This post is sponsored by Annie’s Homegrown.

I’d categorize myself as a pretty decent cook, but I run out of ideas just like any other parent. Sometimes, a quick fix is where it’s at! I love taking boxed or frozen meals and adding my own flair to keep things interesting and easy. Mac and cheese is a longtime favorite around here, so for a recent summer party I decided to mix things up with a macaroni and cheese bar.

Macaroni and Cheese bar with toppings including salsa, peas, parmesan, bacon

Not familiar with the macaroni and cheese bar concept? I’ve seen this idea making the rounds at shindigs for a while. Just like the oh-so-popular French fry bar or hot dog bar, it uses a simple base and adds some tasty touches to please a diverse crowd. Here’s what we serve with ours.

Macaroni and Cheese bar with toppings and Annie’s Homegrown

Salsa, parmesan, peas, bacon and crushed up seaweed. With some salt and pepper on-hand, of course! I’ll admit that it’s a rather strange smattering of flavors, but there’s bound to be something in this mix to please any palate. We have savory, spicy, slightly-smoky and that ever-desirable umami taste.

Macaroni and Cheese bar with seaweed

If you’ve never tried seaweed on macaroni and cheese, you don’t know what you’re missing. I picked up the habit after living a chunk of my childhood in Maui and seeing friends sprinkle dried seaweed on everything. You should definitely try some of furikake chips while you’re going down the seaweed path, too. Sweet roasted kona chips with sesame oil and seaweed. Mmmmm.

Macaroni and Cheese bar with toppings

Of course, there are one or two kids in my family who insist that macaroni and cheese is best without any extra toppings. I’m certainly not going to argue with them. That’s the beauty of a macaroni and cheese bar where everyone can have it how they like it! And with Annie’s Homegrown as our noodle of choice, it can definitely hold its own. Their NEW recipe is yummier than ever. It’s been upgraded to a creamier, cheesier taste with noodle texture and size that’s optimized for the perfect kid bite.

Macaroni and Cheese on a fork with a box

At our little get-together, it actually came to our attention that not everyone even eats macaroni and cheese with the same utensil! Our family collectively reached for forks, while our pals grabbed spoons. What in the what!? Who eats macaroni and cheese with a SPOON? They argued that spoons let them scoop up the cheesy goodness that can sometimes collect at the bottom of the bowl.

Macaroni and cheese on a fork

We countered with this. Try doing THAT with a spoon.

Preschooler eating macaroni and cheese without a fork

Of course, we also have a small segment of the family attempt to dig in without a spoon or fork or any utensil at all. Just some parmesan and the taste of preschooler fingers. Yeah, we do force a fork on this guy.

Is your family #teamfork or #teamspoon? Go to Annie’s website now through Saturday 7/14 and tell them your pick for a chance to win a free box of their yummier than ever Classic Cheddar Mac and Cheese!