I’m not a gal to back down from a challenge and when I heard about Saucy Mama’s Sliced Recipe Contest, I decided to throw caution to the wind, toss my stiletto in the ring and give it my best shot. See – not many people know I adore mustard. I don’t know what it is but if I’m ordering a sandwich or something, while many opt for ketchup, I’m more of a mustard gal. When Saucy Mama told me that I was one of the contestants picked, I clicked my stilettos with glee and started thinking about what to make for this culinary competition. Various bloggers will be given a secret ingredient and we will have to pair it with the mustard and come up with a recipe that will have that “wow” factor.
This week’s round is all about the appetizer using some of the Saucy Mama’s mustards and I couldn’t resist playing with their Creamy Garlic Mustard. The secret ingredient – BACON. I’m big on comfort food so I was trying to think of a comforting appetizer that would greet my guests, yet be chic and feature the secret ingredient and Saucy Mama’s mustard.
Voila! May I present Bacon Mac ‘n Cheese Bites.
The key ingredients – the mustard and nutmeg in the cheese sauce – don’t skip either! Rather than having chunks of garlic, I decided to grate the garlic into the sauce ala Rachael Ray style. The garlic flavor was enhanced by Saucy Mama’s mustard. I have to confess, this recipe was sooo good, my normal mac ‘n cheese recipe – well, I upgraded baby and this one is it.
These Bacon Mac ‘n Cheese Bites are a quick bite or two of comfort which will have your guests going “I NEED this recipe!” It’s up to you to decide whether or not you want to share 😉
On to the recipe:
Gather the ingredients
Adding a bit of pepper before the bacon bakes
Don’t forget to add the mustard – it adds so much flavor!
The spoon doesn’t lie – the one test you can’t skip
The life of a sauce – from butter to bacon and everything in between
Trick – use some of the bread crumb mixture for a bottom “crust”
Hot out of the oven – let cool to set!
Now – tell me you don’t want to grab a bite 😉
- 4 slices of thick bacon
- 2 cups elbow macaroni, uncooked
- 3 tablespoons of butter
- ¼ cup of flour
- 2¼ cups of low fat milk
- 1½ teaspoons of Saucy Mama Creamy Garlic Mustard
- 1 garlic clove, minced (or grated on a microplane)
- Pinch of nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon of smoked paprika
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1 cup of shredded mozzarella
- 1½ cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- ½ cup of grated Parmesan cheese
- Freshly grated pepper
- Kosher salt (to taste)
- ½ cup of panko bread crumbs
- 2 teaspoons of olive oil
- ¼ cup of grated Parmesan cheese
- ¼ teaspoon of smoked paprika
- Freshly grated pepper (to taste – I only used a bit)
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Cover a baking sheet with foil. Place a wire rack on top of the baking sheet.
- Lay out the thick bacon on the wire rack and sprinkle a bit of freshly cracked black pepper on the bacon.
- Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, until browned & crisp.
- Remove and let cool on a paper toweled line plate.
- Dice and set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine the panko, Parmesan cheese, smoked paprika, a bit of freshly cracked black pepper, and olive oil. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Grease two mini muffin tins with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a medium heavy bottomed saucepan, melt the butter.
- Add the flour and whisk until smooth for about a minute.
- Whisk in the milk gradually, making sure there are no lumps.
- Continue to stir and let thicken for about 5 minutes.
- When the white sauce is thick (I use the spoon test method), add the nutmeg, Saucy Mama's mustard, garlic, smoked paprika, and cayenne and whisk until smooth.
- When everything is combined thoroughly, add the mozzarella, cheddar and Parmesan cheeses and stir until everything is melted and smooth.
- Taste, adjust for seasonings and add any additional salt and pepper. Simmer on low for a moment while you cook the pasta.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- Cook the macaroni for about 7 – 8 minutes until it's just about al dente. Remember, it will cook more in the oven so you don't want it too mushy.
- Drain thoroughly and return to the pot.
- Combine the cheese sauce and the cooked pasta. Stir in the diced cooked bacon and make sure everything is combined.
- Add a bit of the crumb "crust" to each mini muffin tin, followed by a tablespoon of so of the bacon mac 'n cheese mixture.
- Top with a bit more of the crumb topping.
- Place on the top rack of the oven and bake for about 30 minutes or so, until the topping is nicely browned and the cheese is bubbly.
- Cool the mac 'n cheese bites in the muffin tin for about 5 – 10 minutes to allow the mixture to firm.
- Serve and enjoy!
I have good news for y’all! Saucy Mama has been kind enough to share a special discount code. You can get 25% off purchases on their website by using ALY25. Also, for one lucky reader, Saucy Mama is giving away a mustard prize pack with their new flavors, Creamy Garlic, Hatch Chili and Dill. Enter below!
[NOTE: Giveaway has ended]
FTC Disclosure: I was provided with a pack of mustards by Saucy Mama to use for their #Sliced competition. All opinions, as always, are my own and no monetary compensation was provided.
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