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Dinner This Week: Easy Mac and Cheese

This week’s menus include Simple Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese, Steak Tips with Mushroom-Onion Gravy, and Almond-Crusted Chicken Cutlets with Lime and Chipotle for dinner in about an hour
By Published Nov. 9, 2022

Every week, Executive Food Editor Keith Dresser pairs each main dish with a side to give you a complete, satisfying dinner without the guesswork. Look for the game plan section to learn tips on how to streamline your kitchen work so dinner comes together quicker.

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Dinner 1: Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese with Spinach Salad

Game Plan: Prep the ingredients for both dishes, including the dressing for the salad. While the pasta cooks, make the bread crumb topping (step 2). Once the cheese has been added to the pasta, toss the salad.  

Our Simple Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese is inspired by an innovative macaroni and cheese recipe that calls for adding sodium citrate, an emulsifying salt, to cheese to keep it smooth when heated (instead of adding flour to make a béchamel). We base our sauce on American cheese, which contains a similar ingredient. Because American cheese has plenty of emulsifier but not a lot of flavor, we combined it with more-flavorful extra-sharp cheddar. For Spinach Salad with Carrot, Orange, and Sesame, we shave carrots thin with a vegetable peeler so they don't collect at the bottom of the bowl, then add fresh orange segments for bright, clean flavor and textural appeal.

Printable Shopping Lists: Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese with Spinach Salad

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Dinner 2: Steak Tips with Gravy and Mashed Potatoes with Scallions

Game Plan: Prep and marinate the steak tips and soak the dried porcini mushrooms (steps 1 and 2). While the steak sits, prep all of the remaining ingredients. Next, start simmering the potatoes and cook the steak tips through step 4. Finish the steak tips (step 5) once the potatoes are mashed.

Our one-pan Steak Tips with Mushroom-Onion Gravy calls for relatively inexpensive sirloin tips, which have lots of marbling for flavor and tenderness. We combine dried porcini mushrooms with deeply browned onions and white mushrooms for a rich sauce that we finish with sprinkles of minced garlic and woodsy thyme. Mashed Potatoes with Scallions start with rich, satisfying mashed potatoes made with just the right amounts of butter and half-and-half. We then jazz things up by adding two types of horseradish (fresh and prepared), along with fresh-tasting scallion greens.

Printable Shopping ListsSteak Tips with Mushroom-Onion Gravy and Mashed Potatoes with Scallions and Horseradish

Dinner 3: Almond-Crusted Chicken Cutlets with Napa Cabbage Slaw

Game Plan: Start by salting the chicken (step 1). While chicken sits, prep the ingredients for the slaw and complete step 1. Coat and bake the chicken (steps 2 and 3). While the chicken rests, toss the slaw.

To ensure that our Almond-Crusted Chicken Cutlets with Lime and Chipotle are juicy and flavorful, we pierce the chicken breasts with a fork, salt them, and let them rest before dredging them with a seasoned mixture of half almonds and half panko bread crumbs. To enhance the nutty taste, we toast the coating in browned butter. Napa Cabbage Slaw with Jicama and Pepitas offers a more tender, delicate texture and a sweeter flavor than traditional green cabbage slaw. To avoid a bland, watered-down slaw, we make a potent dressing with a high ratio of vinegar to oil. After tossing the cabbage with the dressing and letting it sit for about 5 minutes, moisture from the cabbage dilutes the dressing slightly, so the slaw reaches the perfect level of bright acidity.

Printable Shopping Lists: Almond-Crusted Chicken Cutlets and Napa Cabbage Slaw

View more weeknight dinner ideas below, or check out all of the Dinner This Week menus.


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JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.