Bacon Mac and Cheese

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I didn’t have to try this before I knew it would have to be good because it has three ingredients that create pure awesomeness: bacon + three cheeses + pasta = amazing!
I decided not to make this in a skillet because I don’t have one large enough, and I poured it all in my trusty 13×9 inch baking dish instead.

Verdict: Wow! This was every bit as good as I hoped it would be. Even my picky daughter ate two servings and was more than happy to eat leftovers in her lunch 😉 The blend of cheeses, especially the nutty Gruyère works so well along with the smoky and salty bacon. I made a few changes and I have added those modifications to the recipe below – nothing major though. Thanks for reading, enjoy! 🙂

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Bacon Mac and Cheese – adapted from Kelsey’s Essentials via Cooking Channel TV

  • 1 pound dry pasta (recommended: elbow macaroni, shells, penne, etc.)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
  • 1 cup, plus 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups panko (Japanese) bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked – reserve about 3 TBSP of bacon fat (*I skipped this step*)

For the Bechamel Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 3 cups warm milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 freshly ground pepper, or to taste

Directions –

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until nearing al dente, but not fully cooked; drain. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the paste cooks and bubbles a bit, avoid browning, about 2 minutes. Add the milk, continuing to stir as the sauce thickens. Bring the sauce to a boil. Add the nutmeg, salt, and pepper, to taste. Reduce the heat, and cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes more.

Reduce heat to low and stir the dry mustard and cayenne pepper into the bechamel sauce. Gradually add the Cheddar, Gruyere, and 1 cup Parmesan cheese, stirring constantly until all of the cheese has melted. Add an additional milk. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed.

Add the cooked pasta to the bechamel and stir to coat evenly with the sauce. Pour the pasta in to a buttered 13×9  baking dish. In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, chopped parsley, and reserved bacon fat. Coat the bread crumbs and chopped parsley with bacon fat and sprinkle the mixture over the top of the macaroni; and then top with 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.

Bake until the top is browned and the sauce is bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes. Top with crumbled cooked bacon. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.

Cheddar Biscuits

Quick Post: I made these to go with this salad. They were cheesy and delicious. The End!

Cheddar Biscuits – adapted from No More To Go

  • 1 ¾ cups King Arthur Self-Rising flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt (*next time I will use less salt – at least 1/4 tsp less*)
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ cup butter, cold
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ¾ cup buttermilk

Butter:

  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¾ teaspoon dried parsley

Directions –

1. Preheat oven to 400. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or spray lightly with canola oil.
3. Combine flour, salt, and garlic powder in a large bowl.
4. Using a pastry cutter, food processor, or just two forks, cut in the cold butter.Combine the butter using this method until you have pieces of butter no bigger than a pea.
6. Add cheese and milk and mix with your hands until just combined.
8. Drop using a ¼ cup measuring cup onto your prepared baking sheet.
9. Bake for 11-13 or until the tops of the biscuits are light brown.
10. While the biscuits are cooking, combine the glaze ingredients in a small bowl.
11. When the biscuits come out of the oven, brush them with the butter glaze and serve

Baked BBQ Pork Taquitos

Quick Post: These were so good! I have made the recipe that these taquitos were inspired by, and those are amazing too. We all really enjoyed these, and my husband didn’t even mind/notice that there were some things in these he would normally pass on. The flavor compliment each other really well and all my modifications are listed below. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Baked BBQ Pork Taquitos – adapted from Pink Parsley

  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temperature (reduced-fat is fine)
  • 1/3 cup bbq sauce
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp chile powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 tsp mustard powder
  • 1/2 tsp brown sugar
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 scallions, minced
  • 3-4 Tbs minced fresh cilantro
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded or chopped pork
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
  • 10-15 (6-inch) corn or flour tortillas
  • canola oil for brushing
  • BBQ sauce or ranch dressing for dipping
Directions:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese with the bbq sauce, paprika, garlic powder, mustard, brown sugar, chile powder, red pepper flakes, cilantro, scallions, and 1/4 tsp kosher salt.  Fold in the pork and cheese.  Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if necessary. Working 3-4 tortillas at a time, stack them on a microwave-safe plate and cover with a damp paper towel.  Cook 30 seconds, or until tortillas are soft and pliable.Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of filling onto the lower third of each tortilla, and roll tightly.  Place seam side-down on the prepared baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling.Brush the taquitos lightly with canola oil, sprinkle with salt.  Bake 15-20 minutes, or until the tortillas are crisp and golden-brown.  Serve with bbq sauce and ranch dressing for dipping.

Pulled Pork Mac n’ Cheese

Why not, right? My husband thought this was too weird to work at first, but I  immediately knew this was destined for our dinner table. I love macaroni and cheese (proof here, here, here, here, here and some here), and I’m always on the lookout for new faves. He’s a little more apprehensive, but in the end is satisfied with the meal. I used this recipe for inspiration, a different one for the pork and this mac n’ cheese sauce. The Pioneer Woman knows her mac and cheese and I have made it several times with different cheese blends.

Verdict: This was amazing – really a pleasant surprise and I will definitely make this again. Even the pickiest kid I know (my girl) ate this up!  Make sure you use a great quality barbecue sauce ( I use this brand) or make your own. The pork is easy to prepare in the crock pot and compliments the mac and cheese really well, and I loved the smokiness that the sauce added to it. I can’t wait to eat the leftovers 🙂 Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Pulled Pork – adapted from The Redhead’s Adventures

  • 1 pork shoulder
  • 1/2 TBSP Kosher salt per pound of meat
  • 1 TBSP Brown sugar per pound of meat
  • ground black pepper to taste
Directions:

Prepare the night before: Season pork shoulder, wrap and place in the refrigerator

To cook: Unwrap pork shoulder and place in a crock pot. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

Macaroni and Cheese – adapted from The Pioneer Woman

  • 1 pound Cavatappi pasta
  • 1 whole Egg Beaten
  • 1/2 stick  butter (1/4 cup)
  • ¼ cups All-purpose Flour
  • 2-½ cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons mustard powder
  • 8 oz. Emmental cheese, shredded
  • 8 0z. sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 oz. Asiago cheese, shredded
  • ½ teaspoons Salt, More To Taste
  • ½ teaspoons Seasoned Salt, More To Taste
  • ½ teaspoons Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/3 cup (or more to cover the mac n’ cheese) Panko bread crumbs
  • Optional Spices: Cayenne Pepper, Paprika
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups finely chopped pulled pork
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs (optional)

Directions:

Cook macaroni until very firm. Macaroni should be too firm to eat right out of the pot. Drain.

In a small bowl, beat egg.

In a large pot, melt butter and sprinkle in flour. Whisk together over medium-low heat. Cook mixture for five minutes, whisking constantly. Don’t let it burn.

Pour in milk, add mustard, and whisk until smooth. Cook for five minutes until very thick. Reduce heat to low.

Take 1/4 cup of the sauce and slowly pour it into beaten egg, whisking constantly to avoid cooking eggs. Whisk together till smooth.

Pour egg mixture into sauce, whisking constantly. Stir until smooth.

Add in cheese and stir to melt.

Add salt and pepper. Taste sauce and add more salt and seasoned salt as needed! DO NOT UNDERSALT.

Pour in drained, cooked macaroni and stir to combine.

Toss the pulled pork with the barbecue sauce. Stir the pork and pasta into the cheese sauce.

Serve immediately (very creamy) or pour into a buttered baking dish, top with extra cheese, panko bread crumbs and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly and golden on top.