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Monday, February 22, 2010

Hotdish in a Hallway hits the Highway!

Oooh - Ooh! I forgot to mention this in my last post, but Hotdish in a Hallway has hit the road! (And subsequently found itself in a much larger, ACTUAL kitchen.)

This past weekend I visited the lovely home of my friends— George, Larissa and Pants* Weber down in Osage, Iowa. It was a superb time and in addition to watching Pants dance like a robot, checking out the latest episode of Teen Mom and enjoying copious amounts of wine, we made a hotdish!

Expect a post soon, but in the meantime enjoy this photo of Pants, who clearly, finds us ridiculous.

* to alleviate any confusion, Pants' real name is Isaac. However, since the day he sprung forth from Larissa's loins he's simply been 'Pants.' And adorable. (Also, what exactly are loins? Can Larissa have them? Can something or someone actually spring forth from them? I'm very confused. Growing up is hard.)

Here's something cheesy and bacon-y for you to make!

Months ago, when the idea for my blog came to me after my third Surly Furious, the potential hotdishes came at me faster than a recalled Toyota cruising down 494. Reuben hotdish! Chicken Noodle Brie Hotdish! Potato Paprika Hot Dog hotdish! I was crafting carbohydrate filled symphonies in my mind for days.

Once I discovered that writing a hotdish blog involves finding/creating recipes, purchasing ingredients to create said recipes, actually making recipes and then telling you all about it takes quite frankly, a lot a of work, the ideas tapered off. One hotdish idea however, persisted.

This flagship recipe began just like a baby–as a mere twinkle in its parent's eye. It is the culmination of two of my favorite foods and if you can forgive my crass language, is just g-dang tasty. I call it:


I know. It's pretty.

I'm comfortable enough with you, my readers, to share that my feelings toward Velveeta Shells & Cheese are probably more intense than they should be for someone of my age. I have what I consider a non-childhood attachment to it because sadly, growing up in the Klaassen household, we were Kraft people. Nothing against Chuck and Liz - I have them to thank for all kinds of things like shelter, morals and a pretty intense addiction to pistachio nuts. Once I hit my early teens and began my rotations on the Buffalo, MN babysitting circuit I began to learn that there were people out there buying Velveeta Shells & Cheese, not that crazy Kraft business that requires butter AND a 1/4 cup of milk. I saw the light. I drank the Velveeta kool-aid and I love it right down to the weird foil bags the proccessed cheese comes in.

Ingredient two is bacon. I don't think I need to elaborate on this...if you're a loyal blog reader, and I know five of you are, you know my thoughts on bacon—thick and applewood smoked, please.

Essentially, the hotdish just involves frying bacon, adding to shells & cheese and then baking it in a Pyrex pan. BUT - there are tricky and critical factors to consider while making this dish:

1. Potential drying out of the hotdish while baking. Normally I'd advocate adding a can of undiluted cream of something soup. But I didn't have any in the house. I improvised a solution and added half a bag of shredded cheese. I'm not sure this prevented drying out, but it was nice.

2. The notoriously poor temperament of leftover shells & cheese. I eat a lot of shells & cheese so if you're looking for an expert to talk to you about how crap they are as leftovers, please, feel free to respond to this blog or call me. Sometimes it's easier to talk it out. I tend to put a lot of value on a hotdish's ability to serve as my next 5-7 meals so I was nervous. However...and this is exciting...there seems to be something in the bacon/shredded cheese combo that preserves this dish well. I enjoyed it for my next three lunches, and hope you do the same.

So yeah, no real recipe here. Just make some pasta and put some bacon in it. Now. Really, stop reading this and start frying bacon. Also, if you're going to fry some bacon, be sure to keep an empty can handy to pour the bacon grease in and then keep it in your freezer. I don't know what this accomplishes, but it's what my Mom did growing up so it seems like something one should do. Even if this is the woman that always bought Kraft.