Browsing Tag

pasta

book review, recipe

We Were the Mulvaneys + Shrimp and Sausage Casserole

Joyce Carol Oates’ novel We Were the Mulvaneys has been on my shelf forever. I picked it up at a used book sale years ago because I had heard Oates speak at a bookstore once in NYC and had yet to read her books, and it sounded interesting. Still, whenever I was looking for a book to read next, I didn’t gravitate towards this one. That is, until the recent Book Challenge by Erin, where one of the categories requires you to read the book that you’ve owned the longest. Welp, this was it. And, I have to say, I’m glad I finally got around to reading it.

We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates

This a family saga that builds. That is to say, the first quarter is so involves a lot of scene-setting and character-building, and it wasn’t exactly easy to get into. I’m not sure if this is Oates’ typical storytelling, since I haven’t read anything else by her yet, but it definitely worked for this novel. As she settled into the story, the background that she created was almost second nature, as if you were a part of this family, this town.

It centers around the Mulvaneys, a large family that is both beautiful and charismatic, wealthy and generous. They live in upstate New York on their property, High Point Farm, and are well-respected in the town. That is, until Valentine’s Day in 1976, when an unfortunate event takes place that changes the family and their position in the community.

I won’t give anything away, but what happens divides the Mulvaneys. Each member is affected differently, but each of their life paths are drastically altered. Oates weaves a complex, messy, truthful family saga. I appreciated that their lives weren’t perfect, nor were they a disaster — they felt like real people. I look forward to reading some more of her novels when I get a chance.

I decided to make a casserole, only loosely based on one mentioned in the novel, described as “a Mexican chicken-shrimp-sausage casserole.” The “super-casserole” was served with a robust menu of “grilled Parmesan-dill bread, baked butternut squash sprinkled with brown sugar, a giant tossed salad with Mom’s special oil-and-vinegar dressing, homemade apple-cinnamon cobbler with vanilla ice cream.” The reason this meal stood out to me most is that it took place just before the Mulvaneys’ lives changed forever; it was a meal that took place while they were still the Mulvaneys, so to speak.

Casseroles are also indicative of homestyle, comforting family dinners. It seemed like the perfect choice for a family saga such as this. I found a recipe for something a busy parent might make on a weeknight, an easy but flavorful-sounding Shrimp and Sausage Skillet Pasta Bake and made some slight alterations to make it a casserole.

First, I brought a large pot of water to boil and added the pasta, cooking it according to package directions.

Meanwhile, I browned the sausage in a large skillet, breaking it with a spoon as it cooked. When the sausage was done, I used a slotted spoon to remove it and placed it in a bowl lined with paper towel. In the same skillet, I added the shrimp, cooking each side for about 2 minutes, until the shrimp were pink and cooked through.

When the pasta was done, I drained it, adding the vodka sauce and sausage and tossing until evenly coated. I poured it into a 9×13 casserole dish, covering the bottom.

Sausage Vodka Pasta

On top of the pasta, I placed the cooked shrimp.

Shrimp and Sausage Pasta

I covered the entire dish with a combination of parmesan, mozzarella and cheddar cheeses before placing it in the oven to finish.

Cheesy Pasta Bake

Once the cheese was melted, I removed the casserole from the oven to serve. It smelled amazing and was delicious.

Shrimp and Sausage Pasta Casserole

Shrimp and Sausage Pasta Bake

What food(s) remind you most of home?

Shrimp and Sausage Pasta Casserole

Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound small pasta
  • salt and black pepper
  • 1 jar your favorite store-bought vodka sauce
  • 1 pound loose sweet Italian sausage
  • 1 pound large shrimp cleaned and deveined
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese grated
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese grated
  • 1/2 cup sharp white cheddar cheese
  • fresh parsley for garnish

Directions

  1. Preheat your broiler to high.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil and cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  3. To a small saucepan, add the vodka sauce. Heat over low heat. Keep warm on the stove until you are ready to use.
  4. To a large oven-safe skillet, cook the sausage over medium heat until brown and cooked through. Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate. Keep the stove on.
  5. To the skillet, add the shrimp. There should be enough fat left in the skillet from the sausage. If you find that there isn't enough to cook the shrimp, add a tablespoon of olive oil. Season the shrimp generously with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes or until pink and cooked through. Remove the shrimp from the pan and transfer to another plate. Turn off the heat.
  6. To a large bowl, combine the vodka sauce, pasta and sausage. Toss until evenly coated.
  7. Pour the mixture back into the skillet (or into a 9x13 baking dish). Top with shrimp and then top with parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, and cheddar cheese.
  8. Place the skillet/baking dish into the preheated oven and broil until cheese is melty, about 2 minutes. Keep a close eye as the cheese can quickly go from melted to burnt.
  9. Remove from heat and garnish with fresh parsley. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Recipe Notes

From: Cooking and Beer

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book review, recipe

Bird Box + Tuna and White Bean Pasta Salad

I don’t always read “happy” books, but I typically do avoid scary ones. My imagination is too active for me to be able to read them without freaking myself out. For Josh Malerman’s novel Bird Box, however, I made an exception. Why? Because a few good friends insisted it wasn’t scary-scary, but also it was so good I had to. When one of these friends let me borrow her copy, I wasted no time jumping in. It was now or never!

Bird Box Book Cover

Truthfully, Bird Box isn’t a horror novel. If anything, it’s more like a thriller/suspense dystopia. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t creepy, uncomfortable moments. In a world where something unknown is out there causing people to turn violent, creepy moments are bound to happen.

Continue Reading

book review, recipe

Standard Devation + Spaghetti Marinara and Garlic Bread

One day, Katherine Heiny’s novel Standard Deviation appeared in my library queue, ready to pick up. As I mentioned in January’s SUYB post, I can’t even remember how I heard about, but I must’ve added it to my library list right away so I wouldn’t forget about it. However it stumbled into my life, I’m glad it did; it wasn’t a life-changing novel by any means, but it was entertaining and enjoyable all the same – a bit like an indie rom-com.

Standard Deviation is about Graham, who lives in an apartment in New York City with his second wife Audra and their young son. While Graham seems to prefer to observe, his wife Audra talks constantly and makes friends wherever she goes, leading to a barrage of house guests who always seem to be underfoot.

A lesser storyteller could’ve easily painted Graham as an exasperated husband sick of his wife’s antics and Audra as a selfish busybody, and though they occasionally exhibit those qualities, on the whole they’re much more than that, and quite likeable. One of the more endearing (and amusing) storylines within the novel revolves around their son Matthew and his love of origami. Though it’s never explicitly said (that I can recall), it appears he has Asperger’s, and their dedication to his passion is an excellent example of selfless parenting.

Like me, Graham loves good food and cooking at home, both for his family and their frequent guests. Also like me, he finds cooking less enjoyable when he’s forced to plan a meal around picky eaters. Unfortunately for Graham, he often found himself in such a situation, and it was in one of those moments that I drew my inspiration for today’s recipe:

Spaghetti marinara with garlic bread was his all-purpose crowd-pleasing picky-eater dinner. Spaghetti marinara was like taking a girl on a first date, actually: nothing fancy, no surprises, best foot forward.

I personally prefer meat sauce on my spaghetti, but desperate times call for desperate measures. I took the recipe my family usually uses for spaghetti sauce and omitted the meat to make a marinara sauce. This recipe is really easy, but it’s flavorful and thick so it sticks to spaghetti really well.

To start, I added about a half cup of chopped onion to olive oil already heated in a sauce pot and cooked them until they were translucent. To the onions, I added a large can of crushed tomatoes and small cans of tomato sauce and tomato paste. Then I added salt and pepper, dried basil, dried oregano, some sugar and Parmesan cheese and gave it all a good stir.

Once the ingredients are combined, bring it up to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Like most tomato sauce, it can get messy real quick if it starts to bubble up and pop, so I like to keep a lid offset on top to let some of the air and steam escape but keep the sauce from getting all over the stovetop. You can let it simmer for as little as long as you like, stirring occasionally, but it’s best after at least 20 minutes. Of course, it’s even better the second day.

While the sauce simmered, I boiled the water for my spaghetti and started on the garlic bread. Because I was just making dinner for Scott and myself, I adjusted the recipe down and only used about a third of the Italian bread loaf. I partially melted some butter in a small bowl, added the garlic powder and dried parsley, and then melted the mixture the rest of the way. With a basting brush, I applied the butter-garlic mixture generously to each slice.

I baked the bread in the oven for about 10 minutes, covered each slice with shredded mozzarella and put the pan back in the oven for about 7 more minutes until it was melted. At this point, the spaghetti pasta was cooked al dente and the sauce was ready to go.

I need to perfect my spaghetti swirl for future fancy plating, but the taste more than makes up for the lack of finesse in that area. These crowd-pleasing recipes are as perfect for the discerning foodies in your life as they are the picky-eaters. It’s wonderful bonus that they’re easy too. Hope you enjoy!

Marinara Sauce

  • Servings: 6
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Ingredients

  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 8-oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 6-oz can tomato paste
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¾ teaspoon dried basil
  • ¾ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. In a large sauce pot, preheat a bit of olive oil (about 1 Tablespoon) and add onion. Cook until translucent.
  2. Add crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste. Add remaining ingredients and stir.
  3. Bring to a boil then simmer. (Use a lid; it will splatter.)
  4. Serve over spaghetti or your favorite pasta.

Adapted from a family recipe

Recipe Notes: To make a meat sauce, simply add 1-lb ground beef or turkey, browning with the onion in step one.


Cheesy Garlic Bread

  • Servings: 6-8
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Ingredients

  • ½ cup butter
  • 1½ tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 (1 pound) loaf Italian bread, cut into ½ -inch slices
  • 8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat (or the microwave), melt butter and mix with garlic powder and dried parsley.
  3. Place Italian bread on a medium baking sheet. Using a basting brush, brush generously with the butter mixture.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven approximately 10 minutes, until lightly toasted. Remove from heat. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and any remaining butter mixture. Return to oven approximately 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bread is lightly browned.

From: Noelle C on Allrecipes.com

This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure here.

book review, recipe

Turtles All the Way Down + Spiral Mac ‘n’ Cheese

John Green has written many young adult novels, including one of my favorites, The Fault in Our Stars. He has a unique way of tackling both the everyday and the unexpected parts of the lives of teenagers. His latest novel, Turtles All the Way Down, is no exception. Like other teenagers, Aza tries her best in school, has an understanding best friend, and doesn’t know exactly what to do when she finds herself in a relationship. Aza also lives with obsessive-compulsive disorder and an often crippling level of anxiety, much of which was drawn from Green’s own experiences.

Because of that, Turtles tells an excellent, unique story. Admittedly, some of the scenes where Aza is having obsessive thoughts were hard to read. It almost felt like I was in her head, and in those moments, I read as if hiding behind split fingers – not wanting to go on but wanting to know what happened all the same. I admire Green’s willingness to not only discuss his own mental health issues but to write about them too, in a way that’s real.

Stories like these help to make mental health something that’s okay to talk about. The existence of a likeable character that readers can connect to and empathize with can help teenagers (and adults) realize that mental illness is not something to be embarrassed or ashamed of. In Green’s own words, “it’s important for people to hear from [those] who have good fulfilling lives and manage chronic mental illness as part of those good fulfilling lives.” And because of that, it is absolutely a book worth picking up – even if you aren’t familiar with John Green, even if you don’t usually read YA.

Honestly, the first thing I thought of when I looked at this book’s cover was spiral macaroni and cheese. I think they eat it once over the course of the story, but in the end, I couldn’t get it out of my head and no other foods really stood out to me. So, no surprise, that’s what I decided to make. I found an easy recipe from Famished Fish and set to work for a quick, easy dinner one night.

To start, I brought my water to a boil and cooked my noodles according to the package instructions. The original recipe called for rotini, but I also think cavatappi would work great here.

While the noodles cooked, I made the sauce. I melted butter in a pan and then added flour to create a roux. To that, I added the dried mustard and paprika, slowly stirring in 1 cup of milk, so that it could fully incorporate with the roux and remain thick.

Then, I added in the remaining 2 cups of milk slowly, along with the salt and a dash of Worcestershire sauce. I continued cooking the sauce, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes more or so, until it thickened. I stirred in three-quarters of the cheese so it melted and became incorporated.

I drained the finished noodles and poured the cheese sauce on top, stirring until the noodles were fully covered. To serve, I spooned the mac ‘n’ cheese into bowls and topped each with a sprinkling of shredded cheese.

It was delicious! And so easy that I’ll definitely be adding it to my repertoire.

Creamy Spiral Mac 'n' Cheese

  • Servings: 4-6
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Ingredients

  • 16 oz uncooked spiral noodles (rotini or cavatappi)
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ½ tsp mustard
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 cups milk, divided
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, divided

Directions

  1. Add uncooked pasta to a large pot of boiling water. Cook 9-11 minutes, according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan set over medium heat, melt the butter. When butter has melted, stir in flour to create a roux.
  3. Slowly stir in 1 cup of milk along with the mustard and paprika. Stir and cook until the mixture thickens. Add the remaining 2 cups of milk and the salt and Worcestershire sauce. Cook and stir 5 minutes until has thickened.
  4. Stir in 1½ cups of the sharp cheddar cheese. Stir the sauce until the cheese has melted.
  5. Drain the pasta and return to large pot. Carefully pour the cheese sauce over the cooked pasta. Stir gently to combine the cheese sauce and pasta.
  6. Ladle the macaroni and cheese spirals into a large serving bowl and sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup of sharp cheddar cheese.
  7. Serve immediately.

Adapted from: Famished Fish

This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure here.

book review, recipe

Behind Her Eyes + Spaghetti Carbonara

Every November, my Good Reads & Good Eats book club reads a spooky book. Since we meet on the first Tuesday of each month, this allows us to read it during October and our meeting usually ends up being right around Halloween. This year’s selection was Sarah Pinborough’s novel Behind Her Eyes. The thriller was released in January but it made for an excellent read this month, just creepy enough throughout with a twist at the end I didn’t see coming.

Thanks to the success of Gone Girl, the oft-called domestic thriller has become more and more popular, and generally, I try to avoid them. Gone Girl was so well-written and its twist both genuinely surprising and believable (which is harder to achieve than it may seem) that I’m usually disappointed in those that follow.

That being said, Behind Her Eyes was an intriguing read. I did get caught up in the story and it kept me wondering what exactly was going on and who to be skeptical of, but the devices it used (particularly toward the end) seemed over-the-top and unbelievable. Overall, Sarah Dickinson does a great job summing up how I feel on her blog, but beware of spoilers if you haven’t read the book and still want to.

Pinborough’s novel begins in the middle of David and Adele’s troubled marriage. After a recent move to London, David almost immediately begins an affair with Louise, who turns out to be his new receptionist. It’s not clear how Adele discovers his transgression, but she makes it a point to befriend Louise and tension begins to build. As more about Adele’s backstory is revealed, more questions arise. In the present day narrative, we’re left wondering who we can trust. I’ll stop here to avoid spoilers, but I think it achieved what it needed to for our book club in that it was mostly riveting and twisty and will certainly make for interesting discussion. I’m looking forward to hearing what everyone has to say about it.

In an attempt to create some domestic bliss (or at least throw David off her scent), Adele continues to make impressive home-cooked meals almost every evening. On one such evening, she whips up the deceptively easy Spaghetti Carbonara and serves it with a simple arugula salad. I grabbed a recipe from one of my favorite blogs, Damn Delicious, for the pasta and found one for the salad from Everyday Maven. The whole meal took about twenty minutes and only requires a minimum number of ingredients for one so impressive; it makes a perfect weeknight meal.

First, I set a large pot of water to bowl and then prepped the salad. I chopped a half cup of cherry tomatoes in half and tossed them in a large bowl with arugula and the lemon zest. I love Trader Joe’s arugula because it’s the perfect amount for a dinner salad and it’s already pre-washed. In a separate small bowl, I combined the ingredients for the dressing – olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper. With the salad mostly set, I turned to the pasta.

Once the water was boiling, I salted it and added the spaghetti to the pot. In a small bowl, I whisked together the eggs and Parmesan and set it aside. I added my diced pancetta (or bacon, if that’s what you’re using) to a heated skillet and allowed it to crisp up for several minutes, before adding my minced garlic.

You’re going to want to make sure your pasta is cooked and drained before you add the garlic. Here is where you need to begin working quickly. Even though this recipe is easy, the eggs leave some room for error. You don’t want them to scramble; they should become a part of the creamy sauce, indistinguishable from the pasta itself. 

To my pancetta and garlic, I added my pasta and the egg-Parmesan mixture, using a pair of tongs to toss and combine everything. I seasoned with salt and pepper, before adding a bit of pasta water, tossing and checking the consistency.

With that all set, I re-whisked my dressing, poured it on the arugula and tossed my salad. Best dishes are both served immediately.

Spaghetti Carbonara

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients

  • 8 ounces spaghetti
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 4 slices bacon, diced [or diced pancetta, about 4 ounces]
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves (optional)

Directions

  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions; reserve 1/2 cup water and drain well.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs and Parmesan; set aside.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add bacon and cook until brown and crispy, about 6-8 minutes; reserve excess fat.
  4. Stir in garlic until fragrant, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to low.
  5. Working quickly, stir in pasta and egg mixture, and gently toss to combine; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add reserved pasta water, one tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached.
  6. Serve immediately, garnished with parsley, if desired.


From: Damn Delicious

Arugula Salad with Lemon Balsamic Dressing

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients

  • ½ pound arugula
  • ½ cup grape or cherry tomatoes, washed and halved
  • zest of a whole medium lemon
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 to 6 turns freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. In a large salad or mixing bowl, combine arugula, halved grape tomatoes and the zest of an entire medium lemon.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper together until well mixed.
  3. When ready to serve, pour dressing over salad, toss until well coated. Serve and Enjoy!


of interest, recipe

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life + Mac and Cheese in a Jalapeno-Chipotle Cream Sauce

I have been wanting to talk about Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life since I watched the long-awaited last four words two weeks ago. Even though I started it a little late because of my trip, I still finished it before most of my friends. [SPOILER ALERT: Scroll down to the recipe if you’d like to avoid potential spoilers for any/all of the four new episodes.]

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Photo Credit: E-Online

I have to admit, like many, I was a little disappointed in the Netflix revival. It was certainly enjoyable to see the familiar faces around Stars Hollow and revisit the beloved characters. There were peaks where they seemed to really have their rhythm back (gotta love those fast talkers) and poignant moments that captured the essence of the show, but for me, those were few and far between.

I didn’t hate the final season or the final episode; in fact, I liked it quite a lot, and the series finale can make me tear up to this day. It was definitely a shame that it couldn’t be written and directed by the wonderful Amy Sherman-Palladino and her husband Dan, but I have to say, after hearing those last four words, I am beyond glad that Rory didn’t find out she was pregnant at the age of 22, just as she graduated Yale to conquer the world (which obviously she didn’t…).

In the context of these 4 episodes and the “circle of life” and all that, fine, I buy it and I’m okay with it. That doesn’t mean I wanted that future for Rory (and definitely not at 22). I don’t even think that she wanted it for herself. While it did not lack for nostalgia, the revival lost a lot of its small town feel and its charm, but what it really seemed to lose the feel of its most important characters – the Gilmore girls.

As Lorelai didn’t get the kids’ food she was expecting when a pregnant Sookie made mac ‘n cheese for their first foray into catering, I don’t think we exactly got what we were hoping for with Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. Still, it was good in its way. So, the recipe that seemed most fitting for this post (and the one Deanna and I were most excited to try) was the Macaroni & Cheese in a Jalapeno-Chipotle Cream Sauce.

First, we began preheating the oven to 350 degrees and put a large pot of water on the stove to boil.

I deseeded and coarsely chopped the jalapenos, cut the ends off of the garlic cloves, and cut 2 chipotle peppers into a few large pieces. I cooked the jalapeno peppers and the garlic with some olive oil in a large skillet until softened and then added the chipotle peppers. Fair warning: don’t forget to ventilate. If you can open a window or turn on an exhaust fan, it would be a good idea to do that before cooking the peppers. Deanna’s little apartment was so full of intense pepper fumes that we had a little trouble breathing for a while.

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Once the water was boiling, we salted it like the sea and added the noodles to cook. We chose cavatappi, but feel free to use whichever noodles you prefer – the original recipe called for farfalle.

We tossed the whole mixture into the food processor to make a smooth sauce. My food processor is pretty big, so I’m not sure if that’s why we had trouble getting them to come together, but if you have the same problem, I suggest adding some milk to the mixture a little bit at a time until it becomes smoother.

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We tossed the finished noodles in the pepper sauce so that they were evenly coated and began working on the cream sauce.

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We used 6 tablespoons each of melted butter and flour to create a roux. Then, we added 4 cups of whole milk and stirred until it thickened. At that point, in went the cheese and 2 teaspoons of salt, which we stirred until it was melted and combined.

Next, we poured the whole pot of deliciousness over the pepper-coated noodles and stirred until it was all covered.

We put the foil-covered dish in the oven and let it bake for 20 minutes, then removed the foil and let it bake for another 10 minutes. It was hard to not dive right in immediately, but even after waiting 15 minutes, it burned my mouth. Look at the ooey-gooey-ness. Yum!

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That’s a wrap on Gilmore Week! Thanks for sticking with me, and if you enjoyed the recipes, I suggest you pick up a copy of the cookbook, pop in some of your favorite episodes and whip up something delicious to eat while you watch.

Macaroni & Cheese in a Jalapeno-Chipotle Cream Sauce

  • Servings: 4-6
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Ingredients

  • Butter, for preparing pan
  • 1 lb cavatappi pasta [original recipe recommends farfalle]
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 3 large jalapeno peppers, seeds removed and coarsely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, cut in half
  • 2 TBS chipotle peppers, coarsely chopped [I used 2 of the canned peppers in adobo]
  • 6 TBS butter
  • 6 TBS flour
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese

Directions

  1. Place the oven rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large pot, two-thirds full of water, bring it to boil over high heat. Salt generously. Add pasta and stir. Reduce heat to medium. Cook until pasta is al dente on the edges but still uncooked in the middle. [Use directions on box as a guide, especially if using a different kind of pasta. The cavatappi took about 9 minutes.] Strain and pour into a buttered 9×13 baking pan.
  3. While the water is coming to a boil, heat olive oil, jalapenos and garlic in medium pan over high medium-high heat. [It definitely helps to ventilate your kitchen! Turn on an exhaust fan if you have one.] Stir frequently to ensure peppers are evenly coated with oil.
  4. Once the peppers are lightly browned on the edges and the garlic turns golden brown, add chipotle peppers. Cook for 30 seconds, then remove from heat.
  5. Add entire pepper mixture to blender or food processor. Use the stir or chop setting until mixture turns into a smooth sauce without lumps. [If you have trouble achieving a smooth texture, add milk about 1 TBS at a time and pulse until the sauce becomes smoother.]
  6. Once the pasta is ready, pour the pepper sauce on top, stirring gently until evenly distributed.
  7. To make the cream sauce, use a medium saucepan to melt the butter over medium heat. Add flour and stir until a grainy, yellowish paste is created.
  8. Add milk to the roux and stir constantly for several minutes until the sauce noticeably begins to thicken. Add cheddar cheese and stir until melted. Stir in 2 teaspoons salt.
  9. Pour the cream sauce onto the pasta-peppers mixture and stir gently until it is evenly distributed.
  10. Cover the baking pan with aluminum foil, shiny side down. Place in the center of the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
  11. Remove the foil and bake uncovered for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven. Let stand for 5 minutes. Serve.

This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure here.