This gluten free Pepperjack Mac n’ Cheese is covered in a creamy pepperjack cheddar sauce and mixed with bits of onions, red and green bell peppers, and fresh smoked ham. It’s an easy thirty minute weeknight meal.
Most kids are stoked to eat prepackaged, boxed mix macaroni and cheese, right??? I mean, am I living in a fantasy world, or is this not the case 99% of the time?
Leave it up to my kids to fit into the 1% of the “weirdo” population. Yes, I do call my kids weirdos. I embrace the fact that they are different, and quirky, and creative, and…well, weird.
Just the past weekend Ben and I went on a date night, a much needed date night at that. Much needed, as in we didn’t care where we were going, who was watching our kids, or how long we were going to be gone. We were just GO-ing!
Okay, maybe I’m not that careless. Of course I care about who will be watching our children while we are away. I just so happened to luck out with the stress of finding babysitters, though. Since I participate as a leader in our church youth group, I am never shorthanded when it comes to picking sweet, adorably spunky preteen girls to
babysit play with my kiddos.
In fact, I have a line of girls just waiting…begging…to babysit.
Side note: How is it that as a mother you will take every opportunity to hide under a rock for even 5 minutes of alone time, while others relish in the idea of hanging out with your kids?
It’s gotta just be the daily grind of it all. I love my kids so super much, but momma’s got to have a break!
But, lo and behold, the magic of date night never ceases to amaze me because by the time that 3-4 hour mark hits, I’m more than ready to return home and give my kids some love and snuggles. It also helps that they are almost always asleep. Eases me back into my responsibilities. The calm before the storm, right?!
So yeah, when we went on our date night last weekend I surprised Braelyn and Emry with a box of mac n’ cheese. I don’t even know the last time they’ve eaten store bought mac n’ cheese. But, Walmart has come out with their own generic line of gluten free items. We’ve tried the pretzels and they compare right up there with the Glutino brand at a fraction of the cost.
So when I saw they had gluten free boxed mac n’ cheese, I snagged a package for a night like this.
Apparently it was, “Gross mom! Gross! Bleh, yuck! I’m NOT eating this!”
I didn’t know whether to be proud that my children are too accustomed to good food to eat processed junk like that, or to be frustrated that my kids won’t eat an occasional quick and easy no stress, no prep meal.
Either way the mac n’ cheese went to waste, never to be eaten by a wide eyed, anticipating child. Yes, this mac n’ cheese got to take a trip down the garbage disposal.
Looking back, it probably didn’t help that I made this homemade Pepperjack Mac n’ Cheese a few days prior. Real mac n’ cheese always puts a damper on the fake stuff, I guess.
But I can’t help it that the real stuff tastes so dang good. We’re talking soft and tender sautéed onions and bell peppers, chunks of fresh smoked deli ham, and a creamy cheddary, pepperjack cheesy sauce.
Yeah, I’m starting to realize why my kids may be food snobs.
However, in the scheme of things, this low prep quick meal isn’t all that much more effort than prepackaged food. So why not cook up something fresh?!
The great thing about homemade mac n’ cheese is that you can dress it up however you like.
Don’t have ham? Use turkey.
Don’t have bell peppers? Use mushrooms, carrots, zucchini, broccoli…
Want some extra greens? Add kale, spinach, or arugula.
Want some crunch? Throw it under the broiler in a casserole dish (after being cooked) with some buttered bread crumbs for 3-5 minutes.
Want more cheese? Add a sprinkle to the top before serving.
So. Many. Options.
I just love the flavor of the pepperjack cheese blended with a hint of sharp cheddar and tangy cream cheese. It’s just enough pepperjack to give this dish a kick, but not enough to set your mouth on fire or send your kids screaming to the sink.
Braelyn is not so much a fan of spicy food, and she ate this meal contently for dinner and lunch the next day. And let me tell you, content and eating do not usually make it into the same sentence when talking about Braelyn. Well, unless she’s eating dessert. Otherwise she’s just to busy trying to take over the world to care about eating.
So go ahead and plan your next easy weeknight meal with this gluten free Pepperjack Mac n’ Cheese. Meanwhile I will be figuring out how I can lower my children’s food expectations.
What are some of your children’s favorite quick and easy meals?
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil
- ½ medium onion, diced
- 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 small green bell pepper, seeded and diced
- ¾ pound smoked deli ham, cut into ¼" cubes**
- 1½ cups half and half
- ¾ cup milk
- ¼ teaspoon ground mustard
- ¼ teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- dash of cayenne
- 4 ounces cream cheese, cut into 1" chunks
- 1½ cups shredded pepperjack cheese
- ⅓ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 12 ounces Barilla brand gluten free elbow noodles
- Prepare all ingredients by dicing the onion and bell peppers. Cube the ham and cream cheese. Shred both the pepperjack and cheddar cheeses. Set all ingredients aside and begin preparing meal.
- In a large pot, heat water for noodles to boiling and cook according to package directions.*
- While water begins heating and noodles are cooking, prepare veggies and sauce. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat until onion drops in pan sizzles. Add diced onions, red bell peppers, and green bell peppers. Season with a few sprinkles of salt and pepper. Reduce heat to just above medium and sauté until vegetables are crisp tender, stirring occasionally. About 6-7 minutes.
- While veggies are cooking prepare sauce by mixing together half and half, milk, ground mustard, salt, garlic powder, pepper, paprika, and cayenne. Mix until combined.
- Once veggies are crisp tender, add ham pieces and sauté an additional 2-3 minutes until ham is lightly browning. Pour in milk mixture and heat over medium heat until warm. Add cream cheese and shredded pepperjack and cheddar cheeses. Stir until cheeses are melted and sauce is smooth.
- Once pasta is done cooking, drain well and pour into sauce. Stir until pasta is well coated. Serve warm with desired toppings.
**I had the worker at the deli counter cut my ham into thick slices, a #6 on their machine.