The switch has flipped. One day it’s summer, the next it’s the new school year which is synonymous with fall for me. As if on cue the weather has become cool, dreary and rainy. Of course this may only last a day or two but it gives me hope that perhaps our fall won’t be plagued by 100 degree weather presenting the worry of kids in non air-conditioned classrooms collapsing of heat stroke.
The fortuitous change in the weather coincides perfectly with my focus on delicious, fast meals to wedge into a busy after school routine without sacrificing flavor. Though my world is dictated by the school year, yours may not be. Before I had children and when I was working full time I frankly had the same goal of fast food that wasn’t ‘fast food’ by cultural definition, after a long, exhausting work day. Kicking off the high heels and sinking into the couch with a platter of sliced cheese, crackers and some wine was a fine dinner for me but not every night.
I have always loved Macaroni and Cheese. Starting with the stuff in the box that was tinted the most unnatural color of orange and probably only tasted like the essence of cheese, but I didn’t care. Were I only given the choice of two foods for the rest of my life I’d easily would have chosen Mac-and-Cheese and Peanut Butter (not together of course). My palate has expanded from those young years but I still love both of those foods!
After becoming gluten-free, homemade Mac and Cheese was the only option for my family and in the process I realized how fantastic the dish could truly be. I also discovered how nimble the base recipe is for changing things up. It can be swayed any number of cuisine directions by a change of cheese, adding different proteins or with some savvy seasoning.
Fall is chile pepper season in Colorado. The smell of roasting chilies can be found at our Farmer’s Markets and the varieties available in the stores triple. Fancying a fall dish with some zing I decided to whip up a Southwestern-inspired roasted green chile and chicken Mac-and-Cheese reminding me of another favorite comfort food; the chicken enchilada. To make it more fun I prepared the dish in personal size cast iron skillets. The recipe has a beautifully golden, crisp top with creamy, spicy pasta waiting below. It’s a wonderfully warming dish that sticks to your ribs while not being ‘your Mama’s Macaroni and Cheese’!
More Recipes You’ll Love!
- Macaroni Salad
- Pumpkin Baked Mac and Cheese
- Instant Pot Mac and Cheese with Green Chiles
Creamy Roasted Green Chile Chicken Macaroni and Cheese
- 1 16- ounce package elbow pasta (I use Tinkyada Brown Rice Elbow pasta which is gluten free)
- 1 ½ teaspoons plus 3 tablespoons Unsalted Butter
- ½ cup Yellow Onion , chopped
- 2 tablespoons (gluten-free or regular) Flour
- 2 cups milk
- 3/4 cups grated Mexican Cheese blend*
- ¼ cup Pepper Jack cheese , grated or cubed
- 1 ½ cup Roasted Chicken
- 2 large (5-6 inch) Anaheim Chilies**
- 1 Serrano Chile
- 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
- 1 teaspoon ground Black Pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 6-2 ½ cup oven proof containers or a large casserole dish (to hold 12 cups).
- Roasting the Chile Peppers: Place the chile peppers on a baking sheet underneath the broiler. Checking often, allow to blacken on each side. Remove from oven and place either in a plastic zipper bag OR in a heatproof bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove from container or bag and remove the blackened skin by rubbing or pulling it off leaving only the soft flesh of the pepper. Remove top with stem, slice vertically and scrape out the seeds with a dinner knife (non sharp). Chop and set aside. Wash hands thoroughly after handling the chilies and if choosing hotter varieties consider wearing protective vinyl or latex gloves.
- Boil water and prepare pasta to package instructions.
- While pasta is cooking, melt 1 ½ teaspoons butter in a medium skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until they are translucent; about 5 minutes. Set aside.
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat melt the 3 tablespoons butter. Whisk in the flour, as well as salt and pepper. When it is well combined, slowly pour in the milk whisking the whole time to avoid burning the mixture. Continue to whisk until the mixture begins to thicken noticeably (5-10 minutes).
- Add the cheese (both types) to the flour/milk mixture and stir constantly until cheese has melted.
- When pasta is cooked, rinse, drain well and return to the cooking pot. Pour in the cheese sauce, cooked onions, roasted chilies and chopped chicken; stir well to fully combine. Add more salt and pepper to taste if needed. Spoon into cooking container(s). If cooking in personal size containers cook 30 minutes and 40 minutes if in a casserole dish or until the macaroni develops a nice, brown crust on the top.
- Remove from oven to cool slightly and serve.
My2Cents- and a dash of this! says
this looks so, so yummy. eager to try.
Dani @ See Hubby Cook says
This looks awesome! I hope, for the kids’ sake, that the weather cools down too. No heat strokes allowed! Plus, fall weather means more macaroni and soups!
Toni Dash says
I agree with everything you’ve said Dani! Always ready for sweater-weather once Labor Day rolls around.
Pamela @ Brooklyn Farm Girl says
I’m a mac and cheese lover, but I also love spice, especially with chiles, so this is perfect! Can’t wait to make it!
Toni Dash says
Pamela this recipe is for you then, most definitely! To me it’s the perfect meshing of comfort food with seasonal flavors that for me are comforting. I hope you’ll love it as much as I have.
late summer….start of school….fall is just around the corner.
Wish I were there to celebrate chile season!
Jaime the German granddaughter says
You’re making my mouth water!! I love this combination!
Toni Dash says
I’m so glad! I too love these combinations. Anything Southwestern I can’t get enough of and marrying that with Mac and Cheese seemed like heaven to me! Hope you’ll make it and love it too.
What a terrific dish, and you photos are really fab. It is something how the switch flips when school starts. It started early this year here in California, and even though we still have our torrid summer heat, we are in a hybrid plane – halfway fall since school is on, yet still summer.
Toni Dash says
It’s the same here Adri though a bit cooler this year actually. It’s been raining later in the day and the days have been in the 80’s (which still translate into the 90’s in the classrooms). I’m glad it’s a bit cooler and overcast here. It always feels so strange to start school and feel like summer is blasting on without us!
Jen @JuanitasCocina says
Simply beautiful. Ummmm, is this okay to eat for breakfast? Because I want some now!
Toni Dash says
Well yes it IS ok to eat it for breakfast, Jen! I think good food should not be relegated to only one meal. Eat it whenever you like!