Boxed Mac and Cheese, 5 Different Ways

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Mac and Cheese is a pretty big staple in my life for numerous reasons 1) it’s super easy to make, 2) it takes 10 minutes tops and 3) it fits right in the college student budget. But eating mac and cheese on it’s own can get pretty boring. Here’s my 5 ways to spruce up your mac and cheese without dropping serious cash by going to places like S’MAC. All you’re going to need is a box of mac and cheese and a few extra ingredients.

1. Sweet Red Pepper Mac and Cheese

DSC_8708Prepare the mac and cheese according to the box instructions. Dice some bell peppers into bit size pieces. Once the mac and cheese is ready, toss it with the bell peppers. The red bell pepper will give your mac and cheese a sweet, juicy crunch as well as some vitamin B6, K, A, C, and E! What better way to enjoy mac and cheese than to add something healthy to somewhat balance out your meal? I definitely want to add in some sausage to this and make it a sausage and peppers mac and cheese.

2. Bacon and Mushroom Mac and Cheese

DSC_8705Prepare the mac and cheese according to the box. While the the macaroni is boiling, slice up some bacon and mushrooms into bite size pieces. Cook the bacon on medium high heat until nice and crispy (about 5 to 6 minutes). Drain all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat and quickly cook the mushrooms. Salt and pepper your mushrooms and cook on medium heat until tender (about 3 to 4 minutes). Toss the bacon and mushrooms with the prepared mac and cheese. The bacon adds a saltier, meaty tang to your mac and honestly, why say no to bacon?

3. Gruyere Cheese and Tomato Mac and Cheese

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While you’re preparing your mac and cheese, grab some shredded gruyere cheese and a tomato. Dice the tomato into bite sized pieces. When cutting a tomato, it’s best to use a serrated knife so you don;t end up with a pulpy mess. Mix the shredded gruyere with the mac while it’s still warm (it’s probably best to not use the cheese package in this one) and add in the tomatoes. Gruyere and tomatoes always go really well together. The juiciness of the tomato cuts the gruyere and keeps it from being too sharp, but doesn’t completely over power it (you can definitely use this combo for a grilled cheese too!)

4. The Four Cheese

DSC_8711If you like really cheesy mac than this one is for you. Simply go to Trader Joe’s and buy the mixed cheese pack (I used the Mexican mix which had American Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Queso Blanco and Asadero cheese). Prepare the mac and cheese according to the box and while the noodles are still warm, mix in the cheeses. Easy, simple and oh so very cheesy

5. The Faux Hamburger Helper

DSC_8699As the title for this one suggests, you’re just going to mix some cooked ground beef into this mac and cheese. While you boil the macaroni noodles, simply cook the ground beef until it’s no longer red in a pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and some salt and pepper to taste. Dice some onions and caramelize them (cook them on low heat until nice and brown) in another pan. Once the mac and cheese is prepared, add in the beef and onions and mix until incorporated. It’s like eating a burger, but instead of a bun you have mac and cheese!

I hope you have some fun with these recipes! Comment below if you have any favorite mac and cheese recipes, I’d love to hear what you guys like!

Hugs and Puppies!

Mimi

Bacon Pancakes

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This weekend I finally got around to making bacon pancakes. I’ve been dying to try making them since I saw Jake (from Adventure Time) making them in one episode. These were super simple to make and really delicious. I used a plain buttermilk pancake recipe and then chopped up some bacon, fried them up and topped them on the batter while cooking them. I do think though that I’ll mix the bacon pieces (cooked of course) straight into the batter next time. I think that way there’ll be more bacon in every bite!

For the pancakes, follow this recipe

Ingredients:

-Buttermilk Pancake batter
-6 slices of bacon (more if you want)
 

Directions:

  1. Make the buttermilk pancake batter
  2. Slice the bacon and cook until the nice and crispy
  3. Mix most of the bacon into the batter, leaving some to top onto the pancake while it’s cooking.
  4. Heat a non-stick frying pan on medium heat and pour batter in. Top with bacon. IMG_4012
  5. Cook until the bubbles on the outer edge start popping (about 2 to 3 minutes), flip and cook until the other side is nice and brown (about 2 to 3 minutes)

And you’re done!

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Hugs and Puppies!

Mimi

 

 

 

Apple Crumble in an Apple

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Hello! It’s been quite a while and I apologize. I’ve been cooking and baking, just not new recipes 😦 I know, I know, I’ll do better! I’m just a tad busy despite the Columbus Day Holiday with midterms, homework, work, lots of neglected chores and other stuff. Anyway, here’s a recipe for you which I’m sure you’ll love! Apple pie in an apple! Fall is always about the apples and apples are amazing! Except when you’re practically drowning in apples due to your weekly CSA. My room mates and I can’t keep up with all the apples that we get, so I decided to make something based on apples so that we wouldn’t be buried under all of them. I’ve always wanted to make apple pie within an apple and today seemed like the perfect day for it. It’s tuesday, our CSA arrives tomorrow and we still have SO MANY APPLES! Also since pie crust can be a finicky little thing, I decided to make crumble instead. Best idea ever.

So let’s get started!

Ingredients:

-6 apples
-2 tsp cinnamon
-2 tsp brown sugar
-1 tsp nutmeg
-2 tbsp butter
Optional
-lemon juice
Crumble
-4 tbsp butter
-1/2 cup flour
-3 tbsp brown sugar
 

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Make the crumble. Mix together the flour and sugar and then add in the butter, breaking it up between your fingers until it forms pea sized lumps and everything is incorporated.
  3. Sprinkle the crumble over a sheet tray and bake until golden brown (about 15 to 20 minutes)
  4. Meanwhile hollow out four of the apples, making sure to remove the seeds and place them in a medium sized mixing bowl. I find using a spoon is much easier than a knife (less accidents). Don’t toss out the hollowed out part of the apple.
  5. Dice the rest of the apples into bite sized pieces.
  6. Toss with sugar and spices and set aside.
  7. In a pan, melt the butter and once it starts bubbling, add in the apple pieces and cook until tender. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  8. Now add the cooked apple pieces into your apple bowl and top with the crumble. Top with homemade whipped cream or ice cream and you’re done!

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If you want to bake your apples, that’s totally possible you’ll just have a longer baking time. If that is the case, don’t bake the crumble or the apple pieces before hand. Add the apple pieces to the apple bowl, top with raw crumble and place the apples in a rimmed sheet pan. Add some water, cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 20 minutes or until the crumble is nice and golden. I just prefer my apples to be crispy and not mushy, so I decided not to bake the apple 🙂 But it’s all up to you!

Hugs and puppies!

Mimi

Chicken Quesadillas

Sorry for the bad quality, I was too hungry to try and take a decent photo :/

Sorry for the bad quality, I was too hungry to try and take a decent photo :/

So last tuesday, after a good work out (I know! Pat finally managed to get me to the gym), I made chicken quesadillas. Sorry I haven’t posted so much, what with midterms coming up and all sorts of work, I’m pretty busy! I was going to make chicken avocado enchiladas but I didn’t have chicken stock to make the enchilada sauce and instead went to plan B: quesadillas. It was pretty delicious and I was able to have leftovers for lunch today. I love making recipes in bulk so I can have lunch the next day. I mean who has the time to wake up and make lunch, unless of course it’s a sandwich. I have so much respect for people who make lunch for their children before school (especially my mom and dad). Funnily, Pat left his camera at my apartment so I decided it was time to try my hand at food photography and laughed. All the photos came out blurry, I guess I may need to get Pat to teach me about that too.

Well let’s get started!

 Ingredients:

-4 boneless chicken breasts
-1 tbsp salt and pepper
-1 tsp garlic powder, onion powder, paprika
-1 cup shredded mixed cheese
-1/2 cup black beans
-1 tomato (diced)
-Lettuce, sliced thin
-frozen peas
-4 tortillas
-Salsa and cream cheese 
 
Optional:
-1 avocado (diced)
-bell peppers (diced)

Directions:

  1. Season your chicken with the spices and cook until fully cooked. I found that by keeping the heat low and letting your chicken cook for about 3 to 4 minutes a side really makes the chicken moist. Once the chicken is cooked, let it rest on the cutting board while you prep the rest of your ingredients.
  2. Slice the lettuce leaves into thin strips. I recommend rolling the leaves up into a bundle and then thinly slicing it. Dice the tomato and heat up your beans (I just use the ones in the can, season it with salt, pepper and garlic).
  3. Once the chicken has rested, cut the chicken into bit sized pieces. Set aside.
  4. In a large pan (big enough to fit your tortilla), get ready to assemble the quesadilla. Do not turn on the heat. I find that if you do that, the tortilla burns before all the cheese melts. So don’t turn on the heat.
  5. Sprinkle 1/4 of the cheese on the tortilla, scatter some pieces of chicken on top and then add your other toppings (beans, tomatoes, lettuce, avocado, bell peppers, etc), sprinkle with some more cheese and top with another tortilla.
  6. Turn on the heat to medium high and place a lid on the pan. This is important because it traps the warmth into the pan and helps melt the cheese faster. This way when the tortilla is nicely browned and you need to flip it over, you won’t have a huge mess because the cheese is properly melted and holds everything together. The cheese is the glue here folks.
  7. Once the opposite side is browned, remove from the pan and cut into slices. Repeat with the second quesadilla.
  8. Serve with salsa and sour cream

This was without a doubt a very good quesadilla. It took 30 minutes, but it also gave me  3 meals (I had enough for lunch and dinner the next day) and they were so yummy! My roomie loved the way the chicken was cooked and my friends said it smelled delicious when I was eating it for lunch. Definitely going to make these again and they’re definitely satisfying!

Hugs and puppies!

Mimi