Last Friday I conducted a little kitchen experiment. When I told my (picky eater) husband about the kitchen escapade I was about to embark on he looked less than enthusiastic.
Me: “Babe, I’m going to make taco mac and cheese.”
Him: “You can make it, but I probably won’t like it.”
He ate his words…and two helpings of my experiment.
It was awesome and truly something I just threw together so I had no intentions of blogging about it. Then I tasted it and knew it MUST be shared. It’s creamy, spicy comfort food at it’s very best. Definitely not a guilt-free recipe but you can cool your mouth and clear your conscience by ending the meal with a scoop or two of my banana “ice cream“! Redemption in dessert – that’s a first!
For this recipe, I used leftover nacho cheese sauce that I made the day before. People, you really should make your own cheese sauce and ignore that jarred or canned or boxed “cheese” junk. Seriously, that stuff is like neonish yellow-y orange – an experiment all it’s own.
You can make your own cheese sauce in about 10 minutes with ingredients you likely already have on hand – butter, flour, milk, cheese.
Here is the recipe for the cheese sauce followed by the recipe for the Taco Mac. Hope you like my little experiment, gone oh-so-right!
Spicy Cheese Sauce
- 1/2 stick butter
- 2 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1 can Rotel
- 1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- salt & pepper to taste (easy on the salt because the cheese is salty)
- Melt the butter over low/medium heat
- Add the flower to the melted butter. Mix and cook for about 5 minutes, frequently stirring.
- Add milk and whisk briskly. Keep stirring until it starts to thicken.
- Add all spices and seasonings. Blend thoroughly.
- Once mixture is thick enough to coat a spoon, slowly add the cheeses. Do not add in a big handfuls, rather small amounts whisking thoroughly with every addition. If you add it all too soon the cheese sauce will be lumpy and grainy.
- Drain the Rotel and add to the cheese sauce, mixing completely.
- Allow to simmer until sauce is silky and thick.
- Done! Use this sauce for nachos, dipping or for this yummy mac and cheese.
Taco Mac & Cheese
- 1 lb. lean ground beef
- 1 box of pasta (I used shells but elbow mac will work or any short cut pasta you have on hand
- 1 batch spicy cheese sauce (recipe above)
- 1 packet of taco seasoning
- 1 cup of Mexican blend cheese
- 1 cup of crushed tortilla chips (I used tri-colored chips to make it pretty)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain. Set aside.
- Cook ground beef with taco seasoning mix according to package directions.
- Mix together cooked taco meat, pasta and cheese sauce.
- Put mac and cheese in an oven safe casserole dish.
- Finely crush the tortilla chips. I pounded mine in a Ziploc bag with a rolling pin.
- Toss the chip crumbs with the cheese and layer the mixture over the top of the mac and cheese.
- Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until the top gets browned and crispy.
Even Miss Jax loved it and panted for more. It was a little too spicy for her so I only gave her a few bites. She gulped her water between forkfuls and grunted for more with a runny nose – poor baby!