Creamy jalapeño mac 'n cheese bites with yogurt in place of milk. Perfect for a casual party.
Confession. I prefer intimate (small), casual gatherings to larger ones. Don't get me wrong. Both are fun. But it's a completely different social experience. Larger parties keep me skimming on the surface of life, like a flat stone skipping across a pond as I bounce from one group to another, never finishing a conversation.
"We just got back from Alaska! It was AMAZING!"
"Did you make it up to Denali?"
"Yes, we -"
"Oh my gosh! SU-san!! It's GREAT to SEE you! I haven't seen you since you started your kitchen remodel. How did it go?"
"Really well!! We'd recommend our -"
"Where are the wine glasses, honey? We need a couple more. Ina and Steve just arrived!"
"Oh GREAT! Where are they? There are more glasses in the pantry. No, no, honey not there. Oh, I'll just get them myself!"
"Really yummy dip! Is it on your blog? Remind me the name of your blog?"
"Um, thanks!", pulling a step stool to the pantry and climbing on it to reach wine glasses waaaaay at the back, just out of my reach. "It's The Wimpy -"
"Susan, how's TAHOE? I saw the photo of the bears you posted on Facebook! OMG, weren't you SCARED?"
Ai-yi-yi. I've learned the hard way that the only way to enjoy hosting a larger party is to plan, plan, plan, so that THROWING the party doesn't interfere with ENJOYING the party.
Line up plenty of wine glasses on a table dedicated to beverages, along with wines, waters, beer, and whatever else you're serving. Have at least one bottle of red and one of white already opened, and have a cork screw nearby.
If you're doing anything more than reheating something you've already cooked, have it completely prepped in individual bowls, ready to go.
Have all serving dishes and spoons you'll use pulled out and waiting.
Start the party with a completely empty dishwasher.
And best of all, serve party trays that can be prepared en mass, or even better, the day before. Having party trays at your disposal for appetizers, side dishes or desserts is like finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
What's your favorite party tip for large gatherings??
These Mac 'n Cheese Bites are great for almost any gathering, but nix the jalapeños for the kids.
These Mac 'n Cheese Bites would be awesome with some bacon lardons mixed in.
Jalapeño Mac ‘n Cheese Bites
- 2 cups uncooked small elbow macaroni
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
- 1 cup Fontina cheese
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese
- ¾ cup plain yogurt I use 2% Fage yogurt
- ½ teaspoon Hungarian paprika
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt to taste
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder to taste
- ½ teaspoon onion powder to taste
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 large egg beaten
- 1 tablespoon chopped pickled jalapeño slices
- ½ cup Browned Butter Breadcrumbs
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- Make the Browned Butter Breadcrumbs and add ¼ teaspoon kosher salt while they're toasting.
- Preheat the oven to 350˚F and thoroughly grease a mini muffin tin with butter or oil.
- Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil and add the macaroni. Cook until al dente, about 6 - 8 minutes. Drain and spill the cooked macaroni into a large bowl.
- Stir in the butter, all the cheeses EXCEPT ½ cup of the Cheddar cheese, yogurt, and all of the spices until the butter and cheeses melt. Stir in the egg and chopped jalapeño.
- Spoon into the prepared muffin tin almost to the top. Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of cheddar cheese over each "muffin" and top with about 1 teaspoon of breadcrumbs.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and place the muffin in on a warming tray for 10 minutes while the "muffins" set up. Run a sharp knife around the edges and gently remove.
- These are best eaten slightly warm.