April 30, 2013

When You’re in Need of Comfort (Food)

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There are a million reasons as to why right now is the perfect time for us to stuff ourselves silly with chunky and delicious comfort food. First, it’s almost finals week, and you know that means: late night study sessions fueled by coffee, Red Bull and Domino’s cheesy bread. God knows that getting a B in Ancient Egyptian Civilization isn’t a good enough incentive to stay up ‘til the sun’s up — that greasy grub is more than necessary. Second, for all of you seniors out there like me, we are graduating. This momentous event in our lives necessitates the most comforting of comfort food because we will be leaving this not-real-life bubble for the real world in which we will no longer be able to eat five chili dogs dripping in fake cheese sans judgment. The death of my college partying days as well as of consuming whole pies from CTP is enough to make me wallow in a sea of gravy while listening to “Graduation” by Vitamin C on repeat.

When you hear the phrase “comfort food,” there are a select few items that immediately come to mind, such as fried chicken, Chipotle burritos or Insomnia cookies. Ever since I was little, my go-to comfort food has always been macaroni and cheese. I love mac & cheese because just like its comfort food cousin, pizza, it is very difficult to mess up; thus, even bad mac & cheese is still good mac & cheese. Moreover, there are so many different ways that you can make this dish, and it will always come out amazing, because it is made with butter, carbs and oh-so-much cheese.

The best mac & cheese that I have tasted in Ithaca was on a rainy day a few weeks ago at Stella’s. Their baked mac & cheese with bacon (I mean seriously, when in the history of food has bacon ever not improved a dish?) was gooey, cheesey and the hit the spot right on the bullseye. And the most comforting part about this dish? It is so simply to recreate in your own kitchen.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon, adapted from Food.com

Ingredients:

1 box (16 oz) elbow macaroni

½ cup butter

½ cup sifted flour

4 cups milk

2-2 tsp hot sauce

16 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese

16 oz crumbled bacon

Directions:

1.     Cook the macaroni according to the box and set aside

2.     Melt butter over low heat, adding the flour and stirring until smooth

3.     Turn the heat to medium and stir in milk until thick (about ten minutes)

4.     Stir in hot sauce evenly

5.     Add the macaroni, bacon and cheese, mixing until the cheese melts and everything is evenly coated and mixed

6.     Pour mac and cheese into a baking dish and top with parmesan or cheddar cheese

7.     Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes, or until the top crust looks browned

Original Author: Michelle Kim

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