Happy 6th Birthday – with Mac and Cheese Recipe

My daughter turned 6 over the weekend.  She celebrated by having two friends over for dinner and a sleep-over.  My daughter, being my daughter, had lots of opinions regarding her menu.  She wanted to serve “macaroni with cheese”, veggies with dips, lemonade, peace sign pretzels (found at Whole Foods) and a double layer lemon cake.  I say macaroni and cheese in quotes because sometimes it’s penne with gruyere or shells with white cheddar or a mix of left-over pasta and what I have on hand cheeses.  However I’ve made “macaroni and cheese” for some kid guests, who will not touch it if it doesn’t look like “the box” version.  So I consulted recipes for one that seemed the most orange and box looking.  I decided on one from my Real Simple Cooking app with a few changes and omissions (no jalapeno peppers, thanks).  Funny my daughter said it was the best recipe yet.  I think the secret ingredient is the mustard.  I wonder if mixed with the dried fake cheese is mustard powder?  See recipe below…

mac and cheese - the real deal

1 lb elbow macaroni

1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons all purpose flour

1 cup milk

1 tablespoon coarse grain mustard

1/2 pound extra sharp cheese, grated, 2 cups

1/4 cup parmesan, grated

Cook pasta according to manufacturer’s instructions. Drain well, return to pot and set aside.

In a medium sausepan melt the butter over medium heat and add the flour to make a paste.

Whisk in milk and heat to boiling.(careful not to over boil)

Add the mustard and cheeses and whisk until smooth.

Pour cheese sauce over macaroni and toss. Heat to warn through if necessary.


(Much to my daughter’s chagrin there was a roast chicken at her birthday dinner as my husband is not eating cheese and one of her guest’s doesn’t like mac and cheese either.  She got over it and no one starved.)


I have no idea where the lemon cake idea came to her.  If I made a lemon cake it’s been pound cake or lemon bread, but not double layer, that I can remember.  I cruised my cookbooks and the internet and found a few options.  I combined a few ideas and I must say it was quite yummy.  The cake had one half cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice which gave it a nice lemon flavor.  The frosting was a simple whipped cream and confectioner’s sugar mixture.  Then the filling between the layers was two parts cream frosting mixed with one part lemon curd.  The lemon curd was not homemade but a favorite from Trader Joe’s.  The girls had a lovely time decorating it.  I took a few photos of before the decor.  It could’ve been decorated with fresh or sugar flowers, but that’s not what makes a six year old smile.  My daughter chose a beach and peace sign theme, so there was beach sand of colored sugar, ocean of clue colored pearls, plastic retro surfers, sugar peace signs and the most ridiculous candle you’ve ever seen.  She was so excited to find the candle at our favorite cake decorating store (Cake Art in San Rafael), after seeing it at a friend’s party (who bought it on eBay!)  It shoots a flame (I blinked and missed a photo op) then spins around lighting candles and playing Happy Birthday.  The music is like a baby toy – high pitched and annoying.   When it wouldn’t stop, my husband had to cut a wire inside.

My husband is usually in charge of breakfast on the weekends, so my daughter put her birthday order in with him too – waffles with berries and whipped cream.  The girls were happy and I got to use some of the extra cream I’d whipped the night before.  However one girl said how she liked to spray “the can” in her mouth.  My daughter tried to explain there was no can.  Not sure her friend believed her.