Monday, February 1, 2010

An Ode to Hard Times

Hard Times is not quite a local restaurant, but I think they began their journey somewhere in Virginia. I didn't hear about them until 2 summers ago, when my husband and I were celebrating our 5th Anniversary...alone! My mom and dad had taken my then 2 and 1 year old girls for a week so we could get away for a little bit.
We had 2 days at home before we headed to our vacation destination of Charleston, SC so we decided we would dine out and see lots of movies -- 2 of the hardest things to do as parents.

The first night, my husband asked if I wanted to try out Hard Times. He had been there a few times before with some friends and raved about their chili mac. Me, not so much. Remember how picky I am? Well, the thought of picking out beans and onion chunks from chili was not exactly how I wanted to spend our first night out alone. But, after much convincing, I gave in.

Hard Times quickly became the place we took pretty much everyone who came to visit us for the next year and a half. We were there a LOT. You simply could not beat their awesome chili-mac, plus they brewed their own root beer and it was AMAZING. My standby was the 3 way Texas Chili Mac with a grilled cheese (best bread ever!) and a root beer or 5.

Of course, as our luck would have it, Hard Times in our little town closed it's doors last Spring. I was devastated and immediately went online looking for their other locations and plotting how we could stop there on our way to...well, anywhere within an hour of where we were traveling to. Luckily there are still a few locations not far from my hometown, we just have never had the chance to go.

So, this past weekend, I caved. I HAD TO HAVE SOME CHILI MAC AND A ROOT BEER. Granted, I am pregnant, so I'm sure I would have survived if I didn't get some, but try telling that to my hormones.

On a grocery store visit, I bought some ground beef, a packet of chili seasoning mix, and some shredded cheddar. When the kids went to bed Friday night, I went to town and made my "Ode to Hard Times" 3 way Chili Mac.

Basically, I just browned the ground beef, added in the seasoning packet along with just some of the pasta water, and let it simmer while my noodles cooked up. I piled the meat high on my naked noodles, threw some shredded cheddar on top, and cracked open a bottle of root beer.

Of course, it wasn't the same, but it was pretty darn good!

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