Mac-n-Cheese and Peas and Fleas

Robbie is working at a fish shack and living at a skate park in North Carolina this summer (which is pretty much the sum total of everything I know about his current status, which I think demonstrates pretty good parental awareness, given that he is a fourth child) and I guess they cook for themselves cuz he texted me the other day, asking for instructions on how to make his all-time favorite meal.

Given that a lot of popular blogs feature “Tempting New Recipes!”, I figured I’d jump into the culinary fray and share the info with you too – although let me just say right up front that, while this meal is a Berndt Family Classic that gets trotted out for pretty much every birthday dinner (except mine), I will not blame you if you don’t find it the least bit tempting (because I don’t).

Even the dish’s name (coined by my mother, who invented this meal during my childhood), is a little off-putting:  Mac-n-Cheese and Peas and Fleas.


So anyway, here’s how you make it:


  • 1 16-oz. box of elbow noodles (the “mac”)
  • 1 pound lean ground beef (the “fleas”)
  • 5 slices of Kraft American Singles, the shrink-wrapped kind (the “cheese,” although I am using that term loosely here)
  • About half a bag of frozen tender tiny peas (not the big fat ones)
  • A stick of butter, chopped into pieces
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • Whatever seasonings you like (we use garlic salt and pepper)
  • Optional shredded parmesan cheese for garnish


  1. Cook the macaroni in a big pot while you brown the ground beef.  When both are finished, drain the macaroni of water and pour the fat off the meat.  (This is a critical but potentially confusing step – more later.)
  2. Peel the cheese (are you drooling yet?) and add it to the hot macaroni.  Add the butter and the milk and stir over low heat until the butter and cheese are all melted.
  3. Meanwhile, boil the peas in a small amount of water, just until they are no longer frozen…no need to cook ’em for more than about two minutes.  Drain them, and then add the peas and the ground beef to the macaroni mixture.
  4. Stir it all up and add your garlic salt and pepper.  Top with shredded parmesan cheese if you want to look a little fancy (we usually skip that step), and enjoy!

Easy, right?

Robbie managed to get through the whole thing on his first try, and he sent me a snap of his efforts:


I asked how the crew liked it, and he said it went over well…although one girl “freaked out” when she saw him adding the fat from the burger meat back into the macaroni pot.

“You did what?” I asked.

“Added the fat.  Like you said to.”

Now, I definitely did NOT say to pour the fat back in (although, if you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you know that I am not, normally, opposed to fat in my food).  To prove his point, Robbie sent me a screen shot of the instructions I’d texted:



Okay then.  So now you know why I am not a recipe blogger.  But if you decide to try this one at home, I’d love for you to let me know how it goes.  If nothing else, it could turn out to be the very thing that convinces your husband that it’s time to make reservations at a nice restaurant, just the two of you, and take you out.  (You’re welcome.)



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