Havarti & Cheddar mac and cheese

Two nights ago I had the biggest dinner fail ever!! I’m normally pretty good about whipping a meal up whether I’ve made it before or not, but Wednesday night was a complete disaster.

I decided to cook chiles rellenos recipe. Please note, it was a new recipe and I have never made chiles rellenos before. You’d think this would have caused me to pay extra attention. To start, I forgot to order corn and black beans in our grocery pick-up order, so in my mind, these peppers were going to lack flavor. Then, I had to put the poblano peppers one by one over the grates on our stove to blacken them. It was so time consuming and there were a couple of instances our kitchen could have easily went up in flames. Grrrr! But wait, there’s more – as I was taking the blackened skin off and cutting the peppers in half, pepper juice shot right into my eye. Even though it was a poblano, it was so painful! There I stood in a kitchen smelling like burnt food, one eye shut, Sage fussing because I was late with making her food, when I decided it was time to make the milk and egg mixture. Except instead of two cups of milk, I added six. If I hadn’t been so preoccupied, maybe I would have double-checked the amount or thought to myself, “wow that’s a lot of milk”, but no, not this time. This time, the poor semi-stuffed (because of the missing corn and beans!) drowned in a deep dish of milk and egg. So gross.

I looked at Brett and we couldn’t find a way to salvage the meal. We quickly decided it was going to be a takeout night, but not just any takeout… Taco Bell. I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t mad that my night ended up with Taco Bell instead of milky half-stuffed peppers. It’s definitely something we chuckled about later that night.

Thankfully, I had made this mac and cheese the night before, so I think I redeemed myself ahead of time. But seriously, I share this story so you’re all aware that it doesn’t always look as pretty as this mac and cheese in my kitchen. Haha! Goodness.

Unlike my chiles rellenos, I am so happy about this mac and cheese. It’s two of my favorite cheeses combined (cheddar and havarti) and it’s topped with an herby, cracker crust that’s buttery and crunchy. It’s the side you need to make for Thanksgiving. It’s the only new side I’m sharing this year on the blog, because quite frankly, you don’t even need the rest (just kidding). Move over mashed potatoes – this mac and cheese is coming through!!

If you end up making it, don’t forget to tag #marinamakeseats!

Havarti & Cheddar Mac and Cheese

– 6 tablespoons of butter, divided
– 1 3/4 cups of crushed golden crackers
– 2 teaspoons of fresh sage, chopped finely
– 2 teaspoons of fresh thyme, chopped finely
– 2 teaspoons of fresh rosemary, chopped finely
– 1 garlic clove, minced
– 1 pound of cavatappi pasta (shells or rotini are a good substitute)
– 1/4 cup of flour
– 3 1/2 cups of whole milk
– 2 cups of havarti cheese, shredded
– 1 1/2 cups of sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
– 1 teaspoon of salt
– 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
– A pinch of nutmeg


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat. Melt two tablespoons of butter and add the crackers, stirring for a minute or two to coat the crackers in the butter and brown them slightly. Add the minced garlic and chopped herbs, cooking for an additional minute until fragrant. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Next, make the pasta by boiling a large pot of water. Once the water comes to boil, add a few tablespoons of salt and then add the pasta cooking it a minute under what is instructed as al dente on the box/bag. Your pasta will continue cooking when it’s in the oven. Drain the pasta and set aside.

In a separate large pot, melt four tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat. Once melted, whisk in flour and let it bubble for about a minute or two. Add in milk constantly stirring for another minute or two until the sauce thickens. You don’t want it to over thicken, just enough that it lightly coats the back of the spoon. Once the sauce thickens, remove from the heat and add the cheeses, salt, pepper and nutmeg, and stir until everything is melted and combined.

Pour the mac and cheese into a 9X13 baking dish and top it with the cracker mixture. Cook it in the oven uncovered for 20-25 minutes.

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