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Whoo-hoo, it’s fall y’all! I couldn’t be more excited to say goodbye to the hot Southern California weather and hello to the cool days of fall! Fall is my favorite season because I get to spend lots of time with family, it has my favorite colors, and I get to eat lots of great comfort food like Cheesy Shrimp Mac-n-Cheese!
I know it may seem strange to be so excited about a mac-n-cheese dish, but I grew up in a place where it’s summer all year long. Fall was non-existent and so were most of the traditional warm fall comfort foods. The only time I would eat traditional fall dishes would be at Thanksgiving. Sad, but true.
So when we moved to California and I experienced an actual change in temperature, I was thrilled to introduce my family to classic comfort food dishes like mac-n-cheese. There’s something magical about the mix of gooey cheese and pasta that seems to make me feel warm and fuzzy inside – it’s the perfect mix to push off the chill of fall. I can’t put my finger on it, but cheese just makes everything better, don’t you think?
I make several variations of mac-n-cheese during fall, but one of our favorites is Cheesy Shrimp Mac-n-Cheese. And since the emphasis is on “cheesy”, I had to stop by Walmart to pick-up my favorite cheese brand, Kraft Natural Shredded Cheese. Depending on the store, you can find the cheese in the same aisle as the butter or in the larger stores, the cheese area.
Cheesy Shrimp Mac-n-Cheese
Anytime I make Cheesy Shrimp Mac-n-Cheese, I tend to pick up a few helpers in the kitchen. I think it’s because they like to stick their fingers in the sauce, just to make sure I’m making it right. Although, I don’t mind the taste testers because I put them to work. I have my helpers peel the shrimp, set the oven to 325ºF, and boil the pasta while I get the rest of the ingredients prepared.
Once all the ingredients are ready, I melt a stick of butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add in the shrimp*, garlic, Cajun spice, and salt to taste. Cook just until the shrimp change color and remove the shrimp, but leave the melted butter in the pan.
*I like to use 1 1/2 to 2 lbs. of medium shrimp in this recipe for extra shrimp. You can cut the recipe in half if needed.
Add grated onion to the butter and cook for 5 minutes. Whisk in the flour to thicken the butter. Next add in the milk, parsley flakes, and Kraft Colby and Monterey Jack cheese with the Kraft Cheddar cheese. Mix until the cheese is melted. Add salt and pepper to taste.
When the pasta is done, drain it and add the shrimp to the pasta pot. Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta and shrimp. Mix until everything is coated well and prepare the baking dish.
Take a stick of butter and grease the baking dish. Melt the remaining butter and set aside. Pour the shrimp and cheese mixture into the prepared baking dishes*. Top with breadcrumbs, panko, Parmesan cheese, and drizzle butter over everything. Bake for 15 -20 minutes.
*I used two single serve ramekins (for my girls), but you can bake the entire recipe in a 9″ x 13″ baking dish.
And we now have a tasty family friendly comfort meal to warm our bellies during the cool California nights. Enjoy!
Do you have a family favorite cheese dish? Tell me about it the comments below!
- 1 16 oz. box macaroni shells
- 1 1/2 - 2 Pound medium shrimp (peeled and deveined)
- 2 sticks unsalted butter
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- 1 - 2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
- 1 tablespoon grated onion
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 3 1/2 cups milk
- 1 teaspoon parsley flakes
- 2 Kraft All Natural Shredded Colby and Monterey Jack Shredded Cheese
- 1 Kraft All Natural Shredded mild or sharp Cheddar shredded cheese
- 1/2 cup Kraft All Natural Shredded Parmesan shredded cheese
- 1/2 cup panko
- 1/2 cup garlic and herb breadcrumbs
- salt and pepper (to taste)
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Cook pasta per box directions. Drain and return pasta to the pot.
- Melt one stick of butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add garlic, Cajun seasoning, and shrimp to the melted butter. Cook just until the shrimp change color. Add salt/pepper to taste. Remove shrimp from the pan, leaving the butter in the pan. Set aside.
- Add grated onions to the pan and cook for 5 minutes. Mix flour into the butter. Add in milk, parsley, and Kraft Colby and Monterey Jack cheese with the Kraft Cheddar cheese. Mix until the cheese is melted. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Add the shrimp and cheese sauce to the pasta. Mix until everything is coated. Use the second stick of butter to grease a 9"x 13" baking dish. Pour the pasta in the dish.
- Melt the remaining butter and set aside. Mix together Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, and panko. Sprinkle this mixture over the mac-n-cheese and drizzle the melted over it. Bake for 15 -20 minutes or until the top is lightly browned.
Use 2 lbs. of shrimp for extra shrimp flavor or chop 1 lb. of shrimp in half to spread it throughout the dish.
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