Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tasty Treat Tuesday: Picnic Macaroni

Hello all! I would like to apologize for my absence last Tuesday. I'm not going to lie, I honestly forgot to make something for Tasty Treat Tuesday. Oops! I have a special treat for you today! It's my absolute favorite thing to make/eat. I have been gorging on this dish for as long as I can remember. Picnic macaroni, that's what the family calls it.  It's a family favorite that has been past down through my mother's side. I am not sure who invented this recipe but I believe even my great grandmother use to make it!

Picnic Macaroni is a cheesy, gooey, delicious pasta dish with an interesting tomato sauce. My mother says it's an "acquired" taste but anyone whose tried it (except my weirdo boyfriend) loves it! He dislikes it due to it tasting too "tomato-y." The poor guy hates tomatoes. I can understand it since I hate condiments, like mayo and mustard to the same degree, but life without tomatoes would suck! If you are a fan of cheese, tomato, onion, bacon and pasta, then you will like this dish!

Keep reading to see how to make it!

What you will need:
  • 1 box of Rigatoni
  • 2 bars of extra sharp cheddar cheese (this is my preferred cheese, but sharp will work just fine)
  • 2 cans of tomato sauce
  • 2 cans of water
  • Half a pouch of bacon bits*
  • About half an onion, chopped**
*I am lazy so I usually just buy real bacon bits and I used about half of the pouch. You can make bacon and crumble it. I would say it's a couple of handfuls of bacon bits. 

**I am actually not positive about the exact amount of onion that goes into this dish. I usually just eyeball it. You don't want to add too much onion, smelling the sauce helps to gauge the amount. If you start to smell the onion in the tomato sauce, then you probably have enough. Tip: I buy frozen onion that are already chopped. It is so much easier than chopping it yourself! I added about four and a half handfuls into the sauce. (I have very small hands!)

I have only used rigatoni to make this but sometimes it's hard to find at the store. It's the perfect macaroni for this dish because the cheese and sauce and get inside of the noodle. If you decide to make this using a different noodle then you will have to let me know how it comes out!

Step 1: Boil the rigatoni for about 8 minutes. You don't want to cook the macaroni all the way because there is additional cooking time later.

Step 2: While the rigatoni is cooking, cut the blocks of cheese into cubes. Mine came out more rectangular but you get the idea. You can also shred your cheese. I don't like to shred anymore since I had a little mishap. You can also buy the cheese already shredded.
Step 3: Layer the cheese and macaroni into a microwave/oven safe dish. This step isn't necessary, it's just something I always do. I do this to allow the cheese to melt a little bit and adhere to the macaroni before adding the sauce.

Note: I used a large glass Pyrex bowl. I have a three bowl set that I purchased from Bed Bath and Beyond, it looks a lot like this set.

Step 4: Rinse and dry the pot you used to boil the macaroni. Add the two cans of tomato sauce. Fill each empty can with water and add to the pot. Stir. Start cooking the sauce on low heat.

Step 5: This next step is about preference. Add in a couple handfuls of bacon bits. Stir. Add in a couple handfuls of chopped onions. Stir. Up the heat to medium. Stir occasionally. Bring to a boil.  Once the sauce has reached a rapid boil, turn off heat.

Step 6: Carefully add the sauce to the noodles and cheese. Slowly stir all ingredients until well combined.

Step 7: Cover the container with either saran (plastic) wrap or foil. There are two methods to the final cooking of this dish. My mom and I have always just done it in the microwave but it can be cooked in the oven, that's how my grandma does it. I personally think it dries out the noodles.

Saran (plastic) wrap: Microwave
Aluminum foil: Oven

Step 8: Place in the microwave and cook for 10 minutes. CAUTION: PASTA WILL BE LIKE BOILING LAVA!!!!

Step 9: Allow to cool before eating. I waited roughly 25 minutes before I chowed down. Take this time to sit down with the family and talk about your day! That's what we use to do, I miss the family dinners.

 Step 10: Enjoy!

My stomach started to rumble as I was writing this post...I might have to go reheat some leftovers! Picnic macaroni might not be the healthiest thing but it's delicious comfort food. I purchased all the ingredients I needed for roughly 10 bucks and I think its worth every penny! I always have leftovers! I hope you enjoyed my post and I hope you will try out this recipe.

Until next time,

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