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Year of the Noodle: Week 3

Making macaroni and cheese from scratch impresses people.  I’ve known this for years, and often make my own non-recipe version for company or when cooking at someone’s house while visiting.  It’s such an easy dish to make, and yet whipping up a cheese sauce from scratch and baking the macaroni in the oven somehow feels fancy in a way the blue box never could.  Since I’m already well versed in the more traditional version of mac & cheese, I thought a nice spicy version sounded like an interesting change of pace.

The result was a comfort food upgrade.  The veggies add a nice crispiness to an often texturally boring dish, and the subtle spice brings a new dimension of flavor.  If you like your food spicy, I’d advise adding a bit more jalapeno and pepper jack to bring it up a notch.  Since it is far from a low-fat dish, you probably won’t want to substitute this recipe for your standard mac and cheese too often, but I suspect it would make a nice cure for the winter blahs.  Enjoy!

Spicy Macaroni and Cheese

  • 4 cups cooked macaroni or cavatappi
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 to 1/2 finely diced red onion
  • Equal amount diced red bell pepper
  • 1 finely diced jalapeno
  • 1 4 oz can chopped green chilies
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1 generous cup grated Pepper Jack cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Boil pasta until al dente. In a large skillet, add olive oil and saute garlic and vegetables over medium heat for a couple of minutes. Add in canned chilies and stir around, then turn off heat. Drain pasta and add it to skillet. Pour on cream, add cheese, then add salt and pepper to taste and stir gently. At the end, add 2 tablespoons butter and stir again. Check seasonings and serve.

Source: The Pioneer Woman
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