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Shrimp Pepper Jack Mac & Cheese

posted by Julie Evink on August 18, 2014

Shrimp Pepper Jack Mac Cheese ~ Lightened Up Mac & Cheese with a Kick! Topped with Crunchy Shrimp!

Shrimp Pepper Jack Mac & Cheese ~ Lightened Up Mac & Cheese with a Kick! Topped with Crunchy Shrimp!

Growing up my family almost always took a summer vacation. It usually wasn’t super fancy but it was a vacation where we got to leave the hustle and bustle of the real world and go on a little adventure. Mom always made a point of making this happen from my memories and Dad was drug away from the farm for a few days, which trust me is a hard thing to accomplish so kudos to my mom! You see farming is not my Dad’s “job” it’s his lifestyle. Eat, Drink, Breathe. Pretty much sums it up! It’s a good thing he seems to love it because if you didn’t it would be a miserable life. I’m so glad he found his passion in life, which sometimes I reflect on and wonder if I found it!

Oh don’t get me wrong we had fun on vacation but there were always moments that I now look back on and think man I was a real stinker. I antagonized my brother in the back seat of the car way to frequently getting on our parents nerves, I’m sure I whined way more than I want to remember and was a brat. Good thing I mostly remember just being with the family and doing our little “special” things on vacation like finding license plates from all 50 states, finding the letters of the alphabet while driving etc. This was way before you ever had such things as DVD players or tablets in the car! We made our own fun!

Shrimp Pepper Jack Mac Cheese ~ Lightened Up Mac & Cheese with a Kick! Topped with Crunchy Shrimp!

Due to the farming we always took our vacation right at the end of August. Before school was back in session so we usually did school shopping with this and usually after Dad was done running irrigators for the season. As Miss K starts to grow up I politely informed that hubs that we would also be taking a family vacation every year if possible and we are officially taking our first one this summer! Sure we go to the cabin on the weekends and that type of thing but we are scheduled. Reservations made, time off work and we are leaving! Not on a jet plane… but all the same. I’m so excited to start sharing those memories with my little family.

Did you know my hubs has never been on a plane? I told him next winter we will be going somewhere tropical minus the children and he has no choice so don’t argue. I’m totally getting him out of his bubble! Which, trust me, that’s happened a lot in our relationship. Just think shy boy meets crazy, talkative girl. The rest is history.

Shrimp Pepper Jack Mac Cheese ~ Lightened Up Mac & Cheese with a Kick! Topped with Crunchy Shrimp!

As summer is winding down and you are sneaking in your last vacations like me you are also thinking about back to school days and needing quick easy meals and the comfort food you’ll be craving in the fall. This amazing Shrimp Pepper Jack Mac & Cheese is just what you’ll be craving! I love the fact it has a little kick to it and is topped with crunchy popcorn shrimp. It’s also lightened up so you really can’t go wrong. Trust me, just because it’s light does not mean it’s not cheesey!

Miss K literally couldn’t wait for it to be done so she got to snitch before it was baked and inhaled that serving along with another after it was baked screaming in delight MAC & CHEESE! I know you’ll be screaming with delight too!

Shrimp Pepper Jack Mac & Cheese

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

Shrimp Pepper Jack Mac & Cheese

Ingredients

  • 3 c. shell macaroni
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 1/4 c. unsalted chicken stock, divided
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp ground mustard
  • 1/2 c. skim milk
  • 8 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 4 oz 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 3/4 c. shredded pepper jack cheese
  • 12 oz popcorn shrimp

Instructions

  1. Preheat broiler to high.
  2. Prepare shrimp according to package directions.
  3. Meanwhile cook pasta according to directions ommitting any salt and fat called for in directions. Drain and set aside.
  4. Meanwhile heat skillet over medium heat. Add canola oil to pan, swirling to coat pan. Add garlic to pan and cook about 3 minutes until garlic is fragrant, but do not brown garlic. Stir frequently. Stir in 1 c. chicken stock and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minutes.
  5. In a mixing bowl combine the rest of the stock, milk and flour. Whisk until flour is dissolved. Add milk mixture to the garlic mixture in skillet. Stir with whisk and bring to a boil. Boil for about 3 minutes or until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and add cream cheese, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, salt and pepper stirring until cream cheese is melted and mixture is smooth.
  6. Add cheese mixture to pasta in saucepan stirring until coated. Let stand 5 minutes. Pour mixture into 6 ramekins or 2 quart baking dish coating with cooking spray.
  7. Evenly distribute shrimp on top of the pasta.
  8. Sprinkle pepper jack cheese on top. Broil for 3-5 minutes or until cheese is melted and just starting brown. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
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    Comments

  • Jocelyn (Grandbaby cakes)


    You stole my heart with shrimp AND pepperjack! Seriously there is nothing better!

  • Danielle | Krafted Koch


    The flavors in this sound AMAZING! As in, I need to go home tonight and make this ASAP. As for getting the hubs on a tropical vacation, if he is anything like my husband, he may be hesitant to go at first, but he will be itching to go back every year for relaxation on the beach and fruity drinks. 😉 lol

    • Julie Evink


      Matt will even like this one! P.S. I’m dragging you two on this vacation bah ha ha.

  • Jill


    Is popcorn shrimp something you buy pre-made? like breaded up?
    Anyway, love this as a cheaper alternative to lobster mac n cheese that is so hot now.

    • Julie Evink


      Yes you can find them in the frozen food section and they are breaded little bite size shrimp!

  • Gayle @ Pumpkin 'N Spice


    I am drooling over this dish, Julie! It’s looks amazing! I love that you added shrimp and spiced up a classic mac n cheese. My husband will go nuts over this! Pinned!

    • Julie Evink


      Thanks Gayle! So yummy and easy!

  • Kathi @ Deliciously Yum!


    What a fabulous combo to dress up a simple family dinner. I am so excited for you to start your vacation tradition! Tropical and warm sounds like music to my ears… maybe the hubby and I need to plan a little vacay, especially after the cold months next year 😉

    • Julie Evink


      Thanks Kathi! Yes anything to get away during those horrid winter months right?!

  • Jaren+(Diary+of+a+Recipe+Collector)


    I love this idea Julie! I could eat shrimp 8 days a week!

  • Julianne+@+Beyond+Frosting


    I feel like this is a recipe my boyfriend could get on board with. I am eagerly (and not so eagerly) waiting for when I have kids so I cam not the only one that likes Mac and Cheese in the house. It drives me crazy! He loves pepper jack and shrimp though so maybe this could hope change his mind!

    • Julie Evink


      What who doesn’t like Mac & Cheese?! Crazy man!!!

  • Annie+@Maebells


    Oh man! This looks amazing! Two of my favorite things in one dish! I can’t wait to try!

  • Thalia @ butter and brioche


    definitely craving some of the creamy and cheesy goodness of mac and cheese right now. this looks delicious.

  • Jordan @ Smile Sandwich


    I’m almost as jealous of your family vacation tradition as I am of this MAC AND CHEESE! I think I found my next date night meal.

    • Julie Evink


      I think that sounds like a perfect idea Jordan!

  • Sharon @ What The Fork Food Blog


    LOVE pepperjack in mac and cheese! And the shrimp just puts it over the top! Yum

    • Julie Evink


      Thanks Sharon! Totally agree!

  • Madison


    Hey! So exited to try this recipe out with my family! Would I be able to use regular shrimp if I can’t find the popcorn? Thanks so much!!

    • Julie Evink


      I think you could use regular breaded shrimp, popcorn shrimp is just smaller!

  • Paula @ Paula's Plate


    I am always on the look out for a lightened up mac and cheese dish, and this one looks over-the-top incredible! I can’t wait to give it a try 🙂

    • Julie Evink


      Thanks Paula! I can assure you it doesn’t taste lightened up!

  • Jen @ Baked by an Introvert


    This looks fantastic! Mac and cheese on a whole new level.

  • Claudia


    Consequently delectable! That looks impressive.

  • capturing joy with kristen duke


    This sounds amazing!! Just pinned!

  • Mary Clark


    I do believe I am a lucky lady today. I was searching for recipes for zucchini and came upon yours. I couldn’t help, but to open the one with so many recipes with zucchini. I am very pleased that each one came with a picture and all the needed information. I look forward to checking out your other recipes. Trying to decide which zucchini dessert recipe to pick from you collection will be my challenge tonight. Many thanks!

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