I made this, all by myself! Mostly by myself. Primarily by myself. Will chopped the onions for me, which I so totally could’ve done with my onion chopper, DUH. Either way, the rest of it I did myself. And it turned out pretty well! It was just the confidence I needed before Will left me for Italy – to be able to cook a meal from beginning to end, entirely by myself, in a timely manner. Is that really so much for a girl to ask? Either way, this one turned out beautifully and was quite the scrumptious meal – definitely put it to the top of your “need to make ASAP” list. Anything smothered in cheese is delicious, obviously, but what I really loved about it was the corn kernels. Over this summer, I imagine you will discover what a corn-lover I am. Plain corn, sweet corn, doesn’t matter to me – I love the little kernels. When I studied abroad in Ireland, for some reason they put corn in everything – tuna salad, on pizza, etc. So I trusted the people of my heritage and started tossing sweet corn kernels on a bunch of meals. Guess what? It works! When I saw Beth had it in this recipe, I knew I’d love it. That little tiny crunch of kernel when you’re eating a gooey pasta, just topped it off for me.

Besides the food, you may be wondering about Will! He’s safely in Milan, despite some flight delays in the States that were dumb. He’s going to begin his trip gallivanting around Italy and having a blast with his friends Summer and Molly. I on the other hand, have had a rough 24 hours. While he was still waiting to take off yesterday, I had a neighbor text to ask if we were okay. Why yes we were, since neither one of us were home. She informed me it sounded like bowling balls had fallen on our kitchen floor. Excellent. Came home to find one of our (admittedly Ikea) shelves partially attached to the wall. Had to ask another taller neighbor to come take it down. Problem solved! Then at 11:30 last night, I see a huge bug come scurrying through the sliding glass door (we live in a wooded area, so not super unusual) and dart directly under the couch, Emma not far behind. For the first time in my life, I prayed the bug was a cockroach. Flash forward: it wasn’t. It was a wolf spider and it was hiding under my bookshelf. A teeny amount of spider spray and a lot of eco-friendly cockroach killer (heads-up, it doesn’t work well) and I had managed to slow down the speedy beast. But I was shaking and nearly in tears so I texted the same neighbor to come rescue me and kill it, which he so kindly obliged to.

Spider dead, Megan goes to bed. Megan wakes up, Oscar won’t eat breakfast. My baby boy never skips a meal and after monitoring him for part of the morning, I decided to take him into the vet since he was exhibiting signs of a UTI. Drop him off for the day and eventually find out that nothing was detected to be causing a blockage (yay!) but that there definitely had been a problem and he needs to stay overnight (boo). Those are my three things that are going to happen while Will’s gone, fingers crossed! Less than 48 hours and I’m already a mess. So tonight, it’s just me and Emma hanging out, eating leftovers and Ben & Jerry’s. Hopefully I won’t have any more tales to tell during the rest of the time Will is gone 🙂

Cooking Notes: We changed little bits and pieces of this recipe, primarily based on what was available at Trader Joe’s. We ended up using Orrechiette pasta, though I would probably recommend at least elbows for the next time. We also used adobo pepper and del arbol pepper, to season in place of the original chili powder, just to mix things up. We also used a sharp white cheddar from the fancy cheese section of TJ’s, just to make things more exciting. And we topped our bowls with cilantro instead of green onions, like the original recipe called for.

Simple Southwest Mac ‘n Cheese (adapted from Budget Bytes; serves 4)
8 oz. pasta (elbow, shell or Orrechiette)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
1 cup frozen sweet corn kernels
1 10-oz. can diced tomatoes with green chiles
1/2 tsp adobo pepper seasoning
1/2 tsp del arbol pepper seasoning
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1+ cup shredded sharp cheddar
Cilantro, to top

Cook the pasta according to package directions, then drain in a colander. Allow to cool slightly before incorporating into the rest of the recipe.

While water is preparing to boil for the pasta, dice the onion and mince the garlic. Saute both in olive oil in a large pot over medium heat, until they are soft and translucent – about 5 minutes. Drain the diced tomatoes (yes, really!) then add them to the pot, along with the corn and pepper seasonings. Continue to saute until the corn has heated through, about 3 minutes. Turn the heat on its lowest setting and add the drained pasta and Greek yogurt. Stir until the pasta is coated in the creamy sauce. Add the cheese and stir until it’s completely melted into the sauce. Turn off heat and continue stirring until cheese is fully incorporated. Serve with fresh cilantro sprinkled on top and enjoy!

Recipe: Budget Bytes: Easy Southwest Mac n Cheese

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