Archive for May, 2010

Before I started this blog I was planning on calling it the not-so-starving artist but a quick trip to google pointed out that everyone and their mother had used that term so I settled on something else.
BUT the concept of not starving is an important one to me so part of this blog is super cheap and somewhat healthy recipes!

Mac and cheese has always held a special place in my heart and…er, stomach? taste buds? Whatever. I love it. Specifically mac and cheese that comes in a box. I didn’t know it could be made from scratch till I was at least 18. I love it so much that my friend and former roommate Amber Alert did a tribute act to me that involved roses, a flogger and a box of Kraft mac and cheese.

Mac, Always sunny in Philadelphia

My other favorite Mac

But no matter how broke you are, you simply cannot live off of mac and cheese alone.  I tried that with Ramen once and my body no longer recognizes it as food.  It’s time for a childhood favorite to grow up. Just a little.

Lest you worry about making things from scratch I pledge that all these recipes start with the normal box ingredients. However if you’re more scared of the chemicals that probably go into making cheese powder, don’t despair, these should all work with the made from scratch version. If you’re vegetarian/vegan/carb free, I’m not much help in that department since I’m constantly fighting the urge to eat nothing but meat, cheese and pasta. But I think many of these recipes could be adaptable.

These all usually make at least two or three servings, cost less than $5 (assuming you already have the necessary condiments) and take less than half an hour to make. And you thought cooking was going to be hard.

Schmacy Mac and Cheese 1: Buffalo Mac and Cheese
Make regular mac and cheese according to directions.
Add
hot sauce
blue cheese dressing
cooked chicken, either cut up or shredded (how much is up to you, some leftovers or a breast or two should be fine)
and diced celery (once again, up to you. A few stick should be good.)

Didn’t I tell you this was going to be easy? THis also works well with rice instead of mac and cheese, which makes it even cheaper but tastes pretty different.

Schmacy Mac and Cheese 2: Chilli Mac and Cheese with Corn
Make regular mac and cheese according to directions.
while it’s still on a low heat add
Chilli (any kind of chilli you damn well want. I like to get something with meat in it for extra protein.)
a can of corn
a dollop of sour cream if you want it to have extra delicious creaminess (I usually don’t add this because if you’re only cooking for yourself it’s kind of a pain to try and run through a whole container of sour cream before it goes bad. I usually fail.)

That’s about as easy as cooking can possibly get but it’s yummy and crams some fiber in your diet. I’ve been toying with the idea of using manwich filling instead of chilli to up the veggie factor but I haven’t had a manwich since college and I can’t quite remember how it tastes or imagine what it would taste like mixed with mac and cheese. Anyone who can offer insite, please do.

Schmacy Mac and Cheese 3: Pseudo Mexican Mac and Cheese
Make regular mac and cheese according to directions.
Add
Cooked ground Chorizo or beef (I prefer chorizo. Make sure you drain off most of the grease though)
Diced Onions (cooked or raw)
Diced tomatoes
Sour cream (see above.)
With the addition of a little salsa this also works with rice instead of Mac and Cheese. When I make that I like to eat by scooping it up with tortilla chips. It’s incredibly filling and, depending on how much rice you start with, you can live off it for at least a week.

SUPER Schmacy Mac and Cheese 4: Sausage and figs
Make *White Cheddar* mac and cheese according to directions.
Add
a sprinkling of rosemary (I prefer fresh but dried also works. You can freeze fresh rosemary, which is good because who the hell uses ALL the rosemary you have to buy if you get it from a store?)
chopped up, cooked, sausage (I like to use breakfast sausages but italian would work as well)
a can of button mushrooms (a can of chopped mushrooms works, too)
A handful of diced canned/jarred figs (These are slightly harder to find than most ingredients. Hold out for them, though. because they make the dish amazing! They’re often in the goya/spanish/ethnic aisle. Why? I don’t know.)

One of the things I really like about all these dishes is that they’re easy to take to your day job, assuming there’s a microwave at work. They’re not as portable as sandwiches but I still haven’t perfected my sandwich making technique so look for that in a future post.

I encourage you to use these recipes as a jumping off point and try to come up with new recipes and new things to add. I try to add one protein source and at least one veggie. This is the closest I can come to making my meals healthy, which is certainly a step up from where I was a couple years ago.
If you have any new ideas to add, please leave them in the comments. I love new trying new stuff.

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