Today is part two of the Feeding a Broken Heart series that we are sharing in honor of our son Afton and the many people (both online and off) who have loved us so well through the experience of his birth and passing.
(Which, as a side note, it has been so fun to watch you participate in. Your stories of sharing food with others who are hurting have been inspiring and encouraging and just incredibly feel-good-on-the-internet kinds of stuff. I am very, very thankful that it is my literal job to take a front row seat to your awesomeness. Whether you’ve mailed cookies to a friend, made potato soup for your mom, or found something in our recipe archives to make in honor of our sweet baby Afton… all of it is just next level kindness. You do my heart good, and you do others’ hearts good too, which is why we put some of your stories on this page.)
Yes, those are buttery homemade breadcrumbs on top and YOU ARE WELCOME.
This baked mac and cheese is heavy on the cheesy insides, crunchy outsides, and OMG vibes. It is light on redeeming health value. Don’t worry about it. It is possibly the most emotionally healing thing that you could ever feed your heartsick self. It’s BAKED MAC AND CHEESE, for crying out loud.
If this baked mac and cheese happens to be fed to you by a friend who invites you over when you are sad beyond sadness, then your life is not so bad after all, is it, now? And that is exactly how this came into my life: around a generous table, with a fancy salad and some really good garlic bread, and kind, gentle friends who asked us about Afton and laughed with us and cried a little and all-around just took good care of us.
Life was still bad, but it was a little less bad in that moment. And for people who are hurting, “a little less bad” can be a really big deal.
I mean. Guys.
Just gaze upon the cheesy beauty that is.
As I mentioned, my friend Stephanie made this recipe for us from cookbook The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science (affiliate link). It was everything wonderful that a baked mac and cheese should be – not overwhelmingly gooey, just the right balance of inner cheesiness with crispy baked-up edges and a crunchy top. She served it to us with garlic bread (carbs on carbs like whaaa) and a beautiful green salad that, I think, also came from that cookbook.
It was comforting on every level and we felt loved.
Your turn! Who needs a pan of baked mac and cheese in their life? I have full faith in you to deliver.