10 Creative Ways to Spice Up Your Mac & Cheese


Macaroni and cheese is an American classic and a college student staple—but the commercially available orange powdered stuff can be questionable in both ingredients and taste. When you’re ready to take a step beyond the blue box, try out these ideas to give your mac some more zest.


If you’ve only ever had mac and cheese from a box, homemade baked macaroni is a revelation. The classic recipe is a simple bechamel sauce: butter and flour cooked together with milk to create a thick sauce that simply needs shredded cheese to be perfect on elbow noodles. This macaroni is good as is, but absolutely wonderful baked with breadcrumbs on top.


It’s certainly extravagant, but also delicious, to take macaroni and cheese and add it to other classic foods. Pizza, for example, or cheeseburgers, and even grilled cheese are all improved by mac and cheese, and that’s only the beginning.


Bacon is a pretty standard addition to macaroni and cheese, but adding tomatoes makes the dish reminiscent of a BLT—another American classic.


For those spice fans, adding Sriracha or another hot sauce gives creamy macaroni and cheese more bite. If you enjoy sweating your way through dinner, this variation is definitely the way to go.


The classic dip is delicious on pita points or baguette, but this dish takes it beyond an appetizer. Spinach artichoke dip is already creamy and baked with a crumb topping, so adding macaroni noodles is basically a no-brainer. And a delicious one at that!


If you’re looking for a classier version of the childhood staple, look no further than lobster mac and cheese. Expensive seafood might not seem like the most logical choice for macaroni, but the cheesy sauce and lobster are a match made in heaven.


This might stretch the boundaries of the definition of macaroni and cheese, but adding chili spices, ground beef, beans, and corn makes macaroni both delicious and filling. This variation is a perfect easy dinner, especially when you need to make a meal of simple pantry staples.


Another classic combination, buffalo sauce and chicken make a great match with cheesy sauce and noodles. Buffalo is everywhere now, from wings to dips to salads, so why not add it to your mac?


While vegans avoid the butter, milk, and cheese that are generally components of macaroni and cheese, vegan versions do exist. Soaked cashews provide creaminess, and nutritional yeast gives a cheesy flavor that apparently closely mirrors the original dish.


This one isn’t for the faint of heart. Dessert macaroni and cheese exists, and you can make it. Noodle kugel paved the way for noodles in dessert, but a sweet bechamel sauce makes this dessert version of mac and cheese a distinct culinary innovation.

All images courtesy of iStock.

Chefs Launch World's Highest Pop-Up Restaurant at Mt. Everest Base Camp

A touch of altitude sickness shouldn't stand in the way of a good meal. At least that seems to be the idea behind a plan to serve a seven-course dinner to trekkers at Everest Base Camp, the gateway for those planning to climb Mt. Everest in Nepal.

The four chefs leading this trip hope it will land them a new Guinness World Record for the highest pop-up restaurant on the planet, according to Architectural Digest. At the end of May, the chefs will take 10 people on an eight-day trek from the town of Lukla (at an altitude of about 10,000 feet) to Everest Base Camp (at 11,600 feet), all while foraging along the way for ingredients that can be incorporated into the meal. (For a true luxury experience, guests also have the option of traveling by helicopter.) The full package of flights, accommodations, and meals costs about $5600 per person.

After reaching their destination, trekkers will get to sit back and enjoy a feast, which will be served inside a tent to protect diners against the harsh Himalayan winds. Indian chef Sanjay Thakur and others on his team say they want to highlight the importance of sustainability, and the money they raise will be donated to local charities. Thakur said most of the food will be cooked sous vide, which allows vacuum-packed food to be cooked in water over a long period of time.

"The biggest challenge, of course, will be the altitude, which will affect everything," Thakur tells Fine Dining Lovers. "Flavor [perception] will be decreased, so we will be designing a menu of extraordinary dishes accordingly, where spices will have the upper hand."

This isn't the first time an elaborate meal will be served at Everest Base Camp, though. According to Fine Dining Lovers, another chef launched a pop-up at the same spot in 2016, but it presumably wasn't registered with the Guinness Book of World Records. Other extreme restaurants include one carved into a limestone cliff in China, one dangling 16 feet above the ground in a rainforest in Thailand, and one submerged 16 feet below sea level in the Maldives.

[h/t Architectural Digest]

Do You 'Procrastibake'? You're Not Alone

The urge to put off tasks until the last minute is often accompanied by a nagging sense of guilt about not being productive. A new trend tackles both problems at once. It's called procrastibaking.

As The New York Times reports, procrastibaking, or throwing yourself into a baking project to distract yourself from an impending work deadline, is popular among students, telecommuters, and anyone else with access to an oven and who needs a creative outlet divorced from their actual work. Preparing a difficult recipe with many steps may feel like a chore when you're making it for someone else, but when you're baking for baking's sake, the process becomes meditative. Procrastibakers often choose the most complicated recipes they can find: More time in the kitchen means less time spent thinking about their term paper (or bar exam, freelance gig, tax filing, etc.).

According to Google Trends, interest in the term procrastibaking first spiked in April 2010. The word gained momentum on university campuses. A writer named Gabrielle reports in a 2012 blog post for the online law student community Survive Law that procrastibaking and legal education go hand in hand, "because if you’re going to spend time away from the books, you may as well have something cool (and edible) to show for it." In 2014, the linguistics department at Monash University posted a blog detailing the connections between the word and the student tradition of bringing baked goods to meetings.

Today procrastibaking appeals to expert time-wasters of all ages and occupations. There are currently 26,585 posts with the hashtag #procrastibaking on Instagram—check them out if you need some inspiration for ways to push off your next project.

[h/t The New York Times]


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