Fusing Food

With Halloween just around the corner, it can sometimes be a challenge making sure that dinner that evening doesn't just become candy. How can you get a quick dinner on the table that will have your family happy to sit down and enjoy it? I turn to leftovers and an odd play on fusion cuisine:

Introducing Macaroni and Cheese Burritos! Here's what you do: Make your favorite macaroni and cheese earlier in the week. If you're like me, you'll have leftovers because you might as well make a giant batch while you're at it. That's perfect. Set the leftovers aside. In the interest of fairness, let me toss my favorite mac 'n cheese recipe here and then get to the Halloween magic plan after you stop drooling!

Jalapeño Popper Macaroni and Cheese

  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon
  • 2 tablespoons bacon grease
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 2 jalapeños, sliced with ribs and seeds removed
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup half and half
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce
  • 2 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated pepper jack cheese
  • 2/3 cup blue cheese crumbles, divided
  • 1 cup corn flakes, crushed

In a large skillet, cook the bacon until crispy. Remove it from the pan, drain on paper towels and crumble. Pour off the excess bacon drippings, keeping 2 tablespoons in the pan. Place the skillet back on the heat and sauté onion and jalapeños until soft, about 6 minutes over medium heat. Set aside.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water generously and cook the pasta until very al dente, but not still crunchy. Drain and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In the same pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the cornstarch, along with the milk, half and half, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Increase the heat to medium high and continue mixing until the sauce thickens. Remove from the heat. Stir in the cream cheese and hot sauce until melted smoothly into the sauce. Pour the cooked pasta and sautéed onions and jalapeños into the sauce. Stir to coat. Stir in the cheeses (using only half of the blue cheese crumbles). Pour the mixture into a buttered baking dish and spread out evenly. Top with the remaining blue cheese, the corn flakes and crumbled bacon. Bake 20-30 minutes until the top of the macaroni has browned. Remove from oven and serve hot.

  • Yields: 6-8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour

Of course, you can omit the bacon and/or the peppers, but I'm really a fan of both of them. Once you've got a lovely bunch of leftovers on hand, heat a panini press or large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Take a large burrito-style flour tortilla and spoon about a cup to a cup and a half of your leftover mac 'n cheese into the center of it. Fold your burrito closed (here's a great video showing a perfect burrito-folding technique) and prep your other burritos in the same way. Place 2-3 burritos in the press or pan and cook on both sides until lightly browned and heated through. Carefully slice each burrito in half and serve warm. Ta-da! Enjoy this fast, simple dinner idea for Halloween that will keep candy from being the only thing your kids have that evening!

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