Saturday, March 31, 2012

Jalapeno Popper Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese

Make this immediately.  I totally did a huge happy food dance when I ate this.  I will say that the name is a little misleading.  It isn't like it really tastes like the poppers or the chicken, just the ingredients from those items make a ridiculously awesome mac.  This might be my favorite Pinterest find yet.  I would make a couple small changes (listed below, see link for original recipe) just to make it easier, but overall it was fantastic!  I don't know how she fit a full recipe in a 9x9 pan, mine was full with a half. 

Jalapeno Popper Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese
Serves:  4 (or 1 of me)
Calories:  About 3200 in full recipe (no chicken, my way)

4 slices of bacon
1 tablespoon bacon grease {reserved from said bacon}
1/4 large onion, diced {about 1/2+ cup}
1 jalapenos, sliced {ribs and seeds removed} (I might go with a bit more next time)
1/2 pound elbow macaroni

for the sauce-
2 tablespoons butter
2.5 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup milk {whole or 2% please}
1/4 cup heavy cream
salt & pepper, to taste
1 pinch nutmeg
2 ounces cream cheese
1 tablespoon hot sauce {such as Frank’s Red Hot} (I use 2-3 Tb Frank's Buffalo Sauce)

1 1/4 cups grated cheddar cheese  (I use Kraft's Shredded Triple Cheddar with Philadelphia)
1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese  (I use Kraft's Shredded Mozzarella with Philadelphia)
1/8 cup grated provolone  (I just diced up a slice or two of deli provolone I had)
1/8 cup blue cheese crumbles  (It needs like 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup precooked and shredded chicken {optional}  (I included it, but won't again)

for the topping-
1 cup corn flakes, crushed  (Throw in a baggie and smash with a can or mallet)
1/3 cup blue cheese crumbles
{4 slices cooked bacon, as listed above}

parsley, for garnish

In a large skillet, cook bacon until crispy. Remove from pan, drain on paper towels and crumble. Pour off excess bacon drippings, keeping 2 tablespoons in the pan. Place skillet back on heat and saute onion and jalapenos until soft, about 6 minutes over medium heat. Set aside.

Bring large pot of water to boil. Salt water generously and cook pasta 2 minutes short of package directions. You want the macaroni to be very al dente, but not still crunchy. Drain and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In the same pot, melt butter over medium heat. whisk in flour and cook 1-2 minutes. Whisk in milk, cream, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Increase heat to medium high and continue mixing until sauce thickens. Remove from heat. Stir in cream cheese and hot sauce until melted smoothly into the sauce. Pour cooked pasta and sauteed onions and jalapenos into the sauce. Stir to coat. Stir in cheeses and chicken. Pour into a buttered baking dish {9×9, 9×13, or somewhere in between should be good} and spread out evenly. Top with blue cheese, corn flakes and crumbled bacon. Bake 20-30 minutes until top of macaroni has browned. Remove from oven, top with parsley and serve hot.

Individual Peanut Butter Pies

I both hate and love this recipe.  It was easy and delicious... but sooo bad for you.  I think the serving size is a little on the large side due to the rich denseness of the peanut butter cream.  I am curious what would happen if the milk was halved and the whipped cream was doubled.  Also, my coworker volunteered to taste it and said it need more crust.  I cut this recipe in half and made 4 ramekins.  I ate only about half a ramekin each time.

Individual Peanut Butter Pies
Serves:  8
Calories:  About 765 each

For the crust
16 Oreo cookies
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the filling
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup creamy-style peanut butter
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Place the Oreo cookies into the bowl of a food processor and pulse into fine crumbs. In a small bowl, combine cookie crumbs and melted butter and stir.

2. Evenly divide the crumbs between your individual serving dishes and press into the bottoms of the dishes to form a crust layer.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Transfer whipped cream to a small bowl and place it into the refrigerator while you prepare the rest of the filling.

3. Place cream cheese and peanut butter the mixing bowl and beat on medium speed until smooth. Reduce speed to low and gradually add in confectioners' sugar until well combined. Add in sweetened condensed milk and vanilla and beat on medium speed until mixture is creamy and smooth. Take care to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

4. Stir in 1/3 of the whipped cream into the filling mixture. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the remaining whipped cream until well blended until no streaks remain.

3. Evenly pipe or spoon the filling into individual serving dishes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving. If desired, garnish with whipped cream and chocolate curls.

Spicy Chicken Rigatoni

This is supposed to be a Buca di Beppo recipe.  Matt loves the combination of white and red sauces... I am not a huge fan personally, but we both liked this dish and will make it again.  I think the proportions in the original recipe are really off.  I have altered the recipe below with my changes and for 2 servings.  Oh, and this isn't really a healthy one, you are warned.

Spicy Chicken Rigatoni
Serves:  2-3
Calories: About 1200 in 1/2 recipe

2 Tbs olive oil
1/2 Tbs crushed red pepper
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1 Tbs chopped garlic
8 oz chicken, sliced
1 jar Bertolli Four Cheese Rosa sauce
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp butter
1/4 cup peas (We skipped)
10 oz Rigatoni pasta, cooked according to package directions
additional sprinkle crushed red pepper and parsley (for garnish)

In a sauté pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add crushed red pepper, salt, black pepper and garlic and sauté just long enough for garlic to caramelize and red pepper to release flavor into the oil. Add sliced chicken and sauté briefly to coat in spices and garlic.

Add sauce and milk, bring to a simmer. Cook until sauce thickens slightly and chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165°. Turn off flame, add butter and peas and incorporate into sauce.

Serve chicken and sauce over pasta. Garnish with crushed red pepper and parsley and serve.

Potato Kielbasa Skillet

This was easy and pretty tasty.  We'll make this again.  The recipe says 4 servings, but the piggies that we are, that's not entirely accurate haha.

Potato Kielbasa Skillet
Serves:  4
Calories: About 475

1 pound red potatoes, cubed  (About 3 medium sized potatoes)
3 Tbs. water
3/4 lb. smoked kielbasa or Polish sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 Tbs. olive oil (or the leftover bacon grease)
2 Tbs. brown sugar
2 Tbs. cider vinegar
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. pepper
4 cups fresh baby spinach 
 5 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled

Directions:  Place cubed potatoes and water in a microwave-safe dish. Cover bowl with plastic wrap (no need to poke any holes) and microwave on high for 4 minutes or until fork tender; drain.  (Mine took closer to 6 minutes before they were fork-tender).

In a large skillet on medium-high heat, saute kielbasa and onion in oil until onion is tender; about 3-5 minutes.  Add potatoes; saute 3-5 minutes longer or until kielbasa and potatoes are lightly browned.

Meanwhile, combine the brown sugar, vinegar, mustard, thyme, and pepper; stir into skillet. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered for 2-3 minutes or until heated through. Add spinach and bacon; cook and stir until spinach is wilted. 

Country Club Chicken

This was wasn't the most amazing meal ever, but it is a classic casserole comfort food that I almost always have all the ingredients for.  We might make it again, but kick up the flavor a little more.  I cut this in half and it was plenty for us for dinner with some leftover.

Country Club Chicken
Serves:  4-6
Calories:  About 875 in 1/4 recipe

1 pound spaghetti
4 chicken breasts
1 large onion
7 oz mushrooms
2 cans Campbell's concentrated cream of mushroom soup
4 or 5 slices bacon
1/4 cup dry white wine
2/3 cup sharp cheddar
1 golden delicious apple
butter or oil
salt & pepper

Mince the onion. Clean and slice the mushrooms.  Peel and mince the apple (or wash it well).   Season the chicken breasts with a generous amount of salt and pepper.

Cook the bacon and don’t clean out the pan.  Drain the bacon on a paper napkin.  Add a bit of butter and quickly brown the chicken breasts on both sides. Transfer them to a casserole.

Cook the onion for a minute or three.  And add the mushrooms.  After a minute or three you add the minced apple and cook it all for another 3 to 4 minutes.

Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and crumble the bacon in there. Pour in the white wine (or water or broth).  Add the soup.  Add Sharp Cheddar.  Stir it into the sauce.

And pour it all over the chicken breasts.

Put the casserole in a preheated oven at 350F (175C) for 25 to 30 minutes. Until the chicken is super tender and the sauce is all hot and bubbly.

Gives you 25 minutes to cook the spaghetti according to the directions on your package.

Serve over spaghetti.  Live a little and garnish with more bacon… and some parsley, just for the heck of it.

Not my favorites, but they could be yours

So I have been trying a lot of recipes off of Pinterest lately with varying degrees of success.  Rather than making individual posts about these, I am just going to list a few recipes that were decent but didn't knock my socks off.  However, other people liked them so they can't be complete disasters =)

Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese Sandwich
I didn't really do THIS recipe, I just make a grilled cheese with bacon, jalapeno, cream cheese, and cheddar and it was just fine.

Linguine with Garlicky Bread Crumbs 
This one was just so bland.

We realized that neither of us are big fans of balsamic, so if you are then you should try this.

Italian-Style Stuffed Red Peppers
I was not a fan, just sooo much bell pepper.  Matt liked them better leftover.
Sorry Paula, this was a snooze.  I'm sure it could be saved with a gallon more hot sauce.

I made a few other recipes but they were good enough to get their own post with my notes so I can make them again in the future.