When I think of Macaroni and Cheese, my mind goes blank and I am overcome with an inner feeling of peace, happiness and joy! Ahhhhh! It is definitely one of those comfort foods for which I will enthusiastically always respond: Yes! Please!
With the summer BBQ season coming into full swing, I thought this would be a perfect recipe to share with you. I know I’m, personally, always looking for a side dish to bring to one of the many summer gatherings that pop up this time of year; this recipe could not be more perfect for that. With the Honey Crunch topping, it’s definitely a crowd-pleaser and one of those recipes that people will remember…and ask you to make again and again. Thankfully, it’s pretty easy to make, so that’ll be no problem at all!
I know this from personal experience. I have a dear friend, for whom I would do anything, that often proclaims, “I don’t cook.” She wears it as a badge of honor. However, underneath the tough exterior and ardent proclamation, I know her well enough to have come to realize (although it took me a while) that “I don’t cook” means “I don’t think I can cook.” For her, in all fairness, she was never taught to cook by her parents and so I can understand how it could be intimidating taking on cooking for, essentially, the first time. There are so many things that could go wrong and so the thought is that it is better to avoid than to fail. Plus, I would be there to judge her when she did.
Well, there is no better remedy for that sentiment than to face your fears head-on and challenge yourself. After a little bit of encouragement, that’s exactly what she did…not once, but twice, with this Mac and Cheese recipe! It turned out wonderfully! If you asked her, she would probably downplay it and say that I made it, but let the record reflect that, although I may have cheered her on, she made it all by herself. And I am happy to report that the fire department did not show up, the Mac and Cheese did not combust into flames and, most importantly, she faced her fears and did not fail.
Cooking is something that comes very naturally to me. However, I grew up with everyone around me cooking and getting me involved in the process at a very early age. In an Italian family, your life ultimately revolves around planning your next meal. So I have come to realize what is second-nature for me is the wild, wild west for others, like my friend.
That’s what I love so much about being able to share these recipes with you. I hope that it will encourage you to put any fear of cooking or any fear of failure that you might have aside and just TRY. You can do this!
Things may not go right and that’s OK. It may be a complete disaster…and that’s OK. You learn from that and grow. It is a bit of a metaphor for life, I suppose. Even the most seasoned chef experiences flops and recipes that just don’t work out. So do not worry…and most of all, know that there is no judgment. I look at it like this: with each failure comes the opportunity to overcome! So I encourage you, just give it a try…
…like my friend. You might just surprise yourself. And while she still proclaims proudly, “I don’t cook,” I just smile and chuckle a bit to myself, knowing inside that she is perfectly capable if she chooses…and that I’ll be there to help if ever the need. However, she has taken on other recipes of mine with no problem at all and she is a pro at chiffonading basil…so she may soon be teaching me a thing or two.
Honey Crunch Mac + Cheese
SO WHAT YOU'RE GONNA NEED IS:
Make the Mac + Cheese
- Prepare Macaroni according to package directions. Strain.
- Microwave Milk for about 1:30 minutes until warm.
- Melt 2 Tablespoons Butter in Dutch Oven.
- Add Flour to melted Butter and whisk for about 1 minute. This will make a blond roux.
- Whisk warmed Milk into the roux.
- Continue to which for about 5 minutes until the Milk thickens (about 5 minutes). You’ll know it’s properly thickened when it coats the back of a spoon.
- Season with Salt and Pepper.
- Add Cheddar Cheese and Parmesan Cheese. Stir with Silicone Spatula until thoroughly melted and smooth.
- Add cooked Macaroni to the cheese and stir until thoroughly incorporated.
- 1Transfer to Casserole Baking Dish.
- 1Bake in 400F oven for about 10-15 minutes until golden brown.
Make the Honey Crunch Topping
- Place about 15 Salted Butter Crackers and 1 whole (2 squareof Graham Crackers in a sealable Plastic Bag. Crush with Rolling Pin, Spoon or even your hands. Transfer to a bowl.
- Microwave remaining 1 Tablespoon of Butter and Honey for about 15 seconds.
- Pour heated Honey Butter over the crushed Crackers. Stir or mix with your hands until Honey Butter has thoroughly coated the crushed Crackers.
Finish it off
- After Mac + Cheese has baked, remove from oven and top with the Honey Crunch topping.
- Bake in 400F oven for another 5-10 minutes until the Honey Crunch Topping is toasted and golden brown.