As you all know, I am fascinated with children’s food. This is probably not the best sentence to start off with in any written piece, but I am not a normal human being. I’ve baked meatloaf in an Easy Bake Oven, made panna cotta from baby formula, tasted a shitload of Lunchables, and even made empanadas from Play-Doh (and probably nearly killed myself by eating it). Children’s food (or at least food marketed to children) is generally insane and full of things that will stunt a child’s mental and physical growth.
People say, “you are what you eat,” which means I am turning into actual garbage. As you all know, I’m slowly going stark raving mad. It’s pretty cool. Maybe someday I will move to Florida and be the subject of one of those news articles whose titles start with the words “Florida Man.” The main body of those articles usually contains the words “naked intruder,” which is also something I aspire to. There was one night your mother was a naked intruder when she kicked down the door to my apartment, butt-ass nude, on a drug-fueled rampage. She ran off into the alley and I haven’t seen her since.
For some reason, trying to relive the glory days of my youth, I randomly had a thought about kids snacks and what I ate while I was growing up. And man, I ate a lot of Handi-Snacks. You know, those crackers that came with the red plastic pieces to spread cheese product onto them. They were fun to eat, but frankly, they weren’t that great. So I explored Amazon.com and found out that they still make Handi-Snacks, even though I have not seen them in years. Holy shit.
I ordered a package and patiently waited for them to arrive. Amazon told me that someone signed for them, but I asked my roommate, and he did not receive any Handi-Snacks. I asked my cat Cricket if she’d seen them and she just meowed.
Upon further investigation, someone named “Taylor” apparently signed for them and took the package. There is no Taylor in my apartment building. Taylor, you asshole. You stole my Handi-Snacks. I hope you choke on a red plastic piece.
Anyway, after I got over my blind rage (which was actually just a long drunken cry in my car), I set off to multiple grocery stores and finally found some tucked away in the corner of the cracker aisle. Pizzle emergency averted.
And here’s the part you guys seem to love: I said, “Dannis Ree, using your crippling sense of sadness and nostalgia, how can you use Handi-Snacks in a way that will both appease children and adults, while using vulgar jokes and extremely cute stuffed animals?”
I said, with determination, “Let’s make Handi-Smac and cheese! Also, fuck you, Taylor.”
Now, in traditional mac and cheese recipes, the cheese sauce is usually based off a bechamel sauce. Bechamel consists simply of flour, butter, and milk. The problem with bechamel-based mac and cheese is that always tastes of mealy white flour, even after you melt the cheese into it. Improperly used, you can get a dry, grainy mac and cheese that is not gooey like, say, Velveeta-based mac and cheese. So basically, what I am saying is, bechamel is not very good for macaroni.
My pal, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, who just came out with a New York Times Bestseller called The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science, uses a different technique. He mixes condensed milk, which has a high amount of milk protein, with corn starch, along with cheese, to get a silky sauce texture. And it works. It’s awesome. I decided to use this technique to make my version. Because I am a very good scienceologist.
First, start by salting your water for the pasta. If you don’t, Satan will come out of the floor and kill you, and your pasta will taste like nothing. Salt the water, and your mac and cheese will taste like your mother’s boiled underwear, which has a terrific amount of flavor.
Next, scoop the cheese out of the little cups in your Handi-Snacks and put it in a small mixing bowl.
Be careful, though. The one in this photo was rotten (it’s hard to tell), but half the cheese was brown, like a lightly-colored poo. If your poo looks like cheese you better go see a butt doctor.
The aftermath looks like broken hopes and dreams. The red sticks are your beacon of hope in the wreckage.
I accidentally bumped into that pile and a lot of crackers fell on the floor.
This is a typical Dannis Ree move. It symbolizes my broken hopes and dreams and my loveless life. Your mother and I have a relationship, but there is no love and most importantly of all, no kissing, since nobody truly knows where her mouth has been.
Mix some corn starch and condensed milk in with the cheese.
As you see, I spilled the corn starch too. Even the little things I do are chock-full of failure.
Anyway, cheerfully pour your macaroni into the now-boiling water. Bonus points if you do it drunk at 11 in the morning. Elbow macaroni cooks pretty quickly, so don’t leave the kitchen. You want to cook the pasta until it is “al-dente.” Al Dente sounds like a used car salesman.
As the pasta boils, beat that cheese mixture like it owes you rent money. Even though it appears as if Handi-Snack cheese will be difficult to beat off, everything incorporates pretty easily.
Once your pasta is done, mix the cheese sauce right into the pan with the drained noodles.
Listen carefully to the noise the pasta makes as you mix it. Take in that gloppy sticky noise and let it run through you. It’s one of the more vulgar noises that can come out of your kitchen. We’ve all heard that noise before, sometimes in bed during Astroglide-covered sexual activities. And by “we” I mean “you,” since I haven’t known the caress of another person in over two years.
If you’re feeling horny, you can also add Spam. These days, I always have Spam in the pantry. It is a sad thing to see a man eat Spam every week, but it is delicious. This recipe is already full of preservatives, so might as well add more ground-up nitrated corpse meat into your food.
After that, crumble up some of the crackers, and sprinkle them on your ramekins. Broil them for about five minutes or until the tops are golden brown.
Serve with the red plastic sticks.
I have learned that eating your food with small red plastic sticks is actually a very good diet strategy, since the food will constantly fall off them. You will eat a few noodles, get frustrated, and stop eating. But, at least the food tastes pretty good. The cheese sauce is silky, overly salty (which is kind of a good thing), and sharp. The main issue is that it doesn’t really taste like cheese, but who cares? You’re hardly going to be able to eat any of it anyway as the noodles fall to the ground. If you have a cat, dog, or filthy roommate, they can enjoy the food off the floor.
So in conclusion, the moral of the story is I hope Taylor breaks a tooth on the red Handi-Snack sticks, because seriously, you took my package, you jerkoff.
[Dannis Ree Edit: Turns out Taylor was actually my neighbor in the house next door. She was saving my package so it didn’t get stolen and her son delivered it to me yesterday. However, I had no idea that was her last name – I’ve only known her by her first. So in a twist, I am now officially the asshole.
Handi-Snack Mac and Cheese
- Cheese from a million Handi-Snacks, plastic sticks reserved to shove up Taylor’s ass
- One cup elbow macaroni, also reserved to shove up Taylor’s ass
- 2 tablespoons of condensed unsweetened milk, can reserved to shove up your own ass
- Corn starch, poured haphazardly with the shakes
- Spam (optional, just kidding, Spam is never optional)
Basically just do what I said to do above. Suck my balls, Taylor.