Southwest Three Cheese Mac with Crispy Parmesan Cauliflower

Southwest Three Cheese Mac with Crispy Parmesan Cauliflower

Today’s feature is brought to you by KRAFT.

Who doesn’t love a little help in the kitchen from time to time? Recently, we discovered KRAFT Fresh Take, a one-two combo that features a packet of grated cheese and a packet of seasoned breadcrumbs. We’ve been using these in all sorts of recipes, and you’ll be glad that they aren’t filled with chemicals and artificial preservatives – you’ll find them in the refrigerated aisle.

While generally, these packages are perfect for breading chicken and other meats, I was very excited when KRAFT asked us to come up with a unique recipe using Fresh Take (and since we had some in the refrigerator that very moment, experimentation was not hard).

Today, I share the perfect dinner party recipe: Southwest Three Cheese Mac with Crispy Parmesan Cauliflower.

southwest 3 cheese mac

Southwest Three Cheese Mac


  • 1 Box Pasta (Penne, Farfalle, or Rigatoni)
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 tsp salt

Cheese Sauce Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • ½ teaspoon pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 ½ cups skim milk
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 ½ cup grated white cheddar cheese
  • 1 ½ cup grated black pepper cheese
  • 1 palmful dried parsley
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1 KRAFT Fresh-Take seasoning package, Southwest Three Cheese

steps for the cheesy mac


Cook your pasta in 6 cups of boiling salted water for 6 minutes, then drain. Then, you’ll need to create the cheese sauce.

In a hot pan, melt butter. Once melted, stir in flour until creamy, stir vigorously, allowing the flour to cook out and the mixture to brown a little; as it does, stir in red-pepper flakes and cayenne pepper. Incorporate the milk, a little bit at a time, keeping the mixture creamy. Keep stirring! Once you’ve added all the milk, add in the sour cream, continuing to stir until everything is incorporated. Add the cheese, stirring until all the cheese is
melted. Once the cheese is melted, remove from heat and add in the parsley, salt, and pepper.

In a 13×9 glass baking dish, add in the pasta, and the cheese mixture. Spread the Fresh Take mix evenly across the top of the mac and cheese.

Bake for 25 minutes in a pre-heated 325° oven.

When you remove the mac and cheese from the oven, let it rest for 5 minutes. Careful, as it will be very hot.

Crispy Parmesan Cauliflower

This is a heavy mac, and I think it’s great to have a ‘healthy’ side dish.  My preferred method for preparing veggies is “blasting” them – a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper, in the oven at 375F, until they’re nice and toasty. To pair with the Southwest KRAFT Fresh Take, we decided the Italian Parmesan Fresh Take would work perfectly.  I would have liked to use broccoli here, but we found the broccoli was a bit too limp for the Fresh Take coating, so we used cauliflower instead.  I have to say, I have never liked cauliflower so much as I like this!

Crispy Parmesean Cauliflower



  • 1 KRAFT Fresh Take, Italian Parmesan Flavor
  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2-3 tablespoons water.


  • Clean your cauliflower and then slide carefully to break apart each of the heads, or flowers (they’re technically called “florets”)
  • Combine the water and flour in a bowl to create a paste; this is the to give something for the breadcrumbs to stick to.
  • Dip the floret into your paste. Give it a good coating but not too much.
  • Combine your cheese and breadcrumb mixes together in a bowl; dip the floret into your cheese/breadcrumb, making sure you give it a generous coating.
  • Place on your baking tray or cookie sheet, keeping the florets upright (e.g., your cheese/breadcrumb topping is facing up, as best you can.)

Bake your tray at 350F for about 25 minutes, or until the tops are nice and crispy brown. Serve piping hot – even picky eaters will love it!

The final presentation – we paired it with a piece of no-frills chicken fresh from the grill, as well as a lovely glass of Oregon pinot noir!

southwest three cheese mac with chicken and crispy cauliflowers

I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias® and Kraft Foods #FreshTake #cbias #SocialFabric

Visit the KRAFT Fresh Take website for more recipe ideas. The KRAFT Fresh Take food truck is also on tour this spring – say hello if they’ll be stopping by your neck of the woods.

Southwest Three Cheese Mac with Crispy Parmesan Cauliflower

Andy Hayes

Andy Hayes is the founder and creator of Plum Deluxe. He authors our award-winning weekly email newsletter, The Blend and curates our popular organic tea of the month club.

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