Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon

Ingredients:

Butter, for greasing the baking dish
2 cups elbow macaroni, uncooked
2 cups milk
1 cup cottage cheese
1 chipotle chile in adobo
1 clove of garlic, roughly chopped
1 tsp. dry mustard powder
Pinch of cumin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
2 pieces raw turkey bacon or 4 pieces cooked bacon, chopped
1/4 cup of crumbled cotija cheese (optional) *

Cotija cheese is a hard, white, crumbly Mexican cheese. It has a fresh, slightly salty flavor and can be found in the international cheese section of many supermarkets. I buy mine at Trader Joe’s.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
Butter a 9-inch cast iron skillet or a 9-inch round or square baking dish. Add the dry macaroni.

In a blender, purée the milk, cottage cheese, chipotle chile, garlic, mustard powder, cumin, salt, and pepper until smooth.

Pour the milk mixture over the dry macaroni. Stir in 2 cups of the cheese (2/3 of the cheddar and 2/3 of the Monterey Jack.)

Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. 

Remove the foil, stir the macaroni, and top with the remaining cup of cheese and the (turkey) bacon, if using.

Bake the macaroni, uncovered, for another 25 minutes, or until lightly browned and bubbling.

Remove the macaroni from the oven and top with the crumbled cotija cheese, if desired, serve immediately!

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