Well, it has certainly been a while (over a year I am told!), but I’m baaaaaaaaack!
Why did I take such a lengthy hiatus, you ask? Certainly time was a factor, but in addition to being a busy mom of five, as a writer I was not exactly sure if I was on the “write” track with this whole Houston Cooking Examiner thing. It took a little convincing from my two oldest daughters and some retooling on my part, but I decided to go ahead and get back in the saddle again. So, let’s see how she gallops!
Another decision–what KIND of cooking do I really want to write about? I gotta tell ya–this was the most difficult for me. I have been pretty fortunate when it comes to exposure to different types of cooking. I have thoroughly enjoyed the hoity toity fare of super-upscale restaurants and I have had my share (and then some!) of local drive-thru items and just about everything in between. I have had the pleasure of interviewing people who share the same passion as I, like Todd Wilbur of Top Secret Recipe fame and Carol Amos a.k.a. Kittencal of kittencalskitchen(.com) and recipezazz.com. I have met and/or worked with some incredibly talented cooks and chefs and I have learned a great deal from them as well as from one of the best cooks-in-the-kitchen I know–Mom.
What’s a foodie writer to do? I finally decided. Although once upon a time, I garnished exquisite small food with delicate chives and decorated plates with swirls of sauces and sprinklings of herbs, I finally came to the realization that I turned in my Calvin Klein suits, pantyhose and super high high heels quite a while ago now. NOW, I don MOM GEAR and Nikes every day and create MOMMY MENUs for my family every two weeks. Outside of my cherished husband and I sneaking away to Fogo de Chao (his favorite) every great once in a while, my head has been out of the glamorous PRETTY FOOD cooking game for quite some time. What does this mean, exactly? Change of focus and then, FOCUS!
I’m gonna talk REAL FOOD now. The stuff my kids ask me to make on a regular basis. The kind of stuff that adorns my kitchen table every night between 5:00 and 5:30 pm. The humble, the simple, the delicious– the comfort foods of old. And from time to time, I may just throw in some pretty food for grins.
Cook easy! Cook happy!
Easy Breezy Chili Mac Two Ways
NOTE: This is for one of those nights when you are in a big hurry and/or you had a tough day and you just want to get dinner DONE. I BEG of you, however, that if you make this for your family or just for yourself, please be sure to serve it with a healthy VEGETABLE. Canned green beans, salad, cut up celery and carrots will all do quite nicely.
THE FIRST WAY
Boxed mac ‘n cheese (your preference)
1 can of chili per box of mac (with or without beans–your choice)
1/2 cup of shredded sharp cheddar per box of mac
Crushed Fritos or other corn chips (optional)
Chopped onion, I use sweet yellow (optional)
1. You can either prepare the macaroni and cheese per the instructions on the box or nuke it in the microwave by pouring the pasta in a large micro-safe dish and adding 1 3/4 cup water for one box. Heat on highest power for 9 minutes. Drain any excess water that did not evaporate out.
2. Add can(s) of chili and mix well. You can either pour this into a baking dish or keep it in the bowl/pot. Add onion if desired and mix well.
3. Sprinkle cheese on top of mixture and microwave until just melted (OR sprinkle on top of mixture in pot, cover until cheese is melted OR pour into a baking dish and bake in 350 degree oven until cheese is melted OR [and this is my personal preference], plate and sprinkle cheese on individual servings.
4. Top with crushed fritos and chopped onion if desired.
THE SECOND WAY
This is a richer version, but still quite simple to prepare.
1 package large elbow macaroni noodles
1 TBS butter (feel free to omit)
4 oz. Velveeta or other processed cheese food
4 oz. heavy whipping cream (can use half-and-half or whipping cream)
1 can chili per mac package (with or without beans, your choice)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Crushed Fritos or other corn chips (optional)
Chopped onion (optional)
1. Prepare macaroni noodles as instructed on package.
2. While the pasta is draining, melt the butter in the saucepan used to cook the noodles.
3. Add the cream and the Velveeta. Melt over medium heat, being careful not to scald or burn.
4. Once melted, combine well and add the drained pasta.
5. Add chili and optional onions, and heat through.
6. Sprinkle cheese on top of mixture in pot, cover until cheese is melted OR pour into a baking dish and bake in 350 degree oven until cheese is melted OR [and this is my personal preference] plate and sprinkle cheese on individual servings.
Top with crushed fritos and chopped onion if desired.