This was a recipe that came about when I asked my two sisters what they would like to see added to traditional Mac and Cheese to make it a little special. One said Pepper Jack Cheese and the other said black beans. I liked both of the ideas and this is the result. The black beans add color and nutrition. The Pepper Jack cheese adds zip and fun.—Andrea Johnson, Freeport, Illinois
Featured In: Our Most Over-the-Top Recipes Ever
VERIFIED BY Taste of Home Test Kitchen
- 1 pound small pasta shells
- 1/4 cup chopped onion
- 1/4 cup butter, cubed
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2-1/2 cups 2% milk
- 4 ounces cream cheese, cubed
- 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 1 cup shredded pepper Jack cheese
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
- 8 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
- 1/2 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
- Additional minced fresh cilantro
- Cook shells according to package directions.
- Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, saute onion in butter. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Stir in flour until blended; gradually add milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.
- Add the cream cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, pepper Jack cheese, cheddar cheese, salt, cumin and pepper; cook and stir until cheese is melted.
- Drain pasta. Add the beans, bacon, cilantro and pasta to the cheese sauce. Transfer to a greased 13x9-in. baking dish. Sprinkle with Mexican cheese blend.
- Bake, uncovered, at 375° for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown. Garnish with additional cilantro. Yield: 6 servings.
Originally published as Double Jack Mac in The Taste of Home Cookbook 2011, p48
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Reviewed Dec. 30, 2013
"the best Mac n cheese I've ever tasted"