Comfort Foods! Just those two words bring to mind certain foods that we grew up with, or crave at one time or another. Maybe you’ve had a bad day, and just want a familiar meal that you know you love. Perhaps it’s mid-winter, freezing cold, and you want something to eat that feels like being wrapped up in a warm quilt. Or you just broke up with your boyfriend, best friend, or had to have a pet “put to sleep”. You want food that will make you feel better, if that’s possible. Food that gives you comfort is naturally called “comfort food”.
Well, here’s a question that I’ve been pondering; do you crave comfort foods in hot weather? Aren’t comfort foods warm foods that give you a “warm fuzzy”? I can’t think of any cold foods that do that, and in hot weather don’t we usually want cold foods to cool us off, so where do comfort foods fit in?
That is the dilemma I faced last week. The weekend had served up warm, sunny days in the mid to high 80’s. It was hot, we ate salads! Come Monday, the temperature is in the 60’s, and its raining, cold and damp outside. Then I go for my dance lesson, where every move I make gets corrected, and I can’t seem to do anything right. (That’s an exaggeration, but it felt that way). And to top it all off, I forgot to take something out of the freezer for dinner. Does this day qualify for a comfort meal? I thought it did.
This recipe for a variation on Mac and Cheese is my solution to wanting, no needing, something comforting to eat, but little time to prepare it, so let’s call this “Quick Comfort Broccoli Mac and Cheese with Bacon”. Even though the calendar tells us it’s late spring or early summer, this dish was perfect for my needs. And Mr. D. loved it too, saying it was fabulous, and “hit the spot”.
Note: included here is a trick I learned at one time: a little bit of turmeric enhances the color, making you perceive the sauce as cheesier than it actually is. It adds no additional flavor of its own, it’s only there for color, so if it’s not in your cupboard, just omit it and use a yellow cheddar cheese.
BROCCOLI MAC AND CHEESE WITH BACON
Yield: Serves 4
- 6 ounces uncooked large or regular elbow macaroni
- 3 cups prechopped broccoli florets
- 3 bacon slices, coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric (optional)
- 1 cup 1 % low-fat milk
- 1 jar Alfredo Sauce with cheese
- 1 1/4 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1. Cook pasta according to package directions, adding a little salt to the water. Add broccoli to pan during last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain.
2. While pasta cooks, place bacon in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat; cook 4 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Remove bacon from pan with a slotted spoon. Reserve 1 1/2 teaspoons drippings in the pan. Add chopped garlic and the turmeric, if using. Cook 1 minute, stirring throughout.
3. Combine the milk with the Alfredo sauce, stirring with a whisk to blend well. Add to skillet with garlic, and mix together. Bring to a simmer, and add 3/4 cup shredded cheese. Stir to melt and blend in the cheese, stir in half the bacon. Taste sauce and add salt and pepper if needed.
4. Add the drained pasta and broccoli, toss to coat. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup cheese and remaining bacon over the top.
Preheat the broiler to high. Broil 2 minutes or until cheese melts and just begins to brown. If time allows, this dish could be baked for about 30 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the top a little browned.
SOURCE: a Carolyn’s Originals