Over this past year, I have struggled with maintaining my relationships with my friends, family, and with my university. Due to the pandemic, we have all experienced a loss of security, connectedness, and familiarity. However, throughout this hybrid semester we are learning how to gain that back and reconstruct the ways that we come to understand the definition of comfort.

During my year at Zoom University, I learned a lot about my relationship with food, the importance of maintaining my overall wellbeing and finding joy in learning how to cook a variety of different comfort foods. One comfort food in particular that I discovered to be one of my favorites was this recipe for pressure cooker mac and cheese. This meal takes a total of 20 minutes to complete.

Ingredients:

This requires you to have 1 (16 oz) box of small elbow style macaroni noodles, 3 cups worth of chicken broth recipe, 2 tbsp of butter, 1/2 cup of sharp cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup of shredded parmesan cheese, and 1/2 cup Mexican four cheese blend, 1 cup of heavy whipping cream, garlic salt and salt and pepper to taste.

Optional Topping: additional 1/2 cup of sharp cheddar cheese, 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese and 1/4 cup Mexican four cheese blend and 1 cup Panko bread crumbs. However, I will note that even though water can be used as an alternative to using chicken broth, it does not have as much flavor. You will then use a pressure cooker, either an Instant pot or Ninja Foodi should be fine.

Steps:

First, you will add your chicken broth (or water) and elbow macaroni noodles into your pot. Stir the mixture around to evenly coat the noodles. Next, close the lid and steam valve of your pressure cooker and set it on high for six minutes, then quickly release the steam valve. The third step is to lift the lid and stir in your 2 tbsp of butter and allow this to completely melt into the pasta.

Additionally once this melts, then you will sprinkle the ½ cup of sharp cheddar cheese, ½ cup of parmesan cheese, and ½ cup Mexican four cheese blend and stir in the 1 cup of heavy whipping cream until all of the cheese becomes melted. Stir in garlic salt, pepper and salt to taste. At this point, you have the option to either serve the dish or add a few additional steps described below.

If you choose to do the optional steps, you will first need to sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of sharp cheddar cheese, 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese, and 1/4 cup Mexican four cheese blend and 1 cup Panko Bread crumbs on the top of the noodles and do not stir it in. You will close the lid once more and press the air crisp button to 400 degrees and let it sit for 3 minutes.

Please note, if your pressure cooker does not have the air crisp option you can pour the mac and cheese into an oven safe serving dish before adding the toppings. Once you have done that, sprinkle your cheeses and bread crumbs onto the top. Place the dish in your oven with the Broil option set to high. This will take approximately 3-5 minutes to melt the cheese and brown the edges.

Enjoy!

The Cougar Chronicle: The independent student news site of California State University, San Marcos