Macaroni that Exceeded Expectations

I’ve been waiting for a chance to claim a guest spot on this blog for a while now. So when Brian claimed that he was starving and unable to write, I was given the golden opportunity to swoop in as the “hero,” while really I’m just trying to steal his blog. Insert maniacal laughter here.

Tonight’s dinner wasn’t supposed to be an adventure, I swear. But I think the Universe knows when it’s a writing day, as fate always seems to twist the plot along the way.

When Brian cooks, he plans these exciting, story-worthy meals. When I cook, it’s “where do you want to get pizza?” And tonight was supposed to be nothing more impressive than that. My plan was to have mac and cheese for dinner. That, I can do. Mac and cheese has seen me through so much, and been on my side through every stage of my life. I can rely on it. But tonight it decided to take a turn on me. Tonight was different. Tonight told me that maybe I shouldn’t trust a box of noodles and pasteurized cheese so easily. Because when I opened the cupboard in search of that golden-orange box I wasn’t only disappointed. I was betrayed. My dearest friend was nowhere to be found.

With a pot of water boiling on the stove, and a hungry boyfriend grunting at me for food, there was no time to sit and weigh out my options. I could only act. As my fingers desperately grasped at the empty space where the mac and cheese once sat, my gaze quickly shifted to the box of elbow macaroni to my right. That’s halfway to mac and cheese, I figured, as I ripped through the cardboard and dumped an arbitrary amount of noodles into the water. Now all I would need is to toss in some butter, milk, and cheese, and we would have creamy bowls of delicious home-made mac and cheese… after 8-12 minutes.

A quick solution! Maybe this would in fact be the boring endeavor I’d been hoping for all along. Except for one more little snag…

Brian is lactose-intolerant. Because of this, we don’t keep much cheese laying around unless we have a particular recipe for it (or if Brian’s on one of his cheese binges – which are a lot more frequent than you might think). That means between my vegetarianism and his inability to process dairy, we’re mostly left to munch on rabbit food. As his grunting turned to grumbling I knew time was of the essence, so I picked up the only cheese in the fridge (ricotta), shrugged at it and brought it to the stove. I could do something with this, right? And decided that as my saving grace I’d also grab as many vegetables as I could carry at once to add the flavor that would have normally been supplied by red dye 40 and corn syrup.

I chopped up the vegetables and tossed them into a big ol’ frying pan with a little olive oil and let all of the flavors eek together while I figured out how to turn ricotta cheese into a Kraft substitute. At this point, the process of making dinner had transformed from tossing together mac and cheese. This was now my Velveeta Vendetta. After that box of, once beloved, mac and cheese had betrayed me, I needed to prove that I could handle myself without it. That I had moved on. That I could survive.

So as my vegetables were getting all tasty, I drained the noodles and tossed in a scoopful of ricotta cheese and stirred the life out of it while it warmed up enough to cover the noodles. I added a bit of almond milk until I got the consistency that I liked. Added a bit of salt and pepper, and then straight up dumped the pan of vegetables into the pot of noodles. And by “into the pot of noodles,” I mean half the vegetables ended up in the pot and half fell onto the stove (close enough, right?).

The final product I came up with turned out to be quite presentable, as well as surprisingly tasty. Given, it’s no nostalgic fake cheese product, but this had a lot of nutrients and was fun to salvage and prepare. I call it “Macaroni that Exceeded Expectations.”

Macaroni that Exceeded Expectations: An Ab-Original Recipe

½ lb of elbow macaroni noodles
2 Tbsp ricotta cheese
1 onion
2 stalks of celery
2 oz. of baby portabella mushrooms
1 tomato
1/2 cup fresh baby spinach
¼ cup almond milk
salt & pepper to taste

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