Cajun Kick

I have been on insane spicy kick for about a month.  I just want spicy food constantly (usually in the form of Mexican food UPDATE: No really, I had mexican for dinner last night…and I’m having it again tonight).  The other night I decided to make one of my go-to non-mexican spicy meals: Cajun Potatoes, Macaroni & Cheese, and Steamed Carrots.
I was discussing what to make for dinner with Bryce and realized that the meal was just not going to be hot enough…so I decided to make Jalapeno Mac & Cheese.  I don’t know what is wrong with me. Seriously.
Something you will learn about me – I don’t really ever follow recipes.  I mean, I find recipes and base my meal off of them, but once I get started I barely even look at the thing.  I’m not saying it’s the best way to do things, but it’s the way I do them so here are my recipes (uhh…kind of):

Jalapeno Mac & Cheese

1 Large Jalapeno
2 Cups Shredded Cheese – I like a Monterey Jack/Cheddar Mix
About 1 Tablespoon Flour
About 1 ½ Tablespoons Butter
About 1 Cup Milk
About 10 Oz Pasta – I actually didn’t end up using macaroni this time, but normally I do
About 1 Tsp Dijon Mustard
A Handful of Panko Breadcrumbs
Salt & Pepper

I’m sorry, I just really eyeball everything and I totally made this recipe up.  It’s more about paying attention to texture, consistency and flavor with me than measuring perfect amounts of ingredients so make sure you do that.  Cooking isn’t just perfectly following someone else’s recipe!
Let’s get started!  Preheat your oven to 400 F (you’ll be using it for the potatoes too).  Boil some water for your pasta, dice up that jalapeno, and set it aside. Melt your butter and whisk in the flour.  Once you have created the roux, whisk in your milk and heat until thickened.  Add in the diced jalapeno and heat a little bit longer.  Cook that pasta once your water is boiling!  Turn off the heat to your sauce and whisk in about 1 ½ cups of the cheese, the Dijon, and salt & pepper.  Mix the sauce and pasta together and put in an oven-safe dish.  Top the mixture with the remaining cheese, breadcrumbs and sprinkle it with paprika.  Bake until the cheese has melted and the breadcrumbs look a little bit toasty (10ish minutes).

Cajun Potatoes 

Adapted from this recipe (once again, it’s rare that I perfectly follow a recipe):

4 large Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled
3 small red onions, cut into wedges
1 large lemon, cut into wedges
10-12 garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
About 6 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon tomato past (Tip: I never use a full jar of tomato paste so I keep the leftovers in a small Ziploc container in my freezer. When I need a little I just run it under hot water & scoop it out!)
1/3 cup water
Salt & Pepper
Your favorite Cajun seasoning OR
1 teaspoon each of paprika, dried oregano and thyme
1/2 teaspoon each of cumin and cayenne

Preheat over to 400 F. Cut those potatoes up into thick wedges and boil in water until slightly tender – about 3 minutes (same water can be used for your macaroni too!). Drain and place in a large casserole dish (lined with foil) with onions, lemon, garlic, and bay leaves.

Whisk together the remaining ingredients and pour them over the tatos. Toss around to coat!

Roast for about 40 minutes until the potatoes are tender. While roasting, make sure to turn the potatoes over a couple of times with a spatula.

These recipes make a bit much for just the two of us, but the leftovers are incredible. Enjoy!


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