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From Leif's Kitchen: Spicy Jalapeno Mac & Cheese Bake

Leif and I love a homecooked meal.

You’ll often find my hubby tinkering around in the kitchen, combining recipes to create his own masterpiece. I couldn’t help but share his delicious recipe for Jalapeno Mac & Cheese Bake. Don’t worry, this isn’t your grandmama’s casserole, but has just enough kick to make your tastebuds crave more and more.

Jalapeno Mac & Cheese Bake

Yield – 10–14 servings

Equipment – 

  • Stock pot
  • Colander
  • Wooden spoon or plastic spatula
  • Cooking spray
  • Large rectangular pyrex pan (biggest one I have was my official measurement…)
  • Cookie sheet

Ingredients – 

  • 2 tsp Dry mustard powder
  • 1 tbsp Dry onion powder
  • 1 tsp Dry garlic powder
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 8-10 oz of macaroni (or other fun shaped pasta – preferably tubes)
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 small can (12 oz) of diced jalapeno (not pickled or fire roasted)
  • 2 cups of skim milk
  • 8-10 oz of Ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 container of Philadelphia Santa Fe Cooking Cream
  • 1 32 oz box of Velveeta Mexican Mild cheese product
  • 8-10 oz of Mozzarella cheese
  • 8-10 oz of Havarti cheese
  • 1/2 lb of Tillamook Pepper Jack
  • 1/2 lb of Tillamook Medium Cheddar
  • 1/4 lb of Tillamook Vintage White Cheddar
  • Other cheeses to taste as you see fit 🙂 By the way, I buy the majority of the cheese at Costco…

Instructions –

  1. Night before (or can be done same day), shred all the hard cheeses (plus mozzarella) and store together in a large ziploc bag (helps with moisture).
  2. In a large soup pot/stock pot, cook pasta of choice until overcooked (1 minute past al dente – or longer if you want it to collapse while baking). Be sure to have plenty of water. While pasta is cooking prep the velveeta by dicing it into medium chunks (1 inch squares) and do a small dice on the onion.
  3. Drain pasta and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process and keep pasta from sticking then leave pasta in colander while you make the sauce.
  4. Using the same pot you cooked the pasta in (using cooking spray or butter) over medium heat, add the diced onion and cook till it is sweating (fragrant but not brown). Add the canned jalapeno (including juice) and cook for a minute until the juice begins to crackle. Reduce heat to low and add the milk and dry powders and cook until just simmering (adjust heat as necessary). Once the mixture is simmering begin by adding the Ricotta and Cooking Cream using a large whisk to help things blend and bring back to a simmer.
  5. Begin incorporating the remaining cheeses (reserving 1-2 cups of shredded cheese) by adding cheese till there is a full layer on top of the liquid and then whisk it together. Repeat those steps as necessary until fully combined then remove from heat.
  6. Use the cooking spray to prepare the sides and bottom of the pyrex pan then add the noodles (ensuring that pan edges are 1/2 inch above top of noodles). Pour a third of the cheese mixture over the top of the pasta then use the spatula to stir the cheese into the pasta (avoiding dry spots). Continue until all the liquid cheese is incorporated into the pasta.
  7. Sprinkle remaining shredded cheese onto the top of the pasta.
  8. Place the pasta/cheese mixture onto the middle rack of your oven. Place the cookie sheet below to catch splatters, etc.
  9. Bake (or convection bake) at 275 until the cheese at the bottom of the dish is bubbling and the cheese on top is browned. Wait a few minutes, serve and enjoy (excellent for days of leftovers)!

What’s your favorite summer recipe?

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