One of the lessons I try to teach people about cooking is that it’s okay to make mistakes, and it’s okay to improvise. In fact, I can’t tell you how many times over the years my mistakes and improvisations have led to a meal far superior than its original iteration. Case in point… When our families head up to the cabin, my sister and I usually go up early to get everything situated – groceries, bedding, drinks, etc. Since there’s no nearby grocery store, I typically plan all the meals for the entire weekend, make one huge shopping list, then we swing by the store on our way up. Trust me when I say it’s A LOT of groceries! In planning ahead, I usually pick a very easy, very quick comfort food type of meal for the first night up there. It’s easy on me, and everyone loves getting settled into the cabin with a bowlful of something that warms the soul.
I had planned on serving my Cheeseburger Macaroni as my welcome-to-the-cabin-comfort-food meal for everyone that first Friday evening. All groceries were ordered, purchased, picked up, unloaded, and carefully put away by late afternoon. I had tons of time to get dinner out, so my sister and I sat down on the deck, soaked in the view, and enjoyed a nice glass of wine. Next thing I knew, it was 5:30 and our husbands and kids would be arriving soon, craving that bowl of deliciousness. I quickly grabbed all the ingredients – the macaroni, the onions and canned diced tomatoes, the chub of hamburger meat, the peas, spices and cheese – and threw the dinner together. It was perfect timing. Just when everyone rolled in, dinner came out.
Now, this Cheeseburger Macaroni is certainly something I’ve served before. It’s quick, easy, and comes together in a flash, so it’s a great go-to when you’re in a time crunch. Both our families have had this dish several times, so I was taken aback by the number of compliments I got. Wow! This is awesome! and This is the BEST EVER! and What the heck did you put in this? It’s fantastic! There I sat with a big smile on my face, thinking, yep… I really knocked it out of the park with the spice combination I picked this time, when my husband asked if I had put sausage in it. Of course not! This was Cheeseburger Macaroni – emphasis on burger. So I politely explained about all of the awesome spices I had put in it, which must be what he was tasting. And everyone accepted that explanation. Until the next morning.
As everyone sat down for our traditional scrambled eggs, toast, bacon, and sausage patties breakfast the next morning, the room got quiet. Everyone seemed to be enjoying breakfast, but there was an unusual stillness in the air. Once I had served everyone, I finally got a chance to sit down to eat – a big bite of fluffy scrambled eggs and toast, followed by a nibble of the breakfast sausage. And then I knew. It was the most tasteless, dry, cardboard-like “sausage” I had ever eaten. Kind of funny that no one even mentioned it until I declared the obvious! My hubby was right…. I had put the sausage in my Cheeseburger Macaroni (leaving us with ground beef for the “sausage patties,” which, quite honestly, were horrible)! You see… when I buy in bulk to head up to the cabin, I usually purchase my ground beef in “chubs” because they travel well, and I also buy the Jimmy Dean Sausage “chub” because everyone loves it! And therein lies the problem. I had mixed up the chubs! It was a mistake. And what a great mistake it was! So my Cheeseburger Macaroni has now become my Cheesy Sausage Macaroni, and it’s a fantastic bowl of warm, gooey, cheesy, sausage and macaroni goodness! Next time you’re in a pinch for time, this is the meal for you! Just don’t mix up the chubs and you’ll be just fine. I hope you enjoy the benefit of my mistake! We sure did.