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New Years Resolutions (And Breaking Them): Gourmet Mac and Cheese


January 21, 2013

Recipe: Gourmet Mac and Cheese

Like everyone and their mother, I’m on a New Years health regime. I’m drinking less, exercising more, and trying to be mildly thoughtful about what I put into my body.

dog by fire

Lou’s New Years Resolutions: Take More Naps by the Fire. Nailed it!

Unlike everyone and their mother though, I’m going to admit I don’t really like it. I know that I’m supposed to say that I feel so much better when consuming lots of kale and chard, that I sleep like a baby, and have skin like a dewy blossom on a summer morning, but I don’t. I like cheese, and pasta, and a big burger, and an even bigger Cab Franc. It’s true.

Alas, as is often the case, the trick to successful life changes is balance and moderation, so amidst the healthy breakfasts and walking lunches, there have to be a few moments of indulgence thrown in.

This Gourmet Mac and Cheese is sinfully delicious. Perfectly cooked pasta, nestles in among a sharp cheese sauce, punctuated with flavor pops through the sun-dried tomatoes, and brought to an element of elegance via the chicken and mushrooms. It freezes beautifully, so you can either make half now, and freeze half for later, or bake it all now, and freeze individual portions in foil for a lazy weeknight dinner. That is…if there’s any left.

What are you doing this January to start the year off right? 

Gourmet Mac and Cheese

Gourmet Mac and Cheese

Gourmet Mac and Cheese

  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 pound penne rigate
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (8 ounces each), halved horizontally
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 5 cups 2% milk
  • 10 ounces cremini mushrooms, wiped clean and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan
  1. Preheat oven to 400. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta 3 minutes short of al dente; drain pasta, and return to pot.
  2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Season chicken with salt and pepper; cook until opaque throughout, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Halve each piece lengthwise, then thinly slice crosswise.
  3. In a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot, melt butter over medium. Add flour and garlic; cook, whisking, 1 minute. While whisking, gradually add milk; bring to a simmer, whisking frequently. Add mushrooms and tomatoes; cook 1 minute. Off heat, gradually stir in provolone and  1/2 cup Parmesan.
  4. Add chicken and pasta to pot; season with salt and pepper. If cooking one now and one later, divide between two, 2-quart baking dishes. Otherwise, put all into an 11×17 baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan.
  5. Bake, uncovered, until top is golden and bubbling, about 25 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.



  1. Pm Weizenbaum says:

    Hey, you can’t be doing TOO badly — I spy some greenery on that plate!

  2. Everything in moderation – even moderation! 😉 You know I have a weakness for mac n’ cheese and that one looks fab!

    • Shut Up & Cook says:

      A brilliant quote if I ever did hear one. I’m realizing you might be starting to think all I ever make is mac ‘n’ cheese. Not true! I promise there are some healthy recipes up my sleeves as well.

  3. Karista says:

    We have to have a little decadence in our lives once in a while. 🙂 And a large Cab Franc too! Looks absolutely delish Erina!

  4. Keisha says:

    This year i opted not to make any resolutions…everytime i do i stick with them for a little while and then i fall off,then im left just feeling depressed. I’ve decided to just make some changes gradually and go with the flow. There are some things i wanna work on and i am going to but id rather not call them resolutions.

    • Shut Up & Cook says:

      I like your style, Keisha! Mine are the same…more like “Good life tips” rather than resolutions. Care to share what a few of your favorites are for 2013?

      • Keisha says:

        Well I would definitely like to eat healthier, Im also working on not procrastinating so much and i would also like to challenge myself in the kitchen more and i guess the big one is to just generally be a more happy person by saying and doing the things that make me happy.

        • Shut Up & Cook says:

          Here, here! All good life lessons to live by. Keep us posted on how they’re going. A little virtual pep squad is never a bad thing for anyone!

  5. albertocook says:

    I love it

  6. This looks like a great recipe! Especially for those needing the night before the diet fix. And the night before the diet fix…And the night before the diet fix…

  7. Pepper Bowl says:

    Stunned by your blog name…your blog just glowing out of thousands of other blogs..continue to keep up your great work!! I’m happily following you!!!

    • Shut Up & Cook says:

      Wow! Thank you! I’m having fun with it, that’s for sure. Congrats on your new site as well. 2013 is off with a bang!

  8. Pimped up mac and cheese, brilliant! Looks fab, I’ll hold the chicken as I’m veggie but love the sundried tomatoes through this to add some interest. I think I know what we’re having for tea tonight…

    • Shut Up & Cook says:

      You wont miss anything without the chicken…I toyed with leaving it out in this version, but I know some of the boys “need” meat for it to be dinner. Spinach or artichoke hearts would be great substitutes!

  9. This looks so cheesy good and worth breaking a resolution for 😉 hehe

    • Shut Up & Cook says:

      Christine! Never put “Don’t eat Gourmet Mac and Cheese” on a resolutions list! That’s just setting yourself up for failure!

  10. I love mac and cheese! This looks delicious and perfect for the cold weather we have been having 🙂

    • Shut Up & Cook says:

      It never gets that cold here in Seattle, but I pretend I’m back in Boston and take full advantage of the hearty winter fare. It’s going to be 5 degrees in MA tonight!

  11. Maman says:

    “Malark and cheese” could be the new name, sounds too good to be bad !

    My resolutions of 2013: Breathe, dance, listen.
    Not exactly earth shaking, but reachable.

  12. Lou is so cute! Looks awful cozy there by the fire.

    I agree, it’s hard to stay on track. I’m trying to eat more veggies and convince myself I love how kale and green juice tastes when all I want to eat is chocolate! Hopefully I’ll trick myself into wanting kale over chocolate but doubt that’ll ever happen 😉

    Thanks so much for visiting my blog!

    • Shut Up & Cook says:

      Thanks Tammy. She’s a sweetie, especially when she’s not chewing on her big brother The Duke!

      You’re doing the green juice? That is commitment. What’s the recipe?

  13. SusanH says:

    Hi Erina! Just a quick note on a typo. The ingredient list says sharp cheddar, but the instructions refer to provolone…? Which is better?
    Hope you are well!

    • Shut Up & Cook says:

      Ah!! Good catch. I’ve done both but prefer cheddar for the sharper flavor. That said, you frankly could use just about any shreddable cheese in your fridge.

  14. That recipe really takes mac ‘n cheese over the top! Can’t wait to try it!

  15. Fact: Mac and cheese should be a part of any weight loss plan. Just not every single day.. It’s a gradual thing so take you time and eat a little Mac and cheese on your way there.

  16. This looks soo delicious and comforting and gourmet…pretty much like everything you post! My brother would love this!

  17. I couldn’t agree more! It doesn’t sound logical, but for some reason being too too TOO healthy, doesn’t seem all that healthy in the end. A little indulgence is absolutely necessary!

  18. Erika says:

    Hahaha I WISH I could say I sleep like a baby and have skin like a dewy blossom and feel all-around awesome. But so far, my detox has left me feeling bloated and I pee about 892375928x a day. But umm…hopefully this stage will pass. At least I get to eat three square-ish meals a day! And when I’m done with this detox, your mac and cheese is on my list to make. I love me some mac and cheese out of the box, but I love the gooey-ness of the cheese when you make it at home!

    • Shut Up & Cook says:

      Okay, this officially made me laugh out loud. Dare I ask what detox you’re doing?!? Instead of wine I’m drinking hot water with fresh ginger, lemon juice, and honey each night. Trying to tell myself it is HEALTHY and I LIKE IT!

  19. Priscilla M says:

    I’m a sucker for a homemade mac and cheese. It looks very inviting! LOL

  20. Me too. I can easily get tricked by this delicious mac and cheese (and hooray for gourmet version!) and forget all about eating healthy. But it’s okay we enjoy once in a while and this does look so good!

    • Shut Up & Cook says:

      I love your idea of getting tricked.

      “It’s not my fault I ate the mac and cheese…it tricked me!”


  21. I actually like kale and chard (weird, I know). But I like mac ‘n cheese better. 😉 And I’m with you on really disliking all the healthy eating I do at this time of the year. Made necessary by all the unhealthy eating I did between Halloween and New Year’s. Great idea to take a break from all of this healthiness and indulge in something truly sinful from time to time. 😉 Good stuff – thanks.

    • Shut Up & Cook says:

      Thanks John. I have to agree though. For me the gauntlet was Thanksgiving to New Years and it was ugly. Parties, wine, desserts, wine, working lunches, wine. So. Much. Consumption. Feels good to be taking things easier, even if I don’t like it.

  22. Hannah says:

    I adore mac & cheese, Erina! Yours sounds absolutely divine. You said it…balance and moderation. I think you’ll appreciate my New Year’s resolution – drink more champagne! So far I’m sticking to it. Love your photo of Lou – what a sweetie. 🙂

    • Shut Up & Cook says:

      Drink more champagne is your New Year’s resolution???!! Please tell me more about this. I am fascinated (and very jealous).

      • Hannah says:

        I figure if I’m drinking a glass of bubbly, then that means I’m chatting with a friend, or sitting in my backyard on a sunny afternoon, or dancing in the kitchen while I stir a pot…all the kind of things I want to do more of. So, if I keep popping bottles, it’ll happen. So far, 2013 has been awesome (no sunny backyard moments yet, but they’ll come). 🙂

  23. I love this entree version of mac and cheese, Erina! Also, I would not have thought to add the mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes – perfect additions to be sure. 🙂

    • Shut Up & Cook says:

      Thanks Christie!! I love the combination of the mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes too. I almost wonder if it would be better sans chicken…guess I’ll have to make it again!

  24. Mac and cheese with sun dried tomatoes and chicken, I could eat this for days! The green side on the plate is the perfect balance…jaja

    • Shut Up & Cook says:

      We did eat it for days, Paula! 🙂 I love that you can freeze the individual portions in foil after cooking it if you want. Come home from work, through foil packet in the oven, and you’ve got a delicious dinner in an hour that is maybe even better than when it first comes out of the oven.

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