NACHOS SUPREME

Call them Nachos Supreme, or Loaded Nachos, or Nachos Bell Grande…no matter what you call them, they are fun and easy to make…not just on Cinco de Mayo.

Besides corn tortillas chips and nacho cheese, feel free to go crazy with your other ingredients. Let’s face it…you can get Nachos (chips and nacho cheese sauce) at almost any convenience store or the ball park. So at home…have at it!

Mine are loosely based on Taco Bell’s Nacho Bell Grande. I start with fresh made, lightly fried corn tortillas chips, taco meat mixed with refried beans, and home made nacho cheese sauce, diced tomatoes, green onions, and sour cream. Loretta is a bit sensitive to spicy stuff, so I have left off the sliced pickled jalapenos on the go around.

Instead of refried beans, sometimes I like to use black beans…or both. Besides the nacho cheese sauce, sometimes I layer on some more shredded cheddar then hit it with the broiler for a minute or so. Black olives are another addition that work well too.

Of course, you could buy some canned nacho cheese sauce or use Cheez-Whiz…but its so easy to make your won…and so much better! Usually, I make my own corn tortillas chips, but this time I found some really good chips made in-store at my local grocer. They’re really good.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium bag of corn tortilla chips
  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 1 cup diced yellow onions
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp chile powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 cup Pace chunky salsa
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 can of Rosarita refried beans
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp chopped green onions
  • Sour cream
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Diced avocados (optional)
  • Pickled sliced jalapenos (optional)

For the nacho cheese sauce:

  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
  • 1 cup Velvetta, cubed
  • 1/2 cup Pace chunky salsa
  • Tabasco sauce to taste

Directions:

For the taco meat:

  • Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat and add 1 tsp canola oil. When the oil is hot, crumble in the ground beef and diced onions and cook until the beef is no longer pink. Drain the beef with a wire strainer and return to the pan. Season with salt and pepper to taste.Mix together the garlic powder, onion powder, chile powder, paprika, cumin, and cayenne in a small bowl then add to the ground beef, Stir to combine. Add the salsa and water and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove the lid and simmer another 10 minutes until the liquid has cooked off. Cover and keep warm.

For the nacho cheese sauce:

  • Heat a small saucepan over medium low heat and add the butter and flour. Cook for about 1 minute. Whisk in the cream and cook, whisking, until it is smooth and thicker. Add the cheese and continue to whisk. When the cheese sauce is smooth and combined, add the salsa, cumin, and black pepper, and whisk for another 2 minutes. Taste and add Tabasco to taste. Use immediately or place a piece of parchment paper on the surface of the sauce, turn off the heat and cover until ready to use. The parchment paper helps prevent the surface from forming a skin.

To assemble the nachos:

  • Place your desired amount of corn chips on a small sheet pan. Place in a 350 degree oven for about 5 minutes until the chips are warm.
  • Mix the refried beans with ground beef. Place the pan over medium heat and heat through until bubbly.
  • Remove the chips from the oven. Place half the chips on a large platter.
  • Spoon on half the beef and bean mixture evenly over the top of the the chips. Ladle on about half the nacho cheese sauce. Add another layer of chips, beef and bean mixture, and nacho cheese sauce. Optional, sprinkle on some shredded cheddar and place under the broiler for a minute.
  • Garnish with diced tomatoes, green onions, jalapenos, diced avocados, and sour cream and serve immediately.

BAKED RIGATONI SAN MARZANO

Who does not love bake pasta dishes? Rigatoni, Ziti, Mostaccioli…they’re all good. This one is meatless…with a rich marinara sauce made with San Marzano tomatoes. The rigatoni is tossed with the sauce, and a ricotta/mozzarella/parmesan mix. Then topped with more mozzarella and parmesan. If you bake it right away, it only takes about 20 minutes to cook. But, you can put it together and bake it later…with a longer cook time of course.

This recipe is really cut down using a 9×9 baking dish. Still enough for 4 people.

Ingredients:

For the marinara:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onions
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, thin sliced
  • 1 (28 ounce) can of whole, peeled, San Marzano tomatoes
  • 2-3 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp sugar or to taste
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter

For the rigatoni:

  • 7 ounces of rigatoni
  • 3/4 cups whole ricotta
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme eaves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped + more for garnish
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 8 ounces of fresh mozzarella, 1/2 of it diced
  • 3/4 cups grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Directions:

  • Place a medium saucepan over medium low heat and add the olive oil. Add the onions and saute about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic for 30 seconds.
  • Add the San Marzano tomatoes and crushed with you hands or mash with a potato masher. Add the fresh basil and bay leaf. Add the salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, cover, lower the heat and cook for 30 minutes. Taste and reseason if necessary. Stir in the sugar and the butter. Optional: using an immersion blender, blend the marinara to your desired consistency.
  • Combine the ricotta, the salt and pepper, thyme, parsley, lemon zest, half the mozzarella, half the parmesan, and the egg. Mix well in a bowl.
  • Cook the rigatoni in salted water for about 9-10 minutes. Drain and don’t rinse. Return to the pan.
  • Place the ricotta mix in the pasta and fold in completely. Add 2 cups of the marinara and reserve the rest for another recipe. Freeze it if you like.
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Stir every together until well combined then place in a oil-sprayed 9×9 baking dish. Top with the rest of the mozzarella and parmesan. Cover with foil and bake for 18 minutes. Remove the foil and turn to broil for about 2-3 minutes until the top is lightly browned. Remove from the oven. Tent lightly with the foil and let sit for 10 minutes.
  • Serve with chopped parsley and more parmesan.

CREAMY BUCATINI WITH BACON

I wouldn’t dare call this an “alfredo” or a “carbonara”. It has some elements of both, but I won’t call it either.

It is a very easy quick pasta dish that will pair well with a chopped salad and some garlic bread.

Here’s how I made it.

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces of bucatini pasta (you can use spaghetti or fettucine0
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter ( I like to use Irish butter in the recipe)
  • 2 garlic cloves, thin sliced
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 thick slices of bacon, cooked
  • 3 tbsp chopped chives or green onions

Directions:

  • Cook the bucatini in salted water until al dente, about 9 minutes. Do not drain
  • Place a medium skillet over medium low heat and add the butter. When the butter has melted, add the sliced garlic and saute for 30 seconds.
  • Add the cream and bring to a simmer. Let it simmer, stirring, for about 5-6 minutes until slightly reduced and thickened.
  • Dice the cooked bacon. Add 2/3 of it to the skillet. Add the parmesan cheese and stir in until melted. Add 2/3 of the chopped chives and turn off the heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Do not drain the pasta. Using tongs, place the cooked pasta in the skillet and toss until completely coated.
  • Plate with chopped chives and more bacon.

BEEFY CHEESY ENCHILADAS

Red sauce enchiladas at home can’t be beat if you make your own enchilada sauce. Canned (Las Palmas) enchilada sauce is not bad, but nowhere near as tasty as one you make from scratch. And you know what? It is super easy!!! And, taking it one step further, if you grind your own chile powder fresh it becomes even better.

For this recipe, I took dried Fresno chiles and ground them finely in a spice grinder. Sometimes I use dried Pasilla (Ancho) chiles but it makes for a much darker sauce.Try to make the sauce early in the day or the day before as the flavors will meld better. Experiment with other chiles if you wish like guajillo. Also, introduce a half teaspoon or so of cayenne if you want more heat as this recipe is relatively mild.

Ingredients:

For the enchilada sauce:

  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil (I used avocado but canola works well, any neutral tasting oil)
  • 1/4 cup chile powder
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried Mexican oregano
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 4 ounces tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter

For the enchiladas:

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • Canola oil
  • 1 cup onions, diced
  • 1 small can diced green chiles
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup beef stock
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 2-3 cups enchilada sauce , home made or canned
  • 8-10 white corn tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup diced green onions

Directions:

For the enchilada sauce:

  • In a small saucepan over medium heat, add the oil and the chile powder, cumin, and oregano. Stir and cook about 30 seconds. Add the flour and stir, cooking for another 30 seconds.
  • Whisk in the stock and bring to a simmer. Add garlic powder, Kosher salt, and sugar and simmer to 4-5 minutes, whisking so it doesn’t burn on the bottom. Season to taste with salt.
  • Add 2 tbsp of cold unsalted butte and whisk until melted. Lower the heat and simmer for another 8 minutes. Taste and reseason if necessary.
  • Cover and keep warm.

For the enchiladas:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a mixing bowl, mix together the two cheeses and set aside.
  • In a medium skillet over medium high heat crumble in the ground beef and brown for 3-4 minutes. Add the onions and cook another 4-5 minutes. Drain the meat if necessary. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the diced green chiles, tomato paste, garlic powder, cumin, and beef stock. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Uncover and cook another 4-5 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated. Keep warm.
  • To assemble the enchiladas, heat the tortillas on a hot plancha or cast iron griddle. Keep warm on a plate covered with papers towels.
  • Place a small amount of sauce on the bottom of a baking dish.
  • Place a tortilla on a work plate. Lay down a warmed tortilla and spoon on some sauce. Then spoon on about 2 tbsp of meat and 2 tbsp of grated cheese. Add about 2 tsp diced green onions. Roll up the tortillas as tightly as possible then lay in the baking dish seam side down. Repeat with the rest of the tortillas. Ladle sauce on top of the enchiladas then sprinkle on some cheese. Cover the dish with foil and bake for about 20 minutes. Uncover and bake another 5 minutes.
  • Plate 2 enchiladas per plate. Add some sour cream, diced tomatoes, and green onions.

CHILI STUFFED TWICE BAKED POTATOES

Who doesn’t love twice baked potatoes? O.K., maybe two or three of you. But most of us do. And when you stuff them with Chili Con Carne and slather it with sour cream, bacon, and chives….well, put the diet on hold for an evening!

Find big Russet potatoes and bake them for at least an hour at 400 degrees. Don’t wrap them in foil or rub with oil…you need the skins to have a little texture. However, do poke a few small holes in them so they don’t explode in the oven when baking (it’s happened!)

You can use canned chili con carne or make your own. Best to leave out the beans. Here we go…

Ingredients:

  • 2 large Russet potatoes
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 tbsp sour cream + more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup chili con carne without beans (home made or canned)
  • 4 thick slices of bacon, cooked and diced small
  • Chopped chives

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash and dry the potatoes. With a small knife, poke a few holes in them. Bake for at least 1 hour until they are fork tender. Remove from the oven and allow to cool enough to handle.
  • When the potatoes are cool enough, slice off the top 1/3 of each potato. Carefully scoop out the flesh. In to mixing bowl. Also scoop the flesh from the top slice.
  • To the potato flesh, add 4 tbsp of unsalted butter, 2 tbsp of sour cream, 1/4 cup shredded cheese, 2/ tbsp cooked diced bacon, Kosher salt and black pepper to taste. Mash with a fork and mix all ingredients well.
  • Heat the chili con carne in a saucepan. Place about 1/4 cup of chili in each hollowed out potato. Add about 2 tbsp of shredded cheddar to the chili. Top with the potato mixture and shape into a dome. Using a fork, make some ridges to the top of the potato. Melt 2 tbsp of butter and brush on top of the potatoes. Place in a preheated 450 degree oven for about 15 minutes until the tops are golden brown.
  • Sprinkle on some chopped bacon. Then some shredded cheddar cheese. Then some our cream topped with chopped chives.

BROCCOLI CHEDDAR SOUP REDUX

This is one of the soups I have struggled with getting just right. Just right meaning: like Panera’s version. I took a couple steps back…started over…and used An NYT recipe. It worked this time.

With every so-called “successful” recipe, there is always the variable of seasoning. Add the right amount of salt and pepper, especially, is essential. So, it’s usually “Kosher alt and black (or white) pepper to taste”.

Add more broccoli or more cheese according to your taste. The only thing I would suggest different is something to add heat if you like that sort of thing…probably some red pepper flakes. However, I usually like to give a couple dashes of Tabasco or Cholula when I eat it.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds broccoli florets
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup white onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, thin sliced
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups cream
  • 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded + more for garnish
  • 1/8 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp lemon pepper
  • Croutons if desired

Directions:

  • Trim the stems off the florets and cut into small pieces, set aside. Cut the floret into 3/4 inch pieces.
  • Place the stems in a small saucepan, cover with water, bring to a boil, cover, and cook for about 3 minutes, until tender. Drain.
  • Heat a large saucepan over medium heat and add the butter. Add the onions and garlic and saute, stirring, for 4-5 minutes. Season with Kosher salt and lemon pepper. Sprinklw with 2 tbsp flour, stir, and allow to cook for 1 minute. Add the blanched stems, florets, and stock. Bring to a simmer. Lower the heat, cover, and cook for 20 minutes.
  • Add the cream, nutmeg, and shredded cheddar.and cook on low until the cheese has melted. Taste and reseason if necessary.
  • Serve in bowls with a sprinkle of shredded cheddar. Add croutons if desired.

THE CHEESEBURGER

You see all kinds of “burgers” these days. As a teenager, I worked at McDonald’s in 1966. Their menu back then was pretty similar to what In N Out’s menu is today…burgers, fries, sodas, and shakes. That’s was it! The fish sandwich was introduced in 1965.

I love burgers. I could live off of them if need be. But I have always been very vehement as to what goes into my burger. I truly believe that mixing anything into your ground beef makes it either meat loaf or Salisbury steak…but not a burger. Burger accompaniments go on the outside. And with that said, have at it! Honestly, I’m not a fan of adding any fruit (other than tomatoes) or even other protein (other than bacon). Any cheese will do, but sliced American is really the best choice…it melts better and just belongs on a burger.

The last burger I made (the one in the photo) was destined to be a tower of impossibility. In other words, good luck stuffing it into your mouth. This one made for a ridiculous picture…then a knife and fork! But it contains the rudimentary, and some of us say, required condiments: American cheese, sliced tomatoes, sliced onions, dill pickle slices, iceberg lettuce, and a burger sauce…in this case, it was an In N Out dressing clone. Yum! It is also flat grilled with a nice dark brown crust and cooked to medium (there was some pink inside). And, seasoned with Kosher salt and black pepper. That’s an 8 ounce 85/15 patty. Juicy and flavorful, as long as you don’t overcook it. The bun? It’s a home made griddle-browned brioche bun.

That’s my take on the Cheeseburger. K.I.S.S. method all the way!

4-CHEESE OVER THE TOP MAC AND CHEESE

So, I set out to come up with a new Mac and Cheese recipe. And decided to start with some of my favorite cheeses, two of which I don’t use nearly enough: Fontina and Gruyere. I paired them with White Cheddar And Parmesan and then added a garlic and shallot infused half and half to make the cheese sauce…and I was off and running!

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium shallots, peeled, sliced
  • 1 medium garlic clove, peeled, sliced
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 fresh thyme sprig
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • Kosher salt and white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 cup shredded Gruyere
  • 1/2 cup shredded Fontina
  • 1/2 cup shredded White Cheddar
  • 14 tsp cayenne
  • Kosher salt and white pepper
  • 2 slices of Black Forest deli ham, thin sliced (roll up and chiffonade)
  • 6 ounces of macaroni (I used cavatappi)
  • 1/2 cup panko crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • Canola oil

Directions:

  • Place 1 cup half and half, the shallots, and the garlic clove in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for 30 minutes.
  • Cook your pasta al dente according to package directions. Drain, return to the pan, and toss with a little olive oil. Cover and set aside.
  • Place 1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter in a small saucepan over medium heat then add 1 tbsp flour. Cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Strain the half and half into this saucepan (discard the vegetables) and bring to a simmer, whisking, until thicken slightly and smooth.
  • Add the Gruyere, Fontina, and white cheddar, lower the heat, and allow the all the cheeses to melt until smooth. Taste and season with Kosher salt and white or black pepper.
  • Pour the cheese sauce into the pasta saucepan and fold in until completely coated evenly. Add the chiffonade ham and fold in. Place the macaroni and cheese in a 9×9 buttered baking dish and smooth the top.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Place 1 1/2 tbsp of the butter in a small skillet over medium heat then add 1/2 cup panko crumbs and paprika. Cook, stirring and tossing until the panko begins to brown. Sprinkle in the parmesan then spoon evenly over the top of the macaroni and cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 5-10 minutes until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

TACO BELL NACHOS BELLGRANDE

Ah…Taco Bell. Some of their menu items are good…some are nasty. Nachos Bellgrande are good, and here’s why. They’re loaded nachos…nachos with chips, refried beans, spicy taco meat, sour cream, and diced tomatoes…plus, any of their various taco sauce packets you want to drizzle on. I believe you can request pickled jalapenos and a spicier cheese sauce as well.

This recipe is for two people. Since we’re not big fans of the pickled jalapeno thing, we have left those off…but added sliced green onions. We also fried our own corn tortilla chips, though any good, crispy store bought chips will do…I would suggest you avoid Doritos Nacho Cheese as this is kind of a cheese and spice overload…but go ahead and use them if you wish. The nacho cheese recipe is wide open…make it as mild or as spicy as you want. This recipe is kind of medium spicy and utilizes a Mexican cheese blend of a sharp cheddar and Monterey Jack. To make the nacho cheese sauce, I chose to eliminate the flour roux and milk thing and opted for heavy cream and half and half. It makes such a creamy, smooth sauce. Be sure to make your nacho cheese sauce just before serving as it will form a thick film on the surface if it sits for any length of time. If you are not serving right away, just place piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper on the surface of the sauce until ready to serve.

I usually make my own refried beans from scratch, but this time I used Rosarita Refried beans and they work great as well as being a childhood favorite. I will include my taco seasoning recipe below for the meat since those taco seasoning packets from the grocery store are just gross!

This recipe makes one big nacho platter, enough for 2-3 people.

Ingredients:

For the taco meat:

  • 1/2 pound 80/20 ground beef
  • Canola oil
  • 1/2 tsp taco seasoning (recipe below)
  • 1/2 cup pac Chunky salsa
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

For the cheese sauce:

  • 1 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Mexican cheese blend (half sharp cheddar, half Monterey Jack)
  • 1/4 cup Pace Chunky salsa
  • 1/2 tsp taco seasoning (recipe below)
  • 1/2 tsp chile powder
  • Cayenne to taste
  • Crispy corn tortillas, store bought or home made
  • Rosarita Refried beans, store bought or home made
  • Sour cream
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Guacamole (optional)

Directions:

  • Brown the ground beef in a medium saucepan or small skillet. Drain. REturn to the saucepan. Season with Kosher salt and black pepper to taste. Add 1/2 tsp taco seasonning. Add 1/4 cup salsa and 1/4 cup water. Bring to a simmer, lower the heat, cover, and cook about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and keep warm.
  • Heat the refried beans and add 1 tbsp unsalted butter and stir in.
  • To a small saucepan over low heat, add the cream and then the cheese. Stir while it slowly melted, don’t let it simmer. Add the salsa and the taco seasoning and continue letting. Add cayenne to taste for heat. Cover and keep warm.
  • To put together, warm the chips on a sheet pan in the oven for few minutes. Spread one layer of crispy tortilla chips on a platter. Add spoons of refried beans down the center. Add more corn chips. Then add spoons of taco meat until all of it is gone. Dot sour cream around the plate. Garnish with sliced green onions, chopped cilantro, and diced tomatoes. Add pickled jalapenos if using. Add guacamole if using. Serve immediately.

FRIED MAC AND CHEESE

Never thought I would succumb to this “fair food” type item…but, I thought I would give it a try. Let’s face it, Arancini (fried cheesy risotto balls) have been around for a long time, and this is similar!

The Cheesecake Factory has a great menu that includes a lot of appetizers, and this is one of them.

I opted to adjust the breading from just regular bread crumbs to a mix of panko crumbs and crushed cheese puffs. It was a good move.

They were surprising lighter than expected…just make sure you are able to deep fry them at the right temperature. They really didn’t absorb a lot of oil.

Of course, one of the keys to great tasting Fried Mac and Cheese is the Mac and Cheese itself. My recipe below includes a Mac and Cheese recipe that works really well. Just allow it to cool completely, as in leftover Mac and Cheese, before making them.

Ingredients:

For the Mac and Cheese:

  • 6 ounces of elbow macaroni
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded fontina or mozzarella cheese
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, cubed

For the cheese balls:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • 1 cup Cheetohs cheese puffs
  • 1 cup panko crumbs
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • Creamy marinara and Ranch dressing for serving
  • Chopped parsley

Directions:

  • Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  • To a large saucepan over medium heat, add the butter and allow to melt. Add the flour and stir for 1 minute Whisk in the milk and bring to a simmer. Add the cheeses and allow to melt completely, stirring. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add the cook pasta and fold together completely. Pour into a flat baking dish, place in the refrigerator, and cool at least 2 hours. If cooling overnight, let cool then cover with plastic wrap.
  • Place the cheese puffs and panko crumbs into a food process and pulse until crumbled completely.
  • For the cold mac and cheese into 2 inch balls, pressing together so they don’t fall apart.
  • Set up a 3 bowl breading station. Place flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and cayenne in a bowl. Place eggs and 2 tbsp milk in another and beat well. Place breading mixture into the third. Bread the balls by dusting in the flour, shaking off excess. Drip in the egg wash. Then into the bread, rolling and patting until well coated.
  • Heat at least 2 inches of oil in a fryer or saucepan to 350 degrees. When the oil is hot, fry the balls until golden brown and crispy, about 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels,
  • To serve, plate some cream marinara sauce on a plate, place 3 balls on the marinara. Serve with Ranch on the side and garnish with chopped parsley.