Tuesday, September 28, 2010

M&C Smack-Down

You may have a hunch that things are amiss in the hood tonight. It's true, the Big Adoption Series typically doesn't open with a photo of garden produce. But rules are meant to be broken and for everything there is a season (turn, turn, turn) and these times, they are a'changin' and most of all... It's not my fault.

But more on that in a moment.

For now, I have something to get off my chest.

Calvin's last words to me tonight, after bedtime prayers, were, "Mommy, but why do girls have those bumps on their chest with a crack in the middle?"

Have mercy.

You send your child off to kindergarten and they come home talking about chest cracks?

I have never had to try so hard not to laugh. I gave my typical, "That's just the way God made ladies" response, to which he replied, "Well, maybe that's where babies come out. Out of those bumps."

Help me.

I thank my lucky stars that we have real-life people in our lives who have had C-sections. It's a perfect, age-appropriate go-to answer, and I don't even have to fib when I say "Sometimes doctors make a cut in the tummy and just pull the baby out." That blasted clock is ticking so ferociously in my ear - it's only a matter of time before he notices my "sometimes" caveat.

So, back to my day. Er, days.

Have you ever had a meeting with a realtor where photos would be taken for the official listing of your house? And in getting ready for that meeting, did you ever commence the mad dash stash? It seems like such a good idea, at the time. Such a time-saver.

Until you hike the heat box up to 450 a few hours later and very nearly burn your house down via Betty Crocker and Tupperware.

Willy and Nilly could hardly stand the excitement and Pilly? Well, he was like a moth to a flame. He couldn't tear himself away from the melted plastic smoke. It kept luring him back. Not good. Not good at all.

Cory got on his maintenancey groove and the crisis was averted in no time flat.

Good thing, because I had thighs to roast for Clear-the-Fridge casserole.

I started this tradition back in our tiny apartment, with a box of Rice-A-Roni and a pair of ice-glazed breasts. Maybe a tomato or two. A sprinkle of pre-shredded cheese. Who can say, really? It was a hot seller, though. It inspired Cory's very first "This could be served in a restaurant", which should be an indication of just how smitten he was.

Since then, I've noticed that one helping of Rice-A-Roni contains half a day's worth of sodium and I know myself well enough to know that I'll take my salt on a Santita, thankyouverymuch. So, brown rice it is. Hot from the cooker. I've also taken to shredding my own cheese (it actually melts!).

I roasted the gams with a slice of lemon and some fresh thyme and rosemary under the skin. They cooked for 25 or 30 minutes while I chopped up the other goodies: zuchinni, grape tomatoes, artichoke hearts, spinach, garlic, lemon zest, more herbs. (A fresh grate of parm over the top would have been heaven, but I took a late turn for the lazy and opted out.)

Out of the oven, the chicken skin was removed and the meat was shredded. I cooked up the veggies in 1 T butter and a drizzle of oil, then mixed the rice and chicken in just when it started crying out for company.

Voila!

An unphotogenic meal shot in poor, energy-efficient lighting, that was darn, danged tasty.

Everyone liked it.

If you don't believe me, ask my rice-crusted floor.

But now, the real reason I'm slacking on my BAS. It seems there's a Macaroni and Cheese Smack-Down burning up the town. It seems Jayme, Jen, Teresa and myself all had a different version on the menu. That's what we call serendipity, folks. Kismet.

Never one to shy away from a challenge, I ponied up. I wasn't called "The Shark" at a prior job for naught. I'm in it to win it.

At least that's what I was thinking until I looked a little closer at what they brought to the table. Crumb topping, they brought. Gooey goodness atop a jadeite saucer atop something that Cath Kidston may or may not have had a hand in creating. Velveeta, for the love of Pete! Who can possibly compete with Velveeta? It has magical powers, after all. It doesn't even need refrigeration!

All these elbows and all this special cheese has me feeling akin to the cheerleader with the bad perm. The sympathy vote on the homecoming court.

My M&C insecurities have climbed to a brand new height.

Nevertheless, I give you - Stovetop Brocc Mac & Cheese.*

The dreamy, creamy sauce is spooned over the cooked pasta and broccoli. It was a crowd pleaser.

So, do I have your vote?

Please say yes. My inner, geeky 15 year old begs you.

If nothing else, vote for me out of spite. It is, after all, their fault that the Big Adoption Series was unceremoniously booted to Wednesday.


*I substituted sour cream for the high-falutin' creme fraiche.