I think most people (at least those of us who are human) have a fast food item or two that we just really like.  Panera’s mac and cheese is one of mine.  When Andrew was younger, I would order it for him because I knew he wouldn’t eat it all and I could play anchor eater.  When I was pregnant with Caroline, my OB’s office was just down the road from a Panera and I strategically scheduled all of my appointments around lunchtime, mostly because of this stuff.  (I wish I were kidding…I’m not.)  When my brilliant friend Tara alerted me to the fact that, hello!, this recipe was freely available on Panera’s website I was puuuumped.  I kind of wish I had a tape of my reaction when she enlightened me – I’m sure it was priceless.

Somehow it’s taken me a couple of months to actually get around to making this myself but I’m happy to report that it is everything I had hoped for.  Actually, it’s better because it’s homemade (duh), because it’s okay if my daughter’s hair looks like someone gave her a swirly, and it’s okay if Andrew’s pants have a hole in the knee, or more likely that he’s wearing no pants at all.  Being able to enjoy a restaurant dish I already love in the comfort of our home is always a win in my book.