good food & drink

Fall to
Your Knees
Mac & Cheese

And now for my favorite thing on Planet Earth: that would be mac and cheese. There is nothing I love more, and honestly, I could eat this all day long. It's what I always wish I could have more of now. And speaking of wanting more, this version of mac and cheese has more cheese than noodles. What could be better? It's what I dream about at night.

Mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food and the best crowd-pleaser I know. It takes you backward, forward, sideways, and up and down, and makes you do that little "happy dance" you do inside when something really hits the spot . . . until you step on the scale, that is.

For a split second, I thought about offering you a skinnier version of the mac, but let's get real. Just have the real thing and eat less. You could also do an extra 45 minutes on the treadmill. It's sooo worth it!


Stuff You Need ...

3-1/2 cups large elbow macaroni
10 oz. Velveeta cheese, cut into 1" squares
10 oz. white Vermont cheddar cheese, cut into 1" squares
15 oz. Gruyère cheese, shredded
1-2 cups of jack and cheddar cheese (combined), shredded
4 oz. cream cheese (at room temp.)
2/3 cup sour cream
1-1/3 cups heavy cream
1-1/3 cups half-and-half
1 egg
2-2/3 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. dry mustard powder
1/8?1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp. nutmeg (fresh if you have it)
1 tsp. kosher salt
A pinch of paprika
1 Tbsp. fresh chives (for garnish)

Serves 10.


Directions ...

Smile. Know that you're about to prepare the best mac and cheese ever!

1. Grease a 13" x 9" nonstick metal baking pan with 1 Tbsp butter. Preheat oven to 350. Prepare macaroni according to the package directions, but make sure it's al dente. (Huh? It should still be a little firm.) Be sure to add a pinch of salt and a dash of olive oil to the boiling water while cooking. Drain pasta well and pour into the baking pan.

2. In a large mixing bowl, add the heavy cream, half-and-half, and sour cream; break the cream cheese into little bits with your (clean!) fingers as you add it to the bowl. Add the egg, flour, Worcestershire sauce, garlic and onion powders, dry mustard, cayenne pepper, and nutmeg; combine very well with a wire whisk to break up that cream cheese. It will look lumpy, but that's okay.

3. Starting at the corners of the pasta dish, place and push down the Velveeta and white Vermont cheddar cubes. Work your way around and toward the middle (they won't push down completely, but just smoosh them down a bit). Now sprinkle the fabulous Gruyère cheese evenly over the top — gently and evenly pour that artery-clogging mixture on it, covering all areas. Gently shake the pan afterwards for a sec to make sure the liquid is even. I know it sounds gross, but push down and make little holes into areas of the mixture with your fingers. (You're just getting some of that Gruyère down deeper below the surface.) Wash your hands!

4. Sprinkle the jack-and-cheddar combo over the mixture and sprinkle the paprika on top. Put this baby in the oven (make sure your oven rack is right in the middle) and bake until brown and bubbly — we're talking approximately 30 minutes. It will be creamy in the center and more crusty on the top and edges. Chop some fresh chives and get those taste buds ready. When it's done, garnish with the chives (but try not to eat part of the crusty top before you serve it. I'm watching you!).

5. Get out of town! This is actually a one-way ticket to paradise.

If desired, serve with chilled beer or very chilled white wine ...