Recipe: Jalapeño Popper Mac and Cheese from Our New L.A. Food Bloggers Cookbook for Charity!

Copyright Tanaya Ghosh

Welcome to Tanaya’s Table! What better way to kick off the blog than by giving a preview taste of the goodies inside a cookbook I was fortunate to be part of? Thirty Los Angeles food bloggers (including myself!) have come together for charity to create 30 creative versions of macaroni and cheese for our new ebook, Mo’ Macaroni and Cheese: 30 Mouthwatering Recipes for America’s Favorite Comfort Food.

As a member of the Food Bloggers Los Angeles group, we were challenged to re-imagine mac and cheese and elevate it from a childhood favorite to include a bit of something for everyone. The recipes are likely to satisfy all types of palates, from decadent to healthy tastes. In addition to indulgent twists on the American comfort food, there are even gluten-free and vegan versions in there! My recipe, however, is unabashedly one of the more indulgent renditions of the classic dish… and it manifests itself in the form of Jalapeño Popper Mac and Cheese!

The fruits of our digital cookbook labor, Mo’ Macaroni and Cheese officially launches today, and is available on Amazon’s Kindle store, as well as on Google Play, Scrib’d, Nook and other platforms for under two bucks– $1.99, to be exact! Categories include classic recipes, international variations, lightened-up dishes, and mac and cheese with a twist.

The best part– and the reason we embarked on this ebook project in the first place– is that all proceeds benefit the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, which feeds more than 1 million Los Angeles County residents annually! Talk about feeling good about doing good, while cooking some really good food!

One thing I especially like about an ebook recipe is that I can put the reader in a protective sleeve and never worry about losing the recipe, spilling on the pages or accidentally tearing out part of the recipe while I do my thing in the kitchen. I also like that I can search the ebook for recipes using ingredients I already have on hand.

As a thank you for visiting Tanaya’s Table and for your support as I embark on this adventure, below is the recipe I created for the ebook.

I wanted to create a recipe that brings a comfort food classic and a fun go-to appetizer together, and I also love anything with a little kick. The secret ingredient here is actually garlic. It adds a depth to the flavor, while the extra bread crumbs give the crunch that comes from biting into a jalapeño popper. I love creating food with a twist, and pushing people to try something slightly out of their comfort zone. My hope is that you enjoy this fun dish with a kick as much as those whom I tested multiple versions on did (thank you to my family and friends, a.k.a. loving guinea pigs!):

Jalapeno Popper Mac N Cheese Recipe - Copyright 2014 Tanaya Ghosh

Jalapeño Popper Mac and Cheese
Recipe created by Tanaya Ghosh to benefit the L.A. Regional Food Bank

Serves 4-6

8 ounces large elbow macaroni
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
2 large jalapeño peppers, 1 diced and 1 sliced into rings (de-seed for less heat)
1 1/4 cups milk, at room temperature
8 ounces grated pepper jack cheese
4 ounces plain cream cheese
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
3/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs or Panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 400 F.
Cook pasta according to package directions, to just al dente. Drain and set the pasta aside in the pot.

While the pasta cooks, heat a medium sauce pan over medium heat. As the butter melts, whisk in the flour. Add the garlic and diced jalapeños. Keep whisking until the mixture thickens. Gradually add milk, whisking constantly. Stir until smooth, bringing to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and add sea salt to taste. Gradually whisk in pepper jack and cream cheese, stirring until the cheese is melted smoothly into a thicker sauce.

Fold sauce into cooked pasta, coating thoroughly. Spread into a 9-inch-square greased baking dish. Sprinkle with sharp cheddar cheese and bread crumbs. Arrange jalapeño slices over the top and bake for about 15 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and top forms a crust. Enjoy!

If you’d like to help the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank and its mission by supporting our ebook, please let me know what you think! If you love it, please do share it. It would mean the world! Plus, I’d love to see your macaroni and cheese creations on social media by tagging @TanayaG on Twitter or @mstanayag on Instagram, and using the hashtag #30macncheese. I’d be glad to share your creative photos, and I’d love to see how your recipe renditions turned out!

Next up: I’ve got an interview with the CEO and founder of Coolhaus Ice Cream, as well as a behind-the-scenes tour of an organic farm opening its doors (bushes?) to the public for DIY blueberry picking! Until next time….


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