Do I need to say anymore? Are you with me, people? I love macaroni and cheese but I've never really played around with homemade recipes until recently. It's all about the proportions and once you get that down, there are so many variations. I wanted a spicy version to go with some steaks last night and this was great.
I put plain panko breadcrumbs on top (no butter or anything) before I baked it. You can leave the top plain or and you can even eat it right off the stove and skip the baking step if you want. You'll have a smoother texture if you add the cheese a little at a time and whisk until completely smooth but if you bake it, it doesn't seem to matter if it's a little lumpy going into the oven - the heat takes care of that. I mixed up some noodles and cheese sauce for my daughter (no jalapenos) and fed it to her right away. I baked the rest and we ate it as a side dish.
I like a larger elbow macaroni but at the grocery store this week, I could only find the itty bitty elbows. If I was going to make this jalapeno version again, I might saute some diced onions and red bell peppers and add it to the recipe or throw in some diced roasted red bell peppers. If you don't like it very spicy, you could use green chiles instead of jalapenos.
I've been reading up on mac & cheese in the crockpot so expect to see a version of that here soon!
Jalapeno Mac & Cheese (4 side dish servings)
Preheat the oven to 350. Cook 1/2 pound of macaroni (or noodle of choice) until al dente. Drain and set aside. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium sized sauce pan and whisk in 1 1/2 tablespoons of flour until smooth. Add 1/2 cup milk and 2 1/4 cups of shredded cheese (for best results, add cheese a little at a time and whisk constantly). I used about a half cup of asiago, a cup of sharp white cheddar, and 3/4 cup of yellow cheddar.
If it seems too thick, add between a few tablespoons and another half cup of milk. Season with pepper, paprika, and cayenne (to taste). Add 2 T (or more if you like it really spicy) diced canned jalapenos. In a buttered pan, combine the macaroni noodles and the cheese sauce. Sprinkle the top with some breadcrumbs (plain or seasoned) and bake for 20 minutes (optional).