Diehard "American Idol" viewers will likely remember Sarah Sellers as the geek-chic food blogger who made it to Hollywood Week in Season 10, after impressing then-judge Steven Tyler with her full, rather Tyler-esque lips and impressing Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson with her lovely voice. (Watch her audition here.) Since leaving "Idol" prematurely, Sarah has been whipping up snack suggestions for "Idol" viewing parties and posting them here exclusively in Reality Rocks, and she's back to get your mouth watering for the two-night premiere of Season 13.
Tonight is the big "Idol" S13 debut, marking the return of Jennifer Lopez, the debut of Harry Connick Jr., and a ton of talent. Since tonight's show takes place in audition cities Boston and Austin, Sarah has combined Boston's love for Italian food with the spice of the Southwest for tonight's snack recipe.
Southwest Mac & Cheese Bites
8 oz large elbow macaroni
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
3/4 cup milk (Sarah used 2 percent, but whole milk works just as well)
1 cup grated white cheddar cheese
1 cup grated pepper jack cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chile powder
1 4.5 oz can chopped green chiles
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp panko
2 chopped scallions
1 small avocado, diced
cilantro for garnish
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Cook the pasta according to the package directions and drain well. Spray a nonstick mini-muffin pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a medium-sized skillet and sauté onion and bell pepper until softened. Set aside.
In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for about 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and bring to a boil. Cook, whisking occasionally, for about 2-3 minutes until thickened.
Add cheddar, pepper jack, and Parmesan cheeses. Stir to melt. Add the onion mixture, salt and next 4 ingredients through the chiles. Stir until well-combined and remove from heat. Stir in the egg yolk.
Fill each tin with the macaroni mixture and sprinkle with the panko and scallions. Bake for 10-15 minutes until bubbling and golden.
Remove from the oven and cool for 5-10 minutes. Using a teaspoon, carefully loosen the mac & cheese bites and transfer to a platter to serve. Top with the avocado and cilantro.
Check out Sarah's food and music blogs at http://sarahsmusicalkitchen.com