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"If you like apple pie with cheddar on top, this is your dream casserole," Rach says of this fall twist on mac and cheese she cooked in her Halloween costume — the gopher from the 1980 movie "Caddyshack." (John dressed up as Bill Murray's character, Carl!) 

In honor of Halloween, John paired Rach's dish with a festive sparkling cocktail he's dubbed Bobbing For Apples.


For the Apple Mac & Cheese:
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 small crisp apples or 2 medium-large, peeled  and  chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • About ⅛ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg 
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground clove or pumpkin spice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon or smoked cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon or orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped 
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons flour 
  • ½ cup cider
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 cups half 'n' half
  • Salt  and  white pepper or fine black pepper
  • 1 pound macaroni or short-cut pasta of choice
  • 3 cups grated cheddar, white or yellow  
  • 1 ½ cups crushed white or yellow cheddar crackers
  • One handful parsley, chopped 
  • About ½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano  cheese 
For the Brats  & Sauerkraut:
  • 8 brats  (bratwurst or sausages of any kind, we like Weisswurst, veal and pork)
  • 2 tablespoons oil, olive or neutral
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • Salt  and  white or fine black pepper 
  • 1 pound sauerkraut with caraway in refrigerated sack or jar
  • ½ cup water or stock 


Serves: 4 to 6


For the apple mac & cheese, heat a large pot of water for the pasta to boil.

Preheat oven to 400˚F with rack at center. 

Heat a large, deep skillet over medium heat with butter, add onions, apples and bay, season with nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, zest, thyme and brown sugar, soften 7 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Sprinkle flour over top and stir a minute, whisk in cider, stock and half and half, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a bubble and thicken sauce to coat back of spoon in thin layer, 6 to 7 minutes at low bubble over medium-low simmer. 

Cook pasta in salted water about 6 minutes, then drain.

Stir cheese into sauce a few handfuls at a time. 

Toss pasta with sauce and apples and place in casserole dish. 

Combine cracker crumbs with parsley and Parm and top pasta. Brown and bubble, cool 5 minutes and serve.           

For the brats & sauerkraut, parboil sausages to heat through in an inch of water, transfer to a platter, empty pan, wipe, return to medium heat with oil, 2 turns of pan. Melt butter into oil and saute onions with bay, salt and white pepper or fine black pepper. Soften 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to light golden. Add the sauerkraut to onions and add the sausages back to pan, add water or stock, simmer 5 minutes, and serve.