Spicy Bacon Mac and Cheese

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One of my 30 before 30 goals is to learn to cook better. Now that I cook 2 or 3 meals almost every day, I have plenty of opportunity to work on that goal. Over the last few months, I’ve tried tons of recipes, some of which have been truly fantastic. So, I’ve decided to start a regular recipe review on my blog. If you have a recipe that you’d like to share, e-mail it to andruswilliams2010 (at) gmail (dot) com.

I’ve always been a baker, but not much of a cook. Unless you count Kraft mac and cheese. And as you can tell by the name of this post, I’m still eating mac and cheese. But, I made it from scratch.

Emily at So Domesticated shared a recipe for “Oh So Good Mac and Cheese.” And it is oh so good. Russell and I made it a few months ago and really enjoyed it. I used skim milk, low-fat cheese, and whole wheat pasta – really, it was fairly healthy, as far as mac and cheese goes.

I was craving it again the other night and Russell convinced me to kick it up a notch with bacon. And, since we have more peppers from our garden than we know what to do with, I added some jalapeno and serrano peppers.

Holy moly. It blew my socks off.

Here’s the link to Emily’s original version: Oh So Good Mac and Cheese

And here’s the recipe as I made it:

  • 1/2 box of pasta. Barilla Plus multigrain pasta with Omega-3s is my fav.
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups skim milk
  • 1/2 cup shredded colby and moterrey jack cheese
  • 1 cup low-fat cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan
  • 3 slices bacon
  • 2 jalapenos, diced
  • 1 serrano, diced
  • Dash of dried chopped onion
  • Approx 1/2 cup toasted panko crumbs
  • Dash of red pepper flakes
  • Salt to taste

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

Begin by boiling water and cooking pasta.

In a separate saucepan, melt the butter and whisk in the flour until combined. Next, alternate adding milk and colby/monterrey/cheddar cheese, whisking well between each. Once well combined and a cheese sauce is formed, and continue to whisk over medium-low heat until the cheese sauce thickens. As Emily said, You’ll know when it is ready when the sauce coats a spoon and drips off only a little bit.

While sauce is thickening, fry bacon, with the serrano pepper. Cut the bacon into bite size pieces to be added to the pasta.

To toast the panko crumbs, place in a clean frying pan. Toast over medium heat until golden brown.

After the pasta has been drained, the bacon fried, and the cheese sauce is finished, combine all, as well as dried chopped onion, jalapenos, red pepper flakes, salt, and 1/2 cup of the shredded parmesan. Mix well.

Transfer to a baking dish. Sprinkle the top with the toasted panko crumbs and remaining parmesan. Bake for about 45 minutes.

Whether you make the original recipe or my kicked up version, I guarantee you’ll love it!

 

Julia Andrus Williams

www.andruswilliams.com

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