Celebrate Macaroni and Cheese Day with a Recipe for Bourbon Bacon Mac & Cheese

In honor of National Macaroni and Cheese day, we are taking that childhood classic and elevating it today.  This is no box of elbow macaroni with orange powdered “cheese.” 

This twist on a comfort food favorite combines fontina cheese for creaminess, cheddar for sharpness, jalapeño and cayenne for heat, and a grown-up twist- bourbon and candied bacon!


Start by pre-heating the oven to 350 degrees.

 On a sheet pan with a rack, lay out 6 strips of your favorite thick-cut bacon.  I’m using Wright’s Applewood Smoked bacon.  Spread about 1 tablespoon of light brown sugar over each piece and slide it in the oven.  While we are prepping everything else, the bacon will cook and crisp and the brown sugar will melt and create a crispy sweet coating on each delicious slice of porcine perfection.


For our pasta, we are going with something a little different- shells.  Now you can use any pasta you want, yes, even the old stand-by, elbow macaroni.  I chose shells because the shape really lends itself to holding onto the ooey-gooey sauce we are going to make. 

Cook the pasta according to the box directions.  You will want the pasta to be “al dente” because we are going to finish this mac and cheese in the oven and it will finish cooking there.  Boil in well-salted water, strain, and drain, and set aside in a big mixing bowl.


We are using jalapeños for a fresh, green flavor, but you have total control of the heat.  Split and clean the peppers removing the seeds and membranes.  The heat in the pepper is in the membrane, so for a hotter dish, leave more in, we’ll be adding some cayenne later for heat, so keep that in mind.  Dice the peppers and set aside.


Next we are going to make our cheese sauce.  We will start with a bechamel sauce which begins with 3 tablespoons of butter melted in a pan over medium heat.  To the butter, we will add 3 tablespoons of flour and we’ll “cook” the flour like this, making what is called a roux.  As the flour cooks, it will lose its raw smell and begin to darken, smelling richer and nuttier.  Cook this for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly with a whisk, making sure there are no lumps.


Next, add 1 ounce or one shot of bourbon.  I like Knob Creek, but use your bourbon of choice.  Stir for a minute, allowing some of the alcohol to cook off.  Then add the remaining dry ingredients- 1 teaspoon of nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, 1 Tablespoon of mustard powder. The roux will take open a nice golden color once everything is incorporated.  Slowly pour in 3 cups whole milk, whisking constantly and bring the heat to medium high.  Once it begins to bubble, add in the jalapeños, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  The sauce will begin to thicken at this point.  You’ve just made bechamel sauce!


Now it is time to add the cheese.  Add in 8 ounces of shredded fontina cheese, and 6 ounces of cheddar to the bechamel you have just made.  When you add cheese to it, you officially transform the bechamel sauce to a mornay sauce!  Sounds fancy, doesn’t it? 


Pour your sauce over the pasta in the mixing bowl and fold together with a wooden spoon.


The mac and cheese can be baked in any oven-safe vessel you like.  For my purposes, I’m using a muffin tin.  This way, I can have some built-in portion control and once this cools and is put in the fridge, each tin can be scooped out intact to pack for lunches later in the week.


Coat the muffin pan with cooking spray and spoon in the gooey, cheesy pasta.  Leave a little room in each tin, or you’ll have an overflow in the oven when it is baking.  Top each one with some shredded cheddar and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.


As you put the muffin tin in, take out the bacon from the oven and let it cool.  This bacon, or as I call it, “pig candy,” will be the garnish on top of the individual servings of mac.  If you want, you could, incorporate it into the mac instead, but that’s just a matter of personal preference.


Remove the muffin tin from the oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.  Garnish with “pig candy.”


Enjoy.  Happy National Macaroni and Cheese Day!

Ingredients List:

8 Ounces of Uncooked Pasta Shells

6 Slices of Thick-Cut Applewood Smoked Bacon

6 Tablespoons Brown Sugar

2 Jalapeños Seeded and Diced

3 Tablespoons Butter

3 Tablespoons All-Purpose Flour

1 Teaspoon Grated Nutmeg

1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

1 Tablespoon Mustard Powder

1 Shot of Bourbon

3 Cups Whole Milk

8 Ounces of Shredded Fontina Cheese

8 Ounces of Shredded Cheddar Cheese, Divided



Our Furry Family Members

Hey!  This is the second in the series of blog entries that will hopefully let you get to know us a bit better.

We are dog people.  We are cat people.  When we first got married, 19 years ago, we rescued a cat and adopted a dog from one of my husband's coworkers.  They were with us for 17 years of our marriage before they passed away.  These were our first fur babies:



LT was an Akita/Lab mix.  Such a great dog.  Easily trained, super loyal, and really sweet.  We buried him the back yard and planted a yellow flower next to him.


This was Java.  We rescued him and as he grew up with LT, he behaved somewhat like a dog.  He would come when you called him.  Everyone thought he was a girl because of his pink little nose.  He was a sweet cat. 

We rescued Aslan at the same time we had LT and Java. We had him for a couple of years.



Aslan hanging out with LT in our backyard.

Now we have Buck and Dani.   We rescued Buck first and then Dani a few years later.  They are sweet and we love that they have each other to play and spend time with when we have to go to work. 


Buck is the darker brown one.  We named him Buck because when we rescued him at 9-weeks old, he started to lick our Starbucks iced coffee cup.  The lighter girl is Dani, and we named her after the Mother of Dragons in Game of Thrones.  We are big fans of that show.  They are big dogs and may look intimidating or sound it when they bark, but they are so sweet. We have worked hard to train them.

And last but certainly not least, our two cats. 


The gray girl is Natasha.   She is so sweet!  All gray and she rolls over and wants you to rub her belly.  The boy is Bruce.  he is aloof but so sweet and wants to sleep at our feet at night. 

Do you have furry family members?  They make us so happy and give us so much love.    They are playful and funny.  I am so lucky to have them and would spend my life rescuing animals if I could. 

Run Eat Drink - Who are we?

Hey!  It's Aimee.  I thought we would write a few blog posts so you could get to know us a little better.  The first word in the title of our website, podcast, and social media sites is "run."  So, now, here is a bit about why we started.

My husband and I have been running since 2010.  We've been married for 19 years and have never really been into running unless something was chasing us.  I will talk more about my husband in a later post because he is amazing and deserves one all his own.  



I was motivated to start running after I went through an eye surgery because I almost lost vision in my left eye to a detached retina.  During the surgery, I had to move from the gurney to the operating table at almost 300 pounds in front of one of my former students (I was an English teacher for 12 years).  Embarrassing.  So I lost some weight and to celebrate, I thought we'd train and run a race to show off the hard work.

That was 7 years ago.  But I still think of myself as a beginner because I have not lost all the weight I want to lose. I've lost about 50 pounds but been kind of at a standstill lately.  (I love the eating and drinking portions of our "runcations")  I am slow and what I refer to as a "back of the packer" because it takes me all of the time allotted at all the races I attend.  My husband comes along because he knows I am passionate about running because of the way I feel when I accomplish a goal that I set out to achieve.  I think he might enjoy it a little, but I struggle through the training every running season.  It is hot and humid in Florida and when you weigh more, training is harder.  But I am working on that.  

We start our new training season this Tuesday as we train for our Coast to Coast Challenge in November and one of our all-time favorite races, the Double G - a 5K on Saturday and Half Marathon on Sunday in December - hosted by Jeff and Barbara Galloway in Atlanta.  I will talk more about those races as we train for them and get closer to them.   We will do podcast episodes that highlight them when we accomplish those goals.  My husband is my expert camera man when we film the episodes.  I wouldn't be able to do the running, blogging, or podcasting without him.



Mostly, we have run Disney races in the past, as you'll see from our list below, but we are trying to branch out and run other races in different places as a part of the next chapter in our running lives.  And we wanted to give back to the running community that inspires us to keep going or give advice, if it helps, to those who are now where we were in 2010, trying to figure it all out.  We want to support others by offering our experiences on the courses as something to learn from  and answer many questions: Is this the race for you?  How do I find a training plan?  What gear do I need?   Where are some cool places to celebrate after we finish the race?  Are there fun things to do or places to see after we complete the race?  All of this while we discover great places to eat, drink and celebrate after you achieve your goals.

That is a little bit about how we got started running.  Below is a list of the races we have completed in the past, if you are interested in our running history or would like to ask us about our experiences at these events.

2010 5K Run for Water at Cape Harbor  

2010 RunDisney Wine and Dine Half Marathon Relay

2011 RunDisney WDW Half Marthon

2011 RunDisney Dick Sporting Goods Champion 5K

2011 Expedition Everest Challenge

2011 RunDisney Wine and Dine Half Marathon

2012 Expedition Everest Challenge 

2012 RunDisneyTower of Terror 10-Miler

2012 RunDisney Wine and Dine Half Marathon 

2013 RunDisney Expedition Everest Challenge

2013 RunDisney Tower of Terror 10-Miler

2014 RunDisney Disneyland Tinkerbell Half Marathon

2014 RunDisney Expedition Everest Challenge

2014 Virtual Jeff Galloway (JG) Half Marathon

2015 RunDisney Expedition Everest Challenge 

2015 RunDisney Wine and Dine Half Marathon* 

2015 RunDisney  Infinity Gauntlet Challenge

2015 Barb's 5K and JG 13.1 Half Marathon

2016 Run Disney Inaugural WDW Star Wars 10K

2016 RunDisney Lumiere's Challenge

2016 RunDisney Infinity Guantlet Challenge

2016 Double G - Barb's 5K and Jeff's 13.1

2017 RunDisney Star Wars Light Side Challenge 

2017 RunDisney Star Wars Dark Side Challenge

2017 Tampa Beer Run 5K


DNF List

2012 RunDisney WDW Chip and Dale Marathon Relay

2013 RunDisney WDW Wine and Dine Half Marathon

2014 RunDisney WDW Wine and Dine Half Marathon

2015 RunDisney Inaugural Disneyland Star Wars Light Side Half Marathon  

2016 RunDisney Inaugural WDW Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon




Run Eat Drink

Welcome to Run Eat Drink!  Our mission is to explore and review fun races, sample delicious food, and toast with tasty beverages so you might discover places where you can accomplish, explore, and indulge the next time your vacation involves running, eating, and drinking.

Usually, my husband and I run Disney races.  And don't get me wrong, Disney races are great and we will continue to run them.  But we wished we'd had somewhere we could find out more about races, food, and beverages from different locations so we could venture out and try something new.  So we decided to be the pioneers and bring the reviews to you! 

We will run the races so you can see if a course is affordable and enjoyable for you.  Then, after the running is over, we will highlight a place to eat and sample must-have food.  Finally, we will celebrate our accomplishments by sampling tasty adult beverages so you know where you can sport your bling and toast the completion of the course.

Hopefully this will help so that the next time you are thinking of taking a vacation that involves running, you will have a resource to make the most out of your visit.  Or even if running is not in the plan, you can see what tasty treats will await you in a variety of locations. 

So, come along with us as we accomplish, explore, and indulge so that maybe you can too.