Mexican Mac and Cheese Cups

Mexican Mac and Cheese Cups

makes 6 ramekins (3 inches wide x 2 inches tall)

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded

2 cups dry whole wheat elbow noodles

1/2 cup red onion, chopped

1/2 cup green pepper, chopped

1/2 cup red pepper, chopped

1/2 cup corn (frozen is fine, just thaw and dry)

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 tablespoon cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

pinch of cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon flour

2 cups milk

1 cup grated monterey jack cheese

1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/4 cup panko bread crumbs

salt and pepper

fresh cilantro for garnish

The quickest and easiest way to make this is by using pre-cooked chicken, so cook your chicken however you like – grill, bake, broil, boil – and shred it. I also think this would work with very lean ground beef (to reduce the grease). Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare pasta water, bring to a boil, and cook noodles.

While noodles are cooking, heat a skillet on medium heat and add olive oil. Add onions and peppers and saute until soft, about 5-6 minutes. Add garlic and corn and cook for another minute. Add shredded chicken and cumin, chili and cayenne, mixing to combine. Turn heat down to low. [Whenever pasta is done, just make sure to drain it and add it to the chicken/pepper mix.]

Heat a small saucepan on medium heat and add butter. Once butter is sizzling, add flour and whisk to create a roux. Cook flour mixture for about 1-2 minutes, whisking continuously. Add milk and turn heat down medium-low. Add cheeses and stir, allowing cheese to melt and and sauce to thicken. It will take about 5-8 minutes for sauce to thicken – keep and eye on it and stir every minute or so to ensure the bottom is not burning. Once sauce is thick, add it to the chicken and pasta and mix to combine.

Spray ramekins with non-stick spray and add about 1 1/2 cups mac and cheese to each. Top with bread crumbs and additional cheese if desired. Bake for 20 minutes, or until cheese is golden. Serve with cilantro.

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