Fancy Twist on Classic Mac ‘n Cheese

Thank you Thomas Jefferson for your amazing contributions to these United States of America. You gave us the dumbwaiters, the hideaway bed, the pedometer, the revolving bookstand, the Declaration of Independence (eternal thanks and admiration for this little gem) and last but not least, macaroni and cheese. Rumor has it that Jefferson actually served macaroni and cheese at the White House state dinner in 1802.

The Monticello recipe for macaroni and cheese is basic at best. Still, it’s a far cry from the boxes of macaroni and cheese powder that we all cherish as a guilty pleasures. Today we are thinking outside the little blue box and putting inventive twists on this comfort food classic, taking it out of dorm rooms and school cafeterias and serving Macaroni ‘n Cheese in fine restaurants, gourmet clubs and family dinners, just as Thomas Jefferson intended.

Macaroni Pie

The Original Monticello Cookbook

Boil as much macaroni as will fill your dish in milk and water, until quite tender; drain it on a sieve. Sprinkle a little salt over it, put a layer in your dish, then cheese and butter as in polenta and bake in the same manner.

Nutritional yeast is a healthy product made from inactive yeast and beet molasses. It has a cheesy, umami-like flavor that serves as a fine substitute for cheese in vegetarian dishes. You can find it in the health food section of many grocery stores.



You won’t miss the cheese in this creamy, “cheesy” Vegan Mac ‘n Cheese.

Vegan Cauliflower Mac ‘n Cheese

Yield: 4 main dish servings

4 cups elbow macaroni

1 large head of cauliflower, chopped

2 large carrots, peeled and chopped

½ cup nutritional yeast

1/3 cup nutritional yeast

1/3 cup water

1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

½ teaspoon onion powder

½ teaspoon garlic powder

1 ½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Vegan Parmesan Cheese (optional)

Cook pasta according to package directions, drain, and set aside.

Fill a large pot with water, and bring to a boil. Add in the chopped cauliflower and carrots. Cook for 10-15 minutes, or until softened. Drain and place in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process on high until smooth. Add the oil, water, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Process until smooth.

Add the processed “cheese” sauce to the pasta and mix well.

Serve immediately with a sprinkle of vegan Parmesan cheese, if desired.


What happens when two great American classics combine? Pure magic. That’s what.


Some have called this the best of America, in a bowl.

Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese

Yield: 4 servings

1 (25.5-oz.) package frozen popcorn chicken (I used Tyson Anytizers)

8 oz. cavatappi

1 cup whole milk

1 Tablespoon cornstarch

1 Tablespoon butter

¾ cup plus ¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese

salt, to taste (I don’t use much)

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

½ cup of hot buffalo wing sauce (I used Frank’s Red Hot), more if you like

½ cup blue cheese crumbles

Cook the chicken according to package direction. Cook the cavatappi according to package directions.

While the chicken and pasta are cooking, make the cheese sauce. In a small saucepan, whisk together the cold milk and cornstarch. Set the pot over medium low heat and slowly bring the milk mixture to a boil; reduce the heat to a simmer immediately and stir in the butter. When the sauce is hot enough to coat the back of a spoon, remove from the heat and slowly stir in ¾ cup of cheddar cheese; stir until the cheese has melted and the mixture is silky smooth and well blended.

Remove the cooked chicken from the oven and immediately toss with the hot buffalo wing sauce.

Place the cooked, drained pasta in a large bowl; pour the cheese sauce over it and stir to combine. Stir in the remaining ¼ cup of shredded cheddar cheese. Sprinkle with the blue cheese.

Serve immediately with a serving of Buffalo Chicken.


I love horseradish. I love bacon and I love Mac ‘n Cheese. So I combined the three and prepared them in the most decadent and indulgent way I could devise. Better save this one for special occasions.


Horseradish Cheddar and Bacon Mac ‘n Cheese ready for the oven; just 30 minutes away from the ultimate cheesy indulgence.

Horseradish Cheddar and Bacon Mac ‘n cheese

Yield: 8 servings

½ pound of bacon

1 pound of orecchiette

2 Tablespoons of butter

2 Tablespoons of bacon fat (reserved from the cooked bacon)

¼ cup flour

2 ½ cups whole milk

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided

2 cups shredded horseradish cheddar (from the deli), divided

Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 2-quart casserole dish with non-stick spray and set aside.

Line a baking sheet with foil and top the foil with a cooling rack. Arrange the bacon on the rack, side by side. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until crisp. Reserve 2 Tablespoons of the bacon fat from the pan. Crumble the bacon and set aside.

Cook the pasta until it is just under al dente and set aside.

While the bacon and pasta are cooking make the cheese sauce. In a large saucepan set over medium heat, add the butter and bacon fat. When the butter has melted, whisk in the flour and cook the roux for at least 1 minute but not more than 2. Lower the heat to medium low and slowly whisk in the milk. Heat until the mixture comes to a slow boil and is thick.

Remove from the heat and slowly stir in 1½ cups of the cheddar cheese and 1½ cups of the horseradish cheddar cheese. Stir until the cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth. Take care not to add the cheese all at once or the sauce may seize. Stir in ½ cup of the crumbled bacon. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Add the pasta to the pan with the sauce and stir to completely combine. Transfer the mixture to the prepared casserole dish. Top with the remaining cheese and bacon. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

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