Baking & cooking with an enthusiastic amateur
Macaroni and cheese is generally a cold weather food, given how warm and filling it is. Practically speaking, it also heats up the entire kitchen (or entire apartment, in my case) since it involves baking. This week, it was warm enough to put in my air conditioner, but practicality aside, I wanted macaroni and cheese!
On the other hand, this recipe was a “cupboard adventure”! I took a small portion of bacon from the freezer, box of macaroni from the cupboard, and a-week-from-expiring cheese from the fridge. No purchases necessary!
The portion sizes in this recipe are very small. If you are planning on eating this as the sole course for your dinner, it’d be easy for one person to eat one-third or even half of the recipe. However, this is definitely an indulgent food, and as such, I enjoyed a small portion along with much healthier salad and homemade lentil soup.
This is also my first recipe where I calculated not just calories but fat, carbohydrates, and protein content. It’s still not comprehensive (for example, I didn’t calculate saturated fat vs. unsaturated), but hopefully it will be helpful to some of you who are trying to be more aware of what you’re eating!
Bacon Jack Mac
2 oz bacon, diced
1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese, about 4 oz
1/2 tablespoon butter
3/4 cup milk (I use 1%)
1 small shallot, diced
1/8 tsp paprika
6 oz macaroni
1/4 cup panko
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cook the macaroni according to package instructions, opting for the lesser amount of time (about 8 or 9 minutes) so that it’s still al dente. Drain and set aside. You may want to start the sauce while the macaroni is cooking, so that it doesn’t sit for too long and stick together before you assemble the dish.
In a nonstick saucepan, combine the bacon and shallot. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the bacon is fully cooked and the shallot has turned translucent or slightly golden brown. Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the milk and butter. Bring it to barely simmering and slowly stir in the cheese. Add the paprika and stir until the cheese has completely melted into the sauce. The sauce may still look fairly thin; that is ok!
Mix the macaroni into the cheese and pour into a lightly greased casserole dish. Sprinkle on panko. Bake for 25 minutes. Let cool for a couple of minutes before serving.
Makes six servings.
Cost per serving: $0.66
Nutrition per serving: 251 calories, 11.5g fat, 25g carbs, 12.5g protein