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.

Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes

Kill two birds with one stone when you feed your peeps this delicious cheesesteak sammie that tastes like it’s straight outta Phillie but looks more like a Sloppy Joe! The best part is that your slow cooker does all the work so you don’t have to; and I made it even easier for myself by using frozen, diced green pepper and onion! You can prep this dish before work in under 15 minutes, turn it on Low and Slow and come home to a tasty, toasty, beefy, cheesy (you get the idea) meal that the whole family will devour! Enjoy!!

Ingredients: Makes 6 – 8 sammies

  • cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
  • 1/2 cup diced green pepper
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup diced mushrooms
  • 3/4 cup beef stock
  • 3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 1/2 tbsp corn starch
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, plus extra
  • 8 round sandwich style buns, toasted

Directions:

  1. Brown ground beef in a skillet on your stovetop.
  2. Spray your slow cooker with cooking spray. Transfer meat over using a slotted spoon to drain the fat.
  3. Add the diced green pepper, onions and mushrooms. Pour in the beef stock, Worcestershire and ketchup and fold to combine. Add the corn starch and seasonings and mix well.
  4. Cook on HIGH for 3 hours or LOW for 5 – 6 hours. Mix in the cheese just prior to serving. Divide cheesesteak mixture evenly among the bun bottoms. Sprinkle with additional cheese if desired!

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*Recipe adapted from slowcookergourmet.com

Slow Cooker Asian Style Short Ribs

This is delicious twist on traditional slow cooker short ribs! The medley of mushrooms and the sweet and spicy flavor of the sauce, pair perfectly with these fall-off-the-bone short ribs. Serve it up over egg noodles with a side Napa Cabbage Slaw and you’ve got the makings of a unique and tasty Sunday Supper!

Ingredients: Feeds 4 – 6

  • 10 – 12, bone -in beef short ribs, trimmed (approx. 4 lbs)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 2 tbsp canola oil (plus extra if needed)
  • cooking spray
  • 3 cups fresh, sliced, assorted mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic, divided
  • 2 tbsp minced ginger, divided
  • 1 cup low sodium beef stock
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp red pepper flake

Directions:

  1. Rinse and pat the ribs dry. In a heavy bottom skillet or dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Season ribs with salt and pepper and brown on all sides in small batches, adding oil to the skillet if needed.
  2. Transfer browned ribs to a lightly sprayed 6-qt slow cooker.
  3. Meanwhile, add mushrooms and half the minced garlic and ginger to the skillet and sauté until they begin to soften.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the rest of the ingredients including the remaining garlic and ginger, the stock, brown sugar, vinegar, soy sauce and red pepper flake.
  5. Cover ribs with mushroom mixture and pour sauce over top.
  6. Cook on LOW for 6 – 8 hours, until meat falls off the bone.
  7. Place rib meat on a serving platter. Use a slotted spoon to remove mushrooms and garnish the meat with them. Skim fat from the cooking liquid and drizzle sauce over the platter.

*Original recipe adapted from Cooking Light, Asian Short Ribs

 

Tiny Turkey Meatloaves with Roasted Vegetables

I’ve been doing some meal planning/catering which has me prepping a breakfast, a lunch and 2 – 4 dinners per week for a local family. Needless to say, I am spending a lot of time in my kitchen cooking! In an effort to streamline the process and make it not only tasty but also cost effective, I have begun to double everything I make for my client’s family and use half of it to feed my own. In addition, I am not only seeking out healthy and unique recipes, but also ones that feed a crowd and aren’t too time consuming. I came across this recipe in Cooking Light and tweaked it just a bit to suit my needs. I think you’ll agree, it’s super simple yet truly tasty! Check it out!!

Ingredients: Feeds 4

  • 1 1/3 lb lean ground turkey
  • 1/3 cup quick oats
  • 6 tbsp ketchup, divided
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 lb green beans, trimmed
  • 4 large carrots peeled and quartered
  • 6 small Yukon Gold potatoes, quartered
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • cooking spray

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the first seven ingredients including 3 tbsp of the ketchup and set aside. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl mix Worcestershire sauce and remaining ketchup.
  3. In another large bowl, combine the green beans, carrots and potatoes. Drizzle with olive oil, garlic powder and pepper. Toss to coat.
  4. Lightly spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Divide turkey mixture into 4 equal portions. Using your hands shape each into a small loaf and place them equidistant on the baking sheet. Brush each with the Worcestershire-ketchup sauce.
  5. Scatter the vegetables around the loaves and bake everything for 25 – 30 minutes, turning the veggies half way through cooking time.

 

Summer Squash Quiche

Left with a yellow squash, a zucchini and a pre-made pie crust… a quiche is born!

Ingredients: Serves 8

  • 1 pre-mde pie crust
  • 1 large yellow squash, sliced thin (approx. 1/8″ thick)
  • 1 large zucchini, sliced thin (same as above)
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan, plus extra
  • 1/2 tsp fresh black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Use a mandolin to slice both the squash and zucchini and set a side.
  3. In a medium size bowl, whisk together the eggs and the milk. Add the parmesan, pepper and salt and gently whisk to combine.
  4. Unroll pie crust and cover the bottom and sides of a round 9.5″ glass pie dish. Pierce the bottom of the crust a few times with a fork.
  5. Place the squash and zucchini in alternating layers on top of the crust. For example, I did a layer of overlapping zucchini, followed by a layer of overlapping squash. I was able to repeat the layers one more time for a total of four layers.
  6. Slowly pour the egg and cheese mixture over the layered vegetables and allow it to sink in.
  7. Sprinkle top with a few tbsp of additional parmesan if desired.IMG_4989
  8. Bake 60 – 70 minutes. Quiche is cooked when crust is browned and eggs are firm.
  9. Let cool at least 30 minutes. Serve warm, room temp or chilled… it’s delicious any which way!IMG_4994

Suggestions:

  • Alternate your layers by including both squash and zucchini in each for a more colorful presentation!
  • Cook time is finicky! It depends not only on your oven but the water content of the vegetables. The fresher they are, the more water they will contain and the longer the bake time will be!

Bucatini Carbonara with Peas

I love to eat but truth be told, I love to feed people just as much! Tonight we hosted my neighbor and her three small kids for supper. Her husband has been away all week traveling for business and I figured she could use a night “out”! I made two pasta dishes; one for the kids and one for the adults and poured her a much needed glass of wine! My older kids helped entertain her younger ones and when it was all said and done, everyone was “fat and happy” as I like to say!  Why am I telling you this? Because I want to show that hosting and sharing a meal with people doesn’t have to be super fancy or stress you out, especially if it’s rather spontaneous!  Make it simple, keep it low key, set a few extra seats at the table and dig in!  It’s truly the thought that counts!! 

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz pancetta, diced
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 12 oz bucatini (I use Barilla)
  • 3 eggs, yolks separated
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated plus additional as garnish
  • salt
  • fresh black pepper
  • red pepper flakes

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the pancetta and peas. In a skillet, start browning the pancetta over medium heat.  As it cooks down and the fat renders, add the diced onion and continue to cook, stirring often and scraping the bottom of the skillet.  Once pancetta is nearly cooked and the onion is soft and starting to caramelize, add the garlic and the frozen peas.  Continue to cook another 2 – 3 minutes allowing peas to defrost and warm. Remove from the heat and set entire pan aside.
  3. Once the water boils, cook and drain the bucatini, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Return pasta to the pot and add the egg yolks, tossing to cook the egg and coat the pasta. Stir in the pancetta and peas mixture.  If dry, add small amounts of pasta water to loosen the sauce.  Add the grated parmesan and salt and pepper (to taste).
  4. Serve immediately, garnish with additional parmesan and red pepper flake if desired.

Suggestions:

This dish could be made with any of your favorite pastas or pasta substitutes like zoodles or spaghetti squash “noodles”!

*Adapted from Sun Basket, Bucatini and Pancetta Carbonara

 

Stuffed Turkey Meatballs with Mushroom Marinara

First off, thank you to all the incredible chefs and home cooks out there! I can’t tell you how many times a simple scroll through my Instagram motivates me to try a new recipe or to re-create a special dish.  Tonight’s meal is the result of such inspiration!  I recently saw a gorgeous food pic featuring chicken parmesan meatballs… I even screen shotted it, it looked so yummy!  I followed up by looking up the recipe and buying the necessary ingredients.  When I set out to make the meal from the picture, I decided to put my own spin on it to see if I too, could make a picture perfect dish! In actuality, I didn’t need the recipe I was so inspired; instead I followed my instincts and what resulted, I am hoping you’ll agree, is not only worthy of a photo, but simply delicious!

Ingredients: Feeds 4

  • 1 1/3 lbs ground turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus additional for topping
  • 1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 tsp minced garlic, divided
  • 1/4 tsp Italian seasoning, plus extra
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper, plus extra
  • salt
  • red pepper flake
  • 3 – 4 string cheese sticks, each cut into fourths
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped white mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup red wine (I prefer Chianti)
  • 1 cup jarred marinara sauce
  • 1, 15 oz can diced tomatoes (I use low sodium/fire roasted)
  • 1 tbsp chopped (or torn) fresh basil, plus additional as garnish
  • 1 tsp honey
  • chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Combine the turkey, egg, cheese, breadcrumbs, 1 tsp garlic and measured spices, along with a pinch of salt and red pepper flake.  Mix well.
  3. Using an ice cream scoop or a large spoon, scoop out enough of the meat mixture to fit in the palm of your hand once flattened to about 1/2 in thickness.  Place a string cheese chunk in the center of the meat.  Fold over the edges of the meat around the cheese trapping it in the center.  Roll the meat between two hands to form a ball and then place it on a lightly greased cooking sheet.  Repeat until meat mixture is used up.  You should be able to make 12 – 16 meatballs.
  4. Bake for 8 minutes, turning once.
  5. Meanwhile, in a enamel coated cast iron skillet, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat.  Add the chopped onion and sauté for a few minutes until glistening.  Add the mushrooms and the remaining minced garlic and continue to cook over medium heat until mushrooms begin to soften.  Add a dash of salt and pepper as well as a sprinkle of Italian seasoning and red pepper flake.  De-glaze the pan with the red wine and allow to cook down until most of the wine has evaporated.  Add the prepared sauce as well as the can of diced tomatoes and the chopped basil.  Add a tsp of honey, stir, taste and season as desired with additional salt and pepper.  Reduce heat to low and simmer while meatballs cook.
  6. When the meatballs are done, add them to your sauce and allow it to continue to simmer for 15 – 20 more minutes, covered.
  7. Serve the meatballs with a generous ladle of sauce over pasta or seasoned zoodles.
  8. Garnish dish with additional parmesan, chopped parsley and/or chopped basil and Enjoy!!!

Suggestions:

You could sub ground beef or chicken for turkey when making the meatballs.  Instead of string cheese, try using a small mozzarella pearl!