Baking & cooking with an enthusiastic amateur

Bacon Jack Mac

Pepper jack cheese and bacon really kick up macaroni!

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!

Bacon jack mac is part of this balanced dinner!

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!

One modestly sized casserole pan makes six servings – not as a main dish, mind you, but as a delicious and reasonable portion along with other, lower-fat dishes!

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

On Tweaking:

  • Monterey jack or cheddar-jack would be a fine substitute for pepper jack.
  • If you want to make this without bacon, I’d recommend increasing the butter content, and making sure you cook your shallot in a bit of that extra butter.
  • Don’t have shallot? Substitute finely chopped onion or omit it all together.

This is a nice change from Kraft Dinner, as delicious as Kraft may be!/

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on May 31, 2012 by in Dinners, Meat and tagged .
%d bloggers like this: