Mac Attack

Wednesday, October 5, 2005

It is not always easy to receive comfort, just when you need it. But comfort foods like Macaroni and Cheese have been soothing troubles since childhood.

When you are feeling down and need the instant gratification that can only be found in the warm creamy pasta, you don’t have to turn to Kraft’s blue cardboard box or travel to the 24 hour dinner to satisfy your craving. Many bars and restaurants like Cafeteria (119 Seventh Ave) have tapped into the carb-comfort racket and serve childhood consolation meals like Macaroni and Cheese. However, in almost the same amount of time it takes to fix the packaged version or travel and order a side dish version, you can make your own cheesy baked ambrosia that is richer and more fulfilling.

Growing up I preferred cut up hot dogs in my Velveeta, while my friend likes to add a can of cream of mushroom soup to give extra flavor and texture. Instead of bread crumbs I once crumbled up some potato chips, tossed them with a small amount of melted butter and garlic powder, basil, oregano and black pepper. Yummy!

My Mom's Easy Cheese Macaroni
Called “Cheese Macaroni,” this recipe includes mozzarella; an 8 oz can of tomato sauce and no bread crumbs or paprika. (30 minutes).
Boil pasta until al dente, since the pasta will cook some more while microwaving, yes you heard me, we cheat. Once pasta is ready but firm, put in deep microwaveable container. Melt in 2 tablespoons of butter. Add 1/2 pound of sliced yellow American Land O'Lakes cheese available at the meat counter. Line the slices of cheese underneath the pasta, along the sides of the container and on top. Then stir in ? pound of shredded mozzarella and 8 oz of plain tomato sauce. Stir and then microwave for 5 minutes, stir again and heat for 10 more or until cheese is melted and gooey. You can of course also bake this recipe but the microwave actually combines the cheese well keeping the pasta very moist. Add salt and pepper as desired and mangia!

The Ultimate Macaroni and Cheese
Make sure you have some extra time on your hands for this recipe. Bake time alone is 30 minutes, plus boiling pasta and mixing ingredients.

1/2 pound penne pasta; 1/2 cup butter; 3 tbsp. minced fresh onion; 1/2 tsp white pepper; 1 1/2 tbsps flour; 1 tbsp Dijon mustard; 1 1/2 cups milk; 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese; 1 cup grated cheddar cheese; 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese; 1/3 cup bread crumbs.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Boil the pasta in plenty of salted boiling water. Drain and reserve when ready. Meanwhile, melt 1/3 cup of the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and add the onion. Cook for two minutes. Add the white pepper and flour. Cook, stirring constantly, for three to four minutes. Don't let the flour brown; lower the heat if it does. Add the mustard and milk and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 10-15 minutes. The sauce will thicken. It should be very thick but not gluey. Add more milk if it thickens too much. Once the sauce has simmered for at least 10 minutes, add the cheddar and gruyere cheeses and half the parmesan. Shut off heat and stir them in. Stir the cheeses in as they melt. Return the pan to low heat if necessary. Working quickly, toss the pasta in the cheese sauce. Toss it well so the sauce gets inside the pasta tubes. Place the pasta in an 11- by 14-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining parmesan cheese over the top. Melt the remaining butter, stir it into the breadcrumbs and sprinkle this mixture over the top of the pasta. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the top is golden and toasted.
Question: Why do people swing their arms while walking up stairs?

Apparently to smack me on the nose while on the step below them, making my commute that much brighter.

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