Quick Mac dinner came about today because I needed to use up leftovers and had a limited amount of time to fix dinner. The recipe combines a quarter of a Polish sausage, onion, canned tomatoes, corn, and green pepper with a package of cheap mac and cheese. The resulting dinner dish was satisfying and tasty plus it was ready to eat in less than two hours.
I’ve kept boxes of mac and cheese on hand for emergency meals for years. Alone it is quick and almost eatable depending on how starved your family is at the time. In combination with other ingredients it rises to another level. The possibilities of the simple box of Mac and cheese are almost endless. It can be the basis for pasta salads, casseroles, and soups to name a few.
Historians believe the combination of pasta and cheese was known to the ancient Greeks and the Romans. Colonial American recipe books contained recipes for macaroni and cheese in the English style. It was layers of pasta and cheese with butter and baked in the oven until the cheese melted and the top browned. Sometimes the pasta was cooked in milk or broth and some of that was poured into the baking dish. It was baked until the cheese melted and the top browned.
The Kraft Company began selling its quick macaroni and cheese dinner product in 1937. Advertisements declared that it provided a meal for 4 for only 19 cents. It was an instant hit during the dire economy of the Depression. During WWII the product sold extremely well because it was a good meat substitute and used only one ration coupon. With many women working during the war the product provided a quick way to cook a one pot meal. Americas love of this boxed dinner hasn’t faded.
The recipe will serve 4.
Quick Mac Dinner
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- ¼ of a cooked Polish sausage, sliced
- ¼ of a medium onion, chopped
- ½ of a green pepper, cut in ½ inch pieces
- 1 14.5 oz. can of stewed tomatoes, in the Italian style with basil, garlic and oregano (add seasoning if using plain tomatoes)
- 1 cup of frozen corn
- 2 teaspoons of paparika
- 2 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- ¼ cup of water
- 1 box of Mac and cheese
- 1 tablespoon of butter
Bring salted water (1 ½ qt. of water) to a boil in a 2 qt. sauce pan. Melt the tablespoon of butter in a large frying pan over medium high heat. Slice the Polish sausage and add to the pan. Chop the onion and green pepper and add to the pan. Stir and cook until the onion is tender. Stir in the frozen corn. Continue to stir and cook until the corn has thawed. Add the can of tomatoes and the liquid. Add the seasonings and the ¼ cup of water, stir well and cover the pan. Reduce the heat to medium low. Simmer for about 30 minutes to allow the flavors to develop. Remove lid and continue to simmer until the liquid has reduced a bit.
After the macaroni has cooked, remove from heat and drain. Return to the pan and stir in 1 tablespoon of butter and the powdered cheese. Mix well.
Add the meat and tomato mixture to the macaroni and stir to blend. Cover the pan and sit over very low heat until ready to serve. Stir about every 5 minutes to keep it from burning.
Serve alone or with a green salad.
The mixture can be put in a casserole dish and baked at 350 degree F for 30 minutes.
Grate some sharp cheese and put on top of each serving.
Leftover hot dogs could be used in the recipe. Italian seasonings could be used.
The recipe can be doubled.
One way to extend this recipe would be to add a can of kidney or other type of bean. Drain and rinse the beans before adding in the tomato mixture.