Dinners, Side Dishes

Recipe—Jalapeño Popper Mac N’ Cheese

Jalapeño Popper Mac N’ Cheese

My name is Rebecca and I am a cheesy jalapeñoholic. I will literally devour anything with cheese and jalapeños. I HAVE NO SELF CONTROL!

If it has popper in the name, I am game. Mac n’ Cheese with a crispy top is involved. No holding me back. I will literally fall off of any diet wagon for some good mac n’ cheese. That is a universal thing, right? Like, that goes for everyone?

Come on, you start with a creamy white sauce base, add in gobs of pepper jack cheese until it is thick, and creamy, and cheesy, and then add in cooked pasta. It could be perfect as is, but no. It gets better. You add a buttery panko topping that once crisp will replicate that of the exterior of deep-fried jalapeño popper. And then the sliced jalapeños on the top is literally the icing on the cake. SO. DAMN. GOOD!

This recipe goes fantastic with any sort of grilled meat but is totally sufficient as a standalone dish. What says comfort food more than a big ol’ bowl of spiced up mac n’ cheese? Nothing. Absolutely nothing people.

Note: If you do not have an oven safe skillet you can make this in whatever large skillet you have, and then transfer the noodles and cheese sauce to a baking dish before topping with the panko and sliced peppers. 

MACARONI INGREDIENTS
8 oz macaroni pasta, uncooked
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
3 c milk
3 c pepperjack cheese, crated
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp crushed red peppers

TOPPING INGREDIENTS
3 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 c panko
1/4 c jalapeño slices

STEPS

  • Preheat the oven to 400º.
  • Cook the pasta per the package instructions.
  • Drain and allow to sit.
  • Melt the butter in a large oven safe skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Whisk in the flour and cook it for about a minute while stirring continuously until it starts to lightly brown and is well combined.
  • Gradually whisk in the milk, about 1/2 cup at a time, making sure it is nice and creamy and starts to thicken after each addition. Continue this until the milk is finished.
  • Bring the mixture to a simmer and then reduce heat to low.
  • Whisk in the cheese, salt, pepper, and crushed red peppers and stir until it is all melted and creamy.
  • Add in the cooked pasta making sure all the noodles are evenly coated and remove skillet from heat.
  • Now for the topping!
  • In a small bowl mix together the melted butter and panko.
  • Evenly distribute the topping over the mac n’ cheese.
  • Top with sliced jalapeños.
  • Bake for 8–10 minutes or until the panko starts to turn a nice golden brown and the sauce is simmering around the edges.
  • Allow to rest for about 5 minutes.
  • Serve and enjoy!
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Dinners

Recipe—Macadamia Nut Crusted Halibut

One of my all time favorite restaurants in Sacramento is Scott’s Seafood. They are known for stunning presentation and of course their out-of-this-world fish dishes. One of my all time favorite meals that they serve is their melt in your mouth macadamia nut crusted halibut. It is incredible! They take an already awesome piece of fish and seem to make it more awesome then you can possibly imagine. Lucky for me (and you I suppose), they have some of their more popular recipes on their website. The other night I decided to attempt to make their popular halibut dish on my own. It did not disappoint, it was awesome! The brown butter gives the dish a salty and nutty flavor and the macadamia nuts themselves give the fish a mild sweetness and great texture. My husband, son, and I chowed down and we were in heaven! If you have a little extra time and money on your hands, and you want to impress, try this decadent recipe. It is an incredible way to enjoy halibut.

Note: This recipe is written to use an oven safe skillet. If you don’t have one, no biggie. Just use whatever large skillet you have and then transfer the fish to a large baking dish and finish off in the oven.

INGREDIENTS
4-6 oz halibut filets, skin removed
1/2 c panko
1 1/2 c macadamia nuts
1/2 lb salted butter
4 tbsp olive oil

STEPS

  • In a large saucepan bring the butter to boil over medium heat, stirring constantly until it just starts to turn a golden brown color. Be sure not to burn it!
  • Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 350º.
  • Place the panko and the macadamia nuts on a baking sheet keeping them separated.
  • Toast both the panko and nuts for 3–4 minutes or until just starting to brown.
  • Transfer the toasted panko to a plate or shallow bowl.
  • Using a food processor, or by hand, chop the macadamia nuts.
  • Add half of the chopped nuts to the toasted panko and mix.
  • Place the other half of the chopped nuts in the brown butter and stir.
  • Turn the oven up to 375º.
  • Coat the halibut filets in the panko and nut mixture making sure to cover as much of the fish as possible and set aside.
  • Heat the olive oil over medium high-heat in a large oven safe skillet.
  • One by one add the breaded fish.
  • Cook until golden brown on the bottom and then flip to cook the other side.
  • Once both sides have turned a golden brown place the skillet in the oven to finish cooking, about 5–8 minutes depending on the thickness of the filets. When the fish is cooked through it should flake off easily with a fork.
  • When the halibut is cooked, stir the brown butter and nut mixture and then ladle it over the top of the fish.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Scott’s Seafood Grill & Bar.