Saturday, February 1, 2014

Cheddar Pepper Jack Mac and Cheese with Spicy Sausage and Oreo Peanut Butter Brownies

Okay so again it has been forever since I have posted. But it has also been a while since I have felt I have created something worthy of sharing. Given the feedback from my last couple of food posts to my various social media (Instagram and Facebook) faith was restored that you all really wanted some of those recipes. So for myself and for you I redid one of them in order to preserve all its smoky cheesy greatness.

This recipe unlike the (Buffalo and Blue Cheese Tuna Cabbage Wraps - which is also to come one of these days) is not diet friendly. It falls into that category I have talked about before of the just gotta have it comfort food.

I created this with someone special in mind using a lot of the flavors we had in the house at the time. No intense planning went into it like some of my recipes simply convenience. It is a definite upgrade to a childhood classic of kraft mac and hot dogs. (Which I would like to mention is still enjoyed in this household by my lovely roomie :-P) Anyways after the feedback of people wanting the recipe I had a chance to decide what really worked with it and what could have used some tweaking, it is still just as easy but oh ya know just a bit cheesier, and creamier and more to die for. ( Didn't figure anyone would mind those changes. :)

So without further ado here we go.

What you will need

1 box of whatever kind of pasta you want to use. 
I used whole grain rotini because it was the best pasta I had in the house for mac and cheese. You can feel free to use your preference or whatever short noodles or shells you have on hand. This pasta was also preferred because the ridges will capture all that cheesy goodness. (Just something to keep in mind when deciding on your noodle.)
1 8oz package of pepperjack cheese ( I could only find a block at my store but if you can find shredded that will save you some time, either way it needs to be shredded)
12oz of sharp cheddar cheese (8oz for the cheese sauce, 4oz for topping)
1/2 stick of butter
1 shallot, diced ( or whatever onion you have on hand, white or yellow preferably. If you use white or yellow use only a quarter of the onion.)
1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
1 c. chicken stock/ broth ( this gives the dish a lot of great flavor I wouldn't change this)
1 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
pepper to taste (optional)
4 links of sausage of your choice ( I prefer beef sausage and to stick with the theme I used a spicy one from Hillshire farms, but whatever you like will do just fine!)
(Not pictured) Flour for thickening ( I used 2 Tablespoons, you may need more or less depending on how thick you want your cheese sauce)

The first thing you want to do is get your pasta boiling. This is a fast dish and that is the part that will take the longest.

Then shred your pepperjack cheese if not already shredded. 

Next you want to heat the pot you are going to make the cheese sauce in. Put it over a med-high heat and add in your half stick of butter while you dice your onion.

Add your onion to your melted butter along with your garlic salt and powder,  and cook until tender and starts to brown and bubble.

Next add in your chicken stock. Bring to a boil and then add in your cheeses. Pepper jack and cheddar. Whisk until nice and smooth. This is where you need to use your judgement about how thick you want your cheese sauce to be. I added two tablespoons of flour and it was perfect for my preference. 

Whisk away till you have a smooth yellowish orange color.

Remove from heat and whisk in your heavy cream.

Next chop up your sausage links. ( Make sure you are using precooked links if you are following this recipe or cook them before chopping them if they need cooking.)

Add your sausage to your cheese sauce.

By now your pasta should be cooked ( don't overcook your noodles, you want them to be al dente (slightly firm) to be able to hold up the cheese sauce.) 

Drain your noodles and then transfer into a bowl big enough to mix the noodles and the sauce. 

Stir all together and then transfer into an oven safe baking dish. 

(Note you could eat it from this stage if you want, I took a few bites myself and it was perfectly yummy, but being me I can't resist the option of adding a nice cheesy crusty layer to the top and allowing the flavors to deepen together in the baking process. So if you wish to bake continue to read if not Bon Appetite)

Once you have it in a baking dish cover with the other 4 ounces ( or however much it takes to cover your pasta) of cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 until the cheese is melted. About ten minutes or so.

This is pre baking. I was saving this to be baked later but I topped with the cheese and covered it with an airtight lid and it was ready to go when I was ready to cook it. 
Got to love make ahead dinners!


Oh and as a bonus I will share with you this little baby of a recipe I put together the other day on my brownie making quest. It was something I saw a picture of that I needed to try out. Its a 25 minute dessert that you can't beat!

Oreo Peanut Butter Brownies
Okay so what you will need 
1 box of brownie mix (and whatever it calls for usually water eggs and oil)
1 package of oreos ( I didn't count when making this recipe so just have a package)
Peanut butter (have a jar handy I don't know the exact amount here either)
Cupcake liners ( yes these are essential if you don't want a huge mess or ruined brownies)


Okay you ready?

Preheat your oven to 350.
This is all you do, mix your brownie batter together.
Take two oreos and layer with peanut butter. Oreo, peanut butter, oreo, peanut butter. Got it?
Okay like this

Place each of those babies into your cupcake line pan and then cover with brownie batter. Don't overfill because the brownies will puff up some just make sure your top layer of peanut butter is completely covered.

Next bake for twenty minutes and VIOLA!

Yea you can thank me later. ;-)