Garlicky Mac n' Cheese with Poblano Peppers

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Reminder: Muffins for Muffin Online Bake Sale is going on TODAY at Kita's blog Pass The Sushi. She is doing this to raise money for a Lil Miss Muffin, a pup she found with terrible chemical burns, neglected, abused and has a long road ahead for treatment and recovery. I am donating my cardamom pistachio muffins. Please take a look at other tasty treats and bid on to help Muffin or contribute whatever you can. Click here for details.

This might shock you guys but I had no idea that such a thing called Mac n' Cheese existed...at least not for the first eighteen years of my life. 

...the thing is I grew up on the other side of the world where combining milk and cheese to pasta was a foreign concept. We ate noodles quite frequently in my house except that my mom made it with sauteed veggies, sometimes chicken pieces or eggs sprinkled with cheese and a little ketchup on the side.

Fast forward a decade (almost) and I have not had the amazing, unforgettable ultimate comfort food - Mac n' Cheese. I have tasted a bite here and there of good old boxed Kraft and ordered it as a side item few times.

Some say Atlanta has the best while others argue its in Austin. Few friends vouch for their mom's or aunt's recipe. I am not sure when I will come across the Mac n' Cheese that will make a long lasting impression on my taste buds but for now I will happily take this bowl of cheesy heaven topped with breadcrumbs that has a subtle garlicky taste and mild spiciness from poblano peppers at each bite. 

I have had something very similar before and saw a recipe @ ohmyveggies. Based on those two I created my own version and used lighter cheeses. 
Garlicky Mac n' Cheese with Poblano Peppers
makes about 4 sides or 2 entree
Ingredients

1 poblano pepper 1/4 cup milk (I used whole) 1/8 cup + 1 tablespoon all purpose flour  generous 1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese generous 1/2 cup shredded sharp extra light cheddar  4 garlic cloves, minced 2.5 cups cavatappi pasta, cooked (looks like corkscrew) 1/2 cup panko 1 tbsp. olive oil salt and pepper, to taste

Directions
- Turn on broiler. Place poblano pepper on a baking sheet and broil for about 15 minutes or until skin starts to turn little black, turning halfway through once.
- Place peppers in zip-lock or plastic bag for few minutes. Remove from bag and peel; discard stems, seeds and ribs. Chop peppers and set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees.
- In a medium sauce pan, combine milk and flour over high heat. Whisk it constantly and once it boils, lower the heat and continue whisking until it thickens. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Stir in both cheeses, cooked pasta, poblano pepper, garlic, salt and pepper.

- Divide mac & cheese into a casserole dish or into two individual ramekins. - In a small bowl, stir together panko, olive oil, salt and pepper and  divide equally into ramekins or casserole dish. - Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until panko is golden brown.

Note:

Cavatappi pasta can be substituted with cavatelli, elbow macaroni, farfalle, and fusilli (source).  

What is your idea of perfect Mac n' Cheese?

Do you have a favorite Mac n' Cheese recipe, or a restaurant? If you do, please share.

Reminder: Muffins for Muffin Online Bake Sale is going on TODAY at Kita's blog Pass The Sushi. She is doing this to raise money for a Lil Miss Muffin, a pup she found with terrible chemical burns, neglected, abused and has a long road ahead for treatment and recovery. I am donating my cardamom pistachio muffins. Please take a look at other tasty treats and bid on to help Muffin or contribute whatever you can. Click here for details.