My life has just gotten more complicated…or at least it has become busier.  We are open for dinner at The Olive Branch now!  This is either a really good idea, or I have lost my mind.  With my track record, it could go either way!

In thinking through the menu I wanted to offer, I was torn.  I wanted to be creative but I also knew that if I had any hope of a night off, the menu had to be sustainable by my staff.  So, I decided to “fancy up” some of my sandwiches and trade in the tired (but delicious) Ruffles for some heartier side dishes.

The biggest difference is on the pasta menu.  I put my homemade tomato meat lasagna–which has an extra thick layer of ricotta–on the dinner menu, and we are turning out rich, buttery macaroni and cheese that we bake under a garlicky bread crumb crust.  The secret is in the cheese sauce.  You have to add just the right blend of seasonings.  I am including my “secret” recipe here.  Hope you love it!


Macaroni & Cheese
1/2 stick butter
1/2 C flour
2 C milk
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper
2 T Worcestershire
1/2 t nutmeg
1 t dry mustard
4 C shredded cheese (I use sharp cheddar, but you can use any type or mixture that you like)
1 lb pasta (I use penne)

  1. Start with a basic white sauce. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter and add the flour, whisking until it is smooth and thick. Slowly pour in the milk, still stirring over the heat until it starts to thicken.
  2. Add 1t salt, ½ t pepper, 2T Worcestershire, ½ t nutmeg, 1t dry mustard, and whisk together
  3. Add the 4 cups shredded cheese. Keep stirring until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth.
  4. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, boil the pasta. Although I use penne, of course you can use macaroni too! When it is al dente, drain the pasta and put it back into the saucepan. Pour the warm cheese sauce over the hot pasta and stir well.
  5. When the pasta is completely coated, pour it into a greased 8×8 baking dish.  Sprinkle the top with garlic seasoned bread crumbs until the top is covered in one layer.  Dot the bread crumbs with pats of butter or margarine.

At this point you can let the mac n cheese sit until closer to when you will need it.  You can even leave it in a fridge for a couple of days.  About an hour before you are ready to serve it, pull it out so it can come to room temperature

Place it in a pre-heated oven (350 degrees) until it is hot all the way through and starting to bubble on the sides.  The top will start to brown and get crispy.  Serve it hot!


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