Well I have attempted to get the kids to eat soup twice this week so I figured I needed to make them something to make up for that. I call this dinner macaroni and cheese despite not being made with macaroni and not resembling the boxed stuff at all (I don’t know why I do that), Whenever I tell Norah we are having macaroni and cheese for dinner she indiscreetly looks around the kitchen for that little blue box of mac & cheese she used to get from time to time. I can see in her eyes she is hoping for it! No such luck for her these days but once she digs into the bacon baked pasta and cheese she is always happy as a clam anyways.
This is also a go to recipe for getting extra veggies into the kids. It is loaded with cheese so they can barely tell there is a whole zucchini in it as well. I used to make this with macaroni noodles but these days I prefer mostaccioli instead.
So to start off my kid friendly dinner I put 6 pieces of bacon in my largest saute pan on med high heat. There is a good reason I don’t chop them first even though they would probably cook quicker and I will have to chop them anyways to mix in with pasta once done. I leave them whole to cook because when I take them out I am less likely to eat half of them while standing around cooking the rest of the food! It is fairly dangerous to leave cooked bacon lying around in my house. The bacon is going to render out in the pan then we are going to take the cooked bacon out and use the bacon grease to make the roux.
Once the bacon is cooked and out of the pan I turn the heat down to med. and sprinkle in 1/4 cup flour and mix together. Once combined I poured in 2 cups milk (I used skim to lighten it up and because it was what we had) while whisking. I continued whisking on and off for about 5 minutes until it was thickened then added 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and 1/4 teaspoon homemade cayenne powder. I let that cook for another minute while I grated a golden zucchini from the garden, 8 oz mozzarella, and 5 oz cheddar cheese.
I freshly grated everything but it worked out to about a cup of zucchini, a cup of cheddar cheese, and a cup and a half of mozzarella. Into the pan they went and got stirred until melted and combined.
Next in went 1 lb of almost cooked through Mostaccioli pasta (it will finish cooking in the oven) and the bacon crumbles. A couple final stirs to combine everything and then into 9×13 greased pan.
On top of that goes 1 cup of panko bread crumbs dotted with 1 tablespoon of diced butter. Now it is ready for the oven!
Into a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes, then I turn on the broiler and really brown the top for another 1-2 minutes.
The hardest part from here is waiting for it to cool down with a table full of hungry maniacs waiting for dinner. This will fill everyone up and leave enough left over for everyone for lunch the next day. I love it when we can send Norah to school with leftovers and she is actually excited about it!
- 1 lb Mostaccioli pasta cooked
- 6 strips bacon
- ¼ cup flour
- 2 cups milk
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 medium zucchini shredded
- 8 oz mozzarella cheese shredded (about 1.5 cups)
- 5 oz cheddar cheese shredded (about 1 cup)
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoon butter diced
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease a 9x13 pan.
- In a large saute pan cook bacon strips until crispy and remove from pan leaving bacon grease in pan.
- On medium heat add flour to bacon grease and whisk to combine.
- Then pour in 2 cups milk while constantly whisking to combine. Cook for 3-5 minutes until thickened while continuing to whisk.
- Add black pepper and cayenne and mix.
- Add zucchini, mozzarella, and cheddar and stir to combine. Allow to cook until cheese is melted in.
- Add cook pasta and crumbled bacon.
- Pour into 9/13 pan.
- Top with panko bread crumbs and diced butter.
- Cook in oven 15 minutes then turn oven to broil and allow to cook another 1-2 minutes to brown the top.
- Let cool for a few minutes and serve!