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Given the weather, we were in the mood for some comfort food.  This is an interesting, slightly grown-up version of mac ‘n’ cheese that the kids enjoyed too.  If you want an extra kick of spice, add a dash of cayenne.

5 slices bacon
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1 Tablespoon water
1 box pasta
3 Tablespoons butter
1/3 cup flour
1 1/2 cup milk
3 cups shredded cheese (sharp cheddar, American, provolone–whatever will work!)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Salt and pepper to taste

Chop bacon and fry in pan.  When browned, mix brown sugar, water and cayenne (if using) and pour over bacon.  Cook until browned and set aside to cool.  Cook pasta to al dente (not too mushy!).  Meanwhile, melt butter in saucepan.  Add flour and whisk into a tight roux.  Slowly stir in 1/2 cup milk until smooth.  Add remaining milk and cook until thick and bubbly.  Add cheese and stir to melt.  Sprinkle in spices.  Break apart candied bacon and stir into cheese.  Pour over pasta and toss to coat.  Serve hot.


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