Recipe RoundUp: Spicy Mac & Cheese

spicy mac&cheeseIf I haven’t admitted to this before, I will now: I think I’m part mouse. I LOVE cheese. I think it should be a food group all by itself. So, when I come across an intriguing mac & cheese dish, and one that I would definitely make again, I simply must share. Plus, the recipe is from a site called, “Life as a Strawberry;” seriously, how fun is that?

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. of your favorite pasta
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 3 Tbsp. flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 cups cheddar cheese, shredded (reserve 1/3 cup of this for topping the macaroni before you bake it)
  • 1/2 tsp mustard powder
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, plus 1/8 tsp. for topping
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika, plus 1/8 tsp. for topping
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper

Instructions

  1. Cook pasta according to package or recipe directions (I use VERY salty water) until it is a few minutes (6 min. are usually good) less than al dente – the pasta will continue to cook in the oven, so having very al dente pasta when you put the pasta in to bake will ensure your macaroni isn’t mushy or overcooked!
  2. In a large saucepan, melt butter. Whisk in flour to make a roux and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Whisk the milk into the roux a little at a time, making sure to work out all the clumps so you have a smooth sauce. Cook over medium heat until milk has thickened, about 8 minutes.
  4. Remove sauce from heat. Stir in 2 and 2/3 cups of the cheddar cheese with a spoon or spatula. Stir until cheese is melted.
  5. Stir mustard powder, cayenne, paprika, and black pepper into sauce.
  6. Stir pasta into sauce. Take a bite. Pat yourself on the back.
  7. Pour pasta into a baking dish (I used a 9×9). Top with the extra 1/8 tsp. of cayenne and paprika and the extra 1/3 cup of shredded cheddar cheese.
  8. Bake at 350 for 15-25 minutes or until cheese has melted and edges are crispy.

Tara’s Tips: I used whole wheat elbow macaroni because I genuinely love whole wheat pasta. For all those going gluten-free, this ain’t the recipe for you–sorry. I also used 2 different kinds of cheese–yellow sharp and sharp white cheddar (and since I’m part mouse, I used more than the allotted amount to sprinkle on top). Lastly, I didn’t measure the 1/8 tsp., I just sprinkled until I felt enough was a enough. For those who don’t like spicy or aren’t experienced cooks–stick to the measurements.