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How to hack your mac and cheese 

Two Halifax chefs share tips for taking your boxed pasta to the next level.

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Our modern existence comprises alarms and reminders that not only tell us when to wake up but also when to eat, drink water and go to bed. We live in a world where despite the career, we are all time-crunched, and each of us desperately seeks life hacks to help us manage our busy lives.

Keeping that in mind, we asked two local chefs about their back-to-school memories and how they would jazz up that ever-reliable student meal, boxed macaroni and cheese.

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Nicole Tufts RIOT Snack Bar
What’s your most memorable back-to-school moment?
When my mom allowed me to ride my bike to school by myself. Years later she told me that she had, in fact, trailed me in the car to ensure that I got there safely.

What were your school lunches like?
Whatever was in the cafeteria—pizza, mac and cheese, muffins and deep-fried things.

What was your inspiration for the recipe?
A fresh pasta dish that I’ve been eating all summer which I usually make with lentil pasta—it has fresh fennel, bacon and garlic.

1 box Annie’s Organic Grass Fed Shells & White Cheddar
2 strips double-smoked bacon
1 heaping tbsp of plain cream cheese
1/4 cup fennel, finely diced
1 clove fresh garlic, finely diced

Render bacon, fennel and garlic together in a pan with 1/2 tbsp of olive oil. Cook boxed pasta per instructions.

Instead of the milk or butter the recipe calls for, add the cream cheese to the drained noodles in your saucepan and stir.

Add the fennel, bacon and garlic mixture to the pasta and serve.


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Mackenzie Hepditch
, EnVie A Vegan Kitchen
What’s your most memorable back-to-school moment?
Being able to go to culinary school with my older sister. We were so excited about our first day that we got there extremely early. So early, that we were the only ones there for a couple hours.

What were your school lunches like?
In high school, I had two lunches—a sandwich of some sort plus five or six snacks, which I would eat in class. Then I’d go to the cafeteria during recess for pizza or such.

What was your inspiration for the recipe?
EnVie’s own mac and cheese that has roasted broccoli, tempeh bacon and served with beet ketchup.

1 box Annie’s Organic Vegan Shells & Creamy Sauce
1 cup of charred broccoli
½ cup tempeh bacon, sliced
Sautéed breadcrumbs for topping

Boil pasta following instructions on the box.

Wash and break broccoli into small florets. Place on baking sheet in a 425°F oven for 15 mins.

Pan fry tempeh bacon, cool and slice.

Sauté ½ cup of fresh breadcrumbs in 2 tbsp of butter. Salt and pepper to taste.

Drain pasta and make the cheese sauce per the instructions on the box. Combine the pasta with broccoli and bacon.

Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top and serve.

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