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Turn up the heat on mac 'n cheese

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By Judyrae Kruse
Herald Columnist
It seems like it's been a while since we've made any casseroles around here, so let's do that very thing.
We don't even have to start digging through our recipe files and piles, looking for the how-to for such and such, because our friends at Spice Islands have taken care of that for us.
They suggest making their zippy, zappy, majorly revamped version of that beloved by all casserole classic, mac 'n cheese.
And who knows? Even total naysayers may come right around to the right way of thinking at long last and, of course, folks who are fond of this anyway, ought to be in hog heaven. Well, we'll see . . .
Cajun macaroni and cheese
Cajun spice mix:
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoons fine-grind pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons thyme
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Macaroni and cheese:
8 ounces elbow macaroni
6 tablespoons butter, divided
1/4 cup minced onion
1/4 cup minced green bell pepper
1/4 cup minced celery
1/4 cup flour
3 cups milk
1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey jack cheese
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
8 ounces andouille sausage, chopped, or cooked and peeled crayfish
1/4 cup corn bread crumbs or panko bread crumbs
Combine all spices for the Cajun spice mix. Mix well, then store in a tightly covered container.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook pasta according to package directions to al dente. Drain well and set aside. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in pasta stock pot. Add onion, bell pepper and celery and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until tender. Add remaining butter, stirring until melted. Add flour, stirring until well blended; simmer mixture for 1 minute. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly until thickened, about 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the Cajun spice mix.
Gradually add both cheeses to sauce, stirring until melted. Stir in drained pasta and andouille sausage or crayfish. Pour into greased 2- to 3-quart baking dish. Combine corn bread crumbs or panko crumbs and 1/2 teaspoon Cajun spice. Mix well and spread over macaroni and cheese.
Bake for 25 minutes until bread crumbs are lightly browned.
Makes one 2- to 3-quart casserole.
Do you have a favorite new or an old, go-to casserole recipe to share? Don't hesitate to send it along to Judyrae Kruse at the Forum, c/o The Herald, P.O. Box 930, Everett, WA 98206. We are always happy to receive your contributions and requests, but please remember all letters and e-mail must include a name, complete address with ZIP code and telephone number with area code. No exceptions and sorry, but no response to e-mail by return e-mail; send to

The next Forum will appear in Wednesday's Good Life section.

Story tags » CookingFood

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