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Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese

This rich macaroni and cheese captures all the flavor of the jalapeno poppers at your favorite bar or pizzeria — right down to the crispy topping — but without the guilt. This dish has a kick; to prevent it from being too spicy, be sure to remove all of the seeds as well as the white veins from the inside of your jalapenos. I like to use a blend of cheddar and pepper jack, but you can use all cheddar if you prefer.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4
Author Lauren Keating

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces dry Radiatore or other small ridged pasta (elbow or shell shapes also work well)
  • 1 slice Bacon diced (optional)
  • ¼ cup diced Red Onion
  • 1 clove Garlic minced
  • 8 Jalapeno Peppers seeded and sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons Flour
  • 1 cup Vegetable Stock
  • 4 ounces Reduced Fat Sharp Cheddar Cheese shredded
  • 4 ounces Reduced Fat Pepper Jack Cheese shredded
  • 4 ounces 1/3 Less Fat Cream Cheese cut into cubes
  • ¼ cup Bread Crumbs

Instructions

  • Preheat broiler. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to directions on the package. Drain and set aside.
  • While the pasta cooks, prepare the sauce. Add the bacon, if using, to a wide bottomed pot over medium heat. Cook until crisp — about 7 minutes. Remove the bacon, leaving behind any drippings, and drain on a paper towel.
  • Add the onion and garlic to the bacon grease and cook until softened — about 3 minutes. (If not using bacon, cook the onions and garlic in 1 Tablespoon of olive oil instead.) Add the jalapenos and cook for another 3 minutes. Stir in the flour. Cook for 1 minute, then add the vegetable stock. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Slowly stir in the Cheddar and Pepper Jack cheeses, adding a little at a time and letting it melt completely before adding more. Stir in the cream cheese. Mix in the crumbled bacon, if using.
  • Combine the cooked pasta and cheese in a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle a thin layer of bread crumbs over the top. Broil 3-5 minutes, or until bread crumb topping is crispy and golden brown.