Beef Enchilada Mac’n’Cheese

Happy Tuesday! Tuesday is not really that great of a day, if you are in a traditional Mon-Fri workweek. It’s not quite “hump day” and it’s still just the blah beginning of the week and Friday is not in sight yet. Well, maybe that’s just Tuesday in my world…who knows?

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Something that’s NOT blah is this Beef Enchilada Mac’n’Cheese from Shugary Sweets! I get it…it sounds weird. Beef…enchiladas…macaroni and cheese…but really, who doesn’t love those things?? If that’s the case, then why not combine them, amirite? This Shugary Sweets blogger came up with this sheer genius idea to put Mexican into mac’n’cheese. Really, you can make anything into a fusion dish, and this is so simple and yet so amazing, so it totally works.

I made this a REALLY long time ago and don’t remember a lot of specific details, but I do remember it tasted exactly like enchiladas in the form of mac’n’cheese. So there’s that. I did use a different type of pasta because it’s what I had on hand, and I think the pictures would have come out prettier had I used the cute shells that the original blogger did, but if you want really good pictures, then I definitely recommend clicking on the link above.

This is super simple to whip together on an otherwise boring weeknight. By the way, the original blogger says it serves 6…I say it serves 6, only if you’re lucky – you’ll want to gobble this right up!

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Beef Enchilada Mac’n’Cheese

serves 4

Ingredients:
-1lb medium shells, cooked and drained
-2cu heavy cream
-2cu colby jack cheese, shredded
-1 can (10oz) red enchilada sauce
-1lb ground beef, cooked and drained
-1tsp ground cumin
-1tsp kosher salt

Directions:
-In a large pot, heat the cream, enchilada sauce, cumin and salt on medium heat. Whisking often, heat until mixture just begins to bubble.
-Reduce the heat to medium low and add in cheese, then stir until smooth. Mix in the cooked ground beef and the cooked noodles.
-Serve hot.

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Peanut Noodle Pasta Salad

I have been so obsessed with the show Young and Hungry lately. It’s on “real TV” but I only discovered it when it came on Netflix. It is the dumbest, cutest show ever, and I just cannot get enough! I will say, it can get annoying to watch all the purposefully orchestrated mishaps and miscommunications, but that’s why we come back and watch each week, right? Well, for me it is more like binge-watching the entire season in a week. 😉 😉

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In any case, while you are binge-watching whatever your favourite show is, you can prep and/or make this Peanut Noodle Pasta Salad by Tasty! I don’t usually make recipes I find on Facebook, but I saw this one and it looked delicious!! It also looked like the perfect make-ahead dish for work lunches. I used to eat Smart Ones on a regular basis, and while they feel way less processed (and are healthier) than the other frozen meal options, I just get tired of frozen meals, but at the same time, I don’t want to spend a ton of money and time making lunches.

Let’s just say – this dish takes a LOT of prep time. There is SO MUCH CHOPPING involved. I made this on a weekend and kept it in a huge bowl and everyday portioned it out into a small tupperware for lunch. It was actually pretty perfect for me, because my husband hates peppers and is also not a fan of Thai food, so I got to have it all to myself. I will admit, it got a little tiring after eating it 5 days in a row, but it was still tasty and a great meal to share with a large group if you don’t want to have it for lunches.

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Peanut Noodle Pasta Salad

serves 5-6

Ingredients:
-1/2cu creamy peanut butter
-1/4cu soy sauce
-1/4cu rice vinegar
-1tbsp sesame oil
-2tbsp Sriracha
-1/4cu water
-1tbsp minced ginger
-3 cloves minced garlic
-2tbsp brown sugar
-1 Box Whole Grain Linguine (or any pasta will do)
-1cu carrots, finely cut into matchsticks
-2 cucumbers, shaved using vegetable peeler
-1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced into strips
-1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced into strips
-1/2 cup green onion, sliced
-1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
-1/4 cup peanuts, chopped

Directions:
-Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package instructions, then drain and run cooked pasta under cold water to cool.
-Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together peanut butter, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, Sriracha, water, minced ginger, minced garlic, and brown sugar.
-Combine pasta with sliced vegetables, then pour the dressing over the pasta and vegetables and mix well. Cover and chill for at least one hour before serving. -Garnish with chopped cilantro and peanuts.

Avocado Macaroni and Cheese

Let me start by saying my life was completed yesterday. I got to see my favourite musician in the world, Andrew McMahon, in concert (not for the first time) and he played such an amazing mix of old and new music. After the show, I got to meet him, hug him, get my picture taken with him, and have his new CD signed! An even better bonus is that I took the day off work today and am just at home enjoying my free time!

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In almost equally exciting news, I made this uh-mazing avocado macaroni and cheese the other week, by Two Peas and Their Pod. Seriously. Creamy and cheesy pasta plus creamy and smashed avocado…all mixed together? How does it really get any better than that? I was a bit perplexed at first, since it is definitely a little different, but the outcome was so, so, so amazing. There was plenty for leftovers the next day…which I must admit was a bit odd, given that avocado browns over time, however the browned part is still edible, but also it only browned on the very top, so if you prefer, you can scrape off the browned part and then chomp away!

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One of the best parts also was the chopped chunks of avocado that the recipe calls for you to throw in the finished product. Once again I say…SERIOUSLY. Creamy. Cheesy. Smooth. Avocado. Pasta. What else is there in life? Ok ok, a lot of things. But food wise, this basically takes the cake for sure.

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Avocado Macaroni and Cheese

serves 4-6

Ingredients:
-10oz dry elbow macaroni
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-2 avocados, peeled and pitted
-2tbsp fresh lime juice
-1/3cu chopped fresh cilantro
-2tbsp butter
-2tbsp all-purpose flour
-1cu milk
-2cu shredded Pepper Jack cheese
-salt and pepper, to taste
-fresh avocado chunks, for garnish, if desired

Directions:
-Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Salt the water and add in macaroni. Stir and cook until al dente, about 8-10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
-While the pasta is cooking, make the avocado sauce by placing the garlic, avocados, lime juice, cilantro, salt and pepper into a food processor or blender, and process until smooth and creamy. Set aside.
-Make the cheese sauce by placing the butter in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat. When melted, whisk in flour to create a paste, then whisk in milk until smooth. Stir with a wooden spoon until the sauce starts to thicken, then add in Pepper Jack cheese and stir until cheese is melted and sauce is creamy.
-Transfer the macaroni to a large bowl and pour the avocado sauce over the macaroni and stir until well coated. Add the cheese sauce and stir until macaroni is covered and becomes creamy. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve hot and garnish with fresh avocado chunks.

Skillet Baked Ziti

Happy Monday!! I hope that everyone had a restful weekend. Mine was certainly nice! I spent part of the weekend with my niece enjoying free slurpees! And now I have a great and yummy Monday recipe for ya – from Our Best Bites, skillet baked ziti.

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I was a little worried about my fry pan going into the oven, but it still worked well: AKA tasted good, no fires, and no ruined pan. Score!

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So I used regular ground pork (from my brother’s farm!), however you can use the sausage requested, or even ground turkey, beef, or possibly chicken! I also used tomato sauce instead of the tomatoes, since I don’t like the chunks, but to each their own.

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My husband LOVED this ziti. He said it was similar to how his mom and even grandma made it (read: Italians), minus the skillet part. We gobbled up a ton right away but thankfully still had leftovers for each of us. Yum!!

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Skillet Baked Ziti

serves 4-6

Ingredients:
-1lb Italian sausage or Italian turkey sausage (“hot” or “sweet”)
-1 (28oz) can whole peeled tomatoes
-1tbsp olive oil
-6 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed (about 2tbsp)
-1/4tsp red pepper flakes
-Salt
-3cu water
-12oz ziti pasta
-1/2cu heavy cream
-1oz Parmesan cheese, grated
-1/4cu chopped fresh basil leaves (fresh is best, but it is ok to add a heaping tablespoon of dried if necessary)
-ground black pepper
-4oz mozzarella cheese, shredded

Directions:
-Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 475 degrees.
-Pulse the tomatoes with their juice in a food processor until coarsely ground and no large pieces remain (or just use sauce).
Heat 12-inch or larger oven-safe skillet to medium high heat and add 1/2 tablespoon olive oil. Remove the sausage from castings and cook, crumbling with a spatula until browned and cooked through, about 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper flakes to sausage and cook for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant. Stir in the processed tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon salt (omit salt if using sauce). Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes no longer taste raw, about 10 minutes.
-Stir in the water, then add the pasta. Cover, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring often and adjusting the heat to maintain a vigorous simmer, until the pasta is tender, about 15-18 minutes.
-Stir in the cream, Parmesan, and basil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the mozzarella evenly over the top. -Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the cheese has melted and browned, 10-15 minutes, then serve.

Arugula Pesto

Pesto, in pretty much all forms, is delicious. As you may recall, I recently discovered a quinoa pesto from Trader Joe’s which was pretty amazing. Jarred pesto is, quite honestly, the way to go a lot of times. It’s cheaper than homemade, quick, no mess, and delicious.

But there are times you want the real thing. The homemade thing. The equally delicious thing. And this arugula pesto from Bake Your Day certainly comes in handy for that! Arugula is a really hardy leafy green and packs a punch in its own right, and along with the garlic, they are equally show-stoppers. I omitted the walnuts and used slivered almonds instead, and it was great too.

As you can see, I paired it with pasta, but you can really pair it with anything!

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Arugula Pesto

serves 2-4

Ingredients:
-2cu fresh arugula, packed
-2 large cloves garlic, peeled (or more)
-2tbsp toasted walnuts
-1/2cu olive oil
-1/2tsp salt, more or less as needed
-1/2tsp pepper, more or less as needed
-1/2cu Parmesan cheese

Directions:
-Combine arugula, garlic and walnuts in a food processor. Add half of the olive oil and pulse to process it. Continue to process on medium speed while streaming in the rest of the olive oil (for those of us with regular food processors, you’ll have to stop, open the lid, pour in more, then keep going). Season with salt and pepper and then stir in Parmesan cheese.
Note: To toast the walnuts, place the walnuts in a small pan over medium heat. Allow them to toast, shaking the pan often. Watch them closely so they don’t burn.

Popcorn Chicken Parmesan

It has been SO LONG since I posted an actual recipe on here! I have been so busy with work and life, as well as promoting my new side nail wrap business (shop online at Never The Same Jams!). I have been so obsessed with this nail business. It is certainly not bringing in enough money to quit my day job, but I love being a social worker, so it works out. It does provide some fun extra spending money – plus I get to have pretty nails all the time!

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A few weeks ago, I made this popcorn chicken parmesan recipe from Eat at Home Cooks. It was simple and yummy, and you can’t go wrong with that. The main thing I did differently was make my own popcorn chicken from cutting up chicken breasts, instead  of using bagged popcorn chicken. I also didn’t have any mozzarella left like I thought I did, so I used cheddar cheese instead. Additionally, I used leftover pizza sauce instead of traditional tomato sauce.

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Popcorn Chicken Parmesan

serves 2

Ingredients:
-1-2tbsp olive oil
-2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
-1/2cu shredded Parmesan cheese
-1/2 bag frozen popcorn chicken (or cut up your own chicken and dredge in some panko)
-14oz crushed tomatoes (instead of this and the following spices, I just used sauce)
-1/2tsp basil
-1/2tsp thyme
-1tsp oregano
-salt and pepper to taste
-pasta, cooked to package directions
-extra Parmesan to garnish

Directions:
-Cook garlic in oil in a large pot over medium heat, then add the parmesan and stir to combine.
-Pour in frozen popcorn chicken. Toss to coat with garlic and cheese.
-Put the coated chicken on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes (longer if you’re cooking with raw chicken breasts).
-If you’re making your own sauce, pour the crushed tomatoes into the pot you cooked the garlic in, then add herbs, salt and pepper. Simmer over medium heat.
-When the chicken is cooked, remove it from oven and add it to sauce, stirring to coat and serve over hot pasta.
-Top with extra Parmesan.

Skillet Macaroni and Cheese

I had a fun and food-filled weekend (more on that in coming posts!)…and also discovered the British comedy Coupling (which is a far raunchier version of Friends, if you will). My husband, our good friend, and I watched the first two episodes on Saturday night, and I think we are hooked! Well, our friend was already hooked, but now my husband and I are, too.
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It has also been raining a lot here (welcome to the Pacific Northwest, amirite?). Dreary weather really does call for delicious comfort food, and who doesn’t love homemade mac’n’cheese? Seriously, if you don’t, then we can’t be friends. ;);)

I made this skillet creamy macaroni and cheese by Life as a Lofthouse last month and it DID turn out so creamy and yummy! Mac’n’cheese can be difficult sometimes, but this actually worked pretty well. I decided I didn’t want to overload too much on carbs (please ingore the hotdog bun…at least it’s whole wheat!), so I turned this into a side dish and made our favourite Aidell’s chicken sausages as the main dish. I also got to use the pretty bowls my mom got me! Win-win.
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Skillet Macaroni and Cheese

serves about 2 as a main dish, 4 as a side dish

Ingredients:
-3.5cu water
-1 (12oz) can evaporated milk
-12oz elbow macaroni
-1/2tsp salt
-1tsp cornstarch
-1/2tsp dry mustard
-3cu shredded sharp cheddar cheese
-2tbsp butter, cut into small pieces
-ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:
-Bring 3.5 cups of water, 1 cup of the evaporated milk, the macaroni, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt to a simmer in a large skillet over high heat. Continue to cook at a vigorous simmer, stirring often, until the macaroni is tender and the liquid has thickened, about 12 minutes.
-In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining evaporated milk, cornstarch and dry mustard. Stir that mixture into the skillet, then continue to simmer for another minute or so, until it begins to thicken.
-Remove the skillet from the heat and gradually stir in the 3 cups of cheddar cheese, just a handful at a time. Stir well until the cheese is melted, then stir in the pieces of butter and season with black pepper. Serve immediately.