Holiday Cook-off

Macaroni Surprise

AKA what I bring to family events so no one else has to worry about feeding me

So, imagine this. One day you’re sitting in class, and you’re kind of tired, because you’re always at least a little tired. Why wouldn’t you be? You’re a high school student, your commute is an hour and a half both ways minimum, and you barely have a functioning sleep schedule. It’s a normal day, until suddenly your insides feel like they want to be your outsides. A year of tests later and the doctors have discovered there’s a 95% chance you have celiac disease and 5% chance your body has spontaneously created a brand new illness. All the sudden, no gluten. Your body has determined some agriculture may have been a threat. No stuffing, no gravy, no store bought pie. You get first dibs on mashed potatoes, but that’s probably not the only thing you’re going to want out of Thanksgiving. So what do you do?

Well, you roll up your sleeves, you figure out how a stove works, and you start contributing to the family meals from a kitchen where you can make sure the knives won’t make you horribly sick. Through trial and error you make what I like to call Macaroni Surprise.

Not pictured: Butter. Very important. Pictured: My late start at cooking don’t judge me.

This was the first meal I really figured out how to make entirely on my own. I did not follow a cook book, instead using a bit of the knowledge I had already learned to create something completely original, and I’m still proud of it today. The portions for this recipe are also written to feed quite a bit of people or one person for several days.

The Bits

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 quarter white onion, chopped
  • 2 boxes elbow macaroni, gluten free not required
  • 1/2 can of sweet peas
  • 1 1/2 cups of chopped mushroom
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1/2 tbsp. lemon pepper
  • 1 tbsp. parsley garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • (seasonings should be adjusted to taste)

The Sauce

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 16 oz. Italian blend cheese
  • 4 oz. butter
  • 2 tbsp. cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 tsp finely chopped basil
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1/2 tbsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tbsp. parsley garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  1. Battle cry. This is the most important part.
  2. Set your water to boil. This will always take longer than you think it will. Continue with other steps until it boils and then throw in the pasta until al dente.
  3. In a pan, heat up your tbsp. of butter and use it to cover your entire pan.
  4. Throw in your onions. Cook them over medium high heat until they are translucent.
  5. Once your onions are ready, throw your chicken in there. Immediately cover with your seasonings and mix.
  6. Once your chicken has cooked on one side, mix in your chopped mushrooms and lower your heat to medium low, mixing occasionally.
  7. In a small pot, combine heavy cream, 4 oz. of butter, cream cheese, and seasonings. Put heat on low and bring to a simmer, stirring in the ingredients.
  8. Once your mixture has come to a simmer, add your cheese. Your cream cheese may not have melted it yet. That’s fine. It’s taking a gap year and we support it.
  9. Mix until cheese and cream cheese have completely melted in.
  10. Combine ingredients in a bowl with 1/2 can of peas and then stir until completely mix.
  11. Victory cry. This is the second most important part.

Interested in making some recipes of your own but don’t know where to start? Browse the Channel Islands Harbor Famers Market for some ideas! Just don’t go on an empty stomach, or else you’ll come back with an empty wallet.

By Jace McDonald

Jace McDonald is a Ventura College student from Southern California studying business and social media marketing. As of 2021, he is a full time barista as well as full time student moving towards a degree in global management with hopes of pursuing writing, photography, travel, and entrepreneurship.

2 replies on “Macaroni Surprise”

I love the Battle cry step and the Victory cry step in your recipe! Also, love the simplicity–stright to the point comfort food this is!


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