As you might have noticed (no review of the Food Network Challenge last night) I was definitely at work. So I made man-man food. I also wasn’t at home when it was consumed, so: well, we’ll see how that goes.

I started in the morning, I boiled up a box of macaroni noodles and sauted up a pound of hamburger (big, deep skillet, you’re making a sauce in here later) and put taco seasonings on it (chili, cumin, salt, garlic powder – or you can use a packet). I put this all on a plate to reserve it, but I didn’t wipe out the skillet.

Then I made the cheese sauce: start with about 4 tablespoons of roux in your skillet and make your bechamel. I made mine very, very loose, as you’re adding a LOT of cheese. I used oil instead of butter in the roux, used more oil than flour, and a LOT of milk. Then I shredded about a quarter of a pack of pepperjack into my bechamel, as well as nearly 2 cups of cheddar. Lots of cheese. Sauce should now be relatively thick again. However, your noodles should also be done. Drain them, but it’s okay if there’s water still in the bottom.

So you stir the hamburger, cheese, and noodles together (I recommend using the noodle pot unless your skillet is deeper than mine). Then, put the whole lot into a baking pan. Top with bread chunks (you could also use crumbs, but Josh and housemate prefer 1″ or so chunks that get super crisp and braised in the oven.)

Then? I stuck it in the fridge, and put a note on Housemate’s (he always gets home first)  computer to put the oven on 400 degrees and when it was preheated, put the macaroni in for 1/2 hour.

And that’s what I do when I’m feeling nice. Otherwise, I make them make hamburger helper.


Add some cumin to your favorite macaroni salad recipe for a surprising earthiness. Or to your favorite mac’n’cheese casserole.
Add a 1/2 c of parmasan and a 1/2 package of cream cheese to your mashed potatoes for a creamy, delicious flavor blast!
Make chili butter by adding 2 tsp of chili powder to a stick of butter while creaming it. Brush it on your corn-on-the-cob while grilling. (if you boil yours, leave it out on the butter plate after freezing the butter again so it’s firm.)
Mix 2 parts your standard, basic ketchup with 1 part hoisin sauce for an asian blast on your hotdog.
Take your hotdog buns and brush them with garlic butter and grill along with hotdog. (You might want to NOT mix this with the above. It could be good, but I’ve never tried it!)

Oh, also, don’t get any sparklers in your hair, and do get in at least one snapper fight (but never aim at the person!)

Have a happy and safe Independence Day!

Liz and Josh

Burgers are one of Josh’s favorite fusions, and he’ll brag on my burgers to anybody. These are a super-easy hit around here!

1 lb 90% beef hamburger. (If you want, 75% beef is also acceptable, but then leave out the egg)

1 egg.

1/2 tablespoon cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp garlic

1/4 c bread crumbs.

Squoosh. Kids like this, but make sure they don’t lick their fingers, of course. Once thoroughly combined, make into patties. We like small ones, so I break it up into sixths. Your milage may (should?) vary.

Grill, broil, or fry as you like your burgers, substituting regular cheese slices with pepperjack or mexican shredded cheese blend. Grill your hamburger buns, too.

Instead of ketchup and mayo, use sour cream and salsa! Delicious!

 Tortilla Soup!

1 Yellow Pepper
3 Serrano Peppers
3 Cloves Garlic
2lb Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
2 Tbsp Cumin
1 tsp hot chili powder
Fresh ground Pepper
1 bag frozen corn

Dice the yellow pepper, removing all white flesh and seeds. Cut the serrano in half, VERY CAREFULLY remove all seeds and white flesh. Make VERY sure that there are no seeds and white flesh at all before you go ahead and mince this. Spicy stuff, here! Also wash your hands before you touch any parts of yourself you want to keep. Mince the garlic as well.

Cut the chicken into 1-inch cubes.

Put the cumin and chili powder in a small bowl and put a very healthy pinch of salt in and a couple of twists of fresh ground pepper. Stir this around a bit, and then toss this with the chicken.

Put sufficient oil into the bottom of a soup pot to coat, and put this onto a very hot burner. Quickly sear the peppers and chicken and then cut the heat to medium. To this, add approximately 3 quarts of water. You can really add as much as you need to feed your family, if you boil long enough, you will flavor all the water and make it into a great spicy broth — and you can add more “stuff” later, once you have this broth, and have really fast soup.

Boil until everything tastes good, and chicken is done. 45 minutes is a good benchmark.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream and tortilla strips.

Tortilla strips:
Cut maybe 4 tortillas into 3 inch long, 1/2 inch wide strips. Deep fry for about 3 seconds. Crunch!