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Spicy mac n’ cheese September 9, 2009

Posted by sugarandbliss in pasta, savory.
Tags: , ,
1 comment so far

macheese1

Working in a retail store, I get to see a wide variety of people. They range from the friendly, courteous-to-the-meticulously-folded-stacks type to the mothers cranky from the heat and annoyed with their rowdy kids to the foreign exchange students and recent immigrants who don’t know how to speak more then ten words of English. Each day, I never know what kind of people I’m going to encounter, but I greet and help each customer with the same cheery smile and happy-to-help-you attitude.

During evening and nighttime hours, the store gets more family-oriented and friendly-customer traffic. People go shopping after eating dinner, charged with the feel-good energy from hearty food and relaxation. Food plus cooler weather with friends, family or a significant other? There couldn’t be a better recipe for a good mood. One Friday night, while I was working the closing shift, I asked one of the guys meandering around the store if he was looking for anything special (aka, what are you shopping for and is there anything I can help you find). Just then, his girlfriend or wife joins him, and he replies, “I already found her.” And smiles. I smiled back, my heart gushing at his sweet statement, thinking “man, that girl is one lucky girl.”

But she’s not the only one with good luck, becuase I think I’ve struck it rich with the special guy in my life. And on some nights, nothing beats cozying up close to him with a big bowl of comfort food and a feel-good movie. So what made it into our dinner bowls on a lazy night in? Well, it’s not hard to guess from that ridiculously yellow hue. Yup, Kraft macaroni and cheese.

Normally, we just steam up some rice and stir fry some veggies and meat, but last night there was no fresh food in his fridge. None. Only because my boyfriend was going back home for a few weeks, though, and used up all the fresh food before it got the chance to go bad. But it’s very unlike me to cook just plain mac n cheese, or just plain anything when I’m in the kitchen, so we mixed in whatever looked good in the pantry: corn, spam, and some chili garlic sauce for heat. Can you say Asian-American fusion? I was looking for something spicy and that happened to be the only thing sitting around, so into the pot it went. And it was great! A whole lot better than we expected, especially with such a random combination of ingredients. The chili garlic sauce gave it a nice, satisfying heat. However, I don’t think garlic and cheese is the greatest of combinations. Next time around, I’m gonna omit the garlic and find something that’s just purely spicy. But that’s what cooking is, right? Trial and error.

macheese2

Kicked Up Kraft Macaroni and Cheese

This dish is infinitely versatile. You can add in or substitute just about anything – leftover chicken or shrimp for Spam, red pepper flakes for the chili garlic sauce, or anything else you imagine will taste good! Just as we finished cooking, we realized that we did have one fresh ingredient – an onion. Next time, that onion is going to make it into the pot.

1 box Kraft Macaroni and Cheese
6 cups water
3 tsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup milk
1 6 oz can whole kernel sweet corn (frozen will work too)
1/2 can Spam, diced
3 tsp chili garlic sauce (or preferrably something non-garlicky)
1 tbsp vegetable oil

Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Add macaroni and cook about 7 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oil in a pan. Cook the diced Spam until browned, about 4 minutes. Drain the canned corn, and add to the pan. (If using frozen corn, just add it directly, no need to thaw) Season with salt and pepper, then cook until heated through and set aside. When the pasta is cooked, drain, but do not rinse, and return macaroni to the pot. Add butter and stir to melt. Add the milk and the cheese packet, stir. Add the Spam and corn mixture to the macaroni and stir to combine. Add the chili garlic sauce, adding more or less to suite your taste. Serve and enjoy!

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