So. A few apologies first.
Sorry for the lack of pictures in this post. They're locked away in my camera until I can find the associated cord. Silly me didn't have my memory card in the camera whilst taking them and I was hoping to find the cord while packing. This didn't happen.
The second apology is for missing the deadline. All that packing I was doing was so that I could move. This past weekend. I was smart enough to have the foresight to make this dish on Monday this past week, but that's where my non-moving-dedicated energy stopped. Do I still get credit? I hope so!
In terms of this week's theme, I really like spicy food. These days, the spicier the better. When I was little, I didn't much care for spicy food at all. But the past few years I've enjoyed it. The past few months, I crave it from time to time. I've also recently been introduced to the jalapeno popper. The kind they have at pizza places with the dubious yellow "cheese" doesn't even come close to the creamy-amazingness of the cream cheese kind that they served at a local establishment. Yes. Served. When I found out this particular app was being taken off the menu, I knew I would need to figure out an alternative.
So a few months ago, I set about looking for a baked (because I don't much care for frying at home, but more because I wanted it to be a healthier option) jalapeno popper with cream cheese recipe. As a part of my search, I found, made and fell in love with this recipe. Yes, I know. It's Emeril. But you know that I didn't buy his Essence. I mixed my own.
And one night, not long before Whip It Up, while making these poppers, I had a thought. Why not take the greatness that are these jalapeno poppers and combine them with another of the greatest recipes of all time. And that's when the idea for this week's submission was conceived.
The day I made this, I wanted to look online and see if this was a truly original idea, or if it'd been tried before. This was the first link I found (and the only real recipe I saw in the small amount of time I spent looking). I almost didn't make it because she had made it. But then I remembered how I was thinking of making it, and it sounded a thousand times better than her recipe. I'm glad I didn't back out.
Jalapeno Popper Baked Macaroni and Cheese
1 lb pasta (I used medium shells)
8 oz reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1 10 3/4 oz can Campbell's Cheddar Cheese Soup
3/4 soup can 1% milk
1 tbs cayenne pepper
1 tbs cumin
6 jalapeno popper, seeds and ribs removed. cut in half the long way then sliced
1 28 oz can diced or petite diced tomatoes
3 oz shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese
Bread Crumb Topping
1/2 c plain bread crumbs
2 1/2 tsp paprika
2 tsp salt
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp dried leaf oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
Preheat oven to 350.
Bring salted water to a boil in a large pot. When the water is boiling, add pasta and cook until a minute or two under al dente. The medium shells took 10 minutes. Drain the pasta well, and rinse immediately with cold water to stop from cooking any further.
In a small bowl, combine all ingredients of the bread crumb topping and set aside.
Meanwhile, blend together cream cheese, and cheese soup. When combined, add the milk and spices. In a 9x13 casserole dish, combine the cheese mixture and pasta. Next, add the tomatoes, jalapenos and shredded cheddar cheese. When well combined and distributed evenly in the dish, sprinkle with the bread crumb topping.
Place in the oven and back for 45-55 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and topping brown and crispy. Let cool for about 10 minutes. Enjoy!
Was it good?
Oh my goodness yes. I was somehow able to restrain myself from eating the entire dish in one sitting. It made it all the way to three meals, or six servings.
Was the recipe easy to follow?
I was sort of making it up as I went along - but this is a merge of my grandmother's baked macaroni and cheese, which is fantastic and easy and those poppers, which is the same.
Will I make it again?
You bet your butt I will. And if you're lucky, maybe I'll share.