What do you eat as a comfort food?
Macaroni turned out to be my comfort food on Monday, March 5th. I ate a small portion, about 1/4 cup, of leftover macaroni and cheese I made for my little grandchildren this past weekend. It’s the go-to food in every household with children, right? It’s fast and easy to make. Tastes good. Everybody’s happy with dinner, parents and kids alike. We’re talking comfort food. Not necessarily the healthiest. Just what tastes good and makes you feel good.
Yesterday evening I was watching my li’l grands. Their mommy and daddy brought the kiddos home after work – and two bags of the best nutritious frozen food you can find at the supermarket. My daughter and son-in-law left for an appointment. As quick as I could, I put frozen fish and potato-looking tots in the oven to bake for dinner. One of the frozen items was a macaroni product, Birds Eye Lightly Sauced Penne & Vegetables with Alfredo Sauce.
Let me assure you, I’m the typical grandma who loves to spoil her grandchildren with food. However, I am well aware of how sugar turns my sweet grands into hyper littles. Know what that means? Hyper grands cause frazzled grams. Not that I don’t ever give them sugary things. We do love to bake cookies together sometimes. That definitely requires a plan to be in place. But I’ll save that topic for another time.
Back to spoiling my grands with food. Remember I mentioned having macaroni and cheese for comfort food? I ate it early in the day – and a spoonful in the evening. You see, the littles didn’t care much for the Sauced Penne & Vegetables. No offense to Birds Eye, but the children in this household didn’t care for it. They wanted…mac and cheese, the only non-frozen staple the grands’ parents purchased at the grocery store. So I did what any grandmother would do for her grandchildren when they ask for their favorite food. I cooked macaroni and cheese.
There’s a reason I needed comfort food. Ten years ago, March 5, 2008, my mother passed away. That little bit of leftover mac & cheese I ate yesterday hit the spot for me as I thought of how much I miss her. My mom liked macaroni, but she didn’t usually prepare the boxed cheese kind. She made the best goulash – medium or large elbow macaroni (from a package) with hamburger and V-8 juice. Maybe she grew up with the recipe because her baby sister makes a similar one.
Recently, my Aunt Faye, the only one of ten siblings living, called me. “Hey, Angie, you want to come over and make dinner with me?”
Aunt Faye was missing Mother that day and was craving goulash – the macaroni kind my mother always made. So I went to her house and, together, we made goulash and cornbread. We had a blast taking pictures and choosing the plates and glasses to use for this blog post.
Sometimes grief shows up years down the road after losing a loved one. Out of nowhere, an overwhelming loneliness for the person that died sets in. You want to talk to them and hear their voice but can’t. So you do things like cook macaroni and cheese or goulash, a favorite recipe of the dear one that you lost. It helps. You feel comforted. It’s like the special comfort food brings them closer to you and warms your heart.
I’ve included the goulash recipe my aunt and I made so you can add it to your recipes if you don’t already have it. We only used about a pound of the hamburger meat for the goulash and saved the rest to grill hamburgers in my aunt’s and uncle’s George Foreman grill.
Southern Comfort Macaroni Goulash
- 1 ground beef (we purchased 1.85 lbs., used 1 lb. for the goulash and the rest for hamburger patties)
- 1/3 cup chopped onion
- 2 cups tomato juice (or V-8 juice)
- 1 16-oz package medium elbow macaroni
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon Tone's Rosemary Garlic
- Chop the onion into chunky pieces.
- Begin cooking the macaroni according to the package instructions.
- Brown the hamburger then drain.
- Add the onion, but save a spoonful for later.
- Season the hamburger with salt, pepper, and Rosemary garlic.
- Add the tomato sauce.
- When the meat is nearly done, add the onion you saved on top of the hamburger mixture.
- Just before adding the macaroni to the hamburger, stir the last-added onion pieces well with the hamburger.
- Prepare your favorite package or box of cornbread mix according to package or box instructions.
- Pour vegetable oil into an iron skillet, enough to cover the bottom of the skillet.
- Heat the skillet on the stove with the oil until the skillet and oil are hot (not so hot that it's smoking).
- Pour the cornbread mix into the hot oil in the skillet and bake the cornbread according to the package/box instructions.
- Now you have a goulash meal, simple, easy, and so delicious.
When I make goulash, I usually just use plain tomato sauce. I bet adding V-8 makes it taste better. I will have to try it. I lost my mother 5 years ago, and I understand what you’re saying about missing them without warning.
My aunt uses tomato juice, and Mother made here with V8. There may not be a huge difference. They both make the recipe taste oh so good!