No, this is not a joke. I'm a dad, and I make a mean mac and cheese. Hence: Daddy's Mean Mac and Cheese. I'm not one to toot my own horn but whenever the words "mac and cheese" are uttered in my house, they are followed with "but can daddy make it?" So without further ado-
Daddy's Mean Mac and Cheese
- 1 six year old
- 1 four year old
- 1 two year old
- 1 daddy (mostly)
- 1 box Annie's Shells and Aged Cheddar
- 1 box Annie's Shells and White Cheddar
- 3-4 Hebrew National reduced fat beef franks
- Butter (between 1/4 and 1/3 a stick)
- Whole milk (between 1/2 and 3/4 cup)
- Miceli's natural shredded mozzarella (about a handful)
- 365 shredded parmesan (more than a pinch)
- Frozen peas or green beans (optional)
- Italian seasoning (optional)
1) Begin boiling water
As with any pasta recipe, this one begins with boiling water. However, as this is more than just "Kraft Macaroni and processed cheese product meal substitute", there is a slightly more involved preparation process while that water is coming up to temperature. One big part of this recipe is using as few dishes as possible so your water will be doing double (maybe triple) duty.
2) Cut the hot dogs into bite-sized morsels, set aside.
3) Prepare cheese sauce.
You probably noticed that there are two different types of boxed mac and cheese included in this recipe. Madness? OR GENIUS?! The key to making this recipe work, is preparing the cheese sauce ahead of time:
3a) Put the milk and butter in a pyrex measuring cup
3b) Microwave for 20 seconds (to melt the butter and warm the milk)
3c) Mix the 2 pouches of cheese powder into the milk and butter, set aside.
4) Cook Pasta
By this point, your water should be boiling. Dump both boxes worth of pasta into the boiling water, but this is not a "set it and forget it" kinda recipe.
5) Cook Hot Dogs (and vegetables)
Pay close attention to how the pasta is coming along. When it's about 2/3rds of the way done, it's time to add the hot dogs (and peas or green beans if you are going the healthy route). Just throw it all right in there. YES, the same pot! (sheesh, did I stutter?) Adding frozen vegetable will slow the boil down but it should rebound in fairly short order so don't panic.
6) Drain everything
Once the pasta and hot dogs are cooked, pull out your colander and drain off that hot water. Then dump everything right back into the pot.
7) Add cheese sauce
Since you smartly prepped your cheese sauce ahead of time, you can just dump it in and start stirring.
8) Add real cheese
What takes this recipe from "good" to "mean" is, of course, the extra cheese. Throw that handful of mozz and more than a pinch of parm into the pot. There should still be enough residual heat to make everything melty but if not, you can always just put the pot over heat again. Just be careful not to singe anything.
9) Add italian seasoning (optional)
This is going to depend on your kids. A dash of mixed Italian seasoning can give this dish an extra something special.
If you've followed the directions, at this point you've probably got a pot of something almost, but not entirely unlike tea. We've found that the extra cheesyness makes this a big winner in the under-10 crowd.
To keep the cheese from getting too solid before it's time for seconds (which will be demanded) it's usually a good idea to keep the pot covered, possibly on very ,very low heat.
Spoon into bowls and watch your kids gobble it up with big smiles.