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Well Fed Buff: Caf'd macaroni and cheese

Every Thursday, Well Fed Buff will be serving up the tastiest dishes to boost your HP and stats, just in time for your weekend gaming.

Caf'd Macaroni and Cheese may look suspiciously inedible; but when are we other-worldly adventurers ever put off by things like mere appearances? We're stronger than that! We crave the fluorescent brown. Why? Because sometimes gamers are up half the night and could use a boost to increase alertness.

Caf'd Marcaroni and Cheese will fulfill your needs for caffeine, extra cheese, food, and of course, the "this was made in a pot in a shady inn by a dwarf or perhaps orc" look and feel. Why consume several things when you can get it all in one?

More on this 8-minute snack, doable in the microwave, ahead! I promise, it does not taste like brown.The mats
  1. Some water
  2. Three heaping tablespoons of margarine or butter.
  3. 1/3 cup of milk (try skim to decrease fat).
  4. One heaping tablespoon (or about three "real" tablespoons) of processed cheese spread, or the equivalent in shredded cheese, your choice of type.
  5. One package of your favorite macaroni and cheese in a box, complete with noodles and a packet of cheese powder.
  6. One tea bag, black, caffeinated.
The process
Pour your noodles into a microwave-safe bowl, and add just enough water to cover them. Drop the tea bag into the bowl. Place the bowl in the microwave, and heat for 6 minutes on high, stopping to stir once.

If you would like to use saucepans, you may. Stir your pasta into 6 cups of boiling water. Add your tea bag. Boil rapidly, and remember to stir occasionally. Your pasta will be ready in 7 to 8 minutes, although I recommend testing the noodles until they are to your taste. It is important when using this method to drain the water off at this point.

When you remove the bowl from the microwave, or are finished draining it if you used the saucepan method, you will be hit with a pretty scary sight. Don't worry, it will (slightly) improve with the addition of the other ingredients. It is extremely important to remove the tea bag at this point.

Add the margarine and cheese first. This gives them a chance to begin melting over the hot noodles. Open the packet of cheese powder and dump it in. Lastly, pour in the milk. Stir until everything is melted and you have an even consistency.

In theory, this will yield up to four servings, but in my humble experience, most teenagers and adults can reduce this to one, or maybe two servings. Of course, as it is fluorescent brown, you may want to try to make other people eat it, for fun.

Notes
If you were worried about the taste, don't be. For the most part, you can't really taste the tea, as long as you removed the tea bag as soon as the noodles were done, rather than letting it steep. In addition, be careful (or experimental, however you choose) with flavored tea, as those might alter the overall taste.

This dish is inherently full of fun and trickery. It is a great snack for Halloween or April Fools Day, to place before kids, siblings, friends and parents. Try passing the noodles off as whole wheat (hence the brown), or asking folks to take a bite with their eyes closed at first. While some people are perfectly willing to accept that oddly colored food doesn't necessarily taste odd, others may yield more comical reactions.

Off-spec variations
The fun part about making your own food is experimentation. Try substituting all of the cheese ingredients noted above with real cheese, preferably two or three types. I do recommend that at least some of the cheese has a strong flavoring, as the packaged cheese powder does.

If the fluorescent brown doesn't scare you, try adding some food coloring to the water while cooking, for a super weird effect. Who wouldn't want to eat fluorescent black or maroon? What about moss coloration? The possibilities are numerous!

You can substitute your own elbow macaroni if you would like, and it should cook up the same. This way, you can use whole wheat if you like to. Bigger types of pasta may cook differently, however.

Another fun trick is to add spiced cheeses, like jalapeno flavored, or a spicy processed cheese spread, or dip. Larger grocery stores should have quite a few choices, although most stores will sell them around Christmas.

The buff
Caf'd Macaroni and Cheese, if you sit down and eat it for at least 5 minutes, will give you +30 alertness, +20 cheesy awesome power, and a random chance to frighten any onlookers in a comical nature.

Filed under: Cooking, How-tos, Odds and ends, Features, Buffs, Well Fed Buff

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