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.

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.

Baked Ravioli

Ravioli, baked, cheese, not really anything else to say

 

Baked Ravioli

 

The original recipe can be found right here.

 

Ingredients

1 25 oz bag of frozen ravioli

1 26 oz jar of marinara sauce

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Parmesan cheese for sprinkling

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Spread 3/4 cup of sauce in baking dish (that was previously sprayed with cooking spray).  Arrange ravioli in single layer of sauce.  Top with remaining sauce and half the mozzarella.  Add a second layer of raviolis, and then sauce and mozzarella.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and bake uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes.  Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

 

Notes

It’s awfully simple but taking an hour to prep, bake, and stand before eating is awfully a lot for just pasta sauce and cheese.

One Pan Enchilada Pasta

I’ve been slacking a bit.  I made this meal, gosh, 2 weeks ago now and have been neglecting to write it up.  But here we go now.

 

One Pan Enchilada Pasta

The original post is found here.  The original poster used some additional ingredients that I nixed and simplified a bit.

 

Ingredients

2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

1.25 lbs of ground turkey meat

1 packet taco seasoning

2 cups low sodium chicken broth

1 19-oz can of red enchilada sauce

8 oz of dried rotini pasta

2 cups of shredded cheese (the original suggested Colby Jack cheese, I used Mexican mix cheese)

 

Directions

In a large skillet, cook the ground turkey meat, adding 1 packet of taco seasoning, breaking meat up until browned.

Once cooked through, add pasta, chicken broth, and enchilada sauce to pan.  Bring to boil, then reduce the heat to low and cover.

Cook for about 15 minutes then uncover and let simmer for additional 5 minutes until pasta is tender.

Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup of the cheese and top with the remaining cheese.  Place the lid back on the pan and let the heat of the cooked pasta/meat to melt the cheese or put in the broiler for a few minutes.

 

Notes

Yum.  The end.

The original poster included garlic, onions, and olives.  Maybe next time I’ll feel more adventurous adding the veggies but as was – I thought it was really tasty.

Definitely repeating.

McCormick Bruschetta Chicken

In the seasoning aisle of my supermarket, I happened across a “McCormic Gourmet Sweet Basil & Oregano Bruschetta Chicken Recipe & Seasoning Mix” and decided to give it a try.  Following the shopping list on the back on the pouch (mix, oil, tomatoes, chicken, pasta, balsamic vinegar) and the directions (really easy and straightforward).  10 minutes of prep and 30 minutes cook time meant it was pretty low key.

Both boyfriend and I liked it. Worth getting again or trying other varieties.

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.