|Melinda Emerson's old-school macaroni and cheese|
Sometimes you get really lucky and you meet someone who inspires you, makes you think, and fills you with confidence that you are smart, wise (not the same thing), and capable.
And if the stars are all in alignment, said luminary happens to mention that she's got a kick-ass recipe for classic macaroni and cheese.
Last summer, I was that lucky person. Through a project for my former employer, I got to spend a day with author, New York Times columnist, consultant and small business guru Melinda Emerson, also known as SmallBizLady. And somehow, she made me feel like I was ready to conquer the world.
I can't tell you exactly what she did or said that gave me such a boost. A few raised eyebrows. Knowing nods. Conversations where ideas swam around, turned into concepts, and stood up as full-fledged action plans.
When I decided recently that I was ready to start my own business, it was in large part because of Melinda.
I don't think she knew how loud her voice was in my head after that day in Minneapolis last summer. But it was.
When I went out on my own, Melinda was one of the first people I reached out to. I asked for help, unable to offer anything in return. And she helped - by tweeting links to my new website, letting me write a guest post on her blog, and sending supportive and encouraging tweets just when I needed them most.
|Velveeta and Kraft Singles: That's what Melinda's dad brought home from work, so that's what Melinda's mom used in her macaroni and cheese|
This week, as a tiny token of my admiration and appreciation, I made Melinda's macaroni and cheese, a recipe she dictated loosely over a sweaty dinner in Minnesota. Yes, there is processed cheese food in the ingredients. Melinda's dad worked for Kraft. Velveeta and Kraft Singles - that's what Melinda's dad brought home, so that's what Melinda's mom used. And this week, to honor Melinda, that's what I used too.
This is the macaroni and cheese I remember from my childhood. Sophisticated palates may not like it, but if you grew up in the 60s and 70s in a house where no one ever attempted a roux, this will taste like your youth.
P.S. Hey, Melinda, if you're reading this - thanks. For the recipe and the courage.
Classic macaroni and cheese from SmallBizLady Melinda Emerson
An old-school, classic macaroni and cheese recipe with Velveeta, Kraft Singles and Ritz crackers. If your mom cooked like my mom, this will taste like the macaroni and cheese of your youth.
- 1 pound elbow macaroni (small or large)
- 12 slices Kraft Singles American cheese
- 1 pound Velveeta cheese product, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 6 Tablespoons butter
- 5 eggs
- 3 cups milk
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
- 1 Tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 8 Ritz crackers, crushed
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Line a baking sheet with foil and put the baking dish on the baking sheet.In a large pot of boiling water, cook the macaroni until al dente, about 2 minutes shy of the stated cooking time on the package. Drain.Line the bottom of the pan with 6 of the Kraft Singles. Add 1/3 of the macaroni. Scatter half the Velveeta cubes on top. Repeat with another layer of Kraft Singles, macaroni and Velveeta. Finish with a layer of macaroni. Break the butter into 4 chunks and put one at each corner of the pan.In a large measuring cup, whisk together the eggs, milk, sugar, salt and pepper. Pour carefully over the macaroni in the baking dish; the liquid should come up to the edge of the pan and mostly cover the macaroni. Cover the top of the casserole with the shredded cheddar cheese, then the Ritz cracker crumbs.Bake the macaroni and cheese for 45-50 minutes. The casserole should be bubbling at the edges and golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and let sit 15 minutes before serving so the macaroni absorbs some of the excess liquid.
DetailsPrep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 10-12 servings