Microwave “baked” macaroni and cheese

Onions and cheddar cheese.

Something about them together is magical.

Onions, cheddar cheese, and apples. Now we’re talking some kind of wonderful.

Like peanut butter and jelly, rum and pineapple juice, squirrels and trees, raspberries and chocolate, hugs and kisses, kisses and…other things…

But really, they do go that well together.

This was one of the best accidental discoveries. It’s late, you’re in someone else’s house, and you’re hungry. What do you do? You steal a box of macaroni and cheese. You cook it in their kitchen, you use their pots and pans, you take one of their Kraft singles, and you dust it all with their onion powder.

I don’t know what was more satisfying: cooking this up in secret or actually devouring it on the stove top between three girls and one shared spoon.

Either way, it was fantastic and ever since that oniony-cheesy combo, I’ve been unable to eat macaroni and cheese without onion powder. It’s a game changer. A very key and necessary ingredient.

This macaroni and cheese recipe was inspired by the satisfaction of that late night. It’s great for a quick meal yet it is wholly comforting and not at all like microwavemacaroni and cheese. My secret: prepare it as you would regular stove top macaroni and cheese by adding a fat (olive oil or butter) and milk. Additional additives never hurt anyone either:

Apples, canned tuna, spinach, onions, fresh tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, broccoli, peas, carrots, grapes, pears, salami. I’m not afraid to add some pretty obscure things but you can keep it as simple or as complex as you’d like. You could add goldfish crackers and hot dogs. Again, it’s whatever you want it to be.

Make it fancy,make it exotic; keep it easy and familiar. Or you could always add nothing at all. Just keep it classic macaroni and cheese.

And really, what’s creamy macaroni and cheese without a thick layer of crunchy, buttery, baked bread crumbs? Umm not much at all, that’s what it is.

So you can cheat. Just crush up some Ritz crackers.

Boom – bread crumbs. Look at you, Fancypants.

Microwave “baked” macaroni and cheese
serves 1

2 packets of Kraft Easy Mac
1 T olive oil
1 packet of Round Table Parmesan Cheese (about 2 T)
2-4 T milk
1/8 t onion powder
1/2 c additives (I used Granny Smith apple chunks)
3 Ritz crackers

First off, let’s not follow the directions for cooking the macaroni. Instead place the noodles in a microwave-safe bowl and cover with water by 1 inch. Salt the water, to taste, and nuke in the microwave for 3-4 minutes. You’ll have to test a noodle after about 3 minutes to check for your preferred level of al dente. Drain as much of the water as you can.

Add olive oil and stir to coat the pasta. Add one whole package of cheese provided by the Easy Mac plus half of the other. Throw in the parmesan too. Now pour in the milk and stir to coat the pasta with the cheese sauce. (You may need to add more milk depending on the degree of creamy cheese consistency.) Season with onion powder – a little goes a long way! And you can always add more but it’s pretty difficult to take some out.

Add your additives and toss to coat. You want them to be covered in cheese. As a final garnish, crush up the Ritz crackers in your fist and sprinkle over the top of your macaroni and cheese. Tada! A crispy, crunchy, just-like-baked topping for your macaroni and cheese. And you did this with only a microwave, while in a college dorm room. Go you!

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