Viewers Give Robin Top Mac-n-Cheese Honors

Viewers like Robin's mac-n-cheese recipe more than the other anchors'.

Jan. 29, 2008 — -- Everybody makes macaroni and cheese a little differently, and the "Good Morning America" anchor team is no different.

Diane, Robin, Chris and Sam are sharing their favorite versions of the classic American cuisine. Viewers voted Robin's recipe No. 1, followed by Diane's, Chris' and Sam's. You can cry them all out, and see which one you like best.

Robin's Favorite: Four Cheese, Protein, Fiber, Anti-Oxidant Rich Mac-n-Cheese

4 cups cooked Barilla Plus elbow pasta

2 tablespoons nonhydrogenated buttery spread (i.e., Organic Earth Balance whipped buttery spread.)

2 tablespoons flour

2 cups organic 1 percent milk

2 cups shredded Sharp cheddar cheese (optional: low fat)

½ cup grated Fontina cheese

½ cup grated Gruyere cheese

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon. dry mustard

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup whole wheat bread crumbs

For an antioxidant boost add the following:

1½ cups cauliflower or broccoli florets, steamed (cauliflower works best with this dish)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cook the multigrain pasta in boiling water for 7-8 minutes. Drain well and set aside. In a deep skillet, melt the buttery spread over medium heat. Add the flour to make a roux and stir well. Pour the milk and cook until the mixture is thick and smooth. Season with salt, dry mustard and cayenne pepper. Stir in 2 cups of shredded cheddar, Fontina and Gruyere cheeses and continue to cook until until fully melted. Add the cooked pasta and stir well. Transfer the mixture to a large casserole dish. Carefully take the presteamed cauliflower florets and sink them into and throughout the casserole. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese and then bread crumbs over the top. Bake until bubbly, about 30 minutes at 375 degrees F.

*Recipe courtesy of Beller Nutritional Institute.

Go to the next page for Diane's recipe.

Diane's Favorite: Carnie Wilson's Fall to Your Knees Mac and Cheese from "To Serve With Love"

And now for my favorite thing on planet Earth: that would be mac and cheese. There is nothing I love more, and honestly, I could eat this all day long. (It's partially what made me fat.) It's what I always wish I could have more of now. And speaking of wanting more, this version of mac and cheese has more cheese than noodles. What could be better? It's what I dream about at night. Call me crazy Carnie.

Mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food and the best crowd-pleaser I know. It takes you backward, forward, sideways and up and down, and makes you do that little "happy dance" you do inside when something really hits the spot ... until you step on the scale, that is.

For a split second, I thought about offering you a skinnier version of the mac, but let's get real. Just have the real thing and eat less. You could also do an extra 45 minutes on the treadmill. It's sooo worth it.

Stuff You Need:

3½cups large elbow macaroni

10 ounces Velveeta cheese, cut into 1-inch squares

10 ounces. white Vermont cheddar cheese, cut into 1-inch squares

15 ounces Gruyère cheese, shredded

1-2 cups of jack and cheddar cheese (combined), shredded

4 ounces cream cheese (at room temp.)

2/3 cup sour cream

1 1/3 cups heavy cream

1 1/3 cups half-and-half

1 egg

2 2/3 tablespoon flour

1 tablespoon. Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon dry mustard powder

1/8-1/4 teaspoon. cayenne pepper

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (fresh if you have it)

1 teaspoon. kosher salt

A pinch of paprika

1 tablespoon fresh chives (for garnish)

Serves 10.

1. Grease a 9-inch-by-13 inch nonstick metal baking pan with 1 tablespoon butter. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare macaroni according to the package directions, but make sure it's al dente. (Huh? It should still be a little firm.) Be sure to add a pinch of salt and a dash of olive oil to the boiling water while cooking. Drain pasta well and pour into the baking pan.

2. In a large mixing bowl, add the heavy cream, half-and-half and sour cream; break the cream cheese into little bits with your (clean!) fingers as you add it to the bowl. Add the egg, flour, Worcestershire sauce, garlic and onion powders, dry mustard, cayenne pepper and nutmeg; combine very well with a wire whisk to break up that cream cheese. It will look lumpy, but that's OK.

3. Starting at the corners of the pasta dish, place and push down the Velveeta and white Vermont cheddar cubes. Work your way around and toward the middle (they won't push down completely, but just smoosh them down a bit). Now sprinkle the fabulous Gruyère cheese evenly over the top -- gently and evenly pour that artery-clogging mixture on it, covering all areas. Gently shake the pan afterward for a sec to make sure the liquid is even. I know it sounds gross, but push down and make little holes into areas of the mixture with your fingers. (You're just getting some of that Gruyère down deeper below the surface.) Wash your hands!

4. Sprinkle the jack-and-cheddar combo over the mixture and sprinkle the paprika on top. Put this baby in the oven (make sure your oven rack is right in the middle) and bake until brown and bubbly — we're talking approximately 30 minutes. It will be creamy in the center and more crusty on the top and edges. Chop some fresh chives and get those taste buds ready. When it's done, garnish with the chives (but try not to eat part of the crusty top before you serve it. I'm watching you!).

5. Get out of town! This is actually a one-way ticket to paradise.

Carnie Aside-a:

For a super delish variation, omit the nutmeg and scatter ½ cup finely chopped onions and celery (that have been sautéed in 1 tablespoon. butter until clear) plus a 9 ounce packet of flaked white albacore tuna over the noodles before adding the cream mixture. Never mind what I said before — this is the best ever! *Recipe courtesy of Carnie Wilson's cookbook: To Serve with Love; Hay House Publishers, 2005.

Go to the next page for Chris' recipe.

Chris' Favorite: Italian Mac-n-Cheese


1 16-ounce package of elbows, gobbetti or penne pasta

2 teaspoons of salt (added to the water for cooking pasta)

For the sauce:

2 teaspoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 cups whole milk

½ teaspoon. freshly grated nutmeg

½ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

¾ teaspoon salt

1 ½ cups freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano

½ cup shredded Italian Fontina

3 tablespoons mascarpone

For the topping:

1 cup dry plain white bread crumbs

1 tablespoon. olive oil

2 tablespoons Parmigiano Reggiano

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic

1 cup of shredded Italian Fontina cheese or Bel Paese cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook pasta until al dente, according to the package instructions. Drain and place pasta back into the pot.

While pasta is cooking, place bread crumbs on a sheet pan or cookie sheet with short sides. Add the olive oil and combine with your fingers until the crumbs are coated. Place in the hot oven and toast. Stir every now and again with a metal spatula until the crumbs are golden brown. This should take about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven. Let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, salt, and Parmigiano Reggiano.

In a 2-quart saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour all at once, then slowly whisk in the milk while making sure the mixture is smooth. Whisk continually until mixture comes to a boil. Add the nutmeg, white pepper, salt and continue stirring.

Lower heat to a simmer and continue stirring for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the cheeses and mascarpone.

Reheat the pot with the drained macaroni in it, and stir gently with a wooden spoon (this is to make sure all the remaining water has evaporated). Turn off the heat. Pour cheese sauce over the macaroni until all pasta is evenly coated. Place into a 9-by-12-inch baking dish and sprinkle 1 cup of Italian Fontina (or Bel Paese) cheese. Broil until top is lightly golden and bubbly, about 5 minutes. Top with the bread crumbs and serve immediately.

*Recipe Courtesy Karen Pickus, Chef, Good Morning America; 2008

Go to the next page for Sam's recipe.

Sam's Favorite: Dinosaur Bar-B-Que's Mac 'N' Cheese


½ C. vegetable oil

1 ½C. onion, diced

¾ C. green pepper, diced

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

4 ounces flour

3 cups water

3 cups half-and-half

14 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

5 ounces Colby cheese, shredded

10 ounces American cheese, shredded

4 ounces Pecorino Romano, shredded

1teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons. lemon pepper

1 teaspoon sugar

2 teaspoons French's mustard

2 teaspoons white vinegar

1 ½ teaspoon Tabasco sauce

1 ½ pounds elbow macaroni


8 ounces of shredded cheddar cheese

2 tablespoons Pecorino Romano cheese


Heat oil in a large pot. Add onions and peppers; cook until they are translucent. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Stir in flour. Add water and half-and-half. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Using an immersion blender, puree this mixture until it is smooth (*if using a regular blender, work in batches, filling the pitcher only half-full, since the liquid will be hot). Slowly add cheeses to warm pureed mixture, making sure all cheese is melted before adding more. Once cheese is completely melted, add salt, lemon pepper, sugar, mustard, vinegar and Tabasco. Stir to combine.

Cook 1½ pounds of dried elbow macaroni in boiling water, according to manufacturer's instructions. Cook until al dente, not completely soft.

Combine hot, cooked pasta and sauce in large mixing bowl; stir well to combine. Pour entire mixture into a greased 10-inch-by-12-inch pan (or a 9-inch-by-13-inch one). Top with 8 ounces. of shredded cheddar cheese and 2 tablespoons of Pecorino Romano cheese.

Place under broiler until top is golden brown and bubbling. Serve immediately.

*Recipe courtesy of Dinosaur Bar-B-Que