Noelle Carter | Los Angeles Times | Posted: Tuesday, August 9, 2011 7:00 am |

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  This recipe sounds yummy – The Lady on vacation next week and you can bet she’ll be making it for The Man and moi.

Famous Dave’s Mac ’n’ Cheese

Servings: 8 to 12

  • 2 tablespoons butter, plus ¼ cup (½ stick), divided
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • ¾ cup half-and-half
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons barbecue sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
  • 4 ounces aged white cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1½ cups sweet corn niblets
  • 2 jalapenos, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 pound jumbo elbow macaroni, cooked and drained
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, cubed
  • 8 ounces Colby cheese, cubed
  • ½ cup cracker crumbs
  • ½ cup panko (Japanese-style) bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup unseasoned bread crumbs

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large, heavy-bottom pot over medium heat. Whisk the flour into the butter until thoroughly combined to form a roux. Slowly whisk in the milk, then the half-and-half. Whisk in the mustard, barbecue sauce, salt and pepper.

Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook, whisking constantly, 8 to 10 minutes to develop the flavors. Whisk in the white cheddar and Parmesan cheeses. Stir in the corn, jalapenos and parsley, then remove from heat.

Stir in the macaroni, then the cubed sharp cheddar and Colby cheeses. Spoon the macaroni and cheese into a buttered 13-by-9-inch baking dish.

Melt the remaining one-quarter cup of butter in a small sauce pan.

In a medium bowl, combine the cracker, panko and unseasoned bread crumbs with the melted butter. Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the macaroni and cheese.

Bake the mac ’n’ cheese until bubbly and browned on top, about 40 minutes.


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The Lady made a new mac n cheese (something she does a lot… making new mac n cheese recipes) using cheeses she had in the fridge: President Comte (a more-detailed review will be posted later today), Bellwether Farms Carmody and Kirkland Signature Cave-Aged Vermont Cheddar. It was divine; these three cheeses complimented and made for a sweet, nutty and complex flavor combination. The Lady is constantly searching for the “Perfect Mac n Cheese” and I must say her journey may have ended right here, with this one… The Man swooned and after my half-share, I had to nap before the fire… of course during the winter my favorite napping place is in front of the fire… but I digress.

Here’s how The Lady made this mac n cheese recipe:


½ Stick Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter

¼ Cup minced sweet onion

1 minced garlic clove

¼ – ½ teaspoon chipotle pepper flakes

1/3 Cup all-purpose flour

1 ½ Cup Half and Half

1 ½ Cup 1% Milk

6 ounces President Comte – grated (1 ounce reserved for topping)

6 ounces Bellwether Farms Carmody – grated (1 ounce reserved for topping)

6 ounces Kirkland Signature Cave-Aged Vermont Cheddar – grated (1 ounce reserved for topping)

½ teaspoon Cyprus Flake Artisan Salt

½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper

½ – 1 Cup Panko Breadcrumbs for topping

8 ounces of penne pasta

Non-stick Spray Oil


Preheat oven to 350°.

Prepare pasta per package instructions. Time to remove from heat when cheese sauce is ready to use. When you drain the pasta, do not rinse. Sauce will stick better to unrinsed pasta.

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and chipotle pepper flake and sauté lightly just till onion becomes translucent. Whisk in flour and continue whisking for 2 – 3 minutes to cook and release the starchy taste.

Slowly add the half and half and milk, whisking constantly (The Lady used this combination because that’s what she had available – you can use whole milk or your own combination). Cook until the sauce thickens which will be several minutes. Make sure and continue to whisk to avoid lumpy sauce.

When thick, add the cheeses (reserving one ounce of each to top the dish), the salt and the pepper. Stir until incorporated. Remove from heat and stir for a minute more until very creamy.

Spray a baking dish with non-stick spraying oil. Add the cooked pasta to the dish and pour the cheese sauce over the pasta. It will look like a lot of cheese sauce but not to worry… the pasta will absorb enough to thicken it slightly.

Mix Panko Breadcrumbs with reserved three cheeses and top the mac n cheese mixture. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn oven to Broil setting and brown topping until golden brown. Watch it carefully and don’t let it burn.

Remove from oven and let it sit for 5 minutes.

Serve to grateful family. Enjoy.

The Lady came across a recipe for Zingerman’s Roadhouse Mac n Cheese which in September of this year the Food Network named the #1 Comfort Food in America. For the original recipe, click here.

The Lady adapted their recipe as follows:

Serves: 8 / Preparation time: 15 minutes, Total time: 30 minutes


Olive Oil

4 Kalbi Marinated Chicken Thighs, grilled

sea salt
1 pound elbow macaroni
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped
½ green bell pepper, chopped

Celery seeds

1 large elephant garlic clove
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup Half n Half
1 teaspoon deli-style mustard
1 pound grated 3 year Tillamook Vintage White Extra Sharp Cheddar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons olive oil

Cup of frozen peas.


Grill chicken thighs. (The Lady buys the Kalbi Marinated Chicken at the Hawthorne Fred Meyer Meat Counter, which The Man and I find to be quite delish.) Set aside to cool and then chop into bite-size pieces.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of salt and the pasta and stir well.  Cook according to the instructions on the pasta box. Drain it and set it aside. Do not rinse. The starch holds the cheese better on the pasta.

Meanwhile, melt the butter for the sauce in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat, being careful not to scorch the butter. Add the onion, garlic and bell pepper and sauté until the translucent and soft, about 5 minutes. The Lady sprinkled the veggies with celery seeds before sautéing.

Add the flour, and cook for a minute or so, stirring constantly.

Slowly add the milk and half n half, a little at a time, stirring constantly to avoid lumping. Once the flour and milk are completely combined, stir in the heavy whipping cream. Keep the mixture at a simmer (not at a high boil) until it thickens, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir in the mustard, cheese and salt. Simmer for 5 minutes and set aside.

In a large heavy bottom skillet set over medium-high heat, get the pan very hot. Add the olive oil and when it begins just to smoke, add the drained cooked noodles. Pour the cheese sauce over the noodles. Toss thoroughly and continue to cook, stirring occasionally until you have approximately 15% of the mixture golden brown.

Add the chopped chicken and the frozen peas. Toss and serve.

You don’t need to cook the peas in advance. The heat of the dish will cook them enough for taste.


Yesterday, The Man asked for Mac n Cheese for lunch. The Lady went to the cheese drawer in the fridge…aka my favorite drawer… to see what cheeses she had to make the dish. She decided to go off the reservation and use several small pieces to make the meal.

Here’s what she used:

From the recent reviews of Fair Oaks Farm, Indiana’s Largest Dairy Farm, she used pieces of their Sweet Swiss, Emmentaler, Aged Gouda and Asiago; from Roth Kase, she used Grand Cru Gruyere (which she helped make last spring), Butterkase and she topped the dish with her “everyday cheddar”, Tillamook Vintage White, Extra-Sharp Cheddar. As a feline foodie who loves cheese, this combination was a winner…big time!! This was one of the creamiest Mac n Cheese dishes she has made.

The Man and I both pronounced it divine!!

Here’s how she made it:

Ingredients for the cheese sauce:

Fair Oaks Sweet Swiss

Fair Oaks Asiago

Fair Oaks Aged Gouda

Fair Oaks Emmentaler

Roth Kase Grand Cru Gruyere

Roth Kase Butterkase

These cheeses totaled approximately one pound.

½ stick Tillamook Butter

1/3 cup Wondra Flour (makes better sauces than regular flour)

3 Cups 1% Milk – the cheese brings enough butterfat to the party

A little salt and pepper

A little garlic powder

Preparation for the cheese sauce:

Melt butter in a heavy sauce pan. Whisk in the Wondra. Continue whisking and cook a couple of minutes to lightly brown and get rid of the “flour-taste”.

Add milk, salt, pepper, garlic powder and continue whisking. Cook until thickens – will take a couple of minutes (maybe longer).

Add the cheeses and cook until melted and melted together. Will only take a couple of minutes.

Use at once or refrigerate for use within a couple of days. (This is also a good sauce for vegetables and omelets.)

Makes about 4 cups of sauce.

Ingredients for Mac n Cheese Casserole:

8 ounces penne or macaroni (you want to use a pasta that will “suck” the cheese into it)

2 Cups of Cheese sauce (above)

2 Ounces of grated Tillamook Vintage White Extra-Sharp Cheddar

Chili Powder

Preparation of the Casserole:

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter or oil a 9X13 inch casserole dish.

Cook the pasta – be sure and cook a couple of minutes less than you would normally. It will finish cooking in the oven.

Drain pasta (do not rinse; the sauce will adhere better to unrinsed pasta) and pour sauce over it until well-mixed.

Pour into casserole dish and sprinkle Tillamook on top.

Finish with chili powder, to taste.

Bake 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and let sit 5 minutes before serving.

kitchen sink mac n cheeseThis is an old-fashioned baked macaroni and cheese, made with bits and pieces of whatever The Lady found in the fridge and the pantry. The Man and I love when she makes any “Kitchen Sink-style” casserole. 

Please note: The Lady isn’t big on measuring ingredients – so what follows is “guesstamations” at best… as long as it tastes good…that’s all that really matters…right???


  • 8 – 12 ounces macaroni product – The Lady used some penne, far falle, elbow and corkscrew – all organic and whole wheat
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  • 4 Chicken and Spinach Sausage Links – The Lady used some fully-cooked ones from Costco – she sliced them into disks before browning them
  • Chopped Red Bell Pepper
  • Chopped Orange Bell Pepper
  • Chopped Anaheim Chili
  • Chopped Garlic Clove
  • Chopped Onion
  • Chopped Scallion
  • 2 to 2 1/2 cups shredded cheeses – The Lady used up bits and pieces of Roth Kase Gran Queso, Parrano, Golden Age Super Sharp Cheddar, Grana Padano, Willamette Valley Brindisi, Emmi Gruyere and Roth Kase Butter Kase
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs*


Boil macaroni in salted water, following package directions. Drain under running cold water.

Shred cheeses.

Slice Sausage and sauté in EVOO until brown on both sides. When nice and brown add the chopped veggies and sauté them till tender.

Cover bottom of a 2-quart baking dish with layer of macaroni, a layer of cheese, sausage , veggies, chips of butter and pepper.

Continue layers until all ingredients are used, ending with a cheese layer.

Whisk milk and egg together, pour over the top, cover with bread crumbs and more butter chips, and bake in a 350° oven for 25 to 35 minutes, until browned and cooked through.
Serves 4 to 6.

 The Man’s BFF, Gary sent this recipe along to The Lady…

“I think of good old Mac and cheese as a core comfort food.  It’s a dish that is good to have when you’re not feeling well.  Actually, it’s good any old time!  It seems to go with everything particularly seasonal vegetables.  Years ago, I had some left over garlic butter from making garlic butter.  On a whim, I used it in making the cheese sauce for this recipe.  It added wonderfully to the flavor of this recipe and I’ve used it ever since.”


 4 Tbsp – margarine or butter

1 cup – diced onion

1 Tbsp – minced garlic

3 Tbsp – all-purpose flour

2 Cups – milk

¾ lb – Extra-sharp aged Tillamook cheddar cheese, grated

½ tsp – White pepper

½ tsp – Ground nutmeg

1 tsp – oregano, crushed

Sea salt & fresh ground pepper (optional)

8 oz – Farfalle, Rotini or Fusilli pasta

Oil cooking spray

Parmesan cheese, grated

Fresh parsley, minced



 In a skillet, heat 2 Tbsp. margarine; add onion and sauté until onion becomes translucent.  Add the garlic for a minute or two.  Keep warm and set aside. 

  1. In a large saucepan, heat 2 Tbsp. margarine.   Stir in flour and cook being careful not to brown.  Remove from heat and whisk in milk until thoroughly blended.  Heat on medium and cook stirring, until mixture begins to thicken.  Remove from heat; add all but a couple of ounces of the cheese, and the seasonings.
  2. Cook the pasta according to package directions.  Stir into the sauce after draining. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.  Spoon mixture into a sprayed baking dish, about 9 x 13.  Top with remaining cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese and parsley.
  3. Bake in pre-heated oven at 400 F, for 30 minutes or until mixture is bubbling and top is golden.  Makes 4 to 6 servings.

My niece, Amanda, of My Daily Diner blog fame, designed this mac n cheese and with her permission I am posting here for all my fans to enjoy.

Amanda is a regular guest speaker at local businesses, schools, churches, and women’s groups. She can often be found in the halls of the California State Capitol advocating for nutrition and food. Amanda has been featured in both local and national media as an expert in the field of food and nutrition. Eat Your Roots is also dedicated to working with individuals, couples, and families to improve overall wellbeing by teaching clients to understand real food and Traditional Nutrition.

Amanda is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Nutrition Professionals (NANP, and Chairs their Legislative Affairs Committee.

For recipes visit

The Lady kicks this up a notch by using Tillamook Vintage White Extra Sharp Cheddar, Beecher’s Flagship Cheddar and Vermont Butter and Cheese Company Mascarpone instead of Philly Cream Cheese:

This recipe is simple enough for our kids and grown-up enough for us.


1 C half & half (although milk works too)
2 C cheddar, shredded or cubed into 1/2 inch peices
8 oz cream cheese, cubed for easy melting

Pour over 4 to 5 cups COOKED pasta

In a sauce pan, Add cheddar, cream cheese and milk. Stir constantly until mixed. Pour over pasta. Some people then bake their mac and cheese, but I don’t know why….I say heat, pour, and eat.

What to do with leftovers? I had enough leftovers for three small containers, perfect kid sized portions. Instead of heading for the boxed mac and cheese, next time reach into your freezer…you’ve got it right there.