Raise your hand if you filled your bedroom walls, ceiling, notebooks and school locker with Bop!, Tiger Beat and J-14 posters of boy bands in the years of 1998-2001.
Keep them raised if you owned more than seven necklaces declaring some sort of devotion to a particular band or member (for instance, an “I <3 JC” chain or perhaps a cubic zirconium *NSYNC charm, JUST like Justin’s) and possibly the same baby blue WWJD bracelet that your squeaky-clean, high-pitched future husband wore.
Okay, not bad not bad. Now, keep them raised if you touched a pillow that was on stage at your fifth *NSYNC concert and refused to wash your hand for a week (or two), or if you still argue to this day that JC looked RIGHT AT YOU when you were in the 6th row of the same concert. Or if you kissed the picture of each member of the group before you left for middle school every day, because you were going to miss them soooo much while learning about pointless things like Algebra, American literature and social studies of the Eastern Hemisphere. Seriously, all I needed to know at the time was Justin’s favorite color (baby blue, duh), what number “I Drive Myself Crazy” was on TRL and what time I needed to set the VCR to record their Disney Channel concert.
So wait – anyone’s hand still raised? Please tell me I was not the only psycho tween out there who actually thought my name would be Anne Marie Chasez or Anne Marie Timberlake someday…depending on which one I met first. Yep, I was an equal opportunity boy band wifey. Except for Chris Kirkpatrick, as I never understood the braided pineapple head look. Or Lance, as I saw that revelation coming long before I knew what that even meant.
I do have a point here, and I will get to it soon, pinky swear. But if you at least had your hand up for the first question I posed, or even if you were the type to make fun of us boy band lovers, you absolutely have to read this article on “63 Reasons Why Boy Bands were Better in the 90s.” Absolutely hilarious and painstakingly true, right down to the baggy camo pants and matching tattoos/earrings/MTV’s VMA outfits. One read through (okay, maybe I’ve read it 23 more times than that) and it is a miracle that any of us fanatics, LET ALONE Justin Timberlake, made it out alive.
I was a boy band fanatic since 1992, when New Kids on the Block were actually the new kids on the block. And yes, I know, I was FIVE, but so what – Joey McIntyre was like 11 at the time! It was totally normal. Plus, they had a morning cartoon that no one seems to remember except me. Talk about marketing to children – a cartoon, cute boys who danced (and had rat tails, which somehow didn’t seem gross at the time) PLUS a lunchbox and matching sleeping bag, pillowcases and slippers? Hand me my Walk Man – I’m in.
Fast forward a few more years and I was the first girl on the *NSYNC train (a claim which I vehemently defended in various “who’s the truest fan? scuttles). And let me just say that I definitely traded a hefty sum of Backstreet Boys and 98 degrees posters for photo #55 in the article. It was a cruel black market in those middle school hallways, but I navigated those waters like a hungry shark. A hungry shark wearing a baby blue WWJD bracelet, obvi.
So, if anything is as cheesy as a 90s boy band, it is this macaroni and cheese. It even meets all the boy band qualifications:
- It is low fat, so it still allows for washer board abs.
- It’s comforting, so no matter what kind of day you had, you can run right into its warm embrace.
- It makes enough for a large group, so there is always enough love to go around.
- It’s really simple to make, just like auto-tuned pop songs.
- It looks really good in baby blue outfits – well, in this case, casserole dishes.
- And of course, there is a little bit of a kick…you know, the bad boy in the group.
Chipotle Mac and Cheese
Adapted from Cooking Light
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 can (7 ounce) chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 cup chopped bell pepper (green or red)
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 can (14 1/2-ounce) diced tomatoes (original recipe called for diced tomatoes with green chiles, but I thought regular diced tomatoes worked fine!)
- 4 cups cooked whole wheat elbow macaroni (2 cups uncooked)
- 2 cups shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 cup low-fat or fat free cottage cheese
- 1 cup skim milk
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
1) Preheat oven to 350° and spray 2-quart casserole dish with cooking spray.
2) Cook pasta according to package directions, but do not add salt or oil to the water.
3) In a large pot or dutch oven, add olive oil over medium-high heat. Add chopped chiles, onion and bell pepper. Cook for 3-5 minutes, or until onion is tender, stirring frequently. Then, add chopped garlic and for an additional minute or so, stirring frequently so garlic does not burn.
4) Sprinkle with flour, chili powder and smoked paprika and cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium; add tomatoes. Cook 3 minutes or until thickened.
5) Add adobo sauce, cooked pasta, cheddar cheese, cottage cheese, milk, Parmesan, and egg; stir to combine. Spoon pasta mixture into casserole dish coated with cooking spray and top with breadcrumbs. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until bubbly.
Raise your hand if the “No Strings Attached” album is in its fourth rotation on your playlist for today. Hey – at least I
absolutely don’t remember the dance moves.