The holiday pressure is on, home chefs! Are you starting to feel like a frantic contestant from Top Chef? Well take a chill pill. Real-life Top Chef Tiffany Derry is here to reassure you. We talked with her today about how we non-celebrity chefs can still make holiday meals memorable and stress-free.
Her first suggestion: BREATHE. "People put too much pressure on themselves -- just breathe!" She also likes to take an approachable recipe and add special ingredients. "There's nothing wrong with the classics," Tiffany says. "Just play around. Don't be afraid to try something new and have fun in the kitchen." One of her must-have holiday dishes is a big surprise: macaroni and cheese! But not just any mac & cheese -- keep reading to see her holiday twist on the comfort classic.
Tiffany says her family demands this dish for holidays. "I grew up in Texas, and there has never been a holiday where we didn't have macaroni and cheese. It's like a staple holiday food." She's created a recipe with four cheeses, and "oh my gosh -- this is amazing! It's crunchy from the bacon -- oh, it's good. I call this one the ultimate macaroni and cheese. The only problem is that now you'll be expected to make this every time your family gets together!" Check out the recipe below. What makes this version special is from-scratch sauce, the bacon, and just the right amount of sharpness from the cheddar and Parmesan.
She adds, "Sometimes we'll get a little fancy with it, and I'll put the mac and cheese in little ramekins." Cute idea! If you want to try that out, be sure to butter the dishes. Tiffany says you'll also need a shorter cooking time -- and that your nose will tell you when it's done. "When you start smelling it, you know it's time to start checking the oven!" It's done when the top is golden-brown.
If you want something even fancier, Tiffany recommends her pepper Jack cheese souffle. The habanero in the cheese adds a special kick to the classic (she likes Sargento's all-natural, ChefStyle Shredded Pepper Jack Cheese). And if you think souffle is too difficult, Tiffany says you have nothing to fear. "It’s something you can do at home. I always tell people, if you can put something in the oven, you can make this. It gets big and crusty on the top, and you open it up and the steam comes out, and everyone 'oohs' and 'ahhs' and it’s just really impressive!"
So remember Tiffany's advice:
What does your family love to eat for Christmas dinner?