Now that summer is winding down, it’s time to start thinking about back to school – and not just notebooks and pencil cases! As a busy mama, I know that back to school also means it’s time to start thinking about weeknight dinners and leftovers that kids will love to find in their lunchboxes. Fortunately, I’m lucky to have a wonderful husband who’s got serious skills in the kitchen, so I have a little help on this front. He recently featured his Gourmet Mac & Cheese on his website, and the recipe fits the back-to-school bill in every way. It’s perfect for dinner for kids (and adults!). Here’s how he does it:


  • 1 Pound Curly Cavatappi Pasta
  • 5 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
  • 5 Tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
  • 4 Cups Warm Whole Milk
  • 1 Teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Nutmeg
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Mustard Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1 Cup Gruyere Cheese, Grated
  • 1 Cup Sharp Cheddar, Grated
  • 1 Cup Pecorino Romano, Grated
  • 1 Cup Parmesano Reggiano
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons White Truffle Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Panko Breadcrumb
  • 1/2 Pecorino Romano, Grated


  1. Preheat Oven To 350 degrees.
  2. Bring a pot of water to boil. Add salt and cook the elbow macaroni until al dente. Drain and rinse in a colander.
  3. Meanwhile, warm your milk in a small saucepan.
  4. In a separate medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat until it begins to bubble, but don’t let it brown!
  5. Next, add the flour and whisk constantly for 2-3 minutes over medium-low heat.
  6. Add the milk in a steady stream and continue to whisk for another 4-5 minutes. Let the milk mixture cook for another 3-4 minutes or until it’s thickened, stirring constantly.
  7. Add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, mustard powder and one and a half tablespoon of truffle oil.
  8. Add in the Gruyere, Pecorino Romano, Parmesan and Cheddar and stir until smooth, 1-2 minutes.
  9. Remove from heat and add the pasta to the pot, stirring to coat.
  10. Pour the mixture into a greased baking dish- be sure to grease it well so that the macaroni doesn’t stick!
  11. Top with the breadcrumbs and a sprinkling of Pecorino Romano.
  12. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the top is browned and bubbly.
  13. Let sit for 10 minutes.

Enjoy! This reheats really well and is absolutely delicious. You can get more of Dean’s tricks for this recipe and more over at The Gourmet Dad.

What’s your go-to weeknight dinner once the kids are back in school?



Photo Credit: Food Network

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