New Contributor alert! Heather Rose, the only professional writer in the family, makes her Happy Mouth debut with this post. Heather, meet everyone. Everyone, meet Heather.
After a mid-summer cottage trip, all that inhabits the kitchen is leftover barbeque food, no barbeque – nor buns – to be found, it seems. Portable cooler stock like hot dogs and cheese with ever-present pantry items: pasta, onions and olive oil. With this in mind, Google spits this out:
Mmm. Perfect. Well, who doesn’t secretly love gooey, cheesy things mixed with hot dogs? I certainly wouldn’t want to meet them. Hot dogs and cheese, it’s perfect comfort food. Don’t judge me.
The Food Network is the default channel here. It provides great ideas and inspires better home cooks. But Rachel Ray’s grating voice usually sparks a frantic dive for the remote.
It’s easy to envision Food Network web elves typing up Food Network celebrity recipes for their website, but this one looks to be written by Rachel Ray herself. As a result, the directions seem a tad unclear. I suspect the “1 turn of the pan” crammed between various directions means to spin the pan around in a circle while making “whoosh” sounds to thoroughly coat the pan with the oil or butter.
When testing random recipes found online, read the comments for the best results in your finished dish. Once you pass the “This is disgusting”, “How dare you” and “I’m shocked at the number of parents who fed this to their children” comments on this particular recipe, you’ll note it’s an apparent consensus that Rachel Ray has left out “flavour” in the ingredients list, resulting in a bland, tasteless Mac and Cheese Dog Casserole – but wait. By skimming the comments in many half-decent online recipes, you can get a good idea of what should be left out or added, as well as even better cooking instructions including times and temperatures from informed home chefs as opposed to paid television personalities.
Tips for the best Mac and Cheese Dog Casserole:
- Don’t feel down on yourself when this becomes a “more than 30-minute meal”. Rachel Ray has her own television show and you don’t for a reason: she cheats.
- Don’t use beer, use chicken broth to eliminate a “funny” taste this recipe seems to have.
- Don’t put ketchup inside of it (a further effort to eliminate the “funny” taste…but give it a generous slathering of the red stuff before serving) and add more mustard instead.
- If desired, chopping a can of stewed tomatoes into mac and cheese tastes delightful.
- Add several generous dashes of Worstercececestershire sauce.
- Crumble thawed hashbrown patties on top (and maybe add a few inside!) for a nice crust. Tater Tots would also be delicious, but concocting a Mac and Cheese Dog Tater Tot casserole could lead to your kitchen being ground zero of a horrifically amazing culinary cataclysm.
- Melt some cream cheese into the cheese sauce for extra creaminess.
- Use more hot dogs than humanly necessary.
- Macaroni is lame, don’t hesitate to use 1/2 rigatoni and 1/2 penne if that’s all you have.
- Chop up some fresh something or other for needed nutrients, colour and flavour. A generous bunch of chopped fresh sage works well.
- Consider putting Frank’s Hot Sauce in it – it’s begging for it – but don’t if your boyfriend’s sensitive tummy will become upset with you.
Guest contributor Heather Rose is a freelance writer living in Toronto with her puppy, Bodie and boyfriend, Matt, one of whom enjoys her culinary experiments more than the other. She applies her life-long philosophy – “I did my best” – to all her recipes and cooking experiences. Check out her website at www.heatherrosewriting.com.