You ever read a recipe and it lists the cooking time at 15-20 minutes but what they really mean is it will take 15-20 minutes if you lock your kids in the bathroom and don't let them out until the whole failed experiment is over?
Today, Evin from Food Good, Laundry Bad is giving us the real recipe for successfully prepared Mac 'N Cheese.
Not the recipe if you are standing in Rachael Ray's fake kitchen cooking for a studio audience, but the recipe if you are cooking in your own kitchen under the watchful eyes of three opinionated, active and very hungry little tyrants aged one, two and seven.
I love to cook, but cooking with three kids underfoot is not an easy chore. You have to be a culinary genius, an acrobat, a diplomat, and a magician. Whatever time the recipe calls for, you gotta double it. At least.
One of my kids' favorite meals is Mac 'n Cheese. You've probably seen 100 recipes for it but below is the only one with accurate instructions.
1 lb elbow macaroni
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
dash hot sauce
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup monterrey jack cheese
1 cup colby jack cheese
1 cup plain breadcrumbs
1/2 cup parmesean cheese
1. Bring a pot of salted water to boil, cook the pasta to al dente.
2. Fish a Lego out of the baby's mouth.
3. Melt the butter in a skillet and add the flour, whisking constantly.
4. Separate the no-holds-barred battle between the toddler and the seven-year-old, send to opposite corners of the kitchen.
5. When the roux is a golden color, add the milk and whisk. Let thicken.
6. While you've got the milk out, fix sippy cups for everybody. Field requests to make it "warmer".
7. Add the mustard, hot sauce, salt and pepper and whisk until combined.
8. Ignore the whines of "But I don't like mustaaaaaaaaaaaard!!!!!"
9. Add the cheeses and stir until melted and combined.
10. Grab the half empty bags of cheese the baby snatched out of the trash and poured over her head.
11. Preheat broiler.
12. Curse when you step in cheese. Quickly correct yourself using child-appropriate language.
13. Add the cheese sauce to the drained pasta and combine, mixing thoroughly.
14. Tell seven-year-old NOT TO USE THAT WORD.
15. Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray and add the macaroni to the dish.
16. Explain, again, that it's not ready yet.
17. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and parmesean, then spray with cooking spray.
18. Open the oven and bend like ballerina with one leg out, keeping the kids back, while scolding the toddler for stealing the baby's milk.
19. Place dish under the broiler for 2-3 minutes to brown and crisp the topping.
20. Change baby's diaper while explaining to the toddler that her shoes are already on the right feet and you don't need to switch them.
21. Explain again, give up and switch her shoes so they're on the wrong feet.
22. Take dish out of the oven and let cool 5 minutes before serving.
23. While cooling, try to remember how to multiply fractions so you can help the seven-year-old with his homework, give up and google it, switch the toddlers shoes back when she cries because her feet hurt, fish half a foam ball out of the baby's mouth, wonder briefly where the other half is, and then get distracted by the timer dinging, telling you THE MACARONI IS READY!
24. Eat off the crunchy bits on top because your kids want "regular" mac 'n cheese, not the "fancy" kind.
Evin writes at Food Good Laundry Bad and is a stay-at-home Mom in the country. She's got three kids, two of them in diapers, and a foul mouth. She's got a pile of laundry taller than most toddlers. She'll get to it eventually. Maybe.