Dinners, Side Dishes

Recipe—Jalapeño Popper Mac N’ Cheese

Jalapeño Popper Mac N’ Cheese

My name is Rebecca and I am a cheesy jalapeñoholic. I will literally devour anything with cheese and jalapeños. I HAVE NO SELF CONTROL!

If it has popper in the name, I am game. Mac n’ Cheese with a crispy top is involved. No holding me back. I will literally fall off of any diet wagon for some good mac n’ cheese. That is a universal thing, right? Like, that goes for everyone?

Come on, you start with a creamy white sauce base, add in gobs of pepper jack cheese until it is thick, and creamy, and cheesy, and then add in cooked pasta. It could be perfect as is, but no. It gets better. You add a buttery panko topping that once crisp will replicate that of the exterior of deep-fried jalapeño popper. And then the sliced jalapeños on the top is literally the icing on the cake. SO. DAMN. GOOD!

This recipe goes fantastic with any sort of grilled meat but is totally sufficient as a standalone dish. What says comfort food more than a big ol’ bowl of spiced up mac n’ cheese? Nothing. Absolutely nothing people.

Note: If you do not have an oven safe skillet you can make this in whatever large skillet you have, and then transfer the noodles and cheese sauce to a baking dish before topping with the panko and sliced peppers. 

MACARONI INGREDIENTS
8 oz macaroni pasta, uncooked
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
3 c milk
3 c pepperjack cheese, crated
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp crushed red peppers

TOPPING INGREDIENTS
3 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 c panko
1/4 c jalapeño slices

STEPS

  • Preheat the oven to 400º.
  • Cook the pasta per the package instructions.
  • Drain and allow to sit.
  • Melt the butter in a large oven safe skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Whisk in the flour and cook it for about a minute while stirring continuously until it starts to lightly brown and is well combined.
  • Gradually whisk in the milk, about 1/2 cup at a time, making sure it is nice and creamy and starts to thicken after each addition. Continue this until the milk is finished.
  • Bring the mixture to a simmer and then reduce heat to low.
  • Whisk in the cheese, salt, pepper, and crushed red peppers and stir until it is all melted and creamy.
  • Add in the cooked pasta making sure all the noodles are evenly coated and remove skillet from heat.
  • Now for the topping!
  • In a small bowl mix together the melted butter and panko.
  • Evenly distribute the topping over the mac n’ cheese.
  • Top with sliced jalapeños.
  • Bake for 8–10 minutes or until the panko starts to turn a nice golden brown and the sauce is simmering around the edges.
  • Allow to rest for about 5 minutes.
  • Serve and enjoy!
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Brunch, Sweet Treats

Recipe—Fruit Pizza

Fruit Pizza

Easter is just around the corner! (Does that stress anyone else out? LOL) I am someone who typically has my Easter menu planned weeks in advance but if you follow me on Instagram you may have seen that last week I was gone at a conference and between that and my sons’ baseball season being in full swing, I have just been too darn busy to pull it together. So guess what I am working on today? My Easter menu!

I made this fruit pizza for Easter brunch last year and it was a total hit! It was so easy and the kids loved it! Plus, it was delicious and looked beautiful and “springy” with all the bright colors. I am thinking this one may have to make it into the rotation again this year. You basically bake a huge sugar cookie, frost it, add some fruit, and throw a glaze down over the top. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

What are some of your go to Easter menu items? Comment below and give me some inspiration!

Notes: You can use any fruit you want. For mine I went with kiwis, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and a can of mandarin slices. Got almost all the colors of the rainbow in there! Also, this recipe will hold up for a few days in the fridge so don’t hesitate to make it a day in advance. 

INGREDIENTS
16.5 oz package refrigerated sugar cookie dough
8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1/4 c sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
assorted fruit, washed, chopped, and dried off
1/4 c apricot preserves (large chunks of fruit removed)

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 375º.
  • Line a 12” round pizza pan with parchment paper or cover with cooking spray. (If you don’t own a 12” pizza pan they sell disposable foil ones at the store that are great, or you can always just use a regular baking sheet and shape the dough into a large circle. I just find the pizza pan helps maintain a perfect circle.)
  • Crumble the cookie dough over the lined pizza pan and press the  dough down in an even layer to completely cover the bottom of the pan.
  • Bake for 12–13 minutes.
  • Remove the cookie from oven and allow to cool completely.
  • In a  mixing bowl, beat together cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until nice and fluffy.
  • Spread the cream cheese frosting evenly over the cookie crust.
  • Top the frosted cookie with fruit. You can place it randomly or in a fun circular pattern. (Kids will have fun with this part!)
  • In a small bowl whisk together the apricot preserves with one tablespoon of water.
  • Brush the apricot mixture over the entire dish.
    Refrigerate for 2 hours.
  • Serve and enjoy!
Dinners

Recipe—Rustic One Pot Veggie Pasta

Are you noticing a trend with all my new recipes? I think quick and easy has become my thing. As you may recall reading on my post, “The Diva is Back,” my blog fell to the wayside for a couple of years because life was just too crazy. Juggling work, youth sports, and well… just life, I have been all about quick, yet quality, meals. Don’t get me wrong, I still love spending time in the kitchen cooking for hours but 5 days a week I find myself short on time and energy at the end of the day.

This recipe is great for so many reasons. It only takes about 20 minutes from start to finish and you end up with a veggie packed delicious dinner. This isn’t one of those “one pot” recipes where you cook something in a pot, transfer it to a plate, cook something else, transfer it back to the pot, you catch my drift. You literally throw almost all the ingredients into one pot and cook it all together. So to recap, you eat a delicious dinner and then have almost no dishes to wash. Win win! Now you can spend that extra time cozied up on the couch with a glass of wine (or beer) and unwinding from your crazy day.

INGREDIENTS
1 lb spaghetti noodles
2 c white mushrooms, sliced
2 zucchini, thinly sliced and halved
2/3 c frozen peas
2 tbsp garlic, minced
2 sprigs fresh thyme
salt & pepper
1/2 c grated parmesan
1/2 c heavy cream

STEPS

  • In a large pot combine noodles, mushrooms, zucchini, peas, garlic, thyme, and 4 1/2 cups of water.
  • Season the water with salt and pepper.
  • Set the stove to high heat and bring the water to a boil.
  • Once boiling reduce the heat to medium high and simmer uncovered until the pasta is cooked through, about 9–11 minutes, making sure to stir every couple of minutes.
  • Once the pasta is cooked, remove the sprigs of thyme.
  • Stir in the parmesan and heavy creamy until well combined and the cheese melted.
  • Serve immediately topped with some extra parmesan.

 

Recipe adapted from Damn Delicious. 

Dinners

Recipe—Quick and Easy Korean Beef

I recently got my first ever taste of Korean beef when it came served over a heaping pile of fries with sweet and creamy coleslaw. Sounds amazing, right?!?! It was, I promise.

I absolutely loved the sweet flavors of brown sugar, ginger, garlic, sesame, and just a little bit of heat simmered through the meat. I instantly went to Pinterest looking for some more Korean beef recipes and found this one. It. Was. Ah-MAZING! It checked all the boxes. Yummy? Check. Quick? (Uh yeah! It took 15 minutes.) Check. Budget friendly? Check. It’s a recipe every busy parent dreams about!

I have made it a few times now and it has never disappointed.

Note: If you are looking to add some veggies, it pairs great with some steamed broccoli.

INGREDIENTS
1 lb ground beef
1/2 c brown sugar
1/4 c soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
salt and pepper
2 green onions, chopped
cooked rice

STEPS

  • Cook the ground beef over medium high heat breaking it apart as it cooks.
  • Once the beef is cooked through, drain off most of the fat.
  • Add in the brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, red peppers, salt, and pepper.
  • Simmer over medium heat for a 4–5 minutes stirring occasionally.
  • Serve over a bed of rice and top with chopped green onions.

 

Recipe adapted from Six Sisters’ Stuff. 

Dinners

Recipe—Beef and Broccoli Ramen

I don’t know why I am so late to the game but I recently discovered a love of ramen. Not just the generic pack of dry noodles, but meat and veggie packed delicious ramen. It’s like Top Ramen on flavor packed steroids. I have a couple different recipes that I have been trying out but this one is the most recent one I have come to enjoy. It takes a bit of time to prep in the morning, but then it comes together in about 15 minutes when you get around to cooking it all up. Perfect for all those with busy lives who want a fast and tasty quality meal. By the way, you won’t believe how amazing the marinade smells. I think my mouth was watering the entire time I was making this recipe. Heck, my mouth is watering just writing about it.

Note: I made this recipe using new york steaks and it yielded a very tender meat. You can certainly use a one-pound flank steak for a more budget friendly recipe. If you are short on time in the morning (I mean who isn’t), you can prepare the marinade and slice the meat the night before keeping them separate and then add them to the ziploc bag in the morning. Just don’t marinade the meat overnight.

MARINADE INGREDIENTS
1/4 c vegetable oil
3 tsp garlic, minced
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 c honey
1/2 c soy sauce
1 tbsp parsley (dried or fresh with both work
2 new york steaks, fat trimmed

OTHER INGREDIENTS
3 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp sesame oil
1/4 c brown sugar
1/2 tsp grated ginger
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 c beef broth
1/4 c worcestershire sauce
3 c broccoli florets, chopped
3 (3 oz) packages ramen noodles
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 c green onions, chopped

MARINADE STEPS

  • Mix together all the marinade ingredients (except the meat) in a small bowl and set aside.
  • Cut the meat against the grain in 1/4-inch-thick strips.
  • Place the meat in a ziploc bag and poor the marinade into the bag.
    Seal up the bag and place in the fridge to marinade for at least 2–8 hours (no more than 12 hours).

COOKING STEPS

  • Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the ramen for 2 minutes.
  • Strain the noodles in a colander and rinse with cold water.
  • Cut off a bottom corner of the bag over the sink and allow all the marinade to drain out.
  • Transfer the meat to a small bowl and toss with the cornstarch.
  • In a large skillet heat two tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat.
  • Add in the meat and sear on both sides until the meat is cooked but still tender, about 2 minutes.
  • Transfer the steak to a plate.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and add the sesame oil, brown sugar, ginger, soy sauce, beef broth, and worcestershire sauce to the skillet and bring to a simmer.
  • Stir and cook uncovered until it thickens, about 5–7 minutes.
  • Add the broccoli to the skillet and cover with a lid cooking it for 3 minutes.
  • Remove the lid and add in the meat and pasta.
  • Toss everything to coat and heat for an additional 1–2 minutes.
  • Transfer to bowls or plates and season with crushed red peppers and green onions.

 

Recipe adapted from Chelsea’s Messy Apron.

Beverages

Recipe—Red Wine Sangria

The big question is, when you take a two-year break from blogging, what do you post? It has to be something amazing, right? Something you are known for by your family and friends.

Is it bad that my mind went right to sangria? LOL What can I say, I have a busy life and this girl loves her wine. One of my favorite things to do on the weekend is have friends over for a relaxing dinner where we can all just sit around and laugh over our crazy lives and yes, wine is almost always involved. Many of my friends have come to know me for my sangria. I make a bomb sangria and it is so easy! So here you have it folks, the Diva’s go to sangria recipe. And guess what, I have one for each season. Here is my summer one if you want to take a peek at that.

Note: I like to let my sangria sit in the fridge for a couple of hours with the fruit. It really allows the sangria to take on some nice flavors from the fruit and allows the fruit to soak up some of the boozy goodness.

INGREDIENTS
750 ml bottle of your favorite red wine
1/2 c brandy
1/2 c orange juice
1/2 c sugar
fresh fruit, sliced (I like oranges, limes, and blackberries)
12 oz can of gingerale or sprite

STEPS

  • In a large pitcher mix together the wine, brandy, orange juice, and sugar until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Add in the majority of your prepared fruit. (Set some aside for a nice garnish).
  • Place in the fridge and allow it to set for a couple of hours. (Or drink it now if you don’t have time. It will still be delicious either way.)
  • Add in the 12 oz can of soda right before serving.
  • Pour over ice and garnish.
  • Drink up!
Appetizers

Recipe—Spicy Black Bean Dip

I might as well take on the title as Queen of Appetizers. It’s just what I do. I personally just love appetizers and finger foods and no party is complete without a nice spread. When it comes to throwing a party a good dip is a must on the appetizer menu. There is no need to spend hours slaving away in the kitchen to come up with something everyone will love. This recipe literally takes five minutes to make and is so easy! You spend more time measuring out the seasonings than anything else. Just toss it all in the blender and voila! You have a delicious bean dip ready to serve!

The flavors in this dip are amazing. It might look sort of blah but then you take one bite and zap, bing, bang! Flavor explosions happening right in your mouth! You have a nice kick from the jalapeños, a little zest from the lime and lots of other great flavors from all the seasonings. The first time I made this I was (no joke) licking it off the rubber spatula. This is great at room temperature, warm, or even right out of the fridge. Talk about diverse! Next time you are throwing or attending a party make this recipe. You will have lots of people asking for the recipe. No need to tell them it took less than five minutes to make. That can be our little secret.

INGREDIENTS
2 large cloves of garlic
1 jalapeño, deseeded, deveined, and chopped
1/2 c fresh cilantro
1 (15 oz) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp black pepper, ground
1 1/2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
water

GARNISHES
cotija cheese, crumbled
a couple of slices of fresh jalapeño

STEPS

  • Place all of the main ingredients except the water into the blender or food processor and blend until well mixed.
  • Add 4 tablespoons of water and continue blending until nice and smooth. If necessary, continue adding water 2 tablespoons at a time until it reaches the desired consistency.
  • Transfer to a bowl and garnish with some crumbled cotija cheese and slices of fresh jalapeños.
  • Enjoy with some tortilla chips now or place in fridge until ready to serve.