Monday, January 24, 2011

Mac and (Pepper Jack) Cheese

Last week, my friend Jessie gave me a copy of the December/January issue of Simple & Delicious Magazine. She had made a chicken, hash and egg recipe the night before and thought I might be interested in trying it. She was right--I definitely want to try it. I also flipped through the rest of the magazine and found a few others I want to try.

Pepper Jack Mac was one of those recipes. I'm always a sucker for mac and cheese, and I'm always looking for good homemade recipes. I was intrigued by the pepper jack aspect of this one.
The recipe was really easy, and I think the timing (25 minutes) was spot on. And I finally timed a recipe right--the noodles were done boiling just as the sauce was ready. This recipe was nice because it was meant to make just two servings. I love leftovers, but I've felt a little overwhelmed lately with all the leftovers we've had!

Here's the recipe
Pepper Jack Mac
-1 cup uncooked elbow macaroni (I used whole wheat noodles)
-2 bacon strips, chopped (cook them first! I found out the hard way that cutting raw bacon isn't easy)
-1/4 cup chopped onion
-1/4 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
-1 1/2 tsp. butter
-1 tbs. all-purpose flour
-1/4 cup plus 2 tbs. chicken broth (I used veggie broth because my chicken broth looked and smelled a little funky)
-1/4 cup plus 2 tbs. 2% milk (I used skim)
-3/4 cup shredded pepper Jack cheese (I probably used a little extra :))
-1/4 tsp. Italian seasoning (I used a mix of garlic powder, basil and oregano)
-salt and pepper to taste
Cook macaroni according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisps. Remove to paper towels with a slotted spoon; drain, reserving 3/4 teaspoon of drippings.

In the same skillet, saute onions and mushrooms in drippings and butter until tender. Stir in flour until blended; gradually stir in broth and milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in the cheese, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Cook and stir over medium heat until the cheese is melted.

Drain macaroni; stir macaroni and bacon into saute mixture.

Overall, it was pretty good. I would have preferred it to be a little spicier, so next time I would add some cayenne or Sriracha to it (I'm really surprised I didn't add any!). It wasn't quite as flavorful as I would have hoped. I'm not sure what would have made it better--using whole wheat rather than regular noodles may have contributed to it. I really think, though, that mac and cheese with cheddar or sharp cheddar is really the way to go. You can't go wrong with a classic!

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