Good-Bye to The Middle (And Some Great Mac & Cheese)

Good-Bye to The Middle (And Some Great Mac & Cheese)

What does television mean to you?  Are you one of those people who has favorite programs?  Can you watch a series over and over again because you enjoy the characters so much?

I probably have watched more than my fair share of TV but in my mind….I didn’t just watch….I was part of the cast.

I ran across the prairie with Laura Ingalls.   I said good-night to John Boy each week on the Waltons.  I shook a tambourine with Partridge Family Band.  I was one of the Brady kids.

I waited in line for the bathroom with the 8 Bradford siblings. The Cunninghams always welcomed me in their home. I caused mayhem with the Beaver.  (And who didn’t have a crush on Wally?)  I was a Huxtable.

These shows weren’t just something to watch to waste time, I felt a personal connection with the characters.

So this week the TV series, The Middle, is having their season finale and I have to admit, it has made me kind of sad.  For nine seasons, I’ve been a Heck.  Like the mom, Frankie, I tease my husband relentlessly.  Like the dad, Mike, I am a little rough around the edges but the people who I love know I love them.  Like the oldest son, Axl, my ego can get ahead of me and I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer.  Like Sue, the only daughter, I am awkward but look at the bright side of life.  And like, Brick, the youngest son, I have my quirks (Woot) and love to read.  {read}

I will watch their repeats over and over…. and I still laugh every time. It is a show I look forward to seeing each week and I’m going to miss watching the characters evolve.

If I lived on their block, I would have hosted a big party to say goodbye. It wouldn’t be fancy because that would make Mike uncomfortable.  I would make sure all the Donahues were there to see if Sean would finally declare his love for Sue.  Maybe one of the Glossners would show up and bring back all the folding chairs their kids stole over the years.

Reverend Tim-Tom could start a sing along with Axl and the Ax-Men as the cover band.  Brick would be searching for things to read as he stood by his girlfriend, Cindy, who was eating more than her fair share of the cocktail shrimp.

And what would Frankie be doing?  She would be late and would probably show up with a half-eaten bag of chips and some precooked mac and cheese from the Frugal Hoosier that has been leftover for weeks from their Cinco de Mayo sale.  Frankie would share her “recipe” but we all knew it was something she just memorized from an article on “Mac and Cheeses of the Stars” that was in magazine in the waiting room of Smile Superstars.

You see, there is something magical about middle America and The Middle captured the essences of it.  We aren’t fancy people and lot of us have had some hard luck.  None of the kids are perfect and the parents maybe don’t always see eye to eye.  Our houses are lived in but under every roof….there is a ton of love.

So this is my way of saying thank you to the cast and to the Heck family.  You don’t know how many bad days were made better because of the laughter you gave me.  I am going to miss you all and to quote Frankie “I know. I know. I’m being ridiculous. It’s a stupid TV show but I just can’t shake it…”

The Middle Mac & Cheese (This is what Nancy would have brought.)

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 bunch of green onions, chopped
  • 1 TBSP all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp mustard powder
  • 1 tsp ancho chili powder
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ¾ cup cream
  • ¾ cup pico de gallo, plus some extra
  • 2 cups of meltable “Mexican Cheese” mix (Kraft has one with a touch of cream cheese which is perfect.
  • 1 1/2 cups elbow noodles (cooked, reserve a little pasta water

Directions

Oven 350

In a large 5 qt. pot, melt butter over medium heat.

Add the green onion and cook until soft. Sprinkle with the chili powder.

Whisk in flour and dry mustard.  Cook for about a minute to get the “raw” flavor off the flour.

Slowly mix in the milk and cream. Go slowly and beat out any flour lumps as you incorporate the liquid.

Whisk in the pico de gallo.

Add the cheese slowly whisk as you add.

Add the cooked elbow noodles.  Stir with a spatula and make sure every elbow is coated. You may need to add a smidge of pasta water if it looks too thick.

You can scoop it out and eat it as is OR….

Spread in individual dishes or in a large casserole and sprinkle with a little parm, some Doritos or anything else that tickles your fancy.  Bake for about 15 minutes.

Add an additional dollop of pico on top and serve.