This post is sponsored by the Wisconsin Cheese Board, whose noble cause involves getting you to eat more delicious cheese. That, I can get behind.
Today, I want to tell you about something that holds a very big, very special place in my heart. No, it’s not James (sorry, babe). No, it’s not Netflix (sorry, other babe). It’s cheese. The babe-est of all the babes. The true wooer of women across the world. And men. And especially food bloggers who find the energy to write their posts through the endless raiding of their refrigerator’s deli drawer.
I couldn’t even guess how many ounces of cheese I’ve eaten today, guys, and that’s probably for the best.
Being that my dad is a dairy distributor, I didn’t grow up with Kraft singles in my sandwiches. I grew up with huge hunks of fresh mozzarella, wedges of incredibly sharp provolone, and melted mounds of Gruyere. I considered myself to be a little cheese connoisseur at six years old, tutting my tongue when powdered cheese macaroni from the box was placed in front of me, with its fluorescent-orange glow illuminating my face of disgust. The gall of some people.
And while I’ve learned to love even the funkiest cheeses as though they are my own (edible) children, if any “cheese” comes dehydrated and stabilized in a little envelope, I’m still going to have to say no. The further I step away from the blue box, the more I remember that I’m an adult now– an adult who can make my mac however I want, loaded with whichever real cheeses I’m craving, with as many tasty mix-ins as my little heart can handle. That’s as exciting to twenty-five-year-old me as I think it would have been to six-year-old me.
Of that realization, many a mac was born. One of my favorites that I’ve come up with so far has been BBQ Chicken Mac N Cheese, loaded up with smoky jalapenos and onions, and plenty of creamy Wisconsin aged cheddar and flavorful Wisconsin smoked gouda. Oh yes. It’s also a great way to use up leftover chicken!
By the way, did I mention that it’s National Macaroni and Cheese Day? Because I’m pretty sure it’s a sign that you have to make it tonight.
The flavors in this recipe– smoky, sweet, and savory, with just a little spice– scream summer cookout, don’t you think? I adapted the recipe from my go-to Classic Creamy Mac & Cheese, but it had such a unique taste from the smooth Wisconsin cheese and sweet BBQ sauce base. If you’re not quite sold yet, just let me say that I served BBQ Chicken Mac & Cheese at my family barbecue, and it got eaten faster and raved about more than anything I’ve ever put out at a family potluck before.
Click here to get the recipe. When you make it, don’t forget to take a quick pic and tag #hostthetoast on Instagram or Twitter and let me know what you think! (Spoiler alert: You will fall in love with it.)
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