Comfort Corner

Chicken Parmesan Macaroni and Cheese Casserole

By Charlotte on September 20, 2013 1:00 AM

Bob and I grew up eating boxed macaroni and cheese. It was a much-loved favorite our working moms relied on to save time and please everyone in the family.

But I never thought about using this store-bought shortcut as a springboard to scrumptious meals until we received Kristen Kuchar's Mac N' Cheese to the Rescue cookbook (Ulysses Press, April 2013, $12.95). She's come up with 101 delectable dishes that start with a box of cheesy goodness, including this yummy Chicken Parm Mac.

This cheesy casserole uses boxed mac n' cheese as a shortcut to lucious Chicken Parmesan taste.

Mac & Cheese Serving-600.jpg

This quick-and-easy casserole requires only six, basic ingredients: boxed mac n' cheese (of course), marinara sauce, cooked chicken, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, and bread crumbs. If you're anything like us, you already have most of this or something close enough on hand.

I tested the recipe with Archer Farm's Deluxe Italian-Style 4-Cheese Dinner and some of Bob's Great Grilled Chicken. But you can use any leftover chicken or pick up some from the deli. I also used Classico Organic Tomato Herbs and Spices Pasta Sauce for the marinara and sliced mozzarella cheese instead of shredded since it was in my fridge. But grating my own cheese by hand turned out to be the only hard thing about making this recipe so I'll spring for the shredded cheese next time.

This quick-and-easy casserole requires only six ingredients and can be ready in about 45 minutes.

Mac & Cheese Ingredients-600.jpgAfter preparing the macaroni and cheese as directed on the box, you warm the marinara and add the chicken, half the cheeses and the cooked mac n' cheese as described below. Then heat this mixture briefly, turn it into a 9 x 13 pan, top with the remaining cheeses and bread crumbs, and bake.

From start to finish, we're talkin' about 45 minutes with minimal clean up (measuring cups and two pots for prep and a baking dish). What a simple way to get top-notch Chicken Parmesan flavor, complete with a crunchy topping!

We adored the flavor and texture of this oh-so-cheesy, comfort-food casserole. Served with crusty bread and green salad, it makes a tasty weeknight treat that kids of all ages will enjoy.


Chicken Parm Mac

Serves 5


Topping mac n' cheese with a layer of two different cheeses and bread crumbs gives this dish that scrumptious Chicken Parmesan taste without the time it takes to fry the chicken. For an extra crunch, use seasoned panko bread crumbs instead of the classic Italian-style.

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Cook the mac n' cheese as directed, and set aside.

Heat the marinara sauce in a large pot over medium heat, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, and the cooked mac n' cheese. Stir to combine, and cook for another 5 minutes, until heated through. Transfer to a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.

Mix the remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese with the bread crumbs. Evenly distribute over the mac n' cheese mixture in the baking dish. Bake uncovered until the top starts to brown, 5 to 10 minutes.

Recipe Excerpted from Mac N' Cheese to the Rescue*



Author: Kristen Kuchar

Other Works: Articles in Forbes Travel Guide, Expedia, Cheese Connoisseur magazine, Chicago Parent and more.

Publisher: Ulysses Press

Penned: April 2013

What's Inside: 101 recipes for dressing up boxed macaroni n' cheese. You'll find ideas for turning your comfort food favorite into Tuna Casserole, Chicken Piccata, Meatless South-of-the-Border Tacos and more.

Bake a box with scrambled eggs and bacon for a cheesy omelet; make a Thai noodle bowl by adding peppers, peanuts and sweet chili sauce; or melt ricotta and Parmesan into hot shells n' cheese for an Italian-inspired delight. Whatever your choice, these quick-and-easy recipes are a hit with the whole family.

Time Out: 136 pages

Available: $12.95 at Amazon and most book retailers

* Reprinted with permission from Ulysses Press. May not be reproduced without publisher permission.


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Diabetes-Friendly Chicken Burrito Bowl

ChickenBurritoBowlEverydayDiabetes 600.jpg

By Laura Cipullo and Lisa Mikus, authors of Everyday Diabetes Meals
Image credit: Colin Erricson

Prepare your own Mexican quick fix with this Chipotle-inspired bowl. Carbs are moderated by filling the bowl with beans, extra veggies and chicken. No need for rice, since the beans count as carbs.


If you love tomatoes, increase the quantity to 1/2 cup, but note that the carbohydrates will also increase.

If preparing this recipe for one person, cut all of the ingredients in half. Or simply prepare the full recipe up to the end of step 2 and store leftover chicken and vegetable-bean mixture in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Reheat in the microwave on High for 1 to 2 minutes, or until heated through, and continue with step 3.

Health Bite: The iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper and zinc in black beans help to keep bones strong and healthy.

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