half a spoonful of Mac N' Cheese and half a spoonful of apple sauce. Delicious!

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Sprinkle on some breadcrumbs and bake it for a few minutes.

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Smoked Salmon with a bit of truffle oil is sooo tasty! (Yeah, you said she doesn't like fish, still just throwing it out there.)
The truffle oil, panko/breading on top and browned = nummy
I also do the tsp of yellow mustard for a zing, and of course hot dogs!

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As a poor college student, my roommates and I would buy the cheapest "plain wrap" box of mac and cheese and cut up "plain wrap" hotdogs (who knows what they really were) and use water instead of milk with no butter. Somehow we survived on that and now I really enjoy the creamy Hawaiian style mac and cheese using Spam, Macadamia nuts, and Maui onions.

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I tend to make mine with sausage, peas, carrots, and a little extra of whatever assorted cheeses I have around baked in on top.

Mmmm.... sounds like I have a plan for dinner tonight.

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I made some last night with Chipotle Chicken Sausage and it was very good!

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A friend used to add shredded spinach. It was actually pretty good. The end result didn't really taste of spinach, but just an interesting addition to the cheese.

Whatever you do, start out with Annie's. http://www.annies.com/ If you're doing instant mac&cheese, at least start out with the quality option. :) Be sure to stir up the cheese separately from the pasta, per the box instructions. It's pretty mainstream these days and can even be found at Stop&Shop in the "healthy" isle.

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Peas or broccoli. More cheese. Paprika. Beans are cheap and contribute (with the wheat noodles) to a whole protein.

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The kids really like it with Li'l Smokies. They are kind of salty so a little goes a long way.

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The Chipotle pepper version of Tabasco is awesome...

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Mushrooms. Saute them, then mix them in. Top it off with crumbled bacon and some shredded gruyère cheese (or a smoked Swiss).

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Ground beef or Italian sausage from the meat section of your local supermarket

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I add mac n cheese to a cheedarwurst on a potato roll bun. Omfg. Nom. All my other answers have been taken

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Tuna and peas (this was one of our stock meals when backpacking as a teenager).

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If you're starting with Kraft mac'n cheese, use Brummel & Brown instead of butter & milk. Stir B&B in w/ the pasta until melted, add seasoning (see below) then add the powdery cheesy stuff--and finally the heated / sauteed meat.

Variation #1: ground red pepper + smoked sausage links chopped coarsely

Variation #2: black pepper + bacon spam

Use Greek seasoning w/o salt if you want to season beyond just plain pepper. And try to have a little green leafy something on the side, too.

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@afurball: Ahhhhh! Greek seasoning w/Feta cheese & greek olives. Yummmmm (Will not suggest lamb, 'cause I really don't care for it.) A spinach salad on the side. Sounds delicious!

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Back when no one in the family watched what we ate, I mixed mac & cheese with leftover warmed taco meat in a casserole dish, as well as a 1/2c. diced tomatoes, a chopped scallion or two, a few sliced black olives, extra cheese and topped it with crushed Fritos. Baked it until it was hot and bubbly.

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This doesn't add much substance, but if you're just looking for a little extra flavor ... I put crushed red pepper flakes in mac&cheese / velveeta shells, makes it a little spicier. And of course, crushed red pepper flakes are super cheap

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Did someone mention bacon? ;/sarcasm

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1 tablespoon of hot sauce.... it does not over power anything

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Yes, this is a real recipe. It got two stars so I probably wouldn't try it, but I couldn't help posting this this appeared on Food Network Humor today. The coincidence of your question made this perfect.

In my personal opinion, I like my Mac with broccoli or peas or butternut squash chunks mixed in.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/sandra-lee/italian-style-macaroni-and-cheese-recipe/index.html

Total Time:
35 min
Prep
5 min
Cook
30 min
Yield:
4 servings
Level:
Easy

Ingredients
1 package macaroni and cheese mix
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup Italian-style bread crumbs
Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Make macaroni and cheese according to package directions. Transfer to a medium-size baking dish or casserole dish.

Melt butter in a medium bowl on low power in the microwave. Add bread crumbs to bowl and toss to combine with butter. Sprinkle bread crumb mixture over top of macaroni and cheese. Place in oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until browned on top.

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Simple:
While you boil the maccaroni cut up a hot dog or 2 into 5 or so pieces and throw it in the watter then drain it all and add the cheese for an awesome and easy meal.

Also a hint of hot sauce makes anything better.

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+1 for chili, although I prefer it with beans...

+10 for Bacon!

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Easy...

Hot dogs diced up and cooked. Spicy mustard and those asian noodle things in a can. Top with a sprinkle of garlic.

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1) Add a can of chili and... voila... chilimac!

2) Sprinkle in Italian Seasoning and a pinch of garlic powder

3) Cook some ground beef or turkey with your favorite savory seasoning in a skillet and then mix together.

4) Toss in some of those miniature shrimps (of course they need to be fresh if your GF doesn't like fish flavor)

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Bacon
Spam
Sausage
Tuna
Hot dogs

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Apple

Sorry.... bad Mac Humor

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Option 1: frozen peas (cook them in the boiling water with your pasta.

Option 2: cook as normal, then place in a casserole dish, top with paprika and Italian breadcrumbs (with herbs/spices in them), and bake in the oven until browned. Yum.

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@bspiegel21: Snicker. So 'bad' it was funny.

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@mikecris - yes its the best. I'll have to try the shrimp