Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese

Original post is here.

Ingredients

2-3 jalapenos, seeded and diced (I’ve always used 3 and could probably be okay with a 4th. Husband would probably prefer more than that or a spicier pepper used)

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream cheese, 1 block (8 oz)

2 cups milk

1 cup water

8 oz dried pasta

8 oz shredded Monterey jack cheese

1/2 cup bread or cracker crumbs

1 tablespoon olive or coconut oil

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400*.

In a large skillet, saute peppers with garlic powder and salt, cooking until softened (about 5 minutes).

Stir in cream cheese. Mix until until melted.

Add milk, water, and pasta. Bring to boil and then simmer for 10-15 minutes on medium or until the pasta is cooked through. Stir regularly.

Add in cheese; stir to melt.  Transfer pasta/cheese mixture to an oven safe pan.

In a small bowl, mix crumbs with oil to evenly coat.  Add to the top of your mac and cheese.

Bake for 5-10 minutes or until brown on top.

Notes

The original post calls for 1 medium onion, diced, to be cooked with the jalapeno in step one.  Husband isn’t a big fan of onions and I force them on him in enough other meals that I figure I’d spare him on this.

Usually makes 4-5 servings, depending on how hungry we are.

I’ve done some variations.  I’ve added bacon before – 6 slices just chopped up and mixed in.  I’ve switched pastas – penne, cavatappi, rotini.  Monterey jack cheese as listed sometimes or switched with cheddar or colby-jack or pepper jack depending on my mood.  Most recently I used the Monterey jack cheese and added slices of pepper jack cheese on top of pasta/cheese mix and below the crumbs.

I have made this on several occasions and it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite meals.  It doesn’t take too long to make, not too difficult, and is super delicious.

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Caprese Chicken

I started with a Pinterest recipe and then opted to change almost everything so forget it.

Ingredients

1 box pasta, I opted for bow ties

Balsamic vinegar (this is why I find other’s recipes, because I have no idea how much I used)

1 lb chicken

2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes

Fresh Mozzarella, 1 package, whatever that was

Fresh basil (unless you’re like me, buy fresh basic that then goes bad before you get around to making this recipe and you use just basil seasoning instead)

Directions

Boil water and cook pasta.

Add balsamic vinegar to a pan with the heat set to Medium/High. Like I said above, I’m not sure how much I used but it was enough to sufficiently cover the bottom of the pan and keeping in mind that it would reduce through cooking.  Bring to a boil and then lower.  Simmer, stirring occasionally until the vinegar reduces to a syrup-y consistency.

Cut chicken to bite sized pieces and add to the reducing vinegar.  Heat until solidly cooked throughout.  When I lowered the heat on the balsamic, I began cutting the chicken and added it to the pan.  It seemed to work well that the chicken was ready as the vinegar hit the right reduction.

Cut the tomatoes in half and add to the pan.   Add the basil as well.

Drain the pasta and return to the pot.   Pour the chicken, vinegar, tomato, basil mixture in with the pasta.  Mix thoroughly to coat all.  Serve.

Notes

Not one of my usuals but a nice change of pace.

Makes 6 servings

Applebee’s Copycat 4 Cheese Mac & Cheese with Honey Pepper Chicken

Applebee’s is one of the usual chain restaurants Husband and I go when looking for a night out.  Their 4 Cheese Mac & Cheese with Honey Pepper Chicken is one of my usuals there.

So I started with this recipe but the lack of flour in the cheese sauce confused me so I switched and used this one for the cheesy part.  Below is the mix of the two…although I also changed something major, discussed in the notes below.

Ingredients

1 lb chicken

3/4 cup honey

1/3 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup pineapple juice

Juice from 1 lemon

1 Tbsp vinegar

1 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp cayanne pepper

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1 box (16 oz) spiral pasta – used cavatappi

1/2 stick butter (8 Tbsp)

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 Anaheim pepper (optional, I didn’t end up using)

2 cups heavy cream

1/2 cup grated Parmesan

3/4 cup shredded Mozzarella

1/2 cup shredded Romano

1/2 cup shredded Asiago

5-6 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled

Directions

Add all the ingredients for the honey pepper sauce (everything below chicken and above cavatappi) into a saucepan. Bring to a boil.  Reduce to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until thickened.  Set aside to cool.

Cut chicken tenders to bite sized pieces.  Place in a sauce pan to cook through.  Once cooked through, add the honey pepper sauce and toss to coat.

Cook pasta to al dente.  Drizzle with a bit of olive oil after straining.

Add butter to a saucepan; melt over Medium/Low heat.  Add garlic to pan and saute for 2 minutes until softened.  Add in flour and whisk to combine.  Pour in heavy cream while whisking.  Heat for about 5 minutes or until thickened, stirring often.  Add in cheese and stir to melt.

Add cooked pasta to  cheese sauce, mix well.

Add pasta to serving bowl, top with chicken.  Sprinkle bacon on top of it all with optional drizzle of the leftover honey pepper sauce.

Notes

I forgot the bacon.  I don’t know how I did that.  I’m so upset.

This would’ve been first thing’s first (but then I freakin realized about the bacon) – Applebee’s and both copycat recipes use fried chicken tenders.  I opted to save calories where I could; I know there’s only so much I can do with a 4 cheese meal but figured it couldn’t hurt. Husband was funny though – he commented that the chicken wasn’t as good as in the original – that’ll happen when you’re comparing deep fried with absolutely anything else.

And I cut the chicken to bite size pieces rather than kept as whole tenders because every time I order it, I try cutting the chicken on a bed of pasta and it’s easier said than done.

I started writing down the ingredients for the first linked recipe before deciding to switch to the other, which is how it became this mix and match thing.  Next time I’d probably just try the second one in it’s entirety.

The honey pepper sauce was a little soy heavy; the second recipe has less soy sauce in it so that might help next time.

The sauce also boiled over and made a hot sticky mess so something to be careful about next time.

I prepped the honey pepper sauce in advance and boiled the pasta at the same time; both finished at about the same time.  When I cooked dinner, I cut the chicken and started that and then began the cheese sauce immediately after and it worked out pretty well time well time wise.

Applebee’s serves this meal with a side of a breadstick.  We opted for green beans instead.  I really wanted a veggie somewhere.

This ended up being 4 servings for the chicken and about 6-8 for the pasta.

So as a copycat recipe, it’s pretty comparable. Applebee’s version is better but I didn’t for a second think it wouldn’t be (especially after the chicken decision).  Overall it was pretty good though and would be worth making again.

Teriyaki Chicken

Original recipe found here.

Ingredients

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite side pieces

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons rice or apple cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

2 cloves minced garlic

1 tablespoon cornstarch

salt & pepper

Instructions

Add chicken to a large non-stick skillet.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook until done, stirring often.

In a small bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Whisk together until there are no lumps.  Add to chicken and cook stirring constantly, until it thickens.

Remove from heat, serve with white rice and broccoli.

Notes

I had frozen broccoli and white rice for sides.

Made 4 servings all together.

Came out pretty good.

Not much else to say there.

Fajita Stuffed Chicken

Seriously, Buzzfeed Tasty videos, I may have gotten a bit overzealous with them.

Ingredients

5 tablespoons canola oil

1 red pepper, diced

1 green pepper, diced

1 yellow pepper, diced

1 onion, diced

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

4 oz cream cheese

1/2 cup cheddar cheese

1/2 cup pepper jack cheese

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons chili powder

2 teaspoons cumin

2 teaspoons garlic powder

Directions

Heat 2 tablespoons of canola oil in a pan over high heat.  Cook the peppers, onion, salt and pepper until soft and slightly caramelized. Transfer to a bowl.

Mix in the cream cheese, cheddar, and pepper jack. Stir until evenly incorporated and set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine the chicken with the salt, chili powder, cumin, and garlic powder. Evenly distribute the spices over the chicken.

Slice a pocket in the chicken horizontally.  Fill the pocket with a spoonful of the veggie mixture.  Press the edges of the chicken together to seal.

Heat the remaining canola oil in a pan over medium heat.  Cook the stuffed chicken for five minutes on each side, until cheese is melted and chicken is cooked through.

Serve with salsa, sour cream, and guacamole.

Notes

The veggie mixture is 100% delicious.  I could eat it by itself with a spoon.  And I did…

I bought a pound of chicken which was only 2 breasts so there was plenty of stuffing on the side.

I used low-sodium taco seasoning rather than the different chicken seasonings mentioned above.  I already had it on hand so that was easier.

But so starting with the good, moved to neutral, now to the bad:

This was a HUGE reminder to read the comments on a recipe *before* attempting to make it.  Cook a breast of chicken for 5 minutes on each side like that’s in any way going to be enough? I must have been crazy to think that wouldn’t result in severely uncooked chicken!

Several people in the comments suggested 5 minutes on each side to brown the outside and then cook covered for 20-30 minutes in the oven at 350*.  Might be worth trying.  Just cooking on the stove top took closer to 40 minutes, and resulted in very brown/burnt outsides and the insides were fine.  Plus I kept switching every 5 minutes to try to prevent the burning outside and lost too much of the stuffing in the process.

So stuffed chicken itself this time was fine. I’d like to try again with the suggested change to cooking the chicken.  I would probably make the cheese peppers and onion on their own as a side because seriously, yum.

One-Pan Garlic Parmesan Chicken and Veggies

On New Year’s Day, Pinterest’s “Today’s Pick” included a set of Tasty videos from Buzzfeed.  I was home alone and bored and saved probably far more these than was necessary.  The original recipe (along with a video) can be found here.

Ingredients

2 chicken breasts

2 small broccoli crowns

4 medium red potatoes

1/4 cup olive oil

2 teaspoons sea or kosher salt

2 teaspoons black pepper

2 teaspoons onion powder

1 teaspoon paprika

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 400*F

Cut broccoli and potatoes into small pieces and place on either side of a sheet tray.  Place chicken in middle of the tray.  Drizzle veggies and chicken with olive oil.

In a small bowl, mix the spices and sprinkle over veggies and both sides of chicken.  Mix veggies to evenly coat.

Top chicken with crushed garlic and top both veggies and chicken with parm cheese.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until chicken is done.

 

Notes

I couldn’t fit all of the broccoli and potatoes on the tray with chicken.  Maybe next time I’ll use two trays instead of one.

Definitely makes more spices than you need.

Baking took more like 25 minute out of the range.

They said this made 2 servings but did make enough for dinner for 2 and lunch leftovers for both of us.

Overall worth making again.

 

Ranch Roasted Vegetables

I was looking for a good side to go with buffalo chicken quesadillas. Google found me this.

Ingredients

1/4 cup olive oil

1 package hidden valley dry ranch mix

6-8 cups of vegetables

Directions

Preheat oven to 425.

Mix olive oil and ranch dressing mix together.  Add veggies and toss to coat.  Pour onto baking sheet and cook for 10-40 minutes depending on the vegetable (link has full list of vegetables and roast times).  Serve.

Notes

I made it with asparagus.  Which I learned after making isn’t something husband isn’t a big fan of.  Drats.

1 bunch didn’t need the full amount of olive oil or dry ranch. The link says should be baked for 10-15 minutes which was about right.

The asparagus was underwhelming but it was a bit iffy at the beginning so not sure how much that impacted it.  Will probably try again with another veggie.