Friday, April 9, 2010

Spicy Mac and Cheese

This recipe is one of my favorites that I've tried recently. I've made it twice now, and I liked it even more the second time. It comes from one of my favorite food blogs: Annie's Eats.

I'm a big fan of homemade mac and cheese, but Paul tends to find it a little bland for his tastes. He likes this recipe because it is packed with flavor. Definitely not bland at all! It's not too spicy, but it has a nice kick and a wonderful flavor. The combination of the different types of cheese and the spices and vegetables is just really yummy. :)

If you love cheese, you should definitely give it a try!

Spicy Mac and Cheese
4 c. pasta shapes (this time I used mini bowties, and it was fun)
1/3 c. onion, finely chopped
1/3 c. roasted red peppers*, finely chopped
1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped (If you want it to be spicier, you could leave in some seeds...I prefer the flavor of the jalapeno without the overwhelming spiciness, so I scrape the seeds and membranes all out with a spoon.)
6 1/2 T. butter, divided
2 1/2 c. milk, plus additional to thin out sauce if needed
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
1/4 t. onion powder
1/4 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
8 oz. colby jack cheese, shredded
4 oz. pepper jack cheese, shredded
4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
4 oz. baguette or crusty Italian bread (or about 1 1/2 c. bread crumbs)

*Roasted red peppers are sold in jars in the same aisle as the pickles and olives. They are a little on the expensive side, but one jar can make this recipe twice. You can also roast your own if you are talented that way. I am not. ;)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Boil a large pot of water and cook pasta according to directions on package. When the pasta is done, drain and return to pot. While waiting for water to boil, saute the onion, red peppers, and jalapenos in 1/2 T. butter for 5-7 minutes or until tender. Set aside until needed.

Then, while pasta cooks, melt 4 T. butter in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Whisk in flour and stir continuously for about two minutes. Be careful not to burn the mixture. Slowly whisk in the milk and cook until mixture boils and thickens, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium low. Whisk in spices, and then whisk in the cheeses until well incorporated. If the sauce seems too thick, add some milk to thin it out a bit. (I added 1/2 c. this time, and it was still thick and creamy, but not overly so.)

Combine pasta, vegetables, and cheese sauce. Pour into a greased 9x13 pan (or 2 quart casserole dish).

Cut baguette into chunks and pulse in a food processor until coarse crumbs are formed. Melt the last 2 T. butter in the microwave and pour over bread crumbs. Pulse a few times to distribute the melted butter. Sprinkle bread crumbs evenly over the pasta and cheese. Bake for 25 minutes (or until mixture is bubbly and topping is golden brown). Allow to sit 5-10 minutes before serving.

Here's a link to the original recipe: Spicy Mac and Cheese.

This is definitely one that will be making repeat appearances in our household. :)

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