Pepper Jack Mac and Cheese

Pepper Jack Macaroni and Cheese-3

I may have disappeared again. In my defence, I tried really hard to not only get this post out earlier but to visit as many of you as I could. I didn’t get to post this last week and I missed many of you. It was just a very hectic week.

My daughter graduated on Saturday and it was a lovely ceremony and a bit bittersweet and emotional. This was my first graduation as far as my children go. My eldest didn’t walk and so robbed me of my proud mommy moment. 

Baby Broccoli

In England, we don’t have all this graduation business. We sit our exams, we enjoy our summer as much as we can, and in August nervously await with baited breath for the postal flap in our door to fly open and letters to drop on the floor, hoping one of the envelopes is from the Examination Board. Then we squeal with excitement or moan with regret, either way, that’s it, that’s our graduation pomp and circumstance.

I may not have all the hullabaloo at my “graduation”, however, it was still very nice to be a part of daughter’s big day. I tried to hold back the tears when we walked down to greet her after the ceremony. A few photos and then our moment was done. She waved to us as she disappeared into the sea of blue clad graduates to enjoy the day and the many parties. I anxiously hoped she remembered that we also had a party going on later that day and she needed to make an appearance!

broomfield High School graduation

Saturday was also my son’s 10th birthday. He was such a great brother and made way for his sister to own the day. He graciously took a back seat so she could be the star. 

We had a lovely BBQ with many of our good friends. It has been raining here for a good two weeks with really cold temperatures and Saturday was no different! It poured down! Thankfully, we have a huge front covered porch and we do most our cookouts under the porch. We had two grills going, a gas and a charcoal. We grilled burgers, chicken kebabs and vegetables. I made a quinoa salad with fruit, a Caprese pasta salad with a balsamic vinaigrette, grilled vegetables with a Herbes De Provence vinaigrette, and tangy, South Indian lemon rice. 

Graduation Food

Chips, salsa, Feta dip and a spicy black bean dip with assorted olives and vegetables rounded out the savouries. Dessert was a blueberry cobbler, grilled nectarines and pineapples with pound cake and ice cream, and assorted fruit. A wonderful friend made a beautiful cheesecake. We had plenty of sweets! Sweet ice tea, Southern style, and lemonade quenched our thirst. I think everyone enjoyed themselves! 

One thing about cookouts is they don’t really allow you to sit for too long with your guests. I was running constantly from the grill to the food tables. Once the food was done though, I had a chance to sit and converse.

Pepper Jack Macaroni and Cheese-1

In the U.S. it was Memorial Day weekend so my husband and I were off from work on Saturday, but what did I end up doing on my day off from cooking at the store? Cooking for an even bigger crowd. I’m a glutton for punishment. 

Were any of you aware that last week was National Vegetarian Week? I stumbled upon it while I was reading some article but then decided to run with it! It’s the excuse I used to cook vegetarian all week long. My eldest loved it because for once, she could eat everything and wasn’t relegated to the sides! 

I loved it too. Dinner was uncomplicated and easy to throw together. It took me only an hour each day to get dinner on the table. No dealing with cleaning meat or chicken, waiting for it to defrost, soften, and so on. 

Pepper Jack Macaroni and Cheese-2

This Mac and Cheese was dinner one day along with sautéed baby broccoli and baked kale chips. I jazzed it up a bit by using Pepper Jack since I love Pepper Jack cheese. It added a little kick without too much heat. 

I also didn’t use macaroni but pasta shape known as pipe, Whole Foods has an excellent organic one I like to use. I just think they look cool and I’m like a little kid when it comes to pasta shapes.

pipe pasta

Pepper Jack Mac and Cheese


Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 8-10 servings

A creamy mac and cheese using pepper jack cheese for a spicy kick.
  • 1 pound/ 455g macaroni or any short tube pasta
  • 9 ounces/255g Pepper Jack cheese or other spicy cheese, shredded
  • 3 ounces/85g white Cheddar cheese,shredded
  • 4 tablespoons/55g butter, unsalted
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3½ cups/830ml milk
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon honey Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric, optional
  • 2 slices bread ends
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  2. In a large saucepan melt the butter.
  3. Once the butter is melted add the flour and mix to make a roux.
  4. Cook a little to get the raw flour taste out.
  5. Add the nutmeg.
  6. Slowly add the milk and stir with a whisk to make sure it doesn't get lumpy.
  7. You can warm the milk so the sauce is lump free but I never do and I've never had a problem with a lumpy white sauce.
  8. Once the white sauce begins to bubble and thicken, pull off the heat and add your cheese.
  9. The heat from the white sauce should be enough to melt the cheese but you can put it back on the burner with the heat off.
  10. Mix the cheese until all is melted and homogenous.
  11. Add the honey Dijon mustard or your mustard of choice, and the turmeric if using.
  12. The cheese I buy is an organic, natural cheese from Whole Foods and it has no colouring.
  13. Pepper Jack by nature is a white cheese.
  14. So, to get the yellow colour of mac and cheese, I add a touch of turmeric.
  15. If you are using yellow cheddar, then you can omit the turmeric.
  16. Keep the sauce to the side as you boil the pasta.
  17. Follow the package directions to boil your pasta but boil it three minutes shy of the recommended time.
  18. You want a good bite when you pull it off the heat.
  19. The pasta will cook further in the sauce when it's baked so over cooking it now will give you a mushy mac and cheese.
  20. Keep a little of the pasta water to thin the cheese sauce if needed.
  21. Once the pasta is ¾ cooked, drain it and reserve some pasta water.
  22. Mix the pasta into the cheese sauce, coating evenly.
  23. Add a bit of pasta water if it seems too gloppy.
  24. Have a buttered baking dish ready and pour the mac and cheese into the prepared dish.
  25. If you'd like a crumb topping, take some bread ends or heels, I used the thick bread heels of a heavily seeded and grained bread, cut into small cubes and toss with olive oil.
  26. Scatter over the top.
  27. Preheat the oven to 375F/190C and place the mac and cheese on the centre rack.
  28. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and the croutons are golden brown and crispy.

Pepper Jack Macaroni and Cheese-4

So, yeah, this isn’t a very original post because there are a million mac and cheese recipes out there! But hey, it’s a post and it really was quite tasty with the creamy, spicy cheese, the funky pasta and the crunchy croutons on top. But I am slowly getting there and back in the kitchen. The mind has been a bit slow churning and I finally figured out that it may have been the new meds I started. Well, my job revolves around cooking and so does this blog, if I can’t be creative and motivated then where will I be? So, I stopped taking the new meds. I hurt a bit more but my mind is my own now.

Did any of you cook vegetarian food last week? It’s been really fun to see all the fresh, spring flavours on the blogs and then the autumn flavours coming from the Southern Hemisphere. Y’all are definitely inspiring! Can’t wait to see more seasonal goodies!

Have a great week everyone! 

  1. Nazneen! Finally got around to trying one of your savory recipes and its delicious!
    I never liked mac n cheese(or any cheese really) so this was a big step. It just looked so good in the picture. Thanks!
    Do you know how to make mango kulfi?
    Big congrats to your daughter 🙂

  2. Congrats on your daughter’s graduation! So happy for you!
    Wow! What a lovely dish! I think I’m gonna give your recipe a try really soon!
    I love the photos! Have a great day!
    marcela recently posted..Lime coconut loaf cakeMy Profile

  3. Congrats to your daughter and happy birthday to your son. Your absence has been excused 😉 Next time you disappear I will make this mac and cheese, think of you and wait patiently for more delicious recipes.

  4. I’m glad that you have found out what was causing you to not feel well…sometimes the medicines that are supposed to help us only end up making us feel worse. Love how you celebrated the birthday and graduation with your delicious BBQ. I know everyone must have had a wonderful time. Your veggie week featuring your mac and cheese would make me happy if I was visiting you. 🙂
    Karen (Back Road Journal) recently posted..Spring GreenMy Profile

  5. What a wonderful time in your household. I have so enjoyed seeing your photos of your beautiful family. I know they all enjoyed this delicious dish. Perfect comfort food for all this cool and rainy weather. Today it is warm and sunny but dark clouds over the mountains. I hope that they stay there!
    Karen Harris recently posted..Something From Nothing #33: Basic RisottoMy Profile

  6. Any mac and cheese is good to know about! We love it, and make it when we have all variety of leftover bits of cheese in the fridge. All your celebrations looked wonderful, and vegetarian is a great idea! Last week, I made a Provençal tomato tart that was really good – I left off the pancetta, as it was option, and no one missed it! Also made Channa Masala, which was so tasty… so, yes, we cooked a lot of vegetarian food this weekend! Hope you continually feel better and we se more of you! xo, David
    David recently posted..Peacetime Cupcakes {A Cookbook Review + Recipe}My Profile

  7. Your friends must rub their hands with glee when they get invited to your house. And if they don’t…!!!
    I don’t understand the graduation ceremonies either these days – I’m a bit of an eye roller when friends tell me their 4yr olds are graduating from kinder.
    Nothing wrong at all with a mac & cheese recipe – it’s pure comfort food. I’m surprised it’s so cold still but then I guess you’re higher up 🙂 We’re slowly getting warmer and more humid and heading towards 30C pretty quickly.
    Nancy | Plus Ate Six recently posted..Chinese wood ear mushroom saladMy Profile

  8. Hey Nazneen – CONGRATS on your daughter’s graduation! And happy 10th to your son! Glad to se your back – even if it’s sporadically 🙂
    Growing up, my graduation wasn’t a big deal either – but, I guess it’s a cultural thing?
    You are right there are a million mac and cheese recipes out there – but it is still nice to see this one – especially with that crunchy bread and spicy pepper jack! And , speaking of food – what a spread y’all had – your blueberry cobbler, and grilled nectarines and pineapples with pound cake and ice cream have me drooling!
    Shashi at RunninSrilankan recently posted..Warm Lentil SaladMy Profile

  9. You definitely have been busy and all events have been very significant. Congrats to your daughter on her graduation – we have nothing like that kind of a ‘graduation’ here in Oz, either. How proud you must have been and the sea of blue is very pretty. The party sounds like it went really well and what a lovely buffet you prepared. I do love mac and cheese and this looks like great comfort food and perfect for our cool weather xx
    Hotly Spiced recently posted..The Fitzroy Inn, MittagongMy Profile