It was one of those times when comfort food wasn’t a choice, but a necessity.
You know the kind of day or week I’m talking about – the crappy one. For these moments, I keep my lime green, fleece sweatpants clean and folded; the kitchen stocked with plenty of popcorn and chocolate; and my favorite movie within grabbing distance.
I also turn to childhood favorites – certain comfort foods – when life’s stresses are overwhelming and I miss home. After a calm summer that slammed me into a fall routine packed with classes and work, I was ready for what Dad always called “The Yellow Meal.”
Mom used to make Mac & Cheese Casserole on select, cold winter nights. If Dad didn’t have such high cholesterol and the dish wasn’t completely laden with fat, I would have eaten this constantly as a kid. (Warning, this mac and cheese is the real Velveeta deal, not that hoity-toity, elitist cheese served in restaurants)
Ah, the beauty of now being an adult and having my own kitchen means when a case of the Mondays hits I can invite my regular group over – Aubrey, Ryan and Bailey – and make a vat of this gooey, affordable treat in my 1970s-esque CorningWare casserole dish.
I’m not totally without conscience when it comes to serving this creamy, decadent entre/.
While Mom alleviated the guilt by adding a salmon patty alongside the Mac & Cheese Casserole, I’ve added my own touch with a side of Israeli Salad, a crispy, tangy mixture of tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers and onion lightly tossed with a lemon and olive oil dressing.
Shortly after putting the Mac & Cheese Casserole in the oven, my apartment filled with comforting warmth and that plastic-y cheesy aroma of my youth. Oh mommy.
I know this isn’t gourmet food and some of my loyal readers will wince at the Velveeta. But, to me, it tastes wonderful and was the perfect finish to a blah week.
About 45 minutes later, I pulled the processed splendor from my 350-degree oven and we began watching another installment of “Sex in the City.” I remember Charlotte got drunk during a beefcake calendar competition and vowed that she would find a man to marry by year’s end.
Thank goodness for gooey food and good friends.
L’chaim and B’tay Avon (To life and eat well)
Mac & Cheese Casserole:
1 pound shell pasta
16 ounces sour cream
16 ounces cottage cheese
10-15 slices Velveeta cheese
Garlic salt and pepper to taste
Cook pasta according to directions on bag. It is best if cooked to the short end of the time listed.
In a large bowl combine sour cream, cottage cheese, cooked pasta and seasonings.
Coat a 9×11 pan in cooking spray and layer half of the pasta mixture on the bottom, then a layer of cheese slices and repeat with remaining mixture and cheese.
Place, covered, in a 350/ oven and bake for 45 minutes.
3 Roma tomatoes
1 green bell pepper
1/2 red onion
1 tablespoon Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Chop tomatoes, pepper, onion and cucumber and combine in a bowl. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon and olive oil into the bowl, season, combine and enjoy.
All ingredients for both dishes add up to less than $20 for five people.
Information below taken from answers.com
Did You Know:
Velveeta is a brand of processed cheese originally made in 1918. It was created by a Swiss immigrant Emil Frey in New York. Kraft Foods bought the Velveeta Cheese Company in 1927. The United States Food and Drug Administration have classified Velveeta as a pasteurized process cheese spread. It can be found in the United States, Canada, Hong Kong and Germany.