Mini Italian Meatball Mac and Cheese Stuffed Peppers
For the mini meatballs1 pound spicy italian chicken sausage
1 tablespoon olive oil
⅓ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
¼ cup bread crumbs
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Pinch of salt and pepper
For the mac and cheese1 pound of your favorite short cut pasta
4 tablespoons butter
¼ cup flour
2 ¾ cup milk (I use 2%)
2 ½ cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 ¼ cups provolone, gouda or havarti cheese, shredded (I used a mix)
1 cup fontina cheese, shredded
¼ teaspoon mustard powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2 - 3 cups of your favorite marinara sauce
6 - 8 bell peppers
1 ½ cups crushed Ritz Crackers (about 1 sleeve)
3 tablespoons butter
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
While the water boils, combine the ground sausage, egg, olive, oil, parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, garlic, dried basil, dried oregano and a pinch of salt and pepper in a bowl. Mix with your hands until just combined, then roll the meat into small bite size balls, about 1 teaspoon of meat. Place on a baking sheet and bake 15-20 minutes or until crisp and cooked throughout. Reduce the oven to 350 degrees F.
Meanwhile make the mac and cheese. Boil the pasta until al-dente. Drain.
In the same pot you boiled the pasta in, melt the 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let cook/bubble for 1 minute, stirring once or twice to avoid burning. Gradually whisk in the milk and raise the heat up to medium-high. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking frequently until the sauce has thickened, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in all of the cheese, mustard powder, cayenne, salt and pepper. Stir until the cheese is fully melted. Remove from the heat and stir in the mini meat balls.
Spread the marinara over the bottom of a greased 9x13 inch baking dish. Cut the tops off the peppers and remove the seeds. Place the peppers in the baking dish. Stuff each pepper with mac and cheese.
In a bowl combine the Ritz Crackers and 3 tablespoons butter. Sprinkle the mixture over the peppers. Drizzle the peppers with a little olive oil.
Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 20-30 minutes or until the peppers are soft and the tops of the mac and cheese are golden. Serve with fresh basil and the marinara sauce in the bottom of the dish.
Enjoy your meal!