Jalapeño Cheddar Mac and Cheese

The first day of summer is my favorite day of the year—because it’s officially summer. Of course, I had to kick it off with my favorite meal (mac and cheese, if you couldn’t already tell). Yes, I know turning on the oven in June isn’t the best option. But it’s hard to live off of cold foods all summer. Sandwiches and salads are great for a while, but nothing compares to a heaping dish of mac and cheese, especially if I had a bad day (which I did). Anyway, I love spicy foods, and adding some sliced jalapeños gave this dish the perfect kick.

I recently purchased some adorable, single-serving porcelain dishes from Home Goods and was looking for a reason to use them. Since I didn’t want an entire 9×13 of mac and cheese hanging around, I thought this recipe would be a great time to utilize the new dishes. I made this recipe as a single serving (give or take), but feel free to double it or more to your liking.

1 cup elbow macaroni (okay, this might be a little more than a serving)
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon flour
6 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 jalapeño, thinly sliced (for more spice, you can use the whole jalapeño
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 350. Cook pasta according to package instructions. In a small pan, melt butter. Add in heavy cream and whisk to combine. Add cream cheese and whisk, then flour and whisk. Add in 4 ounces of cheddar, and let it melt into the sauce, whisking occasionally. Shred the other two ounces and set aside for topping. When pasta is cooked, transfer to an oven-safe dish. Pour cheese sauce over pasta and mix together. Mix in jalapeño slices. Top with shredded cheese and bread crumbs. Bake 15-20 minutes or until breadcrumbs start to brown. Let cool five minutes and serve.

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