Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Birthdays, Family and Comforting Mac n Cheese

Mindy here, and as you may or may not know by now, I had rotator cuff surgery almost two weeks ago. Since then, I've been adapting to life with the use of only one arm and, believe it or not, I can still do most things, only in a different way and not quite as quickly. Except for hair. I think I mentioned last week that doing anything other than brushing your hair is virtually impossible with one hand. Fortunately, hubby has been quite the trooper.
This is me grating cheese. Normally I would use do this task with my right hand, but since that arm is now in a sling, it's only there for support while my left hand does all the work.
 Why was I grating cheese?
So I could make mac n cheese, of course.
My birthday was last week, so my family treated me to some of my favorite foods.
Beef brisket from my favorite barbeque restaurant, jalapeno tater tots, deviled eggs, barbeque beans and macaroni and cheese.
Now that's some comfort food, right there.
And since my oldest daughter wasn't able to make it, I had to make her mac n cheese myself, because it is now my go-to recipe for the ultimate comfort food.
Here's what you'll need for this yummy dose of comfort:

8 oz. Velveeta, cubed
8 oz. Cracker Barrel Extra Sharp cheese, grated (for whatever reason, the flavor this lends is superior to regular extra sharp cheese)
1 can condensed Cheddar Cheese soup
1 cup half and half
16 oz. package of your favorite elbow macaroni, cooked according to package instructions
Ground black pepper (optional)
1/3 cup bread crumbs (I prefer the Italian style, and while I happened to have the Panko (crunchy) variety on hand, you can use  whatever you like)
2 tablespoons butter
If you haven't already, cook your macaroni. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet or saucepan, combine the soup, Velveeta and Cracker Barrel cheese over medium-low heat. 
Be patient and be sure to watch it, because you definitely don't want to burn your cheese. 

See, it really doesn't take that long.
I like to use a whisk to help eliminate any lumps.
Stir in your half and half.
If you like, add pepper to taste. I added about a 1/2 teaspoon.
Add the cooked macaroni.
And stir to coat.
Pour into a greased baking pan. An oblong casserole dish works well.

Next, over medium heat, melt butter.
Like you didn't know what that looks like.

Once butter is melted, add your bread crumbs.
Stir until butter is absorbed.
Then sprinkle over top of macaroni and cheese.

Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, until top is golden and cheese is bubbly.
That's heaven in a skillet, I tell ya.

And this is heaven in three tiers!
Aren't they beautiful?
My middle daughter made these. I was tickled pink. And purple.
And, of course, the best way to eat a cupcake is to take off the bottom and put it on top for a cupcake sandwich.
Man, I wish I had one of those right now.

As we prepare to move, we've been going through EVERYTHING and found these keepsake boxes I had put together for each of my three girls some years ago.
These two had so much fun looking at their baby books, old report cards and school projects that we liked to have never gotten them to come and eat.
My youngest, the one with her eyes closed, is now a kindergarten teacher, so it was rather interesting when she read over her own kindergarten report card and realized that she was that student that now drives her crazy. The one who "talks at inappropriate times" and "has problems listening."
Yeah, we all had a good laugh over that.
And I got to snuggle with two of my favorite girls.
Aren't they cute?

But spring has definitely sprung in north Texas. The grass is turning green, trees are budding and we had our first hail storm of the season.
Luckily, it was only pea-sized, so no damage.

Now it's your turn.
What's your go-to comfort food?
Have you ever been forced to use just one hand? Your non-dominant one? How did you handle things? I'd really love to hear your stories.

Mindy Obenhaus lives in Texas with her husband and kids. She's passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining, and sometimes adventurous, manner. When she’s not writing, she enjoys cooking and spending time with her grandchildren. Learn more at www.MindyObenhaus.com


  1. I've never been able to master mac and cheese! I always rely on my Southern friend from Alabama to make it for me. :D

    1. MJ, this recipe is so easy, though. No waiting for the sauce to thicken.

  2. Mindy, happy birthday! What a fun celebration. Those cupcakes are gorgeous! I was waitng for you to day they bought them at a bakery!

    Thanks for the yummy mac and cheese recipe. I'll have to give it a try when the kids are home some weekend. I think spaghetti or chili are my favorite comfort foods. Probably because that's what my dad made most often when I was growing up. :)

    1. I know, Missy. They do look like they came from a bakery. Rachel is my cake decorator, so she likes trying all kinds of stuff. We got her some fancy piping tips for Christmas that she used on these.

      I agree with you whole heartedly on the mac and cheese. And this one is quick and easy to make.

  3. Happy Birthday! It looks like you had a wonderful time. :)

    That mac and cheese looks fabulous. Carbs are my favorite comfort food, too, and mac and cheese is at the top of the list, along with fresh bread. Warm. With butter. Mmmmm....

    1. Thanks, Jan. We had a lot of fun.

      BTW, I always use the Dreamfields pasta when I make this. That way I don't feel quite as guilty. ;)

  4. I also meant to ask if you're on a stool. I figured you must be so that you're high enough not to have to lift your shoulder. :)

    1. Yes, I was. It was the only way I could get the leverage I needed. Necessity is the mother of invention, right?

  5. Wait.

    Why are they not waiting on you hand and foot????

    Ay yi yi, woman.

    I'm all over this mac and cheese, and the cupcakes made me jump through the screen and pretend!!!!!

    How are you doing? Is it painful? What's the annoyance level? Can you bring me some mac and cheese... I'm quite hungry!!!

    1. My reply disappeared!!! Ack!!!

      My guys have been really good to me, but A) father and son got sick a few days into my recovery and B) I got bored. But Rachel's cupcakes more than made up for it.

      Shoulder is quite painful at times, not so bad at others. Yes, I do get annoyed, not with my guys, but with what I can't do. As for the Mac n cheese, how about a trade? I'll bring you Mac n cheese, you bring me a rhubarb pie! :D

  6. Not exactly my favorite comfort food - that's probably pizza - but I'm making a version of your raisin bread French toast for Mardi Gras dinner for me tonight.

    The cupcakes are adorable!!!!!! And I love the report card photo.

    1. Mary Cate, you live in NYC. Of course pizza is your comfort food. Oh, but that cinnamon raisin French toast is hard to resist.

  7. Oh my, Mindy, that homemade mac-n-cheese looks SO good! My guys (husband & son) would go ape over that :-) Another recipe to print out and add to my collection...yummy!

    1. Trixi, my daughter came up with this recipe. I was skeptical at first. How could something so simple be so good. But it really is.