Mexican Mac and Cheese

Photo from BH&G Website
In general, I try not to share recipes before I've tried them. There have been exceptions, and fortunately the recipe when I did try it was as good as it sounded. I am hoping this is another of those times.

I am a huge lover of Mac and Cheese, but my husband not as much. He'll eat it, but it doesn't seem to excite him the same way. So I am always looking for ways to scratch my itch while making it more interesting for him. In a Google search today this unique take on Mac & Cheese from Better Homes & Gardens caught my eye. 

I love the use of a different pasta shape, as well as the inclusion of sausage and salsa to give it a bit of a twist.  And I love the fact I don't have to make a separate cheese sauce first. The cheese is just layered into the casserole when you assemble it. 

As my husband isn't big on raw tomatoes either, but okay with cooked ones, I may tuck some well-drained diced tomatoes into the to casserole by stirring them into the sausage and onion mixture instead of placing them on top. BE CAUTIOUS if you try this too, as raw tomatoes can release a lot of juice and make the casserole wet. I feel the same about the jalapenos and cilantro.  Nice on top as a decoration, but it might be fun to add extra flavour by tucking a bit of it into the casserole as well.

If I have time to hit the store, I may be making this tonight! If you beat me to it, let me know your thoughts. 

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Mexican Mac and Cheese

Ingredients -

12 oz.        Dried mostaccioli or rigatoni pasta (3 cups)
1 lb.           Bulk pork sausage
1 C            Chopped onion
1               16 ounce jar green medium-hot salsa (or mild if your family doesn't like spicy)
2               8 ounces package shredded Monterey Jack cheese (could use jalapeno jack for more heat)
Tomato wedges, sliced jalapeño peppers, and chopped fresh cilantro
Salsa (optional)

Directions -
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 

Lightly grease 3-quart rectangular baking dish; set aside. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain; set aside.  In large skillet cook sausage and onion until meat is browned and onion is tender. Drain fat, Return sausage and onion to skillet. Stir in green salsa.

In prepared baking dish layer half of the cooked pasta, half the sausage mixture, and half the cheese. (Note - if you want to add some of the topping into the casserole, I would stir it into the sausage mixture before layering in the casserole.) Repeat layers. Bake, uncovered, for 35 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes. 

Top with tomato, jalapeño, and cilantro. If desired, serve with additional salsa. Makes 12 servings.

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