Get Your Cook On

Illustration by Mia Johnson/Foghorn

Between classes, the Foghorn and extra curricular activities I don’t have a lot of time to cook, but I don’t want to spend night after night digging into microwavable dinners from Trader Joes. My friends always sound impressed with the meals I whip together. My secret? Get fancy with food from a box, can or jar. It just takes a little bit of extra time and a few more ingredients to take your dinner from boring to awesome. Here at “Get Your Cook On” I’ll share all my favorite embellished foods starting with mac and cheese.

Mac and cheese tastes delicious, but lacks many ingredients crucial to really make it a meal (like, you know, substantial protein or vegetables). This recipe has it all and with the additional ingredients it makes more than enough food for two (or even better, enough to eat for lunch/dinner tomorrow).

Ingredients:

1 box mac and cheese – I usually use Trader Joes brand. It’s cheaper than Annie’s and equally delicious. White cheddar shells and regular cheddar both work depending on your preference. Also remember that mac and cheese requires milk (or yogurt) and some butter. Steer away from blue box brands that don’t really taste like real cheese.

1 cup frozen peas

½ cup frozen corn

1 chicken and apple sausage – I also buy these at Trader Joes because it’s cheapest. However, Aidells Sausage Co. also makes great chicken and apple sausages that you can buy at Safeway and other grocery stores.

½ diced onion – You can use red, white or yellow, but red looks prettiest.

½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

Follow the directions on the back of the box for making your macaroni. When the noodles start to get a little bit soft (usually about six minutes in), throw in your frozen veggies. While the pasta is cooking it’s time to prepare the sausage and onion. Put about a teaspoon of olive oil in a frying pan (just eyeball it and make sure it covers the bottom of the pan). Put in your onion and sausage and cook them until your sausage looks as browned as you like (it shouldn’t tale more than a few minutes). These sausages are pre-cooked, so it’s all about preference. I like mine a little bit more cook, visibly browned on both sides, but you might not. Make sure your onions start to burn. Once those are finished, put them to the side until your macaroni is cooked. Then strain it, put it back in the pot and follow the directions on the back to make the sauce. After you’ve made the sauce, put the onions and sausage in with the mac and cheese (the onions soak up a bunch of the sweet flavor from the sausage and taste amaaaaaaaaaaaaazing). Lastly, pour in the extra cheese, put the pot back on a burner and turn on the burner. Stir the whole concoction until you see the cheese start to get melty and stringy. Then it’s good to go.

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