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Gussied-Up Mac-N-Cheese

DIFFICULTY: 1 of 5 (5 being hardest)

My love of mac and cheese was forged at a very young age. I came to like the crunchy topping of the baked version but the creamy sauce of the stovetop version. This recipe combines the two. I add sautéed andouille sausage and top the whole thing with crumbled potato chips, because that’s just badass.

Baked Hot Wings

DIFFICULTY: 1 of 5 (5 being hardest)

It’s no secret that my all-time favorite junk food is hot wings. I am completely obsessed to the point of absurdity. If I go to a restaurant and wings are on the menu, I feel it’s imperative to order them. I usually don’t make wings at home because who wants to pull out the deep fryer for a quick snack? I thought there had to be a way to make respectable baked wings.

Chicken Pot Pie

DIFFICULTY: 2 of 5 (5 being hardest)

The irony of being a chef is that you rarely have time to cook good food for yourself. As a new cook I was dirt-poor, and frozen chicken pot pie was a cheap, hearty, easy dinner after a long day of work. I developed a taste for it. This recipe is a homemade version of commercial frozen chicken pot pie.

Welsh Rarebit

DIFFICULTY: 2 of 5 (5 being hardest)

In Wales, cheese is the poor man’s meat. Welsh rarebit is simple tavern food – a thick cheese sauce mixed with draft beer and melted over rustic bread. It’s cheap and it’s good. And when done right, it’s super flavorful and super rich. It might look like an open-faced sandwich, but this is definitely knife-and-fork food.

Root Vegetable Soup

DIFFICULTY: 1 of 5 (5 being hardest)

When it was cold outside, my granny made vegetable soup from whatever root vegetables were available. She usually sautéed the vegetables and then simmered them for a few minutes in chicken broth with a piece of ham or other cured pork. It was like a light, brothy chicken soup but with root vegetables in place of chicken. This soup re-creates that dish from memory.