Easy Monterey Jack Mac 'n Cheese with Chicken + Very Berry Bunny Cereal Marshmallow Treats
This post is sponsored by Annie's Homegrown but the content and opinions expressed here are my own. Thanks for reading!
Delicious creamy Monterey Jack Mac 'n Cheese with Chicken + Very Berry Bunny Marshmallow Cereal Treats is making lunch time fun again for the whole family! And now thanks to Annie's Homegrown, eating organic has never been so easy or yummy :) Grab a fork or spoon and sit a while, these fall comfort foods are keepers!
(or just scroll down for a cute bunny video)
What is organic farming? To put it simply, organic farming (the kind of farming which produces organic foods) is a system which fosters the cycling of resources, supports ecological balance and helps conserve biodiversity. Some organic organizations may even choose to limit the use of pesticides and fertilization and foods are typically not processed using exposure to radiation, solvents or scary additives. These things are not just good for us, but it's also great for our lovely home, planet Earth.
I've tried to remember when I started eating organically and, to be honest, I have no idea. I know it wasn't when I was in college, so it had to have taken place sometime between after college and before Octavian was born. The transition started slowly and mostly because it was the cool thing to do.
And then the husband and I decided to get me knocked up and, welllll, let's just say the two of us became obsessed about eating only organic because, you know, the baby! the BABY! Thankfully we've chilled out since then, but that isn't to say that eating organic and responsibly isn't super important to us- I still buy as much organic meat and produce that our bank accounts will allow, but we're your average family and organic chicken is not cheap.
Since Octavian made his grand entrance nearly 3 years ago (howww has it already been THAT long?) Annie's Homegrown has become a permanent resident in our home and my go-to for all our snacking and mac-ing needs. Thanks to Annie's I know that whenever I serve my toddler mac 'n cheese (which is pretty much every day around here), it has NO artificial flavors, synthetic colors or preservatives; it's produced without antibiotics, synthetic hormones or pesticides; AND that they work closely with suppliers to source only non-GMO ingredients.
Annie's Homegrown has made it easy to eat organic (at least in one area)- not just because the food tastes good, but also because it's in stores everywhere and reasonably priced.
I have made Annie's Mac n' Cheese in every single variety about a million times (except for the Vegan version which I just learned exists). It is in the top three of Octavian's favorite lunch foods and lately when I've asked him what he wants for breakfast he says, "macawoni".
Sorry kiddo, one meal needs to exist without cheese.
The other afternoon I decided to let him pick which box of Annie's Mac 'n Cheese he wanted for lunch (to give my crazy little child a little bit of control). He picked the Organic Grass Fed Shells and White Cheddar Mac 'n Cheese and, it being the weekend and all, I was feeling inspired to make lunch a little more interesting without a lot of extra work.
Say hello to last weekends lunch- Monterey Jack Mac 'n Cheese with Chicken and Corn. Still creamy and cheesy and completely organic, but filled with all the things you didn't know you wanted in a mac 'n cheese... until now.
You guys, the corn, though. Even my husband who is typically neutral on the subject of corn couldn't stop eating it and even got seconds. Octavian, my spice loving little child, agreed.
Monterey Jack Mac 'n Cheese with Chicken and Corn
Prep Time: 15 minutes / Cook Time: 35 minutes / Total Time: 50 minutes
Yield: 4-6 servings
1 box Annie's Homegrown Organic Grass Fed Shells & White Cheddar
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
Salt + Pepper, to taste
Cajun seasoning, to taste (optional)
1/2 - 1 cup milk, more as needed
1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons cream cheese
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced (optional- leave out if you do not like spicy foods)
1 1/2 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen, thawed and cooked
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
Annie's Homegrown Cheddar Bunnies, crushed into small pieces (for serving)
Season both sides of chicken breasts with salt, pepper and cajun seasoning (if using). Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add 1-2 teaspoons olive oil or butter to the pan and distribute evenly over the surface. When pan is hot, carefully transfer chicken to the skillet and reduce heat to medium. Allow the chicken to cook approximately 6-7 minutes per side, flipping occasionally to prevent burning. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Remove chicken from the heat and set aside when no longer pink on the inside and completely cooked through.
When the pot of water comes to a boil, carefully add Annie's Homegrown Organic Grass Fed Shells and gently stir with a wooden spoon. Reduce heat to medium. Continue to cook noodles until al dente, stirring occasionally (important not to overcook noodles as they will get soggy). Drain noodles and run them under cold water to prevent additional cooking. Set shells aside.
Heat a large skillet (or sauce pan) over medium heat. Add milk, butter and cheese packet (it came in the box) and whisk together until butter has melted and milk is hot. Gently add the cream cheese and (optional) jalapeno and carefully whisk everything together until cream cheese has dissolved into the milk (reduce heat to prevent burning, if needed). Carefully stir in the cooked corn kernels and cooked shells and gently mix everything together. Add more milk if needed. Finally, add the shredded Monterey Jack cheese and stir to incorporate.
By now the chicken should have cooled enough to easily handle. Chop chicken into small cubes and carefully mix with the creamy shells or evenly distribute between bowls when serving (making it easy to keep this meal vegetarian for any non-meat eaters).
Serve with additional cheese, if desired.
Very Berry Marshmallow Cereal Treats
(and a whole lot more photos because sometimes I just can't be decisive)
Ironically, while on the same shopping trip where Octavian and I picked up the Grass Fed Organic Shells and White Cheddar mac 'n cheese (the very cheese covered noodle product my child wants morning noon and night), we (actually, it was all Octavian) discovered the "Bunny Cereal!" I usually cringe at the thought of my kid discovering a food he wants (he recently discovered sugar is the best thing ever), especially cereal (because cereal basically equals sugar), but I was presently surprised by this one.
Flavored with real fruit, Annie's Homegrown Organic Berry Bunnies Cereal contains 15g whole grains per serving, No artificial flavors, synthetic colors or preservatives; No high-fructose corn syrup; and only non-GMO ingredients. So now, instead of asking me for "macawoni" in the morning, he climbs the pantry shelves for his favorite "bunny cereal" (and while he sleeps I sneak in my own bowl of bunnies).
A couple months ago I had purchased several bags of marshmallows for a baking project that never happened. They needed to be used and eaten; and since I hate plain marshmallows, they needed to be well hidden or mixed into something. Cereal treats were the obvious answer to all my marshmallow problems (life is rough, you guys).
Using Annie's Homegrown Organic Berry Bunnies Cereal and some freeze dried mixed berries, I give you the EASIEST marshmallow cereal treat EVER. Seriously, though, four ingredients for these yummy surprise treats. Just four. Plus, they're easy to transport and store, which makes leftovers a breeze. Bursting with delicious berry flavor goodness, my child is officially obsessed.
(although there was some confusion on his part as to why he couldn't eat these marshmallow cereal treats for breakfast)
Very Berry Marshmallow Cereal Treats
Prep Time: 5 minutes / Cook Time: 10 minutes / Rest Time: 1 hour / Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Yield: One (1) 9"x9" baking dish
6 tablespoons butter
1 (10.5 ounce) bag marshmallows
6 cups Annie's Homegrown Organic Berry Bunnies Cereal
1/2 cup mixed freeze-dried berries (raspberries, blueberries, strawberries or blackberries)
Lightly grease a 9"x9" baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Once butter has melted stir in the marshmallows. Continue to stir the marshmallows until they have completely melted. Remove from heat and immediately stir in your Annie's Homegrown Organic Berry Bunnies Cereal. Mix together until cereal is coated with melted marshmallow and then sprinkle in the mixed freeze-dried berries, folding everything together to incorporate.
Transfer ingredients to your prepared baking dish and smooth the surface into one even layer to fit the pan (I used my hands to get this job done).
Allow your very berry bunny treats to set for 1 hour (no baking required. yayyy!) before cutting into squares and serving.
Click here for more recipe ideas and information about what Annie's Homegrown is doing to bring you only the most responsibly grown, yummy food available :)
And since we could all use some cuteness in our lives...