Loaded Broccoli Mac-n-Cheese

As I was prepping this dish I came to the realization that I have never posted a mac-n-cheese recipe!? That kinda blew my mind considering what a cheese-head I am, coupled with my love of pasta! Anyhow, my recipe for mac-n-cheese is a derivative of Alton Brown’s original recipe. I discovered it years ago and use his rue as a base for many of my sauces, most notably the cheese sauce in my mac-n-cheese. This version of the classic incorporates goat cheese for added creaminess, broccoli for veggie power (and a pop of green) and bacon… just because everything tastes better with a little bit o’bacon on top! Enjoy!!

Ingredients: feeds 6

  • 12 oz of your favorite pasta (I used orecchiette)
  • florets from 3 medium broccoli crowns
  • 5 tbsp butter, divided
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 2 oz goat cheese
  • 6 oz shredded cheddar jack, plus extra
  • salt and pepper
  • 3/4 cup seasoned panko bread crumbs
  • 4 slices precooked bacon, diced

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, rinse and set aside.
  2. Steam broccoli florets in an inch of water in a covered, microwave safe dish for 5 – 6 minutes or until they are tender yet bitey.
  3. Meanwhile prepare the sauce; in a large shallow pan, melt 2 tbsp of butter over medium heat.  Add the diced onion and sauté until translucent. Add the mustard and flour to the pan and whisk to incorporate the ingredients. Slowly add the milk and then half and half while continually whisking. Whisk until there are no longer any lumps.
  4. Reduce heat and let simmer, stirring occasionally as sauce begins to thicken. Add the goat cheese and then the cheddar jack and mix. Season to desired taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Using the empty pasta pot, combine the cooked pasta and steamed broccoli. Gently fold in the cheese sauce.
  6. Transfer mixture to a greased 9×13 casserole dish. Preheat oven to 350.
  7. In a small saucepan melt the remaining 3 tbsp of butter over medium – low heat and add the breadcrumbs. Stir to coat the breadcrumbs and allow them to cook long enough to start to brown.
  8. Top the casserole with a sprinkle of cheddar jack cheese, the toasted breadcrumbs and the crumbled bacon. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and broil for an additional 3 minutes.

Slow Cooker Jambalaya

‘Tis the season for Jambalaya with it being Lent and all! Searched far and wide for a slow cooker version to make my life easier and found a great one by Robin Miller. I tweaked it a bit to meet my tastes and needs and voila! Enjoy!!

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb boneless chicken tenders, cubed
  • 1 lb large frozen shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 lb andouille sausage, chunked
  • 1 large can crushed tomatoes (fire roasted, preferred)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 large bunch Lacinto kale, shredded
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp canjun seasoning
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 small bunch fresh thyme
  • 2 cups cooked rice

Directions:

  1. Lightly grease your slow cooker with cooking spray.
  2. Combine the chicken, shrimp, sausage, tomatoes, onion, pepper, kale, celery, stock and spices in the slow cooker.
  3. Cook on High for 3 1/2 – 4 hours (stirring occasionally) until meat is tender and kale is wilted.
  4. Discard bay leaves and thyme stalks.
  5. Ladle jambalaya over cooked rice.

Comments:

I added kale just because I wanted my jambalaya to be more green, lol! Keep in mind, this weekend is St.Patrick’s Day!! I also nixed the hot sauce that the original recipe called for, but of course you can add it in if you want your jambalaya to have a kick. Lastly, I don’t mind shrimp tails in my soup but some people do, so you can swap out the frozen shrimp for precooked (tails removed) and add them in 30 minutes before you’re ready to serve. You could also repurpose left over shrimp cocktail in the same manner.

 

You are My Everything, Muffins

Y’all know by now I don’t bake from scratch (we can discuss why not, another day…) and today was no exception! While running on my treadmill this morning, I was conjuring up what I wanted to eat for breakfast afterwards, and for some reason muffins came to mind?! For these Everything Muffins I used my go-to baking mix by Kodiak Cakes; Cinnamon Oat Flapjack and Waffle mix. I love Kodiak Cakes brand because of the added protein and whole grain ingredients. I used the muffin recipe from on the box and to it added a bunch of yummy treats to meet my cravings. I think you’ll agree, there’s a little bit of “everything” going on here! Enjoy!!

Ingredients: Makes 12 muffins

  • 2 cups Cinnamon Oat baking mix
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 stick butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup craisins
  • 1/4 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • handful of shredded carrot
  • unsweetened coconut flake as topping

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a 12-muffin tin with papers or grease generously with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl mix the first six ingredients together, baking mix – bananas.
  3. Fold in the rest of the ingredients except the coconut.
  4. Divide the batter evenly among the 12 wells. Top each with a sprinkle of unsweetened coconut flake.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. If coconut topping starts to get too toasty, drape a piece of tinfoil over the top.
  6. Let cool before removing/serving and enjoy!

Comments:

These are best kept in the refrigerator! They can be microwaved for 20-30 seconds to take the chill off or popped in the toaster before serving.

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You are my everything, muffins!

 

Zesty Lemon Chia Pudding

Whether this is a breakfast indulgence or a sweet treat after a savory supper… these overnight chia pudding jars are guaranteed to wow the lemon-lover in your life!

Ingredients: Makes enough to fill 4, 8 oz mason jars

  • 1 1/4 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (I use 0% fat)
  • 5 tbsp chia seeds
  • 4 tbsp real maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • zest and juice from one large lemon
  • chopped nuts (walnuts or sliced almonds work well)
  • unsweetened coconut flakes

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together all the ingredients except the nuts and coconut.
  2. Divide mixture evenly among your mason jars. Seal and let sit overnight in the fridge.
  3. Top with a sprinkling of chopped nuts and coconut flakes before serving. Enjoy!!IMG_9101

Comments:

This is lemon lovers dream come true! My husband describes it as tasting like guiltless Lemon Meringue Pie! You can adjust the intensity of the lemon flavor by increasing or decreasing the amount of zest/juice you add. Take note, the pudding isn’t super sweet; you could also increase sweetness if desired by adding more syrup. Lastly, you could prepare/serve this in any kind of dish if you don’t have access to jars; stemless wine glasses would work or even a simple bowl. Enjoy!!

*Adapted from wholefoodbellies.com

Cold Noodle Salad Jars

So here it is… the recipe 86% of my Instagram Story followers asked me to post, lol! Love these salad jars because they make lunch quick and easy all week long; just grab and go! If you like the peanutty flavor combo of Chinese restaurant Cold Noodle, you’ll love this salad jar version with added fresh veggies and seasoned ground chicken. Enjoy!!

Ingredients: Makes 5, 10 oz salad jars

  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 4 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 4 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 9 oz cooked rice noodles
  • 2 cups shredded broccoli slaw mix
  • 1 cup zoodles (from 1 medium zucchini)
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • shelled, unsalted roasted peanuts for garnish
  • fresh cilantro for garnish
  • Trader Joe’s EBTB Sesame seasoning for garnish

Directions:

  1. Brown the ground chicken in a skillet over medium heat. Halfway through cooking, add the garlic, ginger and oyster sauce. Season with salt and pepper, set aside and let cool completely.
  2. Meanwhile, make the dressing by whisking together the next 7 ingredients (peanut butter through sugar). Prepare the noodles according to package directions, drain and rinse. Toss warm noodles with 3 – 4 tbsp of dressing and set aside to cool.
  3. To assemble the salad jars evenly divide and layer the remaining ingredients in the following order: chicken, broccoli slaw, carrots, zoodles, red pepper, rice noodles. Add a tablespoon of dressing in between the chicken and slaw layer and the red pepper and noodle layer. Top with a sprinkle of roasted peanuts, fresh cilantro and EBTB seasoning if desired. Seal and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
  4. Serve by gently shaking the jar and then pouring contents onto a plate or into a bowl. Or… simply eat right outta the jar!

Comments:

You can use whatever vegetables you like in this salad, the sky’s the limit really. I simply grabbed what I had on hand which included broccoli slaw, shredded carrot, a lone zucchini and a half of a left over red pepper. I like the broccoli slaw over cabbage slaw because it doesn’t get soggy that easily. You will also end up with some extra dressing; save it and dip apple slices as a snack!

 

 

Fully Loaded Double Dark Chocolate Muffins

I have to share this recipe because these muffins are amazing! I am not known for scratch baking and this is no exception; as a base I used Kodiak Cakes brand Double Dark Chocolate flap jack/waffle mix. I get it at my local food store and have also found it at Target. The mix alone is protein fortified and made with whole grains. I follow the muffin recipe on the box and then add some other stuff to kick it up a notch! These fully loaded muffins are great morning, noon and night; as a start to your day, an afternoon pick me up or as a semi-sweet and healthy finish! And the best part is… they’re good for you! Enjoy!!

Ingredients: Makes 12 muffins

  • 2 cups Kodiak Cakes Double Dark chocolate mix
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate mini chips
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 tbsp ground flax seed

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a 12 count muffin tin with papers or grease generously with cooking spray.
  2. Combine the baking mix, brown sugar, bananas, milk, butter and egg. Mix well using a whisk or wooden spoon.
  3. Fold in the chips, nuts, coconut and seeds.
  4. Divide the batter evenly among the lined muffin tin.
  5. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  6. After they cool, store in an air tight container for up to 5 days (if they last that long)!

Pastrami Spiced Salmon

I recently served this dish at a baby shower brunch that I catered and it got rave reviews and several recipe requests! I can’t take credit for the original recipe, however I did make a few tweaks to make it my own. It’s best prepared the day before and served at room temperature*. The fennel and dill sauce is a must! Enjoy!!

Ingredients: Easily feeds 10 – 12 people

  • 3 – 4 lb salmon filet, skinned and pin bones removed
  • 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp coriander
  • 2 tbsp + 2tsp ground fennel
  • 1/2 tbsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3 tbsp prepared horseradish
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped

Directions:

  1. BRINE THE SALMON: Mix together the soy sauce, sugar and kosher salt. Combine it with the salmon in a large ziplock bag or shallow dish, making sure the filet is coated evenly. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes but no more than 3 hrs.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the RUB by combining the paprika, coriander, 2 tbsp of fennel and pepper in a small bowl.
  3. Remove salmon from the brine, rinse and pat dry. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Place salmon on the paper and carefully rub mixture into both sides. Bake for 20 – 30 minutes depending on the thickness of the filet.
  5. While the salmon bakes, make the GLAZE by mixing together the molasses, cayenne and bay leaves. Bring to a boil then allow mixture to cool slightly.
  6. When salmon is done cooking, remove from oven and glaze. Not all of the glaze may be used. Let salmon cool and then cover and refrigerate until ready to serve, allowing sufficient time for the filet to come to room temperature first (3 – 4 hrs)*.
  7. To make the SAUCE mix together the sour cream, horseradish, 2 tsp fennel and dill in a small bowl.

Original recipe courtesy of Paula’s Pantry

Serving:

To display and serve the salmon, I use kitchen shears to trim around the parchment paper and then transfer the filet (with parchment underneath to prevent it from falling apart) to a serving dish. You can try and cut the salmon into thin slices but in my experience, it tends to flake apart. I use a small spatula when serving and break off “slices” and serve it with a dollop of sauce on some kind of small toasted piece of bread.

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Great for a Brunch!