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.

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.

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.

Meatball Sub Casserole

Made this more than a couple weeks ago so here we go:

 

Meatball Sub Casserole

 

Original recipe can be found here.

Ingredients:

1 loaf Italian bread, cur into 1-inch thick slices

1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 tsp Italian seasoning

1/4 tsp pepper

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1 lb package fully cooked frozen meatballs, thawed

1 28oz jar pasta sauce

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Arrange bread slices in a single layer in ungreased 9×13 baking dish and fill in gaps with small bits of bread.

In a bowl, combine cream cheese, mayonnaise and seasonings.  Spread over bread slices.  Sprinkle with 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella.

Gently mix together sauce and meatballs, spoon over cheese.

Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Bake uncovered for 30-35 minutes.

 

Notes

I didn’t use the mayonnaise – I’m not a big fan.  But overall I wasn’t a fan of this recipe, and not because I think it was missing mayonnaise.  I didn’t like the textures of well everything.  It also took longer than if I’d just made regular meatball subs and most definitely doesn’t seem worth the extra effort and time.

 

 

 

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.

Chocolate Peanut Butter No Bake Dessert

I’ve been avoiding this post for days now but I guess I better add it.

On Saturday, two close friends held a Thanksgiving Part 2 pot luck.  I volunteered to bring mashed potatoes (nothing fancy) and a dessert.  So I decided to give this No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter thing a try.

Chocolate Peanut Butter No Bake Dessert

The original recipe can be found here.

Ingredients

  • 20 Oreo cookies, divided
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, divided
  • 1 carton (16 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed, divided
  • 15-20 miniature peanut butter cups, chopped
  • 1 cup cold milk
  • 1 package (3.9 ounces) instant chocolate pudding mix

 

Directions

Crush 16 cookies; toss with the butter. Press into an ungreased 9-inch square dish; set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, peanut butter and 1 cup confectioners’ sugar until smooth.

Fold in half of the whipped topping. Spread over crust.

Sprinkle with chopped peanut butter cups.

In another large bowl, beat the milk, pudding mix and remaining confectioners’ sugar on low speed for 2 minutes. Let stand for 2 minutes or until soft-set.

Fold in remaining whipped topping. Spread over peanut butter cups.

Crush remaining cookies; sprinkle over the top. Cover and chill for at least 3 hours.

 

Notes

Ugh.  It was a hot damn mess.  I am clearly not fit for this.

First things first, I tried prebuying a crust rather than doing the mashing up cookies thing.  I bought the oreo kind.

Next after beating the first set of ingredients, whipped cream is supposed to be added before tossing it into the crust.  I definitely forgot the cream.  And I think it’s a result of this that the much stickier peanut butter/sugar concoction  broke apart my oreo crust into pieces.  Gah! I added the whipped cream on top in an awful attempt to make up for this.

Then with the pudding.  It was so thin, I don’t think it soft set like it was supposed to.  And there was so much of it that I couldn’t fit it all.  I don’t know how deep of a container the original poster was using but mine was just not cut out for this ish. I kept the rest in a bowl which I actually ate on it’s own later.

Finally, I budgeted my time poorly (my bad) and we only had about an hour for it to set before leaving.  Which was no where near enough time.  So when I tried to move everything to the car to head out to the pot luck – pudding went everywhere!

At the party though, the messy desserty disaster had more time to set and actually tasted pretty cook.  It looked godawful but tasted pretty great.  I guess that’ll happen when your main ingredients are peanut butter and chocolate.  Even I couldn’t mess up the taste on that, although lord knows with this dessert I tried.

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.