Miraculous Mac & Cheese

Why do I call it miraculous? Because my husband ate it. “That’s not a miracle!”, you say – unless you know James.

My husband has an aversion bordering on phobia of most things cheese. There’s no rhyme or reason to it, as he’ll eat pizza, cheeseburgers, and cheddar and crackers. But if you put fondue, alfredo, movie theatre nachos – pretty much anything with a cheesy ‘sauce’ in front of him, he turns green around the gills and holds his nose.

On one of our first trips together back to the US after living in England, I made the mistake of having him try Kraft Mac n’ Cheese. You know what I’m talking about – the blue box. He didn’t swallow, he gagged, and from then on, referred to the stuff as ‘The Ming’. If you know a Brit or two, you know that “ming” typically refers to anything that’s dirty and gross. Imagine hearing that every time you want a little bit of mac and cheese!

So now I think you can understand why James eating the mac and cheese in that photo up there is darn miraculous.

We had several friends over for Labor Day weekend, one of whom is vegetarian. Now, I’m Texan. Vegetarian is a foreign enough concept there, in Beef country, that some people actually think it means you don’t eat beef or pork – but that chicken and seafood are fair game. And they look at you funny for just that. Imagine my grandmother’s reaction when she met Natalie and found out that this person doesn’t eat any kind of meat, ever. Heehee!

Originally we were supposed to meet everyone for dinner, and after that everyone would come back to our house to stay for the weekend. Plans changed, we ended up having lunch out, which meant I had to figure out in a hurry what to feed five people dinner with very different food likes and dislikes.

So what’d I do? I opened up Pam Anderson’s Perfect One Dish Dinners. I happened to have everything on hand not only for the Shells and Cheese, but for the pulled chicken sliders Pam recommends as a side pairing too. Add a salad (we did Caesar) and we were good to go! I could keep my vegetarian AND my cheese hating husband happy.

The shells and cheese recipe was stupidly easy, and went together even quicker than my mother’s old standby that used velveeta and milk. I used Cabot Private Stock cheddar cheese, which is the closest to proper English Cheddar we can find in this country (according to James) without paying the imported prices. Plus, anything from Vermont is good.

I think using the Cabot cheese is what really lured James over to the dark side. He has an exception in his cheese rules for a good strong cheddar, and the recipe Pam gives us is not very sauce like – each shell is perfectly cheesy, but not in a goopy way.

Folks, I can’t say enough about this book. I’ve made four recipes from it now, and each one is as good as the last. It really saved me over Labor Day weekend, especially when vegetarian mains are not normally my forte. You should pick it up today.


  1. says

    This looks so yummy, beautiful picture! I have a craving for mac n cheese at the moment!
    I am 1/2 way through reading Pam’s book (finally) and love it! Hope to finish it this weekend…maybe I will climb a tree with the book and hide from my husband and kids lol!

  2. James says

    This page is totally slanderous! Well some of it is anyway. But the Mac & cheese was pretty cheeseballs (or cheeseshells). A+ Would nom again.

  3. says

    I made this last weekend too! I need to be upfront and say that I prefer saucy mac and cheese. But yes, this was easy to pull together and we have been enjoying the left overs all week. I processed the cottage cheese and sour cream in the Cuisinart before I combined them with the cheddar and parm. But I’m ocd like that.

  4. says

    SouffleBombay – Definitely hide yourself away and finish reading it. And then go to the grocery store and stock your fridge with all the ingredients you’ll need to cook everything!

    Annie – YOU WILL LOVE. I know you’re partial to the Wisconsin cheese, so go ahead and use that. Just make sure it’s supppppper sharp.

    James – The truth hurts.

    Wendi – I like ‘em both, but this stuff was pretty great. I did not bother blending the cottage cheese, and you honestly couldn’t tell it was in there.

    DessertForTwo – Us Texans are a bit funny, aren’t we? My Nan was so funny – “Whaddya mean she’s vegetarian? She only eats chicken?” LOL.

  5. says

    Wonderful photo of the shells & cheese! I can’t wait to try it. I just LOVE Pam’s new book; it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite cookbooks ever!!

  6. says

    James doesn’t eat cheese sauce things? WHAT?! But… That means he doesn’t eat queso? I can’t believe it. Poor man. =)

    Personally, I love just about all things cheese. I’m curious about the cottage cheese as an ingredient though. Hmm…

  7. says

    My husband and your husband must be related! Not only will he not eat anything with any sort of cheese sauce, he won’t eat anything creamy! No sour cream, cream cheese, cottage cheese etc…. picky, picky! I, however, love all of that stuff and this looks like a great recipe!

  8. Amber says

    Tracy – Me too!

    Nancy – don’t you just love it? LOL.

    Steff – you’d never know there’s cottage cheese. Try it.

    Maria – grab it on Amazon. It’s only $20 over there!

    Melissa – I’m with you! I LOVE all that stuff! Give this recipe a try though. James says what he loves most about it is the crispy bread crumbs on top. That’s a real winner for him. Cut it into a quarter recipe and make it as a side instead of a main so that if he hates it, you haven’t got buckets off the stuff :)

  9. says

    i’ve totally been eying this recipe, Amber, and yours looks so good! re: Cabot (we’re huge fans ourselves), have you tried the cloth bound Cabot? it’s a little on the pricey side (~$20/lb at most Whole Foods) but well worth the investment for an American/Vermont cheddar made in true English style.

  10. says

    See all it took was a little Pam love to get your boy to cross over to the dark side. I know how you feel, there is some basic southern yummies my surfer snarls his nose at. But I am working on him darlin’ ;)

  11. says

    I’ve made this a few times now and it’s always a hit with friends and family. I serve it with some sweetened stewed tomatoes on the side – so good! Thank you for sharing such a wonderful recipe.

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