spicy baked mac & cheese

Ridiculously cold weather = comfort foods. At least in my book it does! And comfort food that has a little kick does an even better job of warming us up from the inside. I like to serve mac & cheese with sauteed chicken bites, or a spiral ham. So good!

Spicy Baked Mac & Cheese Recipe

3/4-1 lb short pasta (I like penne), cooked until almost al dente
16oz shredded cheddar cheese (about 3 cups), divided (1 1/2 cups + 1 1/2 cups)
8oz diced pepper jack cheese (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 teaspoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
4 Tablespoons sour cream
1 large egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup lowfat milk
1 cup panko bread crumbs
2 Tablespoons melted butter

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Butter a 9x13" baking dish.

Stir together the mostly cooked pasta and both of the diced cheeses and pour into the dish.

In a medium bowl, stir together the rest of the ingredients, except 1 1/2 cups of the shredded cheddar, the panko and the melted butter. Pour over the noodles in the baking dish.

Sprinkle the shredded cheddar over the pasta. In a small bowl, stir together the bread crumbs and melted butter and sprinkle over the cheese.

Bake for about 45 minutes, until cheese sauce is bubbling and the topping is golden brown!

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