• 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups grated Sincerely Brigitte's Jalapeno Cilantro cheese
  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups cooked elbow macaroni
  • 1/4 cup Panko or regular or seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup crumbled cooked bacon
  • sliced jalapenos
  • black olives
  • pico de gallo

I will soon be sharing two of my favorite comfort food recipes with my friends at Virginia This Morning. I love the folks there. They make me smile.

One of my new favorites is the fruit and nut oatmeal bars I shared with you last week.

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Love these!

The other is a mac ‘n cheese bar which is so much fun for the whole family!


When I think of “comfort foods” three things come to mind:


  1. family favorites that are simple to prepare
  2. recipes that are associated with a sense of home or contentment
  3. comfort in knowing all of the ingredients were prepared by myself and were really healthy and fresh for my family


Providing a feeling of contentment at home for my family also includes coming up with fun and easy ideas for making meals eventful. Part One of my cookbook You Never Cook Alone provides thematic dinner plans for readers.

One of the eventful meals we love to enjoy is a macaroni and cheese bar. Making your own macaroni and cheese takes pretty much the same amount of time as cooking up a box of macaroni and cheese.  The two extra minutes it takes to prepare it yourself is well worth it. It tastes much better, is more economical and you know exactly what you’re eating.

While shopping at BJ’s Wholesale Club, I found this delicious, creamy and super flavorful jalapeno cilantro cheese made by Sincerely Brigitte’s. I am continually inspired by BJ’s Wholesale Club’s amazing cheese section.



I decided to create a fun macaroni and cheese bar using this cheese for my family to enjoy.



I included a yummy assortment of toppings for our mac ‘n cheese bar which included crispy bacon, jalapenos, fresh cilantro, black olives and pico de gallo.



Here’s how easy this macaroni and cheese was to make:


First we coated 10 mini cast iron skillets with butter and set them onto a sheet pan.

In a large saucepan, melt your two tablespoons of butter. Add flour and stir for a minute more to get the flour taste out of your dish.

Add milk, stir with a whisk and allow to thicken a few minutes. Once thickened add nutmeg, salt and cayenne pepper. Add grated cheese and stir just until it melts. Add cheese sauce to your cooked macaroni. Divide your mac and cheese mixture into your ramekins or individual cast iron skillets or a 9 x 13-inch pan.

We sprinkled Panko breadcrumbs toasted in a little melted butter over the top, placed them under the broiler, watching carefully until they browned a bit on top about 7 minutes.

In a small pan melt a tabelspoon of butter adn toast Panko breadcrumbs. Sprinkle the top of each cup with a little Panko breadcrumbs. Spray each top with non-stick cooking spray and place under the broiler for a minute being careful not to burn. Using tongs, carefully place ramekins in separate cakes.

Interactive Eating! Now everyone can have a ball choosing their own toppings!

Have fun!