In this piece, I hope to not only share with you all a mouthwatering recipe that will have you yearning for another serving, but also urge you to take the time to reconnect and have a few good laughs with the people closest to you.
As August flies by, I have found myself cherishing the last few weeks of summer with friends. Last Wednesday, a group of friends and I had our last “Wine and Weiner Wednesday” — WWW for short. The idea started during a fire pit one night in May.
Like your typical bonfire, we were roasting marshmallows and assembling s’mores. That night, I proposed the idea of roasting something different the next time we were together, like a hot dog. From that moment on, Wednesday nights would be forever known as “Wine and Weiner Wednesdays.” Although we only roasted actual hot dogs one Wednesday and never drank wine.
This past Wednesday, though, was a bit different than our usual shenanigans for two reasons. For one, this gathering held more significance. It represented the last time this summer when all of us would be together before we parted ways and headed into our junior years at universities across the country. The other was that this Wednesday was our first and only planned potluck!
Originally, I had planned on making my ever-so-famous – at least among my friends – oreo balls with rainbow sprinkles. That changed when the host messaged me asking if I could possibly make an entree dish. My initial thought was to whip up something simple, popular and comfort-inducing.
I decided to make mac and cheese, casserole-style. This dish was the perfect edible consolation during trying times and ideal for sharing with friends and family. The hearty but simple casserole complemented close and lighthearted conversation and definitely brought out the laughter that night.
As the night continued, the hearty dishes laid out on the patio table lifted our spirits. With chicken and bacon fried rice, pesto pasta, macaroni and cheese and varying desserts, this Wednesday night topped all other WWWs by far.
Giddy from our food comas, we were all eager to partake in the convivial game my hostess friend had devised. Carrying out a hat filled with folded-up slips of paper, she explained that she had been documenting funny texts each of us had sent throughout the past months. As she read out each one, we went around the circle and guessed which one of us had texted the message. To say the game was hilarious would be an understatement. Our final supper was topped off with a group viewing of TikTok’s renowned dwarf hamsters @hamstarz, whose fame stems from their creative, lighthearted Ratatouille-esque short clips.
With a little magic from my macaroni and cheese casserole, the final WWW was grate, and I don’t think it could have gone any cheddar.
Macaroni and cheese
● 1 pound pasta (I used cavatappi.)
● 1 stick of butter, softened
● 1 cup half and half
● 1 cup cold milk
● 3 cups cheese (I used about 1 cup of sharp cheddar, 1⁄2 cup white cheddar, 3⁄4 cup
Monterey Jack, and 3⁄4 cup mozzarella. Take creative liberties in divvying up the amounts and types of cheeses!)
● 1 egg (Trust me on this one!)
● 1⁄3 cup of flour
● Salt and pepper to taste (I used about 1⁄3 teaspoon of each.)
Breadcrumb topping (optional)
● 3 ounces butter
● 1 to 1 1⁄2 cups panko bread crumbs (to your preference, I used 1 1⁄2 cup of plain bread crumbs)
● Melt the butter and mix evenly with the panko bread crumbs
1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2) Butter or spray with cooking spray a 2-quart baking dish or casserole.
3) Cook the macaroni in a large pot of salted boiling water for seven minutes, draining well.
4) After draining, place all macaroni back in the pot.
5) In a large bowl, mix together all the cheese.
6) Add 2 cups of the mixed cheese to the pot with the macaroni. Stir in the half and half,
cold milk, stick of butter, egg and flour. Stir until the macaroni and additional ingredients are well combined.
7) Season with salt and pepper.
8) Spoon the contents of the pot into the buttered casserole dish.
9) Sprinkle the remaining cup of cheese onto the macaroni.
10) Bake for 25 minutes. If you are not using the panko bread crumb topping, bake for 35 minutes and skip steps 11 and 12.
11) Take the casserole out of the oven and sprinkle with the panko bread crumb topping.
12) Place the casserole back in the oven and bake for 10 more minutes.
13) Take out and let cool for 15 minutes.
Isabella Xu is a junior in the McDonough School of Business. Homemade Gourmet appears online every other week.