Jazz up some of the boxed stuff for a warm, savory bake.

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I think I perfected the boxed mac-and-cheese hack in my super broke days right after college. You can only eat the blue box so many times before you actually do get the blue box blues, and it’s boring as hell to eat anything straight-out-of-the-box.  Adding mix-ins to a box or two of the store stuff and baking it for a few minutes with breadcrumbs makes everyone at the table get more nutrients while also satiating junk-food cravings.

Though this is super easy, it goes deeper than adding just any old vegetable. You have to amp up the cheese and seasoning if you want it to still taste like mac and cheese, not just seasoned pasta.

If you want it to be a repeat hit in the house, tweaking to the point of cannabis casserole perfection is not hard at all. Break out all of those combos you have been dreaming about, because with the box as a stepping stone, you’re just a hunk of cheese and some frozen spinach away from an acceptable and marginally well-rounded dinner.

 

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Baked mac and cheese bake

Serves five; estimated 9 mg THC per serving

  • 2 boxes mac and cheese
  • 6 tablespoons plain unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons cannabis-infused butter*
  • 1 bag frozen broccoli
  • ¼ pound shredded gouda cheese
  • ¼ cup half and half
  • 5 cloves minced garlic
  • ¼ cup water
  • Pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup fried onions
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a large oven- and microwave-safe casserole dish. Boil a large pot of water and add some salt. Cook boxed pasta for 7 minutes until al dente.

Defrost frozen broccoli by either adding to the boiling water, roasting with the garlic, or microwaving. Strain pasta and/or vegetables and add to casserole dish.

Using the pot you cooked the pasta in over low heat, melt the plain butter and add the manufacturer’s cheese pouches, along with the half and half and water. Add half of the additional cheese and stir until melted. Add cannabutter and some pepper and mix until smooth.

Pour cheese mixture over the casserole and stir until well mixed. Smooth the top of the mixture until somewhat even. In a small bowl or mug, mix together breadcrumbs, fried onions and oil. Spread the mixture over the top of the casserole.

Bake the whole thing for 20 minutes at 350 degrees to heat through and toast up the top. Allow to stand for 5 minutes before serving if you want it to have some shape. You can also dig right in if presentation doesn’t matter. Try not to eat the whole thing because it makes fabulous leftovers.

Make this mac your emergency dinner fallback, because it comes together from mainly pantry and freezer items in as little as 30 minutes. Keeping butter and milk on hand helps make nights like this run even smoother, and if you medicate your meals, same goes.

 

*Cannabutter

Decarboxylate 3.5 grams of finely ground cannabis at 225 degrees for 20 minutes in a tightly sealed, oven-safe container. Put cannabis in lidded mason jar or vacuum-sealed bag with one stick of butter. Heat in water bath just under boiling for at least 1 hour. Strain and chill to use in recipes.