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Christaface

10 Modern Variations on Macaroni and Cheese

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Christaface

Photograph by Flickr user Christaface.

Macaroni and cheese is a traditional comfort food in America, born of the fact that it's relatively cheap, simple to prepare, and most importantly, kids like it. You don't stop liking comfort foods when you grow up, but occasionally you want to try something different. Once, I was visiting my parents on a school break and made some macaroni and cheese for my father. He said, "This is good. Is it from a kit, or did you make it from scratch?" I was a bit embarrassed to admit that it was ready made and frozen. Since then I have learned to make macaroni and cheese a few different ways that make me feel like I'm really cooking. However, most of the variations here are things I have yet to try.


Photograph by Flickr user Rosalyn Davis.

The macaroni and cheese we know today was developed by culinary visionary Thomas Jefferson, who built his own pasta machine to add improvements over one he'd bought. The traditional variations on putting cheese on macaroni (or using a boxed kit) include baking it with a crust formed by crushed potato chips or crackers; spicing it up with mustard or chili powder; adding crumbled bacon, diced ham, cut up hot dogs, or broccoli florets; and for feeding young children, sneaking in pureed vegetables. That never fooled my pasta-addicted kid for a minute. And then, at a certain age, children discover the "gourmet" version called fettuccine Alfredo. If you've never made macaroni and cheese from scratch, try a delicious homemade mac and cheese recipe without any of the extras (which you can add in the future). When you get more adventurous, here are some strange and modern variations.

1. Macaroni and Cheese Stuffed Jalapeno Peppers Wrapped in Bacon

There's not much to describe about this recipe from Carrie B at Bakeaholic Mama that's not in its name, except that I second the advice about handling jalapeños. You don't want the juice on your hands, because you'll eventually touch your eyes, nose, or mouth, and it will burn. Just reading the title Macaroni and Cheese Stuffed Jalapeno Peppers Wrapped in Bacon makes me hungry.

2. Deep Fried Mac & Cheese

You may have seen Deep-fried Mac and Cheese (on a stick) at your local festival. Yes, you can make it at home. Supereric at Instructables tell you how, step by step. The secret is to freeze the prepared macaroni and cheese so that it will keep its shape long enough to deep-fry.

3. Mac n Cheese Pie

JustJENN shows us a variation of baked macaroni and cheese with the addition of a delicious pie crust. It's your choice whether to make the crust from scratch or use a pre-prepared crust, and your dinner guests don't need to know you didn't make it all yourself.

4. Waffled Macaroni and Cheese

You can't exactly make mac and cheese in a waffle maker, because you have to have boiling water. However, Waffleizer has a way to dress up your leftover mac and cheese with the aid of a waffle iron. Chill it, bread it up, and mash it in a hot waffle iron for a completely different dish!

5. Macaroni and Cheese Sushi Rolls

Making sushi rolls out of macaroni and cheese is a presentation trick that contains no fish or rice, but will impress dinner guests. Dan at Food in My Beard developed the technique using boxed mac and cheese, taco meat, and sriracha sauce. He shows you how to do it in a series of pictures to go with the recipe.

6. Mac and Cheese Grilled Cheese

Many of us look at a grilled cheese sandwich as a comfort food from childhood, too, so why not combine those two recipes? Umm… because it's redundant? Foodies never let that stop a good experiment! Russell Warnick came up with a mac and cheese recipe with garlic and truffles to stuff between slices of bread. Now you can eat mac and cheese with one hand and no utensils!

7. Mac and Cheese Burrito

An even easier way to eat mac and cheese with your hands is to simply scoop the stuff into a tortilla and make a burrito. This simple dish has its own Facebook fan page. It's not very active, but hundreds of people like it.

8. Ramac and Cheese

You don't have to use traditional elbow macaroni or even shells to make mac and cheese. Ramen noodles will work, according to this tip from Serious Eats. The texture is different, so it is recommended that you put some crunch into it by broiling the top layer.

9. Chocolate Covered Mac and Cheese

Dan at The Food in my Beard came across chocolate mac and cheese at a restaurant and decided to recreate the experience in his own kitchen. You may feel better about it knowing that it is not a sweet dish, but contains poblano peppers, bacon, and very dark chocolate -no added sugar.

10. Mac 'n' Cheese Martini

The most bizarre version of mac and cheese ever must be the Mac 'n' Cheese Martini. It is supposedly from Donovan's Prime Steakhouse Restaurant, but since it is not mentioned on the website, there's a possibility it may be a temporary offering.

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Win a Trip to Any National Park By Instagramming Your Travels
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If you're planning out your summer vacation, make sure to add a few national parks to your itinerary. Every time you share your travels on Instagram, you can increase your chances of winning a VIP trip for two to the national park of your choice.

The National Park Foundation is hosting its "Pic Your Park" sweepstakes now through September 28. To participate, post your selfies from visits to National Park System (NPS) properties on Instagram using the hashtag #PicYourParkContest and a geotag of the location. Making the trek to multiple parks increases your points, with less-visited parks in the system having the highest value. During certain months, the point values of some sites are doubled. You can find a list of participating properties and a schedule of boost periods here.

Following the contest run, the National Park Foundation will decide a winner based on most points earned. The grand prize is a three-day, two-night trip for the winner and a guest to any NPS property within the contiguous U.S. Round-trip airfare and hotel lodging are included. The reward also comes with a 30-day lease of a car from Subaru, the contest's sponsor.

The contest is already underway, with a leader board on the website keeping track of the competition. If you're looking to catch up, this national parks road trip route isn't a bad place to start.

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15 Dad Facts for Father's Day
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Gather 'round the grill and toast Dad for Father's Day—the national holiday so awesome that Americans have celebrated it for more than a century. Here are 15 Dad facts you can wow him with today.

1. Halsey Taylor invented the drinking fountain in 1912 as a tribute to his father, who succumbed to typhoid fever after drinking from a contaminated public water supply in 1896.

2. George Washington, the celebrated father of our country, had no children of his own. A 2004 study suggested that a type of tuberculosis that Washington contracted in childhood may have rendered him sterile. He did adopt the two children from Martha Custis's first marriage.

3. In Thailand, the king's birthday also serves as National Father's Day. The celebration includes fireworks, speeches, and acts of charity and honor—the most distinct being the donation of blood and the liberation of captive animals.

4. In 1950, after a Washington Post music critic gave Harry Truman's daughter Margaret's concert a negative review, the president came out swinging: "Some day I hope to meet you," he wrote. "When that happens you'll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and perhaps a supporter below!"

5. A.A. Milne created Winnie the Pooh for his son, Christopher Robin. Pooh was based on Robin's teddy bear, Edward, a gift Christopher had received for his first birthday, and on their father/son visits to the London Zoo, where the bear named Winnie was Christopher's favorite. Pooh comes from the name of Christopher's pet swan.

6. Kurt Vonnegut was (for a short time) Geraldo Rivera's father-in-law. Rivera's marriage to Edith Vonnegut ended in 1974 because of his womanizing. Her ever-protective father was quoted as saying, "If I see Gerry again, I'll spit in his face." He also included an unflattering character named Jerry Rivers (a chauffeur) in a few of his books.

7. Andre Agassi's father represented Iran in the 1948 and 1952 Olympics as a boxer.

8. Charlemagne, the 8th-century king of the Franks, united much of Western Europe through military campaigns and has been called the "king and father of Europe" [PDF]. Charlemagne was also a devoted dad to about 18 children, and today, most Europeans may be able to claim Charlemagne as their ancestor.

9. The voice of Papa Smurf, Don Messick, also provided the voice of Scooby-Doo, Ranger Smith on Yogi Bear, and Astro and RUDI on The Jetsons.

10. In 2001, Yuri Usachev, cosmonaut and commander of the International Space Station, received a talking picture frame from his 12-year-old daughter while in orbit. The gift was made possible by RadioShack, which filmed the presentation of the gift for a TV commercial.

11. The only father-daughter collaboration to hit the top spot on the Billboard pop music chart was the 1967 hit single "Something Stupid" by Frank & Nancy Sinatra.

12. In the underwater world of the seahorse, it's the male that gets to carry the eggs and birth the babies.

13. If show creator/producer Sherwood Schwartz had gotten his way, Gene Hackman would have portrayed the role of father Mike Brady on The Brady Bunch.

14. The Stevie Wonder song "Isn't She Lovely" is about his newborn daughter, Aisha. If you listen closely, you can hear Aisha crying during the song.

15. Dick Hoyt has pushed and pulled his son Rick, who has cerebral palsy, through hundreds of marathons and triathlons. Rick cannot speak, but using a custom-designed computer he has been able to communicate. They ran their first five-mile race together when Rick was in high school. When they were done, Rick sent his father this message: "Dad, when we were running, it felt like I wasn't disabled anymore!"

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