Jalapeno Bacon Mac N’ Cheese
Jalapeno Bacon Mac N’ Cheese – Creamy comfort food at its best. Mac n’ Cheese with spicy jalapenos and smokey bacon. Delicious and comforting!
This is the time of year for comfort food. As soon as the weather turns cooler, we all start craving those warm comfort foods. Nothing a little bacon and creamy pasta can’t fix! But I don’t want it to be so bad for you, that you eat one bite and feel guilty. So today I lightened it up, just a little bit. But still plenty indulgent.
Plus I finished this jalapeno bacon mac n’s cheese in the oven with the crispy bread crumb topping, so you get the different textures going on. Definitely perfect comfort food.
I asked my husband for help with this weeks theme. He came up with a few ideas, but I thought his Jalapeno Mac n’ cheese idea was the best. I did add some bacon to make it even better. Jalapeno Bacon Mac n’ Cheese! I seeded the jalapenos so it wouldn’t be too spicy, but if you want some serious heat; leave the seeds in.
My husband loves things spicy, so I probably should have left more of the seeds in, but I needed to be able to eat it too 🙂 If you aren’t into heat Creamy Bacon Macaroni and Cheese is seriously good too.
Now, I know mac n’ cheese is traditionally a very high calorie meal. This is by no means a light version, and could be lightened up more, I am sure. I did try to make it a little more healthy. I reduced the amount of butter from some other recipes I saw. I used skim milk, and in place of the cream I used half and half.
Finally, I found a reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese by Cabot that I used. It was still creamy, and cheesy, and comforting, so I don’t think any calories were missed. Plus, if you use whole wheat pasta (or a brand made with veggies like I did), you are upping the fiber and protein. For a side dish I like to serve with either a side salad or roasted asparagus.
Here are a few of my favorite kitchen items I used in this recipe
- Pots and Pans – A good set of pots and pans is a must! You want the food to cook evenly, and the pans to last for years and years! I have had these Calphalon Comtempory pans for many years, and I will love them.
- Casserole Dish – I got these dishes when I got married 16 years ago. To this day I still use them all the time. They great for casseroles, side dishes, storing leftovers and just about anything else.
- Liquid Measuring Cup – whether you are measuring oil for muffins, or milk for a sauce a good, sturdy measuring cup is a must.
- 1 box short cut pasta , cooked 2 minutes shy of done
- 2 jalapenos , seeded and diced
- 10 slices bacon , cooked and crumbled
- 4 Tbls butter
- 4 Tbls flour
- 2 cups milk (I used skim milk)
- 1 cup heavy cream (I used half and half)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 2 cups Sharp Cheddar Cheese (reduced fat is fine), grated
- 1 cup Monterey Jack Cheese , grated
- 1 cup Pepper Jack Cheese , grated
- 1 cup plain bread crumbs
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Once you have cooked the bacon, reserve a couple teaspoons of the grease. Add the breadcrumbs to the pan, and toast lightly. Set aside.
- Melt butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Saute jalapeno for 1-2 minutes. Whisk in the flour, and cook for another minute. Add the milk and cream, and whisk until smooth. Cook for 5 minutes. Slowly add in the cheese, stirring constantly until melty. Add salt, pepper, bacon and cooked pasta. Pour into a large baking dish (2 qt dish). Sprinkle the toasted breadcrumbs evenly over the pasta. Bake for 20-25 minutes until bubbly and the breadcrumbs are golden brown.
- Let set for a few minutes before serving.