Breakfast Mac N Cheese

(Sept. 30, 2022) Logic is a registry of reasoning, but does it kindle the spirit within?

Reflection is a paradise that balances the chamber of thought. Recollection without sentiment is a mournful rustling in the dark.

Allow me to look into the light of reunion as memories flourish before me.

Time is an element of fragility and must be revisited for serenity. Vacations in Newport News, Virginia, takes me to a period where innocence and candor are the essence of youth.

The year is 1968. At the age of 10, I have mastered adulthood. Conviction was convincing, but nothing could have been further from the truth.

My Great Aunt Ann’s petite frame hardly peaked over five feet, but do not underestimate the power and authority of this woman. Fortitude and generosity blended to create a unique soul.

Cousin Gail and I instantly bonded. I thought she was the luckiest girl in the whole world. She had a bedroom and bathroom all to herself.

Do not take this the wrong way. I loved my family and little sister, but bunkbeds and sharing a single bathroom with five other people demanded patience and strict rules.

Gail also introduced me to a frozen drink called a Slurpee. My taste buds had never tasted such a treat and I was instantly hooked on the sugary drink.

Coke was my favorite flavor. It’s funny how something so simple can bring such pleasure.

One day, Aunt Ann and Gail had to leave me alone for a while. Visions of a Slurpee instantly came to my mind.

I had been warned never to go to the store without my older cousin, because crossing the roads could be dangerous.

Images of the infamous drink turned into an obsession. My thought process was that I would slip out and get a Slurpee before they returned.

Sometimes a good idea can turn into a nightmare. They returned sooner than expected, and my cousin figured I must have ventured to the store on my own.

To my horror, I saw Gail running toward me. “Mom has been looking for you and she is furious. You better prepare yourself for a whooping. I am going to run ahead to let her know you are alright.”

My frozen slushy started to choke me. Panic overtook me and I felt my adulthood start to shrink.

Their family pet was a goat. Billy the Goat had his own house in the back yard. I was scared to death of him.

I cannot tell you how many times his front head kissed my rear section. I was convinced he was possessed and resented my presence.

I was faced with one simple question that left me in a state of psychological turmoil. Should I endure a spanking from Aunt Ann or hide in Billy the Goat’s house? There was no decision.

My tomboyish ways kicked in and survival took over. Tucking behind bushes, I chose to proceed to my aunt’s house by way of the back yard. I figured she was waiting for me in the front.

Why did I openly defy my aunt? Maybe it’s called being a child.

I slipped into Billy the Goat’s house and hid in the corner. He just stared at me. If he attacked and killed me, my body would never be found.

Mom and dad would not be able to give me a proper burial. I just kept repeating, “God help me, please God help me.”

Little did I know how many more times this simple phrase would be repeated throughout my life.

An hour seemed like an eternity. My uncle peeked in the house and whispered, “I had a sneaky feeling you might be in here. You know your aunt has been worried sick about you. Why don’t you come in and apologize to her.”

I brushed the straw off of my clothes and left the residence of Billy the Goat. I sobbed at the sight of my aunt and to my surprise she also sobbed.

Aunt Ann is no longer with us, and is dearly missed. But everyone agreed she made the best mac n cheese ever.

In memory of Aunt Ann, I have created a breakfast mac n cheese. Sausage, peppers and onions are added to the cheesy pasta. Then it is topped with a biscuit and panko crumble.

Fall is here and Breakfast Mac N Cheese is “banging.” Enjoy!

Breakfast Mac N Cheese

Ingredients

1 pound of radiators or cavatappi pasta

1 ½ pounds Italian sausage, casings removed and crumbled

1 ½ large onions, diced

2 cups combined red, yellow, and orange bell peppers, diced

4 large garlic cloves, minced

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 tablespoons flour

2 ½ cups whole milk

2 ½ cups heavy cream

3 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese

2 cups shredded sharp cheese

2 cups Italian blend

8 ounces mascarpone

kosher salt to taste

½ teaspoon crushed rosemary

½ teaspoon dried thyme

4 eggs

¼ cup unseasoned panko

½ teaspoon each garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper

5 toasted breakfast biscuits, crumbled

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta for 5 minutes, drain, and add cold water to stop the cooking process.

3. Remove casings and cook sausage just until it is done. Allow pan to cool.

4. Using paper towels, remove sausage grease and melt 2 tablespoons butter.

5. Sauté onions, peppers and garlic until soft.

6. Melt remaining butter and flour in the large pot and form a roux. Whisk in 1 cup of milk until fully combined with the roux. Repeat this process with the remaining cups of milk and cream. Allow mixture to become very thick.

7. Remove milk mixture from the stove and fold in mascarpone and 2/3 of the shredded cheese, mix well.

8. In a large bowl, combine pasta, veggies, sausage, cheese mixture and carefully mix.

9. In a medium bowl, whisk in eggs, remaining cheese and biscuits.

10. Spread mac n cheese in either 1 (9x13)-inch pan or 2 (8x8)-inch pans. You can freeze one for future use.

11. Place biscuit crumble on top and sprinkle panko, garlic powder, onion powder and pepper on top of biscuit crumble.

12. Cook for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately.

* Gruyere, gouda and fontina cheese can be used for a more decadent dish.

* Italian sausage has more texture than breakfast sausage, either will do.

Secret Ingredient – Grief. “As long as there is love and memory, there is no true loss.”

– Cassandra Clare

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