Fancy Mac

Bacon, apple, caramelized onion mac and cheese

Bacon, apple, caramelized onion mac and cheese

Have I told you how much I love mac and cheese?  I love mac and cheese as much as a two-year-old loves mac and cheese, and I know how much that is.  It’s one of the most perfect comfort meals.  So good.  Not surprisingly,  I have tried a few different recipes.  And each has it’s own spin on the meal, and personally, I’ve enjoyed every one.

This recipe happens to use roasted squash, apple, caramelized onion, and bacon.  That makes it fancy.  It also makes it delicious.  The downside to this dish?  It’s a little more time consuming than other mac and cheese recipes.  But the flavor has more depth and dimension plus the squash gives it a beautiful orange color.  So give it a go.

Ingredients:

1/2 butternut squash
1 Tbsp butter
1/3 sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 crisp apple, chopped
2 strips of bacon, cooked to crispy and chopped
2 cups dry macaroni
1 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/4 tsp chicken bouillon
salt, to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.  Line pan with aluminum foil.  Place half of squash, cut side up, on pan.  Cook for 45-60 minutes.  It’s done when the squash can easily be pierced with a fork.  Scoop the flesh out.  Puree in food processor, add 1-2 Tbsp water to get the right consistency.

Heat skillet over med-low heat.  Melt butter in skillet.  Add onions to skillet, let caramelize – this should be done slowly, over about 30 minutes.

Cook pasta as instructed.  Drain.  Add squash, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, evaporated milk, and chicken bouillon.  Stir.  Add apples, onion, and bacon.  Stir.  Add salt to taste.

Serve and enjoy!

When I made this for my family, I served my 2-year-old before adding the apples, onion, and bacon (it’s a texture thing).  And she thoroughly enjoyed her squashy mac and cheese.

As for myself and my husband, we thought this was a fabulous recipe.  Unfortunately, we ran out of spinach, so we couldn’t have a salad with it, but there is squash in the mac and cheese…so I had seconds just so I would get more veggies 🙂 .

Bacon, apple, caramelized onion mac and cheese

Bacon, apple, caramelized onion mac and cheese

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Baby Breakthrough

Folks, we’ve had a baby breakthrough!

Our little Bub is exactly two weeks old today.  And today is the first day he’s stayed asleep for longer than 5 minutes while not being held or in direct contact with somebody…usually me.  That means, for two weeks he was constantly being held.  Which was great…except for when it wasn’t…like when I had to pee, or take care of SweetPea, or eat, or get more water, or move in general.

But no more!  Today he slept for 1 hour in his swing!  One whole hour where I had my body to myself, where I was able to do what I wanted, when I wanted.  It was glorious.  I can’t wait to do it again tomorrow.

Sleeping baby!

Sleeping baby!

Crock Pot Tortilla Soup

Crock Pot Tortilla Soup

Crock Pot Tortilla Soup

It’s official.  Fall has hit Montana.  And that means soup is fair game!  And so is crock potting.  Especially when you have a freezer full of crock pot meals tempting you every time you try and plan a meal.

Today was a home game for my husband’s soccer team, which meant that both he and I would be out of the house during prime dinner prepping time.  Enter freezer friendly crock pot meal!  And wah-lah!  A ridiculously tasty and healthy meal ready and waiting for us when we got home from the rather chilly fields.

And this was good.  And hearty.  As my husband was cleaning the kitchen (another reason I like to cook…someone else cleans up) he commented that he was a lot more full than he thought he would be.

And honestly, I have no idea how hard the prep for this meal was because I did it a couple weeks ago when I prepped 15 other freezer friendly meals.  So as far as I’m concerned, this meal was easy peasy.  I simply pulled it out of the freezer last night.  Dumped it into the crock pot today.  And added a can of black beans.  Dinner done.  Man, I’m amazing 🙂 .

Ingredients:

3 chicken breasts
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes with chilies
1 10 oz can enchilada sauce (I prefer green, but you can use whatever you like)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 4 oz can chopped green chilies
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 bay leaf
2 cups frozen corn
1 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
1 can black beans
Tortilla chips

Directions:

Put all ingredients except cilantro, black beans, and chips into a gallon zip lock bag and freeze.

When you’re ready to eat this dinner, thaw the dinner, then throw into crock pot.  Add the can of drained and rinsed black beans.  Cook on low 6-8 hours.

Shred the chicken (this was super duper easy, it practically fell apart at the touch).

Serve with cilantro and crushed tortilla chips.

Crock Pot Tortilla Soup

Crock Pot Tortilla Soup

Double Duty Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies

Double Duty Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies

Double Duty Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies

I believe I mentioned my love of chocolate paired with peanut butter in a previous post.  And so it’s no surprise that I couldn’t pass up this little gem of a recipe.

And when I read that you made cookie dough balls of each of the batters (peanut butter and chocolate) then rolled those together I knew that this was a recipe my daughter HAD to help with.  Therefore, this became a family project (which we completed with a fantastic book…maybe you’ve heard of it, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie) and we had a fun day filled with reading and cookies.

Ingredients:

Chocolate Cookie Dough –
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp milk
3/4 cup chocolate chips (the darker the better…at least in my opinion 🙂 )

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough –
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
3/4 cup peanut butter (creamy or crunchy)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup plus 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup chocolate chips (again, the darker the better)

Directions:

Chocolate Cookie Dough –

Cream the butter and sugars together.  Beat in egg and vanilla.
In a separate bowl, combine the cocoa, flour, baking soda, and salt.
Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet mixture.
Mix in the milk.
Fold in the chocolate chips.

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough –

Cream the butter and sugars together.  Beat in the peanut butter, egg, and vanilla.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt.
Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet mixture.
Fold in the chocolate chips.

Chill both the doughs for at least 2 hours (I chilled mine overnight).
Roll the peanut butter dough and chocolate dough into small balls about a tablespoon of dough per ball.
Smoosh one peanut butter dough ball and one chocolate dough ball together, rolling them into one large ball.

Bake the cookies at 350 degrees for 6-8 minutes.  They’ll still look raw, but a quick of their bottom side should reveal a golden color.

Double Duty Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies

Double Duty Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies

Double Duty Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies - even the dough is decadent!

Double Duty Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies – even the dough is decadent!

With a little help from SweetPea

With a little help from SweetPea

SweetPea helping Mom

SweetPea helping Mom

Double Duty Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies

Getting her hands dirty

Getting her hands dirty

One cute helper

One cute helper

Double Duty Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies

Checking out the dough

Checking out the dough

Making sure the cookie isn't too hot.

Making sure the cookie isn’t too hot.

Double Duty Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies Double Duty Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies

First bite?

First bite?

And it's good!

And it’s good!

And A Dash of Sunshine

Sunshiny Vegetable Chicken Soup

Sunshiny Vegetable Chicken Soup

I started out making this chicken kale soup for dinner.  But then I added some other veggies.  Then I discovered my kale molded.  Then I realized my chicken kale soup had definitely morphed into something else.  Something delicious.  But nonetheless, I can’t wait to try that kale soup…some other night.

So instead we had this soup.  And just by chance, all the veggies going into the soup were different shades of orange and yellow.  Which added a nice bit of sunshine to what has been a rather gray and dreary day.

Sunshiny Vegetable Chicken Soup

Ingredients:

1 yam, cut into bite size pieces
1 white potato, cut into bite size pieces
3 medium carrots, cut into bite size pieces
4 cups of water
1 Tbsp chicken bouillon
1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
1/2 Tbsp onion powder
1 tsp oregano
2 bay leaves
2 chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
1 Tbsp butter
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 can evaporated milk
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

In large pan, add yam, potato, carrots, water, chicken bouillon, garlic, powder, onion powder, oregano, and bay leaves.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for 1-2 hours.

In a skillet, over medium high heat, melt butter and brown the chicken breast pieces.

Add to soup.  Return to boil, then reduce to heat to medium low and let simmer for 30 minutes.

Add bell pepper.  Let simmer another 20 minutes.

Add evaporated milk, stir.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with crusty bread (and delicious spinach salad) and enjoy!

Sunshiny Vegetable Chicken Soup

Sunshiny Vegetable Chicken Soup

Easy Curry

The complete meal

The complete meal

I love making curry.  It’s so easy to make.  It’s also easy to tweak the recipe to work for any ingredients you have on hand.  Plus it’s delicious.

Yesterday I posted a recipe for baked vegetarian egg rolls.  This curry recipe is what I served with it.  And the following day we had the leftovers for lunch (I baked the egg rolls fresh for lunch, but everrything was already prepped so it was super easy).  It was good.  Both times 🙂 .

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
2 Tbsp curry paste (I used green because I can’t do spicy right now, but usually I use a combo of red and green curry paste)
2 cans coconut milk
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1.5 Tbsp lime juice
1/3 cup roasted (unsalted) cashews
1 cup white mushrooms, chopped
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
Fresh basil leaves
1 cup broccoli, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped

Directions:

Heat oil in a large skillet (or wok) over medium heat.

Add garlic and ginger and cook for about 1 minute.

Add curry paste, coconut milk, brown sugar, soy sauce, and lime juice.  Stir until everything is combined.

Add vegetables and basil leaves and cook for 10-15 minutes.  Cook as long as you want, for crispier vegetables cook less, for softer vegetables cook more.

Serve over rice.  Sprinkle with roasted cashews.  Garnish with a few fresh basil leaves.

All the healthy vegetables ready to go in the curry.

Eat your rainbow!

Eat your rainbow!

The complete meal.

Easy Curry

Easy Curry