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Slacker Food: Southwestern Mac and Cheese

February 23, 2008

Southwestern Mac

“Oh my god,” you’re thinking. “Is she seriously blogging about boxed mac and cheese? This is just getting pathetic.” Ok, yes, I am seriously blogging about boxed mac and cheese because, frankly, I’m kind of addicted to it. It is the one processed food product that I can’t give up (well, that and Cheez-Its. Are we sensing a theme?). While the boxed mac and cheese isn’t quite the dietary staple for me that it was about four or five years ago, I still feel the need for it once every month or two. And I still usually make it the same way my mom did when I was growing up: with a can of tuna mixed in.

I can hear some of you now: “Oh man, it’s not bad enough that she’s talking about powdered cheese products, but mixing TUNA in there, too? Gross!” I’ve had many a friend tell me they thought my favorite comfort food meal was an abomination, but I just say they haven’t seen the light. And hey, at least my tastes have evolved somewhat. I avoid the flavorless orange Kraft stuff these days in favor of Annie’s, and I usually make it with cream instead of milk, because I’m crazy like that.

The reason I decided that I needed to share my mac and cheese obsession with all of you, thus revealing myself to be something of a hypocrite about all my whole-foods-natural-cooking-from-scratch stuff, is that I have discovered a new favorite mac and cheese add-in that might just surpass tuna as a favorite way to fancy up my comfort food: Ro-tel.

You notice I said fancy up? I am clearly delusional about what “fancy” means, as I’m sure many would consider a can of Ro-tel about as far from fancy as one could possibly get. And let’s not even talk about the canned tuna or the chili mac made with Hormel.

So, Ro-tel might be the opposite of fancy, but it made my mac and cheese amazing yesterday, and I’m a convert. That and a teaspoon or so of cumin mixed into the cheese sauce and you almost have yourself a presentable meal. And yeah, you could probably make it from scratch with some expensive cheddar cheese and breadcrumbs and jalapenos and fresh chopped tomatoes, but somehow, I just think it wouldn’t be the same.

Mac and cheese in soft focus glamour shot

This post is especially dedicated to Miss Crystal, who is sadly living in a world where there is neither mac and cheese nor Ro-tel. I’m sorry my dear. All the jamon in the world can’t make up for that. But at least you have something to make America look appealing again, right?

(PS – The total soft focus glamour shot of the mac and cheese was unintentional, but seemingly so right.)

UPDATE: Too many of you folks have confessed to a lack of knowledge about the glorious Tex-Mex food product that is Ro-tel. Don’t worry, I’m here to help.

Ro-tel Original

Head to the ethnic food section of your nearest supermarket (well, not you Crystal. Do they even have supermarkets in Spain?), and find the can pictured above. It will light up your life. It will instantly Tex-Mexify anything you choose to add it to. Your life will never be the same.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. Maggie permalink
    February 23, 2008 10:17 pm

    I have some left over Annie’s mac n cheese in my fridge, with the necessary canned tuna added -Cali likes that I add that. :) I’m ignorant- what is Ro-tel? I like the cumin idea & will have to try that next time.

  2. February 24, 2008 5:25 pm

    Ahh, Ro-tel is fabulous, but I think it’s more of a Texas-Southwest thing than a California thing. It’s basically canned diced tomatoes, jalapenos, and onion. Spicy and delicious.

  3. Mom permalink
    February 26, 2008 8:46 pm

    You kook! What do you think Patrick would say if I came home with Mac and Cheese from a box? I can’t wait for him to move out! Ha, ha!

  4. nonni permalink
    February 27, 2008 6:48 pm

    Again, you inspire me. Had a small piece of leftover roasted salmon and decided to go with the flow. Annie’s mac and cheese with about a half cup of frozen baby peas. Don’t even bother to thaw peas, just dump (a very technical cooking term for you who are uninformed) them into the colander before dumping in the cooked pasta. Voila…perfect peas. Now crumble up leftover salmon into the mac and cheese prepared according to directions. A few good grinds of pepper and dinner is readly.

  5. kim e. permalink
    February 28, 2008 7:50 pm

    So I actually attempted this last night for dinner and used fresh baby bell peppers, onions and jalapenos instead of this Ro-tel (something I don’t think I’ve heard of before) and it was quite scrumptious! Thank you for making my unhealthy mac n’ cheese dinner feel healthy! :)

  6. February 29, 2008 10:06 am

    My bf puts tuna in his mac and cheese too. I liked it that way but then went vegetarian… occasionally I’ll put fake hot dog slices in it but really I like Kraft Deluxe plain, honestly.

    I allow myself to eat mac n cheese because I more often make a good stir fry with lots of fresh veggies so I’m allowed the crappy food now and then!

  7. crystalbrooke permalink
    March 1, 2008 11:14 am

    Awwww, thanks for the dedication! You’re so right, no mac n cheese here, dammit, and to be honest I don’t even know what Ro-tel is. Anyway, tallarines a la parmesana with some zucchini thrown in is about as close as I get to the Annie’s mac I so dearly love. Siiiiigh…

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