I never understood how my son and daughter-in-law could sit for hours watching videos on their cellphones. And then I downloaded TikTok ... and I no longer have a life.
I downloaded it after seeing the baked feta pasta that went viral last year during the pandemic. When confronted with the categories of videos I could choose to watch, my intention was to just click on Cooking & Recipes. Then greed took over, and my index finger stabbed Entertainment, Dance, Pranks, Home Reno/DIY, Life Hacks, Advice & Wellness, Pets and Oddly Satisfying (which oddly it is).
Cute kids, cute animals, recipes and cringe-worthy pranks all at the touch of a finger and an upward swipe. Best of all, I can do it anywhere — sitting in the living room, on the deck, in a doctor's waiting room ... the possibilities are endless.
But it's the recipes that intrigue me because of their simplicity and uniqueness — after all they are confined to a very short video. The latest one to catch my eye is for Baked Buffalo Mac and Cheese. True confession: I have mixed cooked pasta with leftover Buffalo Chicken Dip before and the recipes are pretty close.
The mac and cheese is easy to assemble — more or less dump all the ingredients in a baking dish and throw it in the oven. After trying this dish, I have some cautionary notes. After baking the dish for 50 minutes, check the doneness of the pasta. If it has a firm bite to it and a white center, it needs a few more minutes in the oven. But don't leave it in the oven too much longer; overcooked noodles turn to mush — as I found out.
The most important thing is to remove any clear, excess liquid trapped beneath the pasta, using a serving spoon, instead of mixing it in with the cheeses. This will ensure the mac and cheese is gooey, and not runny and watery.
BAKED BUFFALO MAC AND CHEESE
(TikTok user @thehungerdiaries)
One 8-ounce square feta cheese
One 8-ounce block cream cheese
1 pound elbow macaroni
2 to 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
6 cups milk
3 tablespoons minced garlic
A few really good pinches of salt
1/2 cup hot sauce
Fresh-cracked black pepper
1 rotisserie chicken, shredded
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Add a block of feta and a block of cream cheese (feta on the bottom, topped by cream cheese) to the center of a deep baking dish.
Pour raw macaroni, shredded cheese and milk around the cheese in the center, along the perimeter of the dish.
Add garlic and a generous portion of salt.
Gently stir along the perimeter of the dish to mix the pasta, milk and shredded cheese.
Pour hot sauce evenly throughout the dish.
Sprinkle with pepper.
Place in the oven, and bake for 50 minutes.
Remove from the oven, and stir to combine until the cheeses from the center are evenly incorporated throughout the mac and cheese. Season to taste.
Add shredded chicken, and stir.
Serve and garnish with additional shredded cheese and a drizzle of hot sauce.