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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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—Low Cal Cincinnati Chili

 

It’s the dreaded time of year where I make an effort to eat healthier with the hopes I can fit into the same shorts I was wearing last year. Don’t get me wrong, I love spring and summer, it is just such a disappointment when you go to put on your super cute shorts and they just don’t quite fit like they did the last summer. Blah.

This year I am determined to get better at cooking healthier meals that I, as well as my family, want to eat. I find that I frequently get into salad ruts. I am trying to get it out of my head that you can eat more than salads and still eat healthy and satisfying meals. So one thing I have been doing is substituting lean ground turkey and chicken for beef in more recipes. I made this Cincinnati chili with ground turkey and it turned out amazing. My husband and son didn’t even know it wasn’t beef. Point for mom!

The meat is cooked in so many spices that no one would know it wasn’t beef unless you told them. I love that this recipe is super flavorful and also satisfying and that it makes the whole kitchen smell amazing! Plus the leftovers for the next two days made awesome lunches at less than 450 calories a pop. #winning

Note: I am not from Cincinnati, nor have I ever had authentic Cincinnati chili. I know there are individuals who are very particular about their Cincinnati chili and how it is prepared. I am not claiming this as “authentic” Cincinnati chili, I am just claiming this to be a damn good recipe.

INGREDIENTS

2 tsp olive oil
1 lb ground turkey
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped (divided)
15 oz can diced tomatoes
15 oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 c water
spaghetti noodles
cheddar cheese, shredded

STEPS

  • In a large pot heat olive oil over medium-high heat.
  • Place the ground turkey in the pot and cook for about 8–10 minutes making sure to break up the chunks with a spatula.
  • Add in most of the chopped onion and cook for 3–4 minutes. (Note: Save a couple tablespoons of the onion for garnish.)
  • Once the onion has had a chance to cook add in the tomatoes, beans, Worcestershire sauce, red wine vinegar, chili powder, unsweetened cocoa powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and water.
  • Bring the liquid to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer.
  • Partially cover the pot and simmer for 45 minutes making sure to stir occasionally.
  • Add water as needed to keep the mixture “saucy.”
  • Serve the sauce over cooked noodles and garnish with shredded cheddar and some chopped onions.
Dinners

Recipe—Creamy Jalapeño Shrimp Over Linguine

Ever since my friend prepared me jalapeño mac n’ cheese (which was absolutely phenomenal by the way, and I hope to have that recipe very soon, *wink wink* Nicole. 😉 I have been craving jalapeños and pasta with some sort of creamy sauce. Then low and behold I stumbled upon a recipe on another blog for shrimp in jalapeño cream sauce. That blogger made her recipe and served it over rice but I knew I wanted to put my own twist on it and go with a pasta. All I have to say is AWE-SOME! Think of this as a decadent jalapeño popper but as a main course. It wasn’t over the top spicy but it just had the perfect little bite to it. And you know what else I loved about this recipe? It took barely 20 minutes from start to finish! It was exactly what I needed after my insanely busy day. Even if you are sitting there all sketpical about this recipe, open your mind and give it a try. It may sound weird but oh heavens, it is delicious!

INGREDIENTS
1 lb shrimp, deveined and peeled
salt and pepper
4 tbsp butter, divided
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/2 c white wine
1 c heavy whipping cream
6 canned jalapeño slices, chopped
1 tbsp pickling juice from jar of jalapeños
1/4 c sour cream
linguine, cooked per package instructions

STEPS

  • Season shrimp with salt and pepper.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of the butter a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Melt the butter until it turns a light brown making sure not to burn it.
  • Add the shrimp to the pan and sauté for 5 minutes until the shrimp are firm and pink.
  • Transfer the cooked shrimp to a bowl and cover with foil to keep warm.
  • Add the remaining two tablespoons of butter to the skillet and melt.
  • Place the sliced onions in the skillet and cook over medium high heat until tender, about 4 minutes.
  • Add the wine and bring to a boil.
  • Cook down the wine for about 4 minutes.
  • Add the cream and chopped jalapeños and bring to a simmer.
  • Reduce heat to medium low and simmer uncovered for about 5 minutes or until reduced by one-third.
  • Stir in the pickling juice and sour cream until well combined.
  • Season sauce with salt and pepper and add the shrimp back to the pan.
  • Allow shrimp to heat through, about 3–4 minutes.
  • Serve over cooked linguine.
Dinners

Recipe—Quick and Easy Swedish Meatballs

I am a huge fan of Swedish meatballs but so many of the recipes out there call for unique ingredients that I don’t typically have on hand, like lingonberries. I was craving some Swedish meatballs and decided to whip up this super easy version using things I did have on hand. This recipe took less than 15 minutes to make, cost less than $10, and was a hit with the whole fam damily. (And that my friends, is the perfect recipe for a happy mom.) This is the ultimate in classic comfort food.  Hearty, simple, and delicious! 

INGREDIENTS
2 tbsp butter
1 lb frozen beef meatballs
salt and pepper
1 tbsp flour
1 1/2 c beef broth
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 c heavy cream
1/4 c fresh parsley, chopped

STEPS

  • Melt the butter over medium-high heat in a large non-stick skillet.
  • Add the meatballs to the butter and season with salt and pepper.
  • Pan-fry the meatballs until they are a nice brown color all over making sure to move them around frequently.
  • When the meatballs are thoroughly cooked, sprinkle them with the flour, stirring to coat.
  • Add the beef broth and bring to a boil.
  • Add the Dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce mixing well.
  • Slowly pour in the heavy cream and stir to combine.
  • Allow to come to a boil and then reduce heat to low and allow to simmer until the sauce is the desired consistency.
  • Taste the sauce and season as desired.
  • Serve the meatballs over cooked egg noodles, top with additional sauce, and sprinkle with the chopped parsley.
Dinners, Soups

Recipe—Tuscan Tortellini Soup

I saw this recipe a couple of months back for a ravioli soup and knew I had to try it. Well I am never one to really “follow” a recipe so I mixed things up and created a tortellini soup. Tortellini are far less doughy so you have these fabulously light cheese filled pillows floating around in a rich creamy tomato soup and then of course some big hearty chunks of sausage in the mix as well. This soup was phenomenal! My four-year-old son gobbled it up and he is usually kind of weird about soups (I think it is a texture thing). This recipe made a massive pot, which allowed us to have a full dinner and then also freeze a bunch for future meals. Tuscan tortellini soup is perfect for a chilly winter day and is so quick and easy to prepare. I could go for a big bowl of it right now!

INGREDIENTS
2 lb ground Italian sausage
4 tbsp butter
1/2 onion, finely diced
1 tbsp garlic, minced
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
28 oz can petite diced tomatoes
4 c chicken broth
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
4 c half & half
1 c heavy cream
6 oz bag baby spinach leaves, chopped
18–20 oz fresh four cheese tortellini (I got two 9 oz packages.)
1 c parmesan cheese, shredded
croutons

STEPS

  • Brown the sausage over medium-high heat in a VERY large soup pot.
  • Once the meat is about halfway cooked add the butter, onion, and garlic and cook until the union is soft and transparent.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, chicken stock, and chopped spinach.
  • Bring to a boil and add salt and garlic powder.
  • Boil for 10 minutes making sure to stir frequently.
  • While the soup is boiling cook your tortellini in a separate pot per package instructions and drain.
  • Add the half & half and heavy cream to the pot and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Stir in the parmesan and cooked tortellini until the cheese is melted.
  • Transfer the soup to a bowl using a ladle.
  • Top with croutons and additional parmesan cheese.

Recipe adapted from Kleinworth & Co.

Dinners

Recipe—Swiss Chard and Chicken Pasta

Sometimes when I want pasta I want a dish that isn’t smothered in sauce, something more refined. This rustic pasta dish is it. You have some nice hearty chunks of chicken, bits of salty prosciutto, a mild creaminess from the ricotta, and of course some healthy greens mixed in, and it’s all finished off with a nice crispy topping. It really is a perfect balance. There is just something about hot baked pasta coming straight out of the oven and onto the plate that warms my belly and makes me happy. I just put the entire baking dish down on the table and let my family serve themselves. Unfortunately, we lack self-control and could not stop eating it! It was just so good!

Note: In case this is one of your first times cooking with chard be sure to wash it thoroughly and then pull the leaves off the thick stalks. They can be tough and bitter so you just want to eat the leafy green part.

INGREDIENTS
1/2 lb (8 oz) penne pasta
olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 tsp garlic, minced
4 oz prosciutto (chopped pieces for cooking)
1 bunch Swiss chard, chopped
salt and pepper
1/2 c white wine
1 1/2 c ricotta cheese
1 rotisserie chicken, meat removed and shredded
2 tbsp butter
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 c panko crumbs

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Fill a large pot with water and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil.
  • Add the pasta and cook until al dente per the package instructions. When the pasta is done drain will and toss with a generous amount of olive oil (enough so that all the noodles have a nice coating but aren’t swimming in it). Set aside until you are done with the rest of the filling.
  • While the pasta is cooking heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large wok or pot over medium-high heat.
  • Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes or until translucent.
  • Add in the garlic and prosciutto and cook for an additional minute.
  • Add the Swiss chard to the pot and season with salt and pepper.
  • Cook the chard for 8­10 minutes stirring occasionally until the greens are wilted and tender.
  • Stir in the wine and ricotta until well combined and then mix in the chicken and cooked penne.
  • Transfer your pasta to a medium sized baking dish.
  • Melt the butter in a small bowl.
  • Add in the Parmesan and panko and stir until well mixed.
  • Sprinkle the panko mixture over the top of the pasta,
  • Bake for 20–25 minutes or until the top just starts to turn a golden brown.