A Dinner Party for All Ages (Macaroni & Cheese Two Ways and Homemade Chocolates)

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Photo credit (sorry, this isn’t an actual photo; we devoured it before I could get a shot in).

This year, I spent four whole months in Flagstaff, Arizona. I was there to see my best friend, to focus on getting healthy after a very difficult 2015, and to take some time to just slow down and relax.

It was all that and more, and since I was staying put for such a long time, I also did a whole lotta cooking. For the first time in awhile, I could buy big bottles of olive oil and a myriad of spices. I bought bags of flour and bottles of maple flavoring. And with a big dining room table and an even bigger kitchen, I also took the time to throw dinner parties.

The largest was made up of seven adults and three kids (ranging in age from three to nine). And the challenge (which I embraced happily) was making something the whole group could eat and enjoy.

So I decided to go with that never-fail staple: macaroni and cheese.

Of course, I can’t just do regular mac and cheese, though. So I committed to doing it two ways, both with a twist on the classic recipe.

The first recipe I used was the closest to classic mac and cheese. It’s creamy and rich and has a tiny kick. It was the favorite of the night for both kids and adults. I went a little light on the cayenne pepper and heavy on the cheddar and used whole milk instead of skim and it worked out fabulously. One caution, though: it serves way less than you think. I added 50% to the recipe (which supposedly serves four adults, so adding 50% should serve six) and it still wasn’t enough. If you’re serving four, I’d suggest doubling the recipe.

The second recipe I chose because it incorporated bacon (and who doesn’t love bacon). I made my version with regular pasta (instead of whole wheat noodles) and whole milk (instead of skim). The bacon was a nice touch, but I wasn’t a fan of the panko bread crumbs. And if I had it to do over, I would replace this with Caprese Mac & Cheese.

Finally, I finished off dinner with homemade chocolates (of the paleo variety) made with maple syrup. I placed two small chocolates at the bottom of each person’s small bowl and then topped it off with a scoop of toffee ice cream (which I did not make from scratch). The chocolates weren’t my personal favorite, but they got rave reviews from the other adults, so give them a try and see how you like them.

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