Skip to content

Moms These Days (Part II)

For as long as I can remember, my mom has carried a purse big enough to double as a sail in a maritime emergency.  In the 1980s, it was a beige Le Sport Sac.  Do you remember those?  They were made out of parachute material and had 38,000 compartments.  If your mom was driving you to school and said, “Can you hand me a tissue?  They’re in my purse,” it would be eighth period by the time you found one.

I asked her once if her Le Sport Sac was from France.  “I don’t think so,” she said.

I nodded in agreement, relieved that she hadn’t been misled by the bag’s name.  Stylish French women were certainly not lugging Le Sport Sacs around Paris.  The only thing French about the bag was that you could fit the Arc de Triomphe in the front pocket if you had to.

Sometime in the 1990s she switched to a purse made out of greyish burlap.  This one didn’t even pretend to be European; it had a decidedly free-trade, Made-in-Tibet vibe to it, like the bag knew more about the human condition than we ever would.

These days, she’s got something that looks like a massive dish towel, or a bunch of oven mitts stitched together.  I know because I was cooking in her kitchen recently and I wiped my hands on it by mistake.

pasta 2So now the bag has mac and cheese all over it.  I apologized profusely, but she was all, “no problem–it was time to get a new one anyway,” which I take to mean she already has her eye on a purse made out of a bathrobe or a quilt.

You know what I have my eye on these days?

Macaroni and cheese!havarti mac and cheeseI like a recipe that bakes up into a gooey, creamy, noodley mess with a light, crunchy top.  Not a hard top of burnt cheese, but a crispy breadcrummy one.  And I like my mac and cheese with havarti these days.  (Havarti is the official Snacking Cheese of our house; it was only a matter of time until it wound up in our pasta.)

pasta 5

So grab your wallets and purses (be they leather or terry cloth) and head to the grocery store, my friends.  This macaroni and cheese is legit.

Havarti Macaroni & Cheese {Download & Print Recipe}
Adapted from a cheddar macaroni and cheese recipe on Kitchen Treaty, which was in turn adapted from a recipe on  I switched the cheese to Havarti and added the hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, Parmesan and panko.  I also made changes to the methods and retold the instructions in my own words.

Ingredients: {Serves 5-6}

1/2 lb. pasta such as conchiglie, fusili, elbows, or medium or large shells (or a combination)

3 Tbsp. butter

1/4 c. flour

1/2 tsp. salt (plus more for salting the pasta water)

1/2 tsp. dry mustard

1/8 tsp. smoked paprika (optional)

2 1/2 c. whole milk

1/2 lb. grated Havarti cheese (about 3 c., not packed)

a couple dashes of hot sauce

a couple dashes of Worcestershire sauce

1/2 c. Parmesan cheese

1/3-1/2 c. panko breadcrumbs (these are Japanese bread crumbs that are larger, crispier and lighter than the regular canned variety.  You should be able to find or ask for them in a large grocery store.)


Start boiling the pasta in a large pot of salted water.  Cook until it’s done to your taste (I cooked mine only until it was al dente).  Drain the pasta.  If it will be a while until you use it, toss a little butter onto it so that it doesn’t stick together.

In the meantime, make the roux by melting the butter in a medium to large pan or pot over medium heat.  Add the flour, salt, mustard, and paprika (if using).  Whisk or stir for 3 minutes over medium heat.

Add the milk, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce.  Whisk the sauce until it’s smooth.  Keep heating it over medium heat for 10 minutes, whisking often so that the sauce thickens evenly.  (At some point during the ten minutes, preheat the oven to 375.)  Add the cheeses and whisk until smooth.  Remove from the heat.

Dump the pasta into the cheese sauce (or, if your pot is too small, dump the sauce and the noodles into a large bowl) and toss to combine.  Pour the cheesy noodles into a 2-quart casserole dish.  Sprinkle with more paprika, if desired, and then sprinkle the panko evenly on top.

Bake the macaroni and cheese for 25-30 minutes, until lightly browned and bubbly.  Serve.


thunderPlaying all day. . .

semour 9.26 can knock you right out.

24 Comments Post a comment
  1. It would probably be best if you never, ever see any of my bags.

    Or wipe your hands on ’em.

    September 26, 2013
  2. Katherine Dirks #

    Hello old friend! Just want you to know I have been loving your blog! So funny, so you. (ps: I plan to bring your orzo salad recipe to a potluck tomorrow.)

    September 26, 2013
    • Katherine! I wish I could see you right this minute.

      November 5, 2013
  3. cheryllovesfood #

    “…and I wiped my hands on it by mistake.” Buuwaahhhhh…… I laughed so hard when I read that. Funny story, enjoyed it much. Great looking mac and cheese. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

    September 26, 2013
  4. Yummmm. Havarti is an awesome snacking cheese, so I’m sure it’d be awesome in mac and cheese, too.

    My mom has different handbag issues than your mom… not so much one giant purse as many, many small ones. Much more likely to be mistaken for cloth dinner napkins than dish towels!

    September 26, 2013
  5. I remember Le Sport Sac! My mom had the same one your mom did. And, in junior high, I had a mini-version! So proud.

    Havarti in mac and cheese is INSPIRED. Thanks for this recipe and enticing photos.

    Thunder looks (momentarily) meditative about that toy. (What IS that toy??)

    September 26, 2013
  6. One dog is so focused on the toy and the other dog is so focused on melting all of our hearts – so stinkin cute:) That mac and cheese has me just about drooling – just need a spoon to shovel the goodness in. I think my mom had one of those sport sacs too – things would just disappear in that thing – it was like magic when something you were really looking for reappeared – ha! Have a Great One:)

    September 26, 2013
  7. mdog32 #

    i have everything BUT the cheese!! Aarrrggh, back to the store I go tomorrow. I can’t wait to make this! ~Gina

    September 26, 2013
  8. I love the comfort feeling of mac and cheese….and the pics of the pups!

    September 26, 2013
  9. Eggton's Mom #

    I wish I could say that Eggton was exaggerating about my purses, but it’s all true, including the part about wiping her hands on my summer bag, but I forgave her because that tiramisu was so delicious. Fortunately, it was time to bring out my Baggallini for fall: brown parachute (why mess with a good thing?), with tomato-red lining. There’s nothing “eeney” about this baby – it will hold 2 mac ‘n’ cheese casseroles, and has TWELVE compartments. The key to maintaining your sanity with a bag like this is consistency. Put essential items, like keys, cell phones, and tweezers in the same place every time, and you’ll be fine.

    September 26, 2013
  10. jenny_o #

    So funny! I can’t say I’ve ever seen a purse remotely like the one you wiped your hands on, but I sure would like to 🙂

    September 26, 2013
  11. I laughed so hard at the story of you wiping your hands on your mom’s purse.

    September 27, 2013
  12. Oooh I’ve never thought of using Havarti for mac n cheese but now I want it immediately! Great story also!

    September 27, 2013
  13. I just loved your mum’s comment! What a great and funny post – blue the mac and cheese looks awesome too!

    September 27, 2013
  14. Thunder: Pay attention, my wormy-chewy minion. We raid the mac and cheese at midnight.
    Seymour: Too late.

    September 27, 2013
  15. love the post and the recipe looks great )

    September 27, 2013
  16. I remember those big purses! I have carried a huge one myself since elementary school, with a short rebellious period in college where I only carried a student id and a debit card. (Neither of which worked to get money out of the bank.)

    September 29, 2013
  17. You and your mom are gems!!

    October 1, 2013
  18. Havarti! I’m in. basically every time i go to the store i find some reason to grab havarti; mostly i say it’s “for blogging”, but i know mr. table is curious as to why no recipes ever come out of it. whoops. but now you’ve given me something to make with it! cover = not blown. 🙂

    October 2, 2013
  19. It’s a good thing we dudes don’t tote bags, because they’d be full of things like playing cards, a baseball, and beef jerky. I’d want one big enough to fill with plenty of Havarti, too.

    I think you might have just invented the new innovation of pursery: The hand-wipe bag.

    Think Coach would be interested in it?

    – Eli

    October 2, 2013
    • Man, I LOVE me some beef jerky. Have you had the “Crave” brand? They make a chili one in a red package that I cannot get enough of.

      October 2, 2013
  20. HI, I can’t wait to make this for thanksgiving this year. I was wondering how I can make it in advance and still keep it’s yumminess. Or would you recommend I make it the day of?

    November 25, 2013
    • Hello, my friend! I’m sorry to just be getting back to you. You can definitely make it in advance! I would probably make the mixture, put it in a pan but don’t bake it–just let it cool and refrigerate it tonight. Then tomorrow you can sprinkle the bread crumbs on top and bake it. And my one recommendation is to resist the urge to add too much pasta to the cheesy mixture, otherwise it will be dry. Don’t use too big a pan, either–you want the mac n cheese to be a couple inches deep. Enjoy!

      November 27, 2013

Leave a Reply to cheryllovesfood Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s