Sunday, 18 October 2020

Quick One Pot Mac and Cheese and random notes

We now have had over 100 days of lockdown in Melbourne and everyone seems to be totally drained by it.  One way I have been coping with low energy is to have more regular meal nights.  Friday has always been pizza night.  We started Taco Tuesdays a while back.  And Sylvia asked for a Mac and Cheese Monday.  So today I am going to share the quick one pot mac and cheese that has got me through some low energy Mondays.

As an aside, today we had the good news that the restrictions will start to be eased at midnight today but the first steps wont make much difference to me.  Unlike a lot of Melbourne, I was already doing home hair cuts before lockdown and cannot raise any excitement about hairdressers opening again!  It's nice to go a bit further away than 5 km from home but we can't do much more than walk and talk.  I yearn for shared meals, a visit to a gallery or a film in a cinema.  But it was heartening to have only 5 diagnoses over the past 3 days and to know there are easier times ahead.  And I don't take this for granted after our long lockdown and seeing that many places around the world are having far greater daily diagnoses than at our peak of 700+.  I am more excited about Geelong being in the AFL Grand Final next weekend.


But I digress.  This mac and cheese is far simpler than all our confusing lockdown rules.  It actually started with trying Jac's Microwave Mac and Cheese in a Mug.  I liked it but found it easier to cook pasta in a saucepan than in a cup in the microwave.  I could see a use for Jac's recipe if you only had a microwave to cook in or you wanted to make a very small amount of mac and cheese.  But when we have mac and cheese, I try and make sure there are enough leftovers that we are not fighting over who gets them.  (Because we will if there is not much there!)

So then I checked out a one pot cheesy mac clone that I had bookmarked and it was similar to Jac's but had a few other ideas.  We had a bit of experimenting with the amount of cheese.  Then, unlike many recipes on this blog, I made it quiet a few times to check I was happy with it (and make my Mondays easier).

My usual way of making mac and cheese is to cook the pasta while I make a creamy cheesy sauce using a roux with lots of milk and cheese.  The recipe I have been using recently is different because there is no roux.  It doesn't save heaps of time but is a few less steps if you are really tired or time-poor.  Cream cheese seems to step into place instead of the roux to thicken and add creaminess.  I found had to reheat slowly at the end to make sure all the cheese was melted.  And I can confirm it is great the next day.  Like other mac and cheeses, it is not as creamy after sitting overnight in the fridge but is still good grub!

You would be right in thinking that pizza, tacos and mac and cheese are stodgy comfort food.  I have been making an effort to serve with lots of veg.  My latest favourite way to serve veg is to steam it in the microwave and stir through a little pesto.  When I was photographing this pasta recently I served it with cauliflower, broccoli, spinach and peas with a little pesto.  I also chopped up some tofu nuggets because they were in the fridge.  There are all sorts of ways to serve mac and cheese.  We have had it on pizza, in pies, on tacos.  Anything goes.

Now that I have this great easy mac and cheese, Sylvia has decided she prefers her mac and cheese to be made with a roux!  But if you are gluten free, it is an easy cheese sauce without the flour.

And before I finish, I want to share some random notes:

Easing corona virus restrictions can be as frustrating as it is exciting.  A few weeks back outdoor pools opened again.  Spots are limited and must be booked.  But I have found that you can only book if you are a member because they can book 4 days ahead whereas casuals can book 24 hours ahead.  I am really missing having a swim.

My sister in Ireland was amused that when they went back into lockdown recently, there were families that had emergency first communions with big white dresses and lots of presents.

I have only done one click and collect in the car.  We sat in the car while a guy stared at us.  Then once I realised his stare meant he had something for us (which was so small I had not noticed it in his huge trolley) I found I was parked too close to the next door car to open the door.  My neighbour was out of his car and abusing me for denting his car as I maneuvered my car out to be able to get out and pick up my parcel.  I really miss going into shops to buy clothes and books and cards and and and .....

Though sometimes shopping in the time of covid can seem like being in a spy thriller.  It amused me when Sylvia's phone screen needed fixing and E was told to go through the green grocers and through the back door to an alley where he would find a door to drop off the phone.  I am just disappointed that he did not have a password such as "the toothless tiger rules the restless jungle".

In her last week of remote schooling Sylvia was asked to dress in cultural dress for the Harmony Week online assembly.  She told me her culture was K-Mart.  Which is partly amusing and partly disturbing but it was where she most recently bought clothes so I guess she was referring to what she would wear.  I was too busy with work to go to assembly but wonder how it went, given that for book week the lastest school newsletter noteds that kids will make masks in art so every kid can dress up even if parents can't get out to the shops to be able to make a costume!

The government's budgets this year have been very interesting.  Firstly our government that last year so proudly spoke about being back in the black, have gone into huge debt.  Perhaps this is why they had to get all blokey in this month's Budget speech.  Male dominated industries got the "lion's share" and female dominated industries were left in the lurch.  Most ridiculous was when one of the female MPs told the press that the budget looked after women because "If you drive on roads as a woman ... you will benefit from our investment in infrastructure."

More Mac and Cheese Recipes online

Quick One Pot Mac and Cheese
Adapted from Book Lovers Pizza
Serves 3-4

2 cups dried macaroni
1 tbsp cornflour
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup cream cheese
1 tbsp seeded mustard
125g grated cheese (or a 1 cup of tightly packed grated cheese)

Firstly cook the macaroni in a medium small saucepan in boiling salted water until just done.  (Check the instructions on the packet for timing as different pastas cook at different times.)  Drain and return to saucepan.  Stir in cornflour, then milk, then cream cheese and mustard and then grated cheese.  If the mixture is not quite warm enough to melt the cheese, heat the saucepan gently and stir frequently until cheese is melted.

On the Stereo:
The Swell Season - self titled


  1. Johanna, I am a Queenslander, but am so pleased to hear that your restrictions seem to have worked and that hopefully you can visit the galleries, restaurants and the shops very soon.You have spoken form the heart in your post and I also get what you are saying about the political climate. What's not to love about Mac and cheese, and I love the way you have presented it in your photo.I made this recently after my husband had a couple of teeth taken out and it was the best dish and made delicious leftovers.Good luck with the footy this weekend, we watched it because the Lions were playing, never mind, maybe next year for us. Great it all went ahead. Take care and good luck, Pauline

  2. Lock down has been hideously tedious... I was so glad to come out of it. But fear we may be about to head into it again. Given that it's now colder, it will be 10 x worse.
    I too miss shopping for clothes and stuff... The few bits I have tried to buy on-line or take home and return have all gone back. My clothes are getting tattier and tattier, because I have given up trying to find anything new.
    It looks as though you guys have managed to keep reasonably busy though. And Mac and cheese is always good for happy!
    Stay safe.xx

  3. Hi Johanna, i Promise to comment more later, but wondered if you can help or your readers

    I got a question about blogger - have you been having any trouble? In the Post section where blog posts and draft posts are - my thumbnail image is incorrect as someone else image has been inserted; and some of my blog post images are inserted with images. But outward it all appears all right - are you having similar problems. I am just checking if other bloggers have encountered similar error. Let me know. I have left feedback to blogger, but don't know if they will respond. Let me know, please.

    1. Hi Shaheen - the images when I go to look at drafts and posts in my Posts section are the images I have uploaded. That sounds very odd that you have someone else's image inserted. Would it be a default image that blogger has? (But I am still finding some of the blogger changes annoying)

  4. This looks wonderful, Johanna! I can't wait to try it!


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