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.

Advertisements

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.

“Perfect Chicken”

Ingredients

1 to 1 1/2 lbs Chicken breasts

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon paprika

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix salt and spices.

Rub all over chicken.

Bake for 25 minutes.

Notes

The original recipe was reported as a broken link on Pinterest so I can’t share it.  The pin itself shows the full recipe though.

I tried it out because my family was a big fan of Lemon Pepper Chicken – literally just thin sliced chicken breaks with lemon pepper seasoning – quick, simple, delicious; I was looking for something similar just with different seasonings.  This met that mark.

I’m not sure I’d jump all the way to the “Perfect Chicken” it was labeled as but it was pretty good.

1 note though, the recipe called for 1/2 teaspoon of each spice and that was not enough to cover the breaks, I had to mix another few sets of spices to get them all covered.  Otherwise though, pretty good.

Taco Seasoning

So I found plenty of Pinterest posts about mixing your own taco seasoning rather than buying those packets every time.  Last time I remade the One Pan Enchilada Pasta (recipe over here), I decided to make a whole bunch of taco seasoning for that and for next time. So:

 

Taco Seasoning

I used this graphic for my mixture.

 

Ingredients

1 Tablespoon Chili Powder

1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder

1 Teaspoon Paprika

1/4 Teaspoon Salt

1 Teaspoon Oregano

1 Teaspoon Ground Cumin

1/2 Teaspoon Sugar

2 Teaspoons Onion Powder

 

Directions

Mix together. Store in Mason Jar or similar container.  Season meals with to add tex-mex-y goodness.

 

Notes

I had most everything on had which made this really easy and had no problem picking up the few additional items.

I don’t know how much the above yields compared with how much is needed for well, anything.   I just about quadrupled it (may have actually been more) which gave a good amount (I think).

The packets I’ve seen previously of taco seasoning include 2 tablespoons of the mixture – now I can just easily measure out that much from my jar instead.

Garlic Mozzarella Grilled Cheese

Grilled cheese meet your new best friend garlic bread:

 

Garlic Mozzarella Grilled Cheese

 

Originally from here.

 

Ingredients

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1/8 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp dried oregano

8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese

12 slices white bread

1 24-oz jar vodka marinara sauce (optional)

 

Directions

Preheat your oven’s broilers.

Place 6 slices of bread onto a baking sheet.  Spread a handful of mozzarella on each slice.  Top with remaining 6 slices of bread.

Mix together butter and garlic powder. Brush over tops of sandwiches (or spread with back of tbsp). Sprinkle with dried oregano.

Place baking sheet under broiler for 2 to 3 minutes, until golden brown.  Remove from oven, flip sandwiches, and brush other side with butter mixture and oregano.  Return to broiler and cook until golden – another 2 minutes or so.

Cut sandwiches and serve with sauce for dipping.

 

Notes

Well… fail. I may’ve come a little too close for comfort to setting something on fire.  I haven’t used my oven’s broiler before and I guess it cooks particularly hot because after less than 2 minutes, I pulled out smoking charred sandwiched. Bleh.

Thankfully, I had more ingredients and cooked them on stove top instead – which is how I make regular grilled cheese anyway.

I also skipped the vodka marinara for dipping, opting for grilled cheese’s favorite tomato bisque soup instead.

Despite getting off to a bad start, the garlic bread sandwiches were really tasty.  Definitely worth repeating – on the stove top again, I’m sticking away from the broiler for a bit.