Mac and Cheese with Kale and Bacon

Mac and Cheese with Kale and Bacon is a classic homemade cheddar mac and cheese dressed up with a fresh and healthy kick of kale. Just look at that cheesy goodness...
Mac and Cheese with Kale and Bacon | by Life Tastes Good is a classic homemade cheddar mac and cheese dressed up with a fresh and healthy kick of kale. Just look at that cheesy goodness...


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I'm so excited to share this recipe today! I was asked to create a "Chopped" inspired dish featuring Sargento® Shredded Cheese. Have you ever seen the Chopped TV show on Food Network? We don't have cable TV (I know! The horrors!), so I don't get to see it a lot, but I always make sure to turn on Food Network when we are traveling, specifically to take in a couple of Chopped episodes.
Mac and Cheese with Kale and Bacon | by Life Tastes Good is a classic homemade cheddar mac and cheese dressed up with a fresh and healthy kick of kale. Just look at that cheesy goodness...
I love watching the chefs make their culinary magic as they face-off in each of the rounds. The best part is watching them work through the process of trying to create something out of the unique ingredients with which they are given. Some of those ingredients are really challenging too! Can you imagine creating a gourmet dish using brown bread in a can? I never even knew that existed, let alone trying to make magic with it!
Mac and Cheese with Kale and Bacon | by Life Tastes Good is a classic homemade cheddar mac and cheese dressed up with a fresh and healthy kick of kale. Just look at that cheesy goodness...
Fortunately, the ingredients with which I was given to create my 'Chopped At Home' dish were all very familiar to me, Sargento Chef Blends 4 State Cheddar, kale, oyster crackers, and bacon. These ingredients came together to create a delicious mac and cheese recipe that is kid-friendly and mom-approved!
Mac and Cheese with Kale and Bacon Chopped At Home Basket Ingredients | by Life Tastes Good
As if that isn't enough, it's also pretty simple to make. I start off by cooking the noodles as directed on the package shaving off 2 minutes of the cook time. While the noodles are cooking, I get my Bechamel Sauce started in a cast-iron skillet. You don't have to use a cast-iron skillet, but the skillet must be oven safe. I just prefer working with cast-iron. It's easier to clean and everything cooked in it always tastes better! (imho)

Check out my tutorial for making perfect Bechamel every time. Once the Bechamel is ready, I remove it from the heat and slowly add the entire 7.5 ounce bag of Sargento Chef Blends 4 State Cheddar. Adding a little at a time and allowing the cheese to melt before adding more, ensures a smooth cheese sauce every time! Once my cheese sauce is ready to go, I mix in the coarsely chopped kale...
Mac and Cheese with Kale and Bacon mixing in fresh kale | by Life Tastes Good

and the cooked noodles...
Mac and Cheese with Kale and Bacon mixing in cooked pasta | by Life Tastes Good

Next, I top with crushed oyster crackers and bacon and pop it in a 350°F oven for about 10-15 minutes until bubbly. That's it! #ChoppedAtHome Challenge complete!
Mac and Cheese with Kale and Bacon topping with crackers and bacon | by Life Tastes Good
YOU can compete in the 'Chopped At Home Challenge' for a chance to win a trip to New York City and compete in a televised cooking challenge with a shot at $10,000 big ones!! How cool is that? The Chopped at Home Challenge gives YOU a chance to create YOUR best recipe using the selected basket ingredients, including Sargento Shredded Cheese. Check out the details here, and put your thinking caps on to get your creative juices flowing.
Mac and Cheese with Kale and Bacon | by Life Tastes Good is a classic homemade cheddar mac and cheese dressed up with a fresh and healthy kick of kale. Just look at that cheesy goodness...

So, what would you create using Sargento Chef Blends 4 State Cheddar, kale, oyster crackers, and bacon? Drop me a line in the comments section. I can't wait to hear your ideas!


Mac and Cheese with Kale and Bacon

Life Tastes Good
Published 06/23/2015
Mac and Cheese with Kale and Bacon

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces corkscrew pasta noodles
  • Bechamel Sauce
  • 7.5 ounce bag of Sargento Chef Blends 4 State Cheddar
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped fresh kale
  • 1 cup crushed oyster crackers
  • 1/2 cup of cooked bacon, diced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions shaving off 2 minutes of the cook time, as we'll be finishing this dish up in the oven. Drain and set aside until ready to use.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, get the Bechamel Sauce started. Follow my easy tutorial for a delicious Bechamel Sauce every time.
  4. When the Bechamel is ready, remove it from the heat and slowly add the entire 7.5 ounce bag of Sargento Chef Blends 4 State Cheddar. Adding the cheese a little at a time and allowing the cheese to melt before adding more, ensures a smooth cheese sauce every time! Give it a taste and adjust the seasonings as needed to suit your tastes.
  5. Mix in 2 cups coarsely chopped kale and the cooked pasta.
  6. Top with 1 cup of crushed oyster crackers and 1/2 cup of diced bacon.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes until hot and bubbly. Enjoy!
Yield: 4 Servings
Prep Time: 20 mins.
Cook time: 10 mins.
Total time: 30 mins.

Tags: Mac and Cheese, Kale, Bacon, Crackers, Dinner, Pasta, Macaroni, Classic, Fresh Ingredients, #ChoppedAtHome

Available in 30 versatile varieties, unique blends and distinct cuts, Sargento Shredded Cheese is always cut from blocks of 100% real, natural cheese. For more inspiration, check out the Sargento Pinterest page Pinterest.com/sargentocheese/ or visit Sargento.com for more information. The Chopped at Home Challenge gives viewers a chance to create their best recipe using the selected basket ingredients, including Sargento Shredded Cheese, for a chance to win $10,000!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Sargento. The opinions and text are all mine.

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