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.

Crab Macaroni and Cheese

New recipe! Original can be found at this site.

 Crab Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups macaroni

6 oz claw crab meat (I used 1 8 oz package of imitation crab meat)

3 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

1 1/2 cup milk

3 oz fresh Parmesan cheese

8 oz sharp white cheddar cheese (The original post suggests using a block cheese because it melts better but says to grate it and see the notes section below for my cheese issues)

1/4 cup bread crumbs (What the post suggested, I used more like a 1/2 cup because 1/4 didn’t cover well enough)

1 large shallot chopped finely (I didn’t use)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350.

Cook macaroni according to directions. Drain. Add crab and set aside.

In a sauce pot, melt butter on medium heat.  Add shallot if applicable and saute until fragrant.

Sprinkle with flour and mix well. Slowly pour milk into pot while stirring.

Grate white cheddar into the milk mixture. Add salt and pepper while stirring slowly until the cheese is melted.

Pour cheese mixture in with mac and crab.  Add half the parm cheese and stir well.

Transfer to lightly greased baking dish. Sprinkle with the bread crumbs and remaining Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Notes

I wanted to make this meal because Fiance’s band played at a bar that I know from previous experience has amazing crab mac & cheese. I decided not to spend the money for it out and wanted to make it instead.  I should have just bought it out.

I had some cheese issues. I don’t know if it’s the brand I chose or the fact that I cut the cheese rather than grated (I don’t have a cheese grater and didn’t see that while the recipe called for a block of cheese, it needed it grated anyway) but my cheddar just did not cooperate.  It essentially melted but then solidified.  So I had this gooey blob of cheese that just didn’t give the right consistency.  Even after melting with the pasta for a half hour, there were still pieces of macaroni that didn’t have any cheese on it – just the milk and butter than spread around.

I in general just always have mac and cheese issues.  I can’t eat store bought boxed mac and cheese anymore without feeling sick – I pretty much lived on it when a previous job cut my hours and I was too depressed and broke to really do much else.  Previous attempts to make mac and cheese usually don’t end up going my way.

Made about 6 servings by the way.

Lightened Up Buffalo Chicken Quesadillas

Original post found here but I adapted quite a bit so below is mine. Unfortunately – because I am awful with noting ingredient amounts.

Ingredients

Shredded chicken – I had a 1.64 lb container that I cooked and shredded

Buffalo sauce – I use Red’s – maybe 1/2 a cup or so, give or take, enough to give a coating of the chicken

About 4 oz cream cheese (I use 1/3 less fat)

2 cups cheese – this time I used cheddar but in regular buffalo dip I’ve used just about anything (cheddar, mozzarella, mexican blend, or whatever else)

8 Tortillas

Oil or cooking spray

Ranch for dipping (I use light ranch)

Directions

Heat skillet to medium heat.

Spread one side of each tortilla with cream cheese.  Toss chicken with buffalo sauce.

Lightly grease pan. Place tortilla on pan, top with 1/8 of the chicken mixture and a sprinkle of cheese and fold in half.

Allow to cook for 2 minutes then flip for 2 minutes on the other side.

Repeat for all tortillas.  Serve with ranch dressing on the side.

Notes

I don’t know if it actually is, but this feels just oh so much healthier than regular buffalo chicken dip.  In regular tip, I use equal parts buffalo sauce, cream cheese, and ranch.  By using cream cheese just on the tortilla, I used about half as much as usual, and by just having ranch for dipping sauce- was far far less.  I also conserved on cheese, actually only used about 1 3/4 cups.  All in all felt healthier than it could’ve.

Plus it was tasty.

Bubble Up Buffalo

February 13, 2013 was the first time I ever tried my hand at making a recipe found on Pinterest.  It was Bubble Up Pizza.  That adventure can be found here.  Since then, I’ve made Bubble Up Pizza again countless times and Boyfriend hails it as his favorite meal. Back in December, we went to visit a friend up in Maine and I cooked dinner on our last night there to repay their hospitality.  Boyfriend of course suggested Bubble Up Pizza but the friend misheard him thinking he was saying Bubble Up Buffalo (how he got confused on that I don’t understand but anyway)… and that got me thinking.  In Maine, I made the Bubble Up Pizza but last night, I got to experimenting and tried Bubble Up Pizza meets Buffalo Chicken Dip.  The results:

 

Bubble Up Buffalo

 

Ingredients

4 7.5-oz Pillsbury Grands Biscuits (my store has the 4 together in a pack)

1 lb Chicken

1 cup Ranch dressing

1 8-oz container of Cream Cheese

1 cup Frankie’s Hot Sauce

2 cups of Cheese – dealers choice. I’ve made buffalo dip before using anything from cheddar to mozzarella to mexican cheese blends to options are pretty much whatever floats your boat.

 

Directions

First, cook and shred the chicken.

Next up, cut the grands muffins into quarters.  Then mix up all the ingredients (minus the cheese) and pour into a casserole dish.  Add the cheese on top (although you can mix in some of the cheese as well).

Bake in an oven preheated to 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

 

Notes

Alright – I was stupid when making this.  Because theoretically, I could have been (should have been) cutting the muffins and mixing everything else together while the chicken was cooking.  If I had done that, once the chicken was done I would just have to shred the chicken and let it all bake.  But silly me didn’t do that.  I did everything with the chicken first and then the rest of it.  Which meant that in total – it took nearly 2 full hours to get to eat.

You could also probably expedite everything by getting rotisserie chicken at the food store and just shredding that – which would take out the extra time needed to cook the chicken.

Even with these suggestions – it’ll probably take longer than an average week night’s dinner.

When I made it, I only used 3 7.5-oz muffins containers which I don’t think was enough.  I probably would’ve rather had a higher bread to dip ratio which is why I suggest 4 containers instead of 3 in the ingredients above.

Overall though, I think it came out really well – tasty and really good for a Friday night while watching a movie.

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta

I made this again last night using rotini instead of penne (no real difference – pasta is pasta to me) and Hormel “Real Bacon Pieces” instead of cooking the bacon. I was real impressed with the Hormel find. I was expecting just little bacon bits kinda of things but this contained larger chunks of bacony goodness.

I attempted to use more flour to counterbalance the sauce not thickening – I had this problem before likely because I use skim milk. It ended up making the sauce a bit grainy. I’d rather have the thinner sauce than how it came out yesterday so prolly not worth continue to mess around with.

Pretty much as good as I remembered though.

Noms Away

With Halloween almost upon us, Boyfriend and I decided to host a party on Saturday night.  As this party would be including alcohol, we figured a heavier dinner, full of yummy carbohydrates, was probably necessary.

Enter the recipe below.

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta

The link for this can be found here and the ingredients and directions are copied below:

Ingredients:

8 ounces penne pasta
1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp dry ranch dressing seasoning mix
2 cups milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/3 cup cooked, chopped bacon
2 cups cooked chopped chicken 

Directions:

In a large pot, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

In same pot melt butter. Add flour and stir. Cook flour for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in milk. Continue cooking until sauce thickens. Stir in ranch dressing mix and cheese. Stir until cheese melts. Add chicken, bacon and pasta. Stir…

View original post 475 more words

Buffalo Chicken Dip

So, I was wondering around Pinterest (what else is new?) and I found a posting about Buffalo Chicken Quesadillas.  The original poster started by putting her regular buffalo chicken dip in a tortilla and toasting and when she wanted that again without going through the whole process of making the dip- she shortened the process and the recipe was born.  I’m not going to link to that post this time because I feel fairly certain I’ll give the shorter version a try at some point in the future but the anecdote at the start got me thinking.

Why didn’t I think of that?

Boyfriend and I both enjoy buffalo chicken dip but I haven’t made it once this football season (which is the most perfect excuse for dip) because he’s got braces on and tortilla chips are firmly in the “Do Not Have” category.  But wrapped in a tortilla? That’s pretty solidly in the “Can Have” or definitely should have group.

So Friday night, since I had time to do the full thing, Buffalo Chicken Dip it is.

 

Buffalo Chicken Dip

 

Ingredients

  • 1 lbs of Chicken
  • 1 8oz block of Cream Cheese
  • 1 cup of Ranch Dressing
  • 1 cup of Frank’s Hot Sauce
  • 1 cup of Cheese – dealer’s choice, this particular time I used ShopRite Brand Mexican Blend but I’ve made it before with cheddar, mozzarella, and pepper jack so got with what you’ve got/like.

 

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350.

Boil the chicken by putting it in a large pot, filling with enough water to cover and putting on the stove.  Bring the water to boil and let simmer until the chicken is cooked through – for the boneless skinless breasts that I used as my chicken – that took about 15-20 minutes.  Drain the chicken.

While the chicken is heating up, mix up the cream cheese, ranch, and hot sauce in a large bowl.  This is easiest if the cream cheese is softened first.  My stove top normally gets pretty warm while one burner is on so I leave the cheese on alongside the burner for a bit once the chicken goes on and add that to the bowl last.

Next step – Shred. There’s probably other ways to shred chicken but what I always do is put a fork in it.  Literally.  I stick one fork in the larger part of the chicken piece and use a second to pull smaller pieces of chicken off.  Once done, add the chicken to the bowl with the mixed up ingredients.  Toss them all together and ensure the chicken is coated.

Now into the pan – a 9×13 normally works for me.  Add the cheese on top.  Then cook for about 20 minutes or so – really just until the cheese melts and everything warms up together – the chicken has already been cooked so it’s not like anything bad will happen if it’s not in as long.

Serve with tortilla chips or just tortilla.  For the tortilla, toast in a saucepan for just a minute or so each side.

 

Notes

I got none. I’ve made the dip many times before, I’m happy with how it comes out.

The quesadilla part of it was a great idea for anyone who doesn’t like chips or can’t eat them.  

I’ll definitely be trying the original poster’s quicker version at some point though.

 

Two Timin’ Pasta

I found this pretty cheesy recipe from Pinterest and gave it a try last night. I’ve got no real cute anecdote to go with it so onward:

Two Timin’ Pasta

Recipe can be found at the original source here or transcribed below.

Ingredients

  • 1 Box Penne Pasta
  • 1 15-oz jar Alfredo Sauce
  • 1 24-oz jar Marinara Sauce
  • 2 cups Shredded Mozzarella
  • 1 cup Parmesan

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350.

Cook pasta according to directions and drain.

Mix the Alfredo and Marinara sauces together in a large bowl (ok – I did the lazy way and just mixed them in the 9×13 casserole.  Didn’t think it was worth dirtying another bowl).  Add the mozzarella and stir to combine.

Add in the penne and toss to coat.

Pour into 9×13 baking dish (unless you’re already there like I was) and cook for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly.  Remove from oven, sprinkle with shredded parmesan, and bake for another 5.

Notes

Look at that cheesy goodness.

So I picked this recipe because the pin on Pinterest said “just like Olive Garden 4 cheese Ziti al Forna!!!!!”.  I was skeptical, particularly when I opened the link and saw that it’s just mozzarella and parmesan cheeses rather than the 4 used by Olive Garden. And the original post itself doesn’t mention Ziti al Forna at all so not sure where that comment came from.

Skepticism aside, I figured either way, why not – particularly when I saw I had ShopRite 3 cheese tomoto sauce and Classico 4 cheese alfredo on hand to boost up the cheesy factor.

Well definitely not like the 4 Cheese Ziti al Forna – but definitely good nonetheless.

The recipe gave Boyfriend and I enough for dinner, seconds at dinnertime for both of us, and leftovers for both to bring to work for lunch.  For those who’re better at portion control than either of us are, this could go a long way.

Only criticism I have is with the parmesan on top.  A full cup was too much for my taste.  Next time I would probably just take it out and sprinkle whatever cheese we each want on top after it’s been scooped to bowls.

I think I’ll definitely be adding this as an alternative for when we’re bored of either marinara or alfredo, both together is different and pretty tasty.