Mac ‘n’ cheese is the most customizable of comfort foods: You can add all kinds of things to the basic recipe to give it a flavor boost. In this version, Monterey Jack cheese, canned green chiles, cumin, garlic, and tomato give plain old mac some Tex-Mex personality. Because these are portioned and baked in muffin tins, they’re easy to serve at a potluck or on the buffet.
- Yields: About 12 bites
- Difficulty: Medium
- Total: 1 hr
- Cooking spray, for coating the muffin pan
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 cup dried whole-wheat macaroni or other small pasta shape
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup whole milk, warmed
- 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 1 (4-ounce) can diced mild green chiles, drained well
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 large ripe tomato, seeded and chopped
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Generously spray a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray.
- Bring a large saucepan filled with water to a boil over high heat. Add the salt and pasta, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until al dente, about 7 minutes or according to the package directions. Drain the pasta and set aside.
- In the same saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Slowly add the milk while whisking constantly, until smooth. Continuing to whisk, slowly add the cheese until smooth. Add the chiles, cumin, garlic, and tomatoes to the cheese sauce and stir to combine. Stir in the egg and mix well.
- Spoon the pasta mixture into the prepared muffin wells, dividing it evenly and filling the wells. Bake the bites until they’re crisp and browned around the edges and bubbling, about 10 minutes. Allow them to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before removing (use a small knife to help dislodge them if necessary).
STORE IT: Refrigerate the bites in an airtight container for up to 3 days, or seal them in a single layer in a zippered plastic bag and freeze for up to 3 months.