Do the math, eight + nine =


Yes, seventeen. What is this number you ask? Seventeen is the number of people that will be in our house from Christmas day to January 2nd. That would be 8 days, 17 people, 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, and one kitchen table that seats 8.


It being the holiday’s and the fact that we live in vacation town we have visitors pretty often. Although, most of the time they seem to be random friends (mostly looking to snowboard and free place to stay) my brothers invite in.

These extra eight however, are most definitely not random. Remember Mrs. Mooney? She makes that amazing Penne, among other things. Well the Mooney’s are headed out of dreary old Cleveland and headed to the snow covered mountains for a real Clark Griswold Christmas vacation! Let’s just hope we all come out of this in one piece.

Seriously though now that I think about it we are the Griswold’s. We have a seriously crazy  group of people – brothers will be piling in with brothers, kids that are far too old to be sleeping on their parents floor will be, guests will be crammed onto mattresses in every little nook and cranny, we even have a space under the stairs that we call “the Harry Potter closet”.  We have an enormously oversized tree (in our kitchen), lights have been strung on as many trees as possible outside, Christmas music is playing just about 18/7, and drinks will most likely be flowing (although we do not do eggnog, I do not even know if I have ever tried it. Something about drinking eggs just does not sit well with me) on a fairly consistent basis.


So, like many of you this holiday season I have been on the lookout for foods that feed a hungry pack and will please everyone. Lucky for you I have this amazingly creamy and flavorful backed mac and cheese recipe for you! It is perfect because it is not just boring old cheddar cheese. This mac and cheese actually has some flavor due to a whole lot of Havarti cheese and just a kick of heat. Another bonus It can be fully prepared ahead of time. All you have to do is throw it in the oven an hour before dinner.

If you have a really big group you might just want to double the recipe. Trust me people will be begging for more. The picky eaters, the I’ll eat anything eaters and the eaters with real taste buds all went crazy over this mac and cheese!

3.81 from 102 votes

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

The Recipe

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

By halfbakedharvest

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: pasta

This mac and cheese actually has some flavor due to a whole lot of Havarti cheese and just a kick of heat. Another bonus It can be fully prepared ahead of time. All you have to do is throw it in the oven an hour before dinner.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 8 Servings
Calories 655 kcal


  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 1 stick unsalted butter plus melted butter for brushing
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce optional
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1/4-1 teaspoon cayenne pepper I used 1 teaspoon
  • 1 quart whole milk 4 cups
  • 3 1/2 cups havarti cheese grated
  • 5 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese shredded
  • 1 sleeve butter crackers crushed (about 35 crackers), such as Ritz
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese optional


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until just slightly softened, about 6 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain the pasta and rinse under cold water.
  2. Meanwhile, melt 4 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, mustard powder, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce and cayenne and cook, whisking, until the mixture is smooth and slightly golden, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk and cook, whisking occasionally, until the sauce begins to boil and thicken, about 5 minutes. Stir in the all but 1 cup of the harvarti cheese and cheddar cheese; cook, stirring, until the cheese just melts, about 1 more minute. Stir in the pasta, adding the reserved pasta water as needed to make a creamy sauce. Season with salt.
  3. Brush a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with melted butter. Spread the pasta mixture in the dish. Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter in a bowl in the microwave; stir in the crushed crackers and parmesan. Sprinkle the reserved havarti and cheddar cheese evenly over the pasta, then scatter the cracker mixture on top. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until heated through, about 25 minutes. Remove the foil; continue baking until browned and bubbly, about 20 more minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

slightly adapted from food network.


I do not think there could be a family more like the Griswold’s.