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Spicy Stovetop Coconut Mac and Cheese with Coco Bacon Topping and a Giveaway from Grace

Fall is starting to get a bit long in the tooth, the wind is kicking up and the nights get progressively colder. As we sadly acknowledge that BBQ season is over, our tastes start to turn to heartier fare that sticks to the ribs and fills the belly.

Unlike most people I know, I didn't grow up eating mac and cheese so I was a little late to the party but I have become a bit of an expert this past year, making a number of different versions in my pressure cooker, but I know that not everyone has one so stovetop mac and cheese lets you whip up the ultimate comfort food with the ease and speed that a pressure cooker provides. One pot, baby. I am all about the one pot dinners and as we start to gear up for the hustle and bustle of the impending holiday season, we all need a few one pot show stoppers in our back pocket.

When Grace hired me to come up with a recipe using a couple of their Organic coconut products, I already had a bunch of them in my pantry so I jumped at the chance. I've been using Grace coconut chips to make vegetarian "bacon" for a crispy bread topping for mac and cheese with great results, so that cemented my decision to go with a coconut Mac. If you google, there are a million recipes out there for coconut "bacon" and they call for adding maple syrup to unsweetened coconut chips but because the Grace chips are already lightly sweetened, I found that I could just leave the syrup out of the process, altogether and I prefer the finished product. You can find these products in the International section of most grocery stores all over Canada and if there isn't an International aisle, they will all be in their respective areas.

The Kid devoured bowl after bowl of this stuff without realizing that it was not, in fact, actual bacon so if you have a vegetarian in your life, you can keep them happy right alongside your hungry carnivores without having to make two different toppings.

Rich, cheesy coconut milk sauce, a bit of bite from the Grace Scotch Bonnet Hot Pepper Sauce and a crispy topping full of Coconut "bacon" is all you need to make the transition into our Canadian winter just a little bit easier.

You can make the crispy Coco Bacon in advance and store it in an airtight container. If you have leftover coconut bacon, use it on salad, in a sandwich or anywhere that you used cripsy, crumbled bacon.

To find more creative ways to use Grace Coconut products, check out the hashtag #coconut4life and follow Grace Foods Canada on Twitter

**this post is sponsored by Grace

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Spicy Stovetop Mac and Cheese with Coconut "Bacon" Topping

serves 6-8 

454 g (1 lb) cavatappi
3 cups water
2 cups coconut milk + up to 3 tbls extra ( you will need to open two 400ml cans of Grace Organic Coconut Milk)
1 tbls butter
2 tsp of Scotch Bonnet Hot Pepper Sauce or to taste
1 tsp kosher salt
250g (9oz) sharp, white cheddar, grated

Put the water and pasta into a deep pot and bring to a simmer, stirring almost constantly so it doesn't stick. After a couple of minutes, add in the coconut milk, stirring constantly and bring back up to a simmer. As soon as it starts to simmer again, turn the heat to low and continue to cook your pasta, stirring almost constantly as you keep watch. It will take about ten minutes for your pasta to cook. If your pasta is not cooked yet but the liquid is absorbing too much, add a bit more coconut milk because you want some milk left in the pot when it's tender to make the cheese sauce.

Once the pasta is cooked to your liking, add in the butter, the scotch bonnet hot pepper sauce, the salt and the grated cheeses and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the cheese it totally melted and incorporated into the sauce. You can add a bit more coconut milk if you want it a bit creamier and when the consistency is perfect, taste and add more salt if needed.

Serve right away and top each bowl with some of the Coconut "Bacon" topping

To Make the Coconut Bacon Topping

*Coconut Chip Bacon

1 40 gram bag of Grace Coconut Chips (approx. 1 cup)
1 tbls soy sauce
1.5 tsp liquid smoke
1/4 tsp smoked paprika

Heat oven to 325F

Mix together the soy sauce, liquid smoke and smoked paprika.

Line a small baking sheet with some parchment and pour out the coconut chips on the parchment. Drizzle the soy sauce mixture and toss well until all of the coconut chips are coated. Spread them out in an even layer and put the sheet in the oven on the centre rack. Cook for about 10 minutes, keeping an eye on it to make sure it doesn't burn. After 10 minutes, check on it every 2 minutes until it's nicely browned but not burnt. It should take between 15 and 20 minutes in total, depending on your oven.

Remove the pan from the oven and let cool to room temperature. The chips will crisp up as they cool.
Set aside.

Coco Bacon Topping

1 cup panko or fresh bread crumbs
*40 g Coconut Chip Bacon
1 clove garlic, sliced thinly
1 tbsp butter

15g (0.5 oz) freshly grated parmesan 

Melt the butter in a small frying pan and throw in the garlic, cooking for just a minute before adding in the bread crumbs. Cook for three to five minutes until the bread crumbs are crispy, throw in the coconut bacon and then add in the grated parmesan, cook for another 30 minutes before you remove it from the heat and set aside.

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