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A flavorful spin on a classic comfort food, this mac & cheese made with Kraft Natural Shredded Cheese is flavored with peppers, onions, and packed with plenty of bacon.
So far, our November has been pleasantly mild (warm, even), but I suspect this may not last much longer. This morning I woke up to a well-frosted yard and an icy windshield, and I’m less-than excited to return home from work, knowing it’ll already be dark out.
But one bright side to this chilly, dark Fall weather is that I’ve recently been feeling much more inclined to hole up in my kitchen and cook real meals. Along with pulling out all the scarves, gloves, and warm coats from where they’ve been stored in my closet, I’ve also been pulling out the starches from my pantry and buying cheese by the pound. I’m craving comfort food, and with the turn of the weather I’m no longer shying away from recipes that require boiling water and hot stovetops, food I haven’t felt like cooking in over 6 months because it’s just been too hot.
This may be my favorite thing about Fall and Winter… the food. While the weather is dreary and un-welcoming, we cook food to make our homes as warm and cozy as possible, and it’s over these meals that people (families, friends, etc) come together and bond. Thanksgiving is coming (quickly) and I imagine most of you will be gathering with those that are most important to you to share a wonderful meal of heavy comfort food.
I recommend you try out this flavorful bacon-filled macaroni and cheese as a new spin on a classic comfort food this season.
As with most recipes, it took me a few tries to get this one just right. Fortunately, Walmart is only about a 2 minute drive from my house so re-filling on needed ingredients (or having Zach make a run to do so for me) is as quick and convenient as I could hope.
The pepper, onion and garlic are cooked immediately after the bacon in the same pan with a reserved tablespoon of grease, then any flavor that may have cooked onto the bottom of the pan is boiled into the sauce with the heavy cream and milk before swirling in and melting two different kinds of natural cheeses and adding the pasta. This technique makes for an unmistakable bacon flavor in each warm, cheesy bite.
Be sure to check out more delicious cheese recipes at Kraft.com. If you have a favorite cheesy recipe, leave it in the comments, I’d love to hear it!
- 1 lb rotini or other pasta
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 15 pieces bacon
- 1/2 red pepper diced
- 1/2 white onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 1 Tbsp flour
- 2 1/2 cups milk
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 4 cups Kraft Natural Sharp Shredded Cheddar Cheese
- 2 1/2 cups Kraft Natural Low Moisture Part Skim Mozzarella Cheese
- 1/4 cup panko
- 2 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika optional
- Prepare pasta according to directions on package. Once it has cooked and been drained, immediately add 1 Tbsp butter and stir until butter is melted to prevent pasta from sticking together while the other ingredients are prepared.
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- In large skillet, fry bacon until crispy.
- Transfer bacon to paper-towel lined plate, pat dry with additional paper towels, and set aside.
- Drain all but 1 Tbsp of the bacon grease (do not pour directly down your drain, pour into a disposable container and dispose of at a later time), return skillet with remaining 1 Tbsp bacon grease to stove over medium-heat and add pepper, onion, and garlic.
- Cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables soften (about 3-5 minutes).
- Add salt and pepper to taste (about 1/4 tsp each)
- Sprinkle the Tbsp of flour over vegetables and stir until no dry flour remains.
- Add heavy cream and milk and bring mixture to a boil, stirring frequently and quickly for 3 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in cheese, stirring until completely melted.
- Add in cooked pasta and bacon, stir until well-combined.
- Transfer mixture to 13x9 pan.
- In small bowl, whisk together panko, grated parmesan, and paprika.
- Sprinkle over the macaroni in the pan.
- Bake (uncovered) on 400F for 15 minutes (until begins to bubble).
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