Classic Macaroni & Cheese

Macaroni & Cheese

What do you do when you find yourself with several unopened blocks of cheese after a party for your three-year-old? Work on perfecting your go-to homemade mac and cheese recipe of course! I think that I’ve finally done it! I’ve created our new favorite macaroni and cheese without processed cheese.

I think that I’ve finally done it! I’ve created our new favorite macaroni and cheese without processed cheese or any products full of mystery ingredients. I’m not usually a fan of cheese sauces that start with a roux, but this one came out smooth, creamy and perfectly cheesy.

This mac and cheese can be made entirely on the stovetop (if you’re in a hurry to get dinner on the table) and is absolutely delicious. I ended up topping the stovetop mac and cheese with a little extra shredded cheddar and panko breadcrumbs and baked it for 25-30 minutes to give it a little crunch and take it to the next level. You guys, I’m in love. Worth every calorie.

Now if only I could convince my picky toddler to eat any macaroni and cheese that doesn’t come in the long, skinny noodles ala Kraft.  Sigh… Crazy kid doesn’t know what he’s missing.

Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz small shell pasta (or pasta of your choice)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • freshly ground black pepper (to taste or as desired)
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups freshly grated cheddar cheese*
  • 1/4 cup Italian seasoned panko bread crumbs

*  I strongly recommend shredding the cheese yourself from a block rather than using the pre-shredded cheese due to the coating that is usually present on the bagged shredded cheese.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  3. In medium-sized saucepan, melt butter with minced garlic over medium heat.
  4. Stir in flour, onion powder, and paprika. Cook for 3-5 minutes to form a roux. Add desired amount of salt and pepper.
  5. Slowly add milk, stirring until smooth and bubbly. Bring to a low boil and cook until the sauce begins to thicken.
  6. Stir in cheese in parts until is fully melted and smooth.
  7. Drain pasta. Pour cheese sauce over pasta and stir to combine.
  8. Top with panko bread crumbs.
  9. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Crockpot BBQ Chicken Three Ways

Crockpot BBQ Shredded Chicken

I almost hesitate to even call this a recipe because it is so ridiculously simple.I suppose if you want to be fancy you could make your own BBQ sauce from scratch to take it to the next level…but I kind of love taking the lazy approach from time to time when life gets a little extra crazy.

A jar of your favorite BBQ sauce, a couple of chicken breasts, a few seasonings for extra flavor and a crockpot are all you need to make a tasty dish that can be transformed into a number of awesome meals. A true leftover marvel!

Some of our favorite ways to use leftover crockpot barbecue chicken include:

  • BBQ Chicken Sandwiches:
    • BBQ Chicken + Storebought fancy hamburger buns from the bakery
  • BBQ Chicken Bakers:
    • BBQ Chicken + Baked potato with butter and cheese (or whatever your heart desires)
  • BBQ Chicken Quesadillas:
    • BBQ Chicken + Simple Cheese Quesadilla (or an Avocado & Cheese Quesadilla — Mmm…)

 

On to the Recipe…

To make the BBQ Chicken you’ll need:

  • 2 chicken breasts, thawed (you’ll need to increase the amounts of these ingredients for larger families)
  • 1 cup prepared BBQ sauce
  • 2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder

 

Directions:

  1. Place chicken breasts in a crockpot. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Mix BBQ sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, and onion powder in a small bowl.
  3. Pour sauce mixture over the chicken.
  4. Cook on low for 4-5 hours.
  5. Remove chicken from crockpot and shred meat to desired consistency.

Easy Parmesan Risotto

Easy Parmesan Risotto

Are you a risotto lover, but lack the time and patience to stand at the stove stirring forever just to enjoy that perfect creamy risotto? This is the perfect risotto recipe for you! It’s seriously been a game-changer for us. Risotto can stay in our regular rotation rather than an occasional treat on a weekend when we actually have enough time to dedicate to it.

Now that it’s finally, finally cooling down a bit here in the South, I’m starting to crave cozying up with soups and warm, cheesy comfort foods like risotto. During those colder months each year, especially around the holidays, I want comfort foods and I want them with minimal effort so I can enjoy the extra time with my family.

This recipe is for our basic parmesan risotto recipe, but we often like to play with adding in a variety of other flavors. Some of our favorite flavor combinations are spinach and roasted mushroom, spinach and sundried tomato, butternut squash, and broccoli cheese.

Give this recipe a try and let us know what you think in the comments below. Oh and let us know what flavor combos you try as well if you decide to get fancy.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 4 1/2 – 5 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbs minced garlic
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt (as needed)
  • freshly ground black pepper (as needed)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place the Arborio rice, 4 cups of the chicken stock, garlic and a little salt and pepper in a Dutch oven (we love our Lodge dutch oven).
  3. Cover and bake for 45 minutes, until the chicken stock is almost absorbed.
  4. Carefully remove dutch oven, add in the remaining chicken stock a little a time. Stir in the Parmesan and butter and stir for 2 -3 minutes until everything is incorporated well and rice has that creamy risotto consistency.
  5. Optional: Mix in any additions for extra flavor.

Adapted from: Ina Garten’s recipe