Smoky Bacon Macaroni and Cheese Muffins

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Kraft macaroni and cheese is really a taste of nostalgia in so many ways.  Many kids will choose it over homemade mac and cheese any day of the week.  Perhaps it’s the vibrant color or that moms find it easy to prepare in a hurry, none-the-less it remains a kid favorite through the generations, it seems.

Kids love it when you take a dish they know and love and turn it into something a little different. Even if the change as simple as an unexpected shape. That’s how these macaroni and cheese muffins came about.  This particular dish is for those days when you find yourself so busy, you need a side dish that is fun and interesting but easy to put together.

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Ingredients you’ll need:
1 [14] oz box Deluxe Four Cheese Macaroni & Cheese [Kraft]
1 1/2 cup sharp cheddar or shredded Italian cheese blend, divided [or your preference]
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/4 cup half & half or milk
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp dry mustard powder
 2 large eggs, beaten
Crumb topping:
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp chopped fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 375°F and spritz a 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray.  Set aside.  On the stove top in salted water, cook the macaroni per the instructions on the package.  Drain well.  Add to a medium mixing bowl with the cheese sauce packet, 1 cup shredded cheese, crumbled bacon, half & half [or milk] garlic, onion and mustard powder.  Stir well, then add the beaten eggs.

Use a 4 oz ice cream scoop to divide the macaroni between the muffin cups.  Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup shredded cheese on top.  Mix together the crumb topping ingredients and sprinkle evenly on top of the muffins.

Place into the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until golden and set.  Rest in the pan for 5 minutes.  Run a knife around the edge to loosen. Serve immediately.  Yield: 12 muffins

Cook’s note:
Fresh white breadcrumbs may be used in place of the panko breadcrumbs if desired.

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