Recipe 40 (first of 2013!): Instant Mug O’ Mac & Cheese in the Microwave

Hello, my dear Weekly Mackers!  I hope 2013 has been treating you well thus far; and if not, I hope it gets better for you soon.  More importantly, I hope you haven’t missed me too much!  As you might imagine, I needed a good, long break from mac and cheese recipes for a while to give my tastebuds (and waistline) a rest.  As I mentioned before, I will continue to post sporadically, but it will not be the same mission as it was for 2012 – well, the first half or so of 2012 anyway.  I am still toying with the idea of a domesticity (with a twist) blog, but I also wonder if another blurb in the blogosphere is really necessary.  Meh, I may indulge myself anyway.

Today’s mac is one I consider halfway between a recipe and a hack (thus it being tagged with both Categories).  It’s basically a copycat recipe of that famous college delicacy, the microwave edition of the Blue Box.  As an undergrad living the dorm-life, I confess I never quite mastered the Micro-Blue, as we shall call it.  I never was able to eyeball the water quite right, and so ended up either with a watery cheese sauce or crunchy noodles, and as a result I began to actually  enjoy the watered down sauce since I knew the alternative was even worse (hey, at least the noodles were cooked); I’d add a healthy dose of pepper and it actually wasn’t too terrible.  You know, for dorm food.

I found this recipe purporting to recreate the ease of Micro-Blue, but using real ingredients as opposed to powdered cheese product.  I was intrigued.  And since earlier I was looking for a quick and easy bite to eat, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to give it a whirl.


Instant Mug O’ Mac & Cheese in the Microwave (from Babble)


  • 1/3 cup pasta (I used corn elbows)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup 1% milk (I used skim)
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese


Combine the pasta and water in a large mug or bowl. Microwave on high for two minutes, then stir. A lot of times the water will overflow while it heats up. It is OK if this happens. If you don’t want it to overflow just make this in a very large microwaveable bowl (I should have used a bowl). Repeat this for at least 2 to 4 more minutes, stirring at each 2-minute interval. The water should absorb completely and the pasta will be cooked through. If the pasta needs another minute it is okay to add one more teaspoon of water and microwave for another minute. My pasta cooked through in 4 minutes every time, but my microwaves tends to be very powerful (mine took about 6 minutes; not sure if this had to do with my pasta, my microwave, or both).

Remove it from the microwave and stir in the milk and cheese. Microwave for another minute. Stir the cheese thoroughly into the pasta and eat up!

Verdict: 1.5/5

Ugh.  Ick.  Bleh.  I would prefer a bowl of watery Micro-Blue right now.

As I mentioned, I should have used a bowl, because at every interval the water overflowed – I even used one of my larger mugs in hopes of avoiding puddles in the microwave, but alas, it was not enough.  OK, fine, I got the pasta cooked after a bit and added my milk and cheese and blasted it for the last minute.  This is where things got ugly.

It’s one thing to have water overflow in the microwave, but milk and cheese-goo overflowing is quite another.  When I tasted it, all I got was hot milk and globs of cheese interspersed.  No amount of stirring incorporated the cheese with the milk at all.  I even tried adding a little more cheese in a desperate attempt to get some sort of cheese-flavor, but all I got was a bigger glob of cheese.

Not a great picture, but I hope you can see the globs.

Not a great picture, but I hope you can see the globs.

Remembering my trick from my dorm room days, I ground a bunch of black pepper into the noodles.  Even that wasn’t enough to bail out this sinking ship, so I dowsed the whole thing in ketchup.  Classy.

So why is this 1.5 instead of 1?  Well, it could always be worse, I guess.

I’m sorry to say that this concept really was too good to be true, at least in my case.  Such a shame.  It could be that using different cheese or 1% milk or some sort of magical microwave would result in a tasty product, but alas, it was not the case for me.  If any of you give this a whirl and have better luck than I do, let me know!  I have no problem being told just what I did wrong.  Well, in this case, at least.


Recipe 38: Crunchy Mac Hack

There will be a proper recipe posted a little bit later, but for now, a mac hack for those of you who like the crunchy parts of a baked mac and cheese.

Prepare a boxed mac, or any of the very basic recipes posted here.  While preparing, pre-heat the oven to 475F.  When the pasta and the oven are both ready, grease a cookie tray and spread the mac along.  If you want, you can add some extra shredded cheese on top, probably a cheddar or sharp cheddar.  Do add a few little pads of butter on top.  Cook until golden brown and crunchy, about 15 minutes.

Stay tuned for the last recipe of 2012!

Recipe 35: Pizza Mac Hack v2.0

Holy crap, has it really been almost a month since I have updated?  Forgive me, Weekly Mackers!  I hope this doesn’t put me too far behind, but time shall tell.  Catch-up time!
You may see the title and think “Pizza Mac Hack?  We’ve seen this already!”  Hold your horses, crazy-pants!  This one is different, I swear.

Take a pizza dough base.  You can make your own, use a store-bought mix, even a bought pre-prepared one – heck, some pizzerias will even sell you some of their dough.  If you are gluten-free like me, Udi’s sells a frozen base, Bob’s Red Mill sells a mix, and several other brands do as well if you don’t have a recipe of your own to use.  Pre-cook the base according to any directions.  While the pizza is baking, make your mac according to package directions.  When the crust is cooked, pour the finished mac on top.  Because pizza isn’t filled with enough cheese and carbs, is it?  You could of course put down a sauce before adding the mac and/or mix in some pizza toppings with the mac like veggies or pepperoni, but don’t feel you have to.

I’ll be honest, despite loving cheese and carbs, this might be a bit too indulgent even for me.  But hey, try it out – you might like it!

Recipe 31: Ranch Mac Hack

You ever do recipe planning for the week?  I try to do that every now and then.  Now that both Loverman and I are working days (at least for now), we are trying it out.  I had intended to make a mac tonight, but to make a long story short, that didn’t happen and our recipe plan for the week got all kindsa jumbled.  Oops.  Not to fret, however; we have not been going hungry here in the Maison de Mac – and this week’s scheduled mac will likely be made on Sunday.  But don’t hold me to that.  Please?

Anyway, this mac hack is so easy, but it took an online suggestion and recommendation.  Apparently, you can add some ranch dressing and garlic salt to your mac for a creamy, tangy treat!  Mmm…

New recipe coming on Sunday… I hope.  Stay tuned!

Recipe 29 – Tuna Casserole Mac Hack

Firstly, you may or may not have noticed, but there is a new link up top as to ways you can help out Weekly Mac if you are so inclined.  This includes pointing me to new recipes, donating items/money, and sharing this page with others.  Anything you are willing and able to do is appreciated, and if I could I’d put a sticker on all your charts for you.

Secondly,  I’m going to start out this mac hack with a little anecdote.  It is (somewhat) related, I swear.

If you are like me, you grew up with Sesame Street.  I seriously loved that show, and it still holds a special place in my heart because I am basically a child in a grown-up body.  I can actually remember a few of the sketches and cartoons from it.  One of the ones that my family and I still sometimes joke about is one where a cat is desperate for his owner to open up his food for him.  We remembered at one point his owner, distracted on the phone, says to her friend, “I never saw tuna casserole look quite like that!”  We kind of use that as a silly thing to say when talking about mundane stuff, don’t ask me why.  Yeah, we are weird.

So I decided since this mac hack was related to tuna casserole, I needed to find the clip online, which I did – and learned we had remembered the line wrong after all this time.  She had never seen stroganoff look quite like that.  Oh, the tricks our memories can play on us!

Anyway, I thought you might get a kick out of that.  And now for the mac hack.

After you make your mac, drain a can of tuna to throw in and add some cream of mushroom soup.  You now have a cheesy tuna casserole.  Important note for fellow gluten-free eaters (gluten-freaters?): Most cream of mushroom soups are not gluten-free!  There are some specialty brands that make gluten-free cream of mushroom soups, but check your labels for sure!  You can also find some recipes online to make a substitute at home.

I have a new recipe all lined up and ready to go within short order.  I start my new job on Monday (hooray!), but hopefully it shouldn’t interfere with posting semi-regularly.  Wish me luck!

Recipe 24: Mac Hack Helper

We haven’t had a mac hack in a while, have we?  Well, here we go.

Got a box of mac?  While it’s cooking (er, boiling), get a pan and brown up about a pound of ground beef.  I suppose you could use ground turkey or even a non-meat substitute, but I’m trying to emulate another quick and easy boxed item here.  One which involves hamburger.  You could throw in some spices too if you want (and a lot of unnecessary salt too, if you’re really trying to be authentic), but I’ll leave that up to you.  Mix it up with the mac and cheese and serve it up.

Nothing fancy here, but mac hacks generally aren’t, are they?  Don’t worry, I have a recipe all lined up for next time… I have been eying this one for a bit, and I am both curious and slightly nervous as to how it’ll work out.  Are you intrigued too?  Well, I guess you’ll just have to stick around for the next recipe, won’t you

Recipe 14: Pizza Mac Hack

Not sure what things have been like by you, but over here the weather has sort of skipped from kind-of-winter to kind-of-summer – which is a shame, if you ask me, since my favorite seasons are the “in-betweens” of autumn and spring.  Spring has somewhat returned for today, but likely not for long – well, long enough to get a bunch of allergens in the air.  What about Climate Change being a hoax?

Anyway, let’s skip politics and move on to food, shall we?

This is a nice variation on two different quick-and-easy meals: Mac and cheese and pizza.  What’s great about combining the two is that both are so flexible and easy to personalize to your own tastes that the possibilities are practically endless, even for “just” being a mac hack.  The easiest thing to do, I think, is to add a little tomato sauce to your finished box of mac (store-bought or homemade)   – and then use your imagination!  Add a little sliced pepperoni, sausage crumbles, or if you lean towards the vegetarian, some sliced peppers and onions.  Just throw in whatever you like on your pizza!

Well, maybe not whatever… Not sure how anchovies or pineapple would work… But hey, if you try it, let me know how it turns out!