Lobster Mac n’ Cheese

When early June rolls around each year, I start dreaming of lobster.  Not quite literally, of course, but it’s a food I feel no summer in New England would be complete without.  Bright red, juicy claw meat dipped in butter.  The struggle to bust the tail out of the shell…and then dipped in melted butter.  A side of local sweet corn rolled in salt, pepper, and yes, more butter.  It’s quite a meal and my gosh I love it!

Sometimes I hold off on this if we have a vacation planned so that I can indulge at a wooden picnic table under an umbrella with the salty sea air spritzing my face but this summer I couldn’t wait.  Until the last couple weeks of July, we had no vacation planned and I was starting to fret that I’d miss out on one of my favorite summer treats.  So I made lobster mac n’ cheese.  It’s a recipe I’ve had on my to-make list for what seems like years and it certainly didn’t disappoint.  And really, it was no more difficult to make than regular mac n’ cheese.

If you can’t find cooked lobster in your seafood market or grocery store and you’re petrified of cooking a whole lobster, see if you can find frozen tails.  You’ll need to thaw them in the fridge first, but steaming them only takes about 12 minutes.  And that’s the most complicated thing about the whole recipe – the rest is just a basic mac n’ cheese recipe.  We devoured this mac n’ cheese for a casual Friday night dinner (a halved recipe for the two of us) and ate the leftovers for lunches but if you’re having company, this would be a fantastic meal to serve – fancy and comforting at the same time!


Panera Stove Top Mac and Cheese


Have you had Panera’s Signature Mac and Cheese yet?  It’s insanely amazing!  Velvety, creamy, cheesy, and worthy of only a spoon since it’s the closest utensil to a shovel. 😉   And here is the recipe for you!  I know I lamented back in the fall about this being the very best mac and cheese recipe out there but until today, I’ve still yet to post a quick stove top mac and cheese recipe.  I’ve tried a couple different stove top recipes in the past year but none of them really had the “wow” factor I was looking for.  But this one…oh this version is different.

What I felt about other versions not tasting like they were cooked enough is not an issue with this version, even though the salt, dijon mustard, and hot sauce (oh yes!) aren’t added until right before the pasta is stirred into the sauce.  All of the unique flavors blend so beautifully and result in an unforgettable white cheese sauce that nestles itself into the shells and wraps itself around the spoon.  Kyle and I both love the slight hint of dijon that peaks out of the cheese sauce mostly because it reminds us of the mac and cheese recipes our moms made for us as kids but you can always decrease the dijon a little – don’t cut it completely though because the sauce really does need it.  This recipe has made it to our menu twice in the past two weeks and I used skim milk both times with great success (and a lot less guilt) but use whatever milk or cream you have on hand.  So the big question for you is…is this on your menu yet??

*Recipe Change Note* – After having made this recipe a few times since posting it, I have decreased the amount of flour and increased the time needed to cook the flour.  Cooking the flour in the butter a little longer will reduce the “floury” taste and will help to thin out the sauce a little.

Panera’s Stove Top Mac & Cheese

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 4 servings


  • 16 oz pipette pasta or other small pasta shapes
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups milk, heavy cream, or half-and-half
  • 4 oz white American cheese, chopped or torn into pieces
  • 8 oz extra sharp white Vermont cheddar, shredded
  • 2 tsp - 1 tbsp Dijon mustard (adjust according to your tastes)
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp hot sauce (like Frank's)


  1. In a large stockpot, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well.
  2. While the pasta cooks, melt the butter in a 4-quart sauce pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and has started to bubble, whisk in the flour; cook for 1 1/2 minutes whisking constantly. Gradually whisk in the milk until no lumps remain. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook milk mixture, whisking frequently, until it thickens and bubbles, about 8 minutes.
  3. Remove sauce pan from the heat and by the handful, stir in the cheeses allowing all of the cheese to melt into the sauce before adding more. Stir in the mustard, salt, and hot sauce. Return the sauce pan to the heat and stir in the pasta. Be sure to stir up the sauce from the bottom of the sauce pan and thoroughly coat all of the pasta with sauce. Cook for 1-2 minutes over medium-low heat until heated through. Serve hot in bowls with spoons.


source: Panera Bread

Disclaimer Note: This is not a sponsored post.  I simply adore this recipe – no compensation has been received for writing this post.

Grown Up Mac and Cheese

grown up mac and cheese 1

The ultimate comfort food “kicked up a notch.” Whether you prefer the blue box or your mama’s homemade recipe (like I do), most people don’t really argue about the fact that they love mac and cheese. So as we head into cooler weather, it was definitely fitting that Heather of Randomosity and the Girl would choose one of Ina’s mac and cheese recipes for her BB pick.

I haven’t tried many other homemade mac and cheese recipes other than my old (and favorite) standby but I’m always willing to give another recipe a shot. Ina’s recipe combined 2 very grown up cheeses with the deliciousness that is cheddar but since I’m still unsure if I’m allergic to blue cheese or not, I passed it over for a champagne cheddar (Yancy from a small dairy in upstate New York) that brilliantly showed up in my grocery store a few months ago. Holy crap this cheese is good. I wanted something just as sophisticated as the blue cheese and I definitely got it with this cheese.

Aside from the cheese, I made a few other modifications: skim milk, 2% cheddar, and turkey bacon. And while I really enjoyed the mac and cheese, it wasn’t “blow my mind” fabulous. Maybe it’s because of my modifications – maybe turkey bacon isn’t a great substitute for real bacon in all recipes. Maybe I cooked it a few extra minutes – it was a little on the dry side. I don’t know. Kyle wasn’t thrilled with it at all and while he finished his serving, he didn’t go back for seconds – very strange for him. Oh well. I’ve still got our old standby so I’m not upset that this one didn’t turn out as wonderful as I had hoped it would.

Thanks again to Heather for choosing this recipe and for starting our group off on a trend of cool-weather foods!

Tara’s Ultimate: Mac n Cheese

Cheese is love. Is there any dish more comforting than mac n cheese? You’d be hard pressed to find someone to dispute this and even harder pressed to find 5 people who are in love with the same mac n cheese recipe. It seems like there are hundreds out there…some similar, some very different, some with one type of cheese, some with at least 7 types (really though, why complicate one of the most basic comfort foods?), some with veggies, some with tuna, some with meat, some out of a box with cheesy powder, some out of a box with cheesy goop…overall, it really could be considered one of the world’s most perfect dishes – dairy, carbs, protein, and veggies if one chooses to add them. What American doesn’t love mac n cheese?? (oh and PS – I didn’t arrange the cheese in the pic above in the shape of a heart; it just happened to fall that way as I was grating it.)

It’s been at least 6 months since I’ve made my traditional mac n cheese. However, in that time, I did find a recipe for a more sophisticated mac n cheese; one that calls for prosciutto but when I decided to make my favorite version, I didn’t feel like spending $20/lb on some extra protein for the meal. I was tempted to try Tyler Florence’s Ultimate Mac n Cheese after oddly enough catching that specific show on Food Network yesterday (last week I put mac n cheese on the menu for last night) but decided that since I hadn’t made mac n cheese in so long, I wanted to make sure that it was gonna be great – I passed over Tyler’s recipe for fear of it being too different and not satisfying our craving for good mac n cheese.

Now, a little background on this recipe…it’s not some secret family recipe that has been passed down through the ages. Simply enough, it comes from the back of the Mueller’s elbow macaroni box. However, it’s the only recipe my mom has used for years and as I was preparing to move out on my own (now nearly 6 years ago), the only thing I asked for was for my mom to write down the recipe. Instead, she cut it off the next box she used and slipped it in my Christmas stocking (I moved right after New Years). Growing up, she used to add tuna fish (canned) and peas to the dish to round it out as a full meal but I stick to the basics. So yes, if you’re wondering, I’m still using the exact recipe mom cut out for me (although I do tweak the types of cheese I use depending on what I have in the fridge – see below). When I misplaced the recipe card once a couple of years ago, I cut another one out of the Mueller’s elbow macaroni box and believe it or not, it wasn’t the same recipe! I about died when I realized that I didn’t have the “right” one and immediately got on the phone with my mom for some help. Luckily, the “right” one resurfaced a few months later and I now keep it in a very safe spot. So here’s my Ultimate Mac n Cheese….