Spicy Mac and Cheese

I am always on the hunt for different variations of macaroni and cheese. Why? Because the possibilities are endless! I’ve actually considered joining the cheese of the month club just so I could try all different kinds of cheese mixed together with pasta and maybe a few other players. I am still considering it…

What we have here is a great recipe from Annie’s Eats. Creamy cheeses with a little kick and topped with a crunch! You can control the spiciness by adding more of less of chopped jalapenos, and even leave in some of the seeds for extra heat.

Ingredients:

4 cups pasta shapes (whole wheat shells here)

1/3 cup onion, finely chopped

1/3 cup roasted red pepper (I used jarred)

1-2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely minced

6-1/2 Tbsp butter, divided

4 Tbsp flour

2-1/2 cups whole milk

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

8 oz. colby jack cheese, shredded

4 oz. pepper jack cheese, shredded

4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

4 oz. Panko bread crumbs

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. When the water boils, cook the pasta according to the package directions.
  2. In the meantime, melt 1/2 tablespoon of butter in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, red pepper and jalapeno to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally until fragrant and tender, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. In a medium saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat. Once the butter is completely melted, whisk in the flour. Cook the mixture, whisking constantly, until it turns a light golden brown color and begins to foam, about 2 minutes (Be careful not to burn!). Whisk in the milk until well blended. Cook the mixture, whisking or stirring frequently, until it begins to bubble and thicken, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Whisk in the spices. Add the cheeses to the mixture and whisk until completely melted and well incorporated. Remove the mixture from the heat.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 2-quart casserole dish. Return the drained pasta to the large pot. Add in the cooked vegetables and the cheese sauce, and mix until well blended. Transfer the mixture to the prepared casserole dish. Place the Panko bread crumbs in a small bowl. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and toss with the bread crumbs. Sprinkle the crumb mixture in an even layer on top of the pasta. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the mixture is heated through and the topping is golden brown (You can also broil for 2-3 minutes at the end to acquire the golden brown topping). Let stand 5-10 minutes before serving.

Source: Adapted slightly from Annie’s Eats

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