Panera Style Mac and Cheese

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A Panera opened up on Monday in our town. We ended up going on Wednesday night and we had to wait 10 minutes in line to take our order and then about 40 minutes to get our food. The line was going out the door pretty much the whole entire time we were there. I wanted to go before that but I waited. It was well worth the wait. I now want to make my own bread this weekend and make my own sandwiches like that at home. I had the Smoked Turkey Bacon Club sandwich and couldn’t finish it all so I ended up taking the rest of it home for lunch the next day. It was super yummy. The kettle chips there are pretty amazing too. So is their mac and cheese. The only thing I didn’t like about this recipe was the mustard. I don’t recall any mustard flavor being in the mac their mac and cheese. I can’t wait to go there and try everything else.

Here is a recipe similar to the mac and cheese Panera has at their restaurant. I wish they sold bags of pre shredded extra sharp white cheddar cheese in the grocery stores. You can find the extra sharp cheddar cheese that’s the orange color everywhere but not the white. This was in a brick and I admit that I actually like buying the bags of shredded cheese at the super markets. There’s nothing wrong with that I think.

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Recipe from Kristine’s Kitchen

16 oz. package shell pasta
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 ½ cups 2% milk
4 oz. white American cheese, chopped into small pieces
8 oz. extra-sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
1-2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. hot sauce (optional)


Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente, drain and return to the pot; set aside.
Melt butter over low heat. Whisk in flour and cook 1 minute, whisking constantly.
Slowly whisk in milk and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens and bubbles, about 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat.
Stir in cheeses, a little bit at a time, stirring until cheese melts completely. Add mustard, salt, and hot sauce, and stir until well combined and sauce is smooth.
Pour cheese sauce over pasta and stir to combine. Serve immediately.

Caprese Orzo Pasta

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Another caprese dish. Yep, they never get old!

I cooked a little bit of garlic in some olive oil in a pan and added the orzo. Cooked that for a bit and added in 2 cups of water. The water eventually all obsorbed and the orzo became almost like risotto. I added in some parmesan cheese to the orzo and then cut up the 3 main ingredients to the caprese part. Tomatos + Basil, + Mozzarella. Yum! I loved this.

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1 cup of orzo
1 tsp garlic
1 tsp olive oil
2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese
1 tomato diced or you can use grape tomatoes
2 tsps of basil, finely diced
1/2 cup of cubed mozzarella cheese
salt & pepper to taste


In a medium sauce pan cook the garlic with some olive oil. Add the one cup of dried orzo and stir so the orzo becomes toasted. Add the 2 cups of water and wait until the orzo has absorbed all the water.

While the orzo is cooking prepare your mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil. Once the orzo is cooked, stir in 2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese and the rest of the ingredients.

Two Timing Pasta Bake

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I recently posted on my facebook page how Alfredo sauce in a jar tastes like crap.  One person said that it smells like feet and I would have to agree with that. People were also asking questions on how to enhance alfredo sauce and I think this recipe does a good job of that. I like the combination of alfredo sauce and marinara sauce together and with extra added cheese this dish will not smell like feet! I guarantee it! It almost reminds me of pasta dish I had once at Bocca de Beppi’s.

I’ve been really sick of Winter lately. The first day of Spring is in a couple of days and we are still expecting a lot of snow here. I’m ready for thunderstorms, the tall hills of snow banks to go away so that  we can see where we’re driving at when we turn a corner, planting my garden, and wearing my new jean jacket that I just love. Heck, I might as well just wear it and not wait for Spring to get here. It’s so cute and goes really well with colored denim!

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Recipe from Pearls, Handcuffs, and Happy Hour

[gmc_recipe 6699]

Lighter Fettuccine Alfredo Sauce

Let’s face it. Nothing quite compares to Heavy Cream which is used as the main ingredient in Alfredo. Heavy cream can make anything bad taste good, not to mention butter and bacon. I think that Alfredo sauce is probably one of the hardest dishes to make lighter.

I used 1% milk instead of the 2% the recipe called for. That would have probably made the sauce a little bit richer. There is also fat free half-and-half, but I can never find that in the grocery stores. Is there such a think as Fat Free Heavy Cream???  It calls for butter and parmesan cheese too. HELLO?! That’s like impossible to find ingredients to replace all that yummy goodness with. I thought this recipe did a good job of trying to make it lighter and it still tasted good. Like I said before, nothing compares to the real sauce. If you ever feel like indulging this is the dish to make.

If any of you are experiencing blank pages, I’m sorry. Try loading it again in the next few moments. I have to upgrade my ram on this website and hopefully that should take care of the problem!

Servings: 4

Per serving: Calories 490; Fat 15 g (Saturated 8 g); Cholesterol 48 mg; Sodium 734 mg; Carbohydrate 66 g; Fiber 3 g; Protein 20 g

Recipe from Food Network Magazine

[gmc_recipe 6132]


Kid Friendly Pasta

The Food Network has been having new shows of the Pioneer Woman lately. She is one of my new favs. Ina still is in first place though, but I just love to watch her cook and learn about her life and family. Much more interesting than mine is anyway. On Saturday’s show she made this pasta. I wanted to make it right away since I had all the ingredients on hand. This pasta should be called Kid and Adult Friendly Pasta. You just don’t have to be a kid to enjoy this one. It has 3 of my favorite ingredients in there: cheese, bacon, and tomatoes. Can’t go wrong with that!

To make this pasta lighter, I used light mayonnaise and 1% milk. That was used to figure out the points plus value. If you really wanted to, you could use turkey bacon. I don’t really recommend that because I prefer the real bacon. This would be a great lunch time meal served with some fruit.

Oh yeah, go ahead and pin my recipes.  I don’t know if any one has noticed yet but I’ve placed a pin it button on every recipe. Happy pinning!


Servings: 8

Points Plus: 8

Calories 328, Fat 10.07g, Carbohydrate 39.68g, Fiber 2.4g, Protein 19.49g

Recipe from the Pioneer Woman

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Spicy Thai Noodles

I think this is one of the best noodle dishes I’ve ever made! It was so good.  I wish I had the cilantro and carrots to add into this and next time I’ll add in some chicken. Highly recommended if you love some Thai food. The website I got this recipe from said that you can even omit the peanut oil if you wish. The peanuts give it a nice crunch. It’s nice and spicy too.


Nutrition info was figured out using whole wheat noodles. This dish is kind of pointy but what do you expect with the sesame oil? :)

Servings: 8

Points Plus: 12

Ingredients adapted from A Small Snippet

1 – 2 Tablespoons of Crushed Red Pepper
1/4 cup of vegetable oil
1/2 cp of sesame oil
6 tablespoons of honey
6 tablespoons of soy sauce
1/2 cup green onion
2 carrots, peeled and shredded
1/2 cup of cilantro
3/4 cup of peanuts

16 oz of linguini or spaghetti noodles

Boil noodles.
Cook the two oils together over medium heat for 2 minutes. Strain the crushed red pepper and keep the oil.
Whisk together the honey and soy sauce into the oil.

Pour mixture on top of noodles and toss together until noodles are well coated. Chop the veggies and peanuts and add them to the noodles.


Spicy Macaroni and Cheese

I was watching the Best Thing I Ever Made on Food Network this morning and saw Sunny Anderson make her mac and cheese. It looked so good, and I knew I had all the ingredients to make it besides the pepper jack cheese. Even without the pepper jack cheese it was awesome. The cayenne pepper gave it just the right amount of heat. The thing I liked most about this recipe, was the fact that it didn’t require making a roux. A roux is a mixture of equal parts butter and flour. Then you would whisk in the milk, but this recipe just required mixing a bunch of ingredients together into a bowl. The mac and cheese was rich and creamy, and it’s easy to half the recipe for just one person.

Speaking of Food Network… I don’t mind all those competition shows like Chopped, Cake Wars, and Restaurant Impossible, but do they honestly need to show the same episodes over and over again? I would rather see more cooking shows and they seem to be cutting those off at 11am CST on the weekends. Please Food Network, add more cooking shows to your line up because I get sick of watching the re-runs. Because of that, I am now a fan of Big Bang Theory. :)

I cut this recipe in half and if using 1% milk and low fat cheddar cheese and low fat colby cheese the nutrition info is as follows. It came out to 3 servings. (without croutons)

Calories 208 | Fat 5.74g | Carbohydrate 22.34g | Fiber 0.9g | Protein 15.97g

Ingredients from Sunny Anderson

  • 2 cups elbow pasta, cooked until almost al dente
  • 8 ounces Cheddar, 1/2 cubed, 1/2 shredded
  • 8 ounces Colby cheese, cubed
  • 8 ounces Monterey pepper jack cheese, cubed
  • 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 4 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1/4 cup finely grated onions
  • 4 slices bread
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Special equipment: 2-quart baking dish


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, toss together the pasta with the cheese cubes and pour into the baking dish.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, dry mustard, nutmeg. Add the sour cream, egg, heavy cream, half-and-half and onions. Pour over the pasta and cover with the shredded Cheddar. Bake uncovered until the top is just beginning to brown, about 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the bread into crouton-size squares. In a skillet over medium heat, melt the butter, add the bread cubes and toast until golden. Sprinkle the bread cubes on top of the macaroni and cheese and bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes more.

Homemade Pasta

I’m so excited that we got the pasta maker attachment for our kitchen aid mixer as a wedding gift. Thanks to Laura (my brother’s girlfriend) and her parents for getting us that. It was the last attachment that we needed and I just love it.

Anne Burrell was making fresh pasta on her show today and I tried her recipe. The pasta dough didn’t work out at all and was a crumbly mess. When it came to rolling it out, the dough didn’t flatten at all. Sorry, Anne. I decided to use the recipe that came with the pasta maker attachment and that recipe worked so well. It took two tries, and took awhile to make… but I was kind bored this Saturday and needed something to do. I made fresh ravioli and stuffed it with a ricotta cheese mixture and topped that with some marinara sauce. I also tried making some spaghetti noodles. The spaghetti noodles kind of just stuck together. I want to get one of those ravioli cutters that make it look like it the pasta has curvy edges now.

Here’s me, making pasta for the time. It was fun to watch the dough thin out and run it through the pasta maker. The attachment has different settings you can change it to, depending on how thick you want the pasta.

Here is the finished ravioli. So good.

I also tried making spaghetti noodles. They turned out more like a human brain.  See what I mean?

Here’s the recipe for the pasta dough. I had to add in almost 1/4 cup of water to get the dough to a better consistency.


3 1/2 cup of flour

4 eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon water (I used 1/4 cup water)

Mix all ingredients and knead in your stand mixer with the dough hook attachment for about 2 minutes. Take the dough out and knead with your hands. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes.