September 11, 2013 by BettyCupcakes
Did y’all know that chile con queso is a food group in Texas? The cheese-y spicy sauce that you can get served with chips or on your enchiladas is a true Tex Mex staple. My love for queso runs deep- I’ve been eating it my whole life (hello, El Fenix!) and I even wrote about it on the blog back in 2010 (Trashy Fondue).
While some more refined palates may turn their noses up at the idea of Velveeta, I can assure you that it is indeed edible and totally delicious. Please try my mom’s recipe for queso at least once- it’ll change your mind about what cheese really is.
This recipe for queso macaroni and cheese is Velveeta-free. I asked my husband what kind of vegetable I should add to the mac and cheese this week and he said bell pepper. I instantly thought of Tex Mex and decided to go that route. As I was adding spices to the cheese sauce last night, it turned a golden orange color and tasted just like queso. I was sold!
The wee one even gobbled some up for dinner. He did spit out every piece of red bell pepper that landed in his mouth. If you’re keeping score: Sam- 2, Vegetables- 0
Queso Macaroni and Cheese
- 2 cups macaroni elbows (I used Barilla Plus)
- 1 medium red bell pepper, diced into bite sized pieces ~1 cup
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour
- 1 cup milk (I used 1%)
- 1/2 cup chopped cheddar cheese (I used Cabot sharp white cheddar)
- 2 tablespoons salsa
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon chipotle pepper powder, optional
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Preheat your oven to 375. Get an 8 x 8 glass casserole dish out and set aside.
- Bring a 3 quarts of water to a rolling boil in a large stock pot. Add the macaroni elbows and boil 5-6 minutes until just tender. Add the red bell pepper and boil 1-2 minutes more. Drain off water and return elbows and bell pepper back to the warm pot.
- While the macaroni is boiling, begin work on your cheese sauce. In a saucepan or deep sauté pan, add the olive oil and heat over medium. Once the oil is shimmering, but not smoking, add the flour and whisk to combine all of the flour and oil. Cook the flour and oil mixture 1-2 minutes until just barely golden.
- While still whisking, add the milk to the hot flour and oil mixture. Whisk continuously to avoid lumps. Once the sauce begins to bubble and thicken after 2-3 minutes of cooking, reduce heat and add the cheddar cheese. Continue to whisk and cook sauce until cheddar has melted and then remove from heat. Add salsa, chili powder, chipotle pepper powder (if using), salt, and pepper.
- Add the cheese sauce to the large pot with the macaroni and red bell pepper. Stir to thoroughly coat all macaroni and red bell pepper. Pour the cheesy pasta and bell pepper into the 8 x 8 square glass baking dish and place into prepared oven. Bake 25-30 minutes until cheese is bubbling and the top is golden brown.
What is your favorite dip for chips?