Thursday, January 28, 2016

Buffalo Bacon Mac N Cheese

It's time again for another edition of FN Dish.  This week it's all about Mac N Cheese. So be sure to check the links from all the other amazing contributors at the end of this post.

When I saw that this week was mac n cheese I thought what can I make that would be a twist on the traditional mac n cheese.  After some brain storming this is what I came up with -- Buffalo Bacon Mac n Cheese.  It's has everything that's in the popular Buffalo chicken dip (without the chicken although you could add chicken if you like) along with bacon (because everything is better with bacon, all served over pasta!

To make Buffalo Bacon Mac N Cheese here is what you'll need:

6 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 8 ounce package of cream cheese. softened
4 ounces of sour cream
1 envelope of ranch dressing mix powder
4 ounces of blue cheese crumbles
1/2 cup Buffalo wing sauce (your favorite brand)
2 ounces of shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups of crushed Buffalo flavored pretzels, crushed
1 pound penne pasta

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook and crumble the bacon, set aside.  In a large bowl mix the cream cheese, sour cream, ranch dressing mix, blue cheese crumbles and wing sauce.  Cook the pasta according to the package directions.  Drain but reserve 1 cup of the pasta water in case the sauce is too thick.  I didn't need to add any water but it's nice to have it just in case.  Add the cooked pasta to the sauce in the bowl and mix well.  Mix in the cooked bacon.  Pour it all in a casserole dish and top with the cheddar cheese and crushed pretzels.

Bake for 10-15 minutes until heated through.

Here are the ingredients.

Mixing the sauce

Pasta is done!

Mix it all up

Put into a baking dish and bake

Ready to eat!

Looking for more amazing Mac N Cheese recipes.  Take a look at these:

Feed Me Phoebe: White Cheddar Mac 'n Cheese Casserole
Creative Culinary: 
Green Chile Mac and Cheese
The Wimpy Vegetarian: 
Bang Bang Cauliflower Mac ’n Cheese
The Mom 100: 
Creamy Four Cheese Penne Rigate
Healthy Eats: 
5 Reasons to Put Down That Box of Mac and Cheese
Taste with the Eyes: 
Mac and Cheese, Ham, Carrot, Celery, Onion {gluten-free}
In Jennie's Kitchen: 
Cacio e Pepe
Napa Farmhouse 1885: 
One Skillet Mac & Cheese
Red or Green: 
Three Perfect Mac & Cheese Recipes For Winter
FN Dish: Here's How to Eat Mac and Cheese for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Air Fried French Fries

It's time once again for the latest installment of FN Dish's Comfort Food Feast.  This week -- potatoes, one of my all time favorite foods.  I'm always looking for new ways to make them and new ways to eat them.  So if you scroll to the bottom of this post you'll find lots of different ways to do both!

It's the New Year and once again we make resolutions- get organized, get out of debt, lose weight.  This recipe just might be able to help you with the latter- Air Fried French Fries.  How do you air fry something?  That was my question when I unwrapped my air fryer this Christmas.  My mother in law sometimes gives unusual presents - to say the least. And when I saw this in the box I thought. "Oh Geez, what is this?"  But after using it a couple times it actually works.

To make air fried French Fries there are a few things you need to know:

When using an air fryer you need very little oil, if any. But you can still add flavor to your "fries".  In a bowl toss the cut and soaked potatoes with a little olive oil and then any seasonings of your choice --seasoning salt, garlic powder, chili powder or any combination you would use on your fries.

My air fryer is made by Todd English so I can only speak for this one.  Although they are made by many different companies including on by Emeril.  My air fryer basket is pretty small so I have do the fries in batches.  You can take the basket out when the air fryer is running.  It's a good thing to open it occasionally to shake the basket to make sure that the fries are cooking evenly.

How does an air fryer work exactly?  The only way I can explain it that its a counter top convection oven.  There is fan inside that keeps the heat moving around and in turn cooks the food.  The outside of the fryer doesn't get hot.  The fryer is pretty noisy though when the fan is running.  The fries from the air fryer will be a little different than those that are deep fat fried.  The texture will be a little different too and depending on how the fries are cut and how long they are cooked they can be crispy.

Once the fries are made you can eat them plain, with ketchup or cheese or chili and cheese or with cheese and bacon or with cheese and gravy or any way you like!  Why not you just saved a ton of calories by air frying.

Here are the links from the other contributors.  I'm sure you'll find a new way to enjoy your spuds!

Creative Culinary: Bacon and Caramelized Onion Potato Salad
Homemade Delish: 
Parmesan-Crusted Potato Wedges
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: 
Stir-Fried Purple Potatoes
Healthy Eats: 
6 Better Ways to Eat Potatoes
In Jennie's Kitchen: 
Slow Cooked Baked Potatoes
Taste with the Eyes: 
Flatbread Pizza: Potato, Arugula, Sour Cream, Chives, Olive, Truffle, Lemon
Napa Farmhouse 1885: 
Mashed Russet and Sweet Potato Casserole
Red or Green: 
Taco Stuffed Baked Potatoes
The Wimpy Vegetarian: 
Sweet Potatoes Anna with Apples and Raisins

FN Dish: 5 Downright Perfect Potato Dishes

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Pressure Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

It's time for another edition of Comfort Food Feast from Food Network's FN Dish!  This time its all about SOUP!

There will be more recipes from many more contributors at the end of this post.

There is nothing more satisfying, filling and tummy warming on a cold winter’s day than a bowl of soup. But let’s face it, soup can be boring.  Thats where a pressure cooker comes in.  I purchased one a few months ago and have been in love ever since.  Nothing makes inexpensive canned broth taste rich and delicious like a pressure cooker.  It makes the most simplest of meats tender and flavorful.  But the best part is it makes soup that takes slow cooked in a fraction of the time.

During the week between Christmas and New Year’s we had constant rain - for almost four days straight.  I have to admit I used the heck out of my pressure cooker during that week.  One of the best recipes I made was chicken tortilla soup. (I made the tortilla strips in the air fryer I got for Christmas but that’s another post).  By taking the same ingredients you would use to make this soup that would have to simmer for hours, and putting them in a pressure cooker you end up (in about 45 minutes) with a flavorful broth that is slightly spicy and will definitely take the chill out of your bones!

This post is part of Food Network's FN Dish series called Comfort Food Feast.  At the end of this post there will links to more delicious soups from all the other FN dish bloggers.  ENJOY!

To make Chicken Tortilla Soup you will need:

1 large chicken breast cut into bite size pieces
1/2 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons, chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 box of chicken broth or about  6 cups
1/2 jar of salsa
1 can black beans, drained
2 cups rice, cooked

tortilla chips
sour cream

avocado slices

Turn the electric pressure to the saute/brown mode.  Once the cooker is hot add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Saute the chicken with the onions. 


 Once the chicken is brown and the onions are soft add the garlic and cook for another minute or two.  Add the seasonings and cook until fragrant. Add the chicken broth and the other ingredients.  Turn the pressure cooker off and then select the manual setting for 45 minutes.

When the manual cook setting is done let the pressure release naturally.

Serve the soup with tortilla chips and any of your favorite toppings.

The Lemon Bowl: Slow Cooker Posole Rojo
Creative Culinary: 
Split Pea Soup with Carrots and Ham
Homemade Delish: 
Italian Cioppino Soup
Taste with the Eyes: 
Wintery French Lentil Soup with Beef, Carrots, Sherry Vinegar
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: 
Tomato Soup
Dishing with Divya: 
Roasted Cauliflower and Carrot Creamy Vegetable Soup

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Bean Soup Crock pot Style

I don't always send my husband to the store alone. Nine times out of ten he will get me the wrong thing or will get something completely not on the list.  But there is that one time that he will bring home something and it will be an amazing purchase!

That's what happened a couple of days ago when I asked him to go to the store before one of the biggest snow storms of the year.  He bought everything on the list but also brought home a huge ham.  Not only a ham but a ham with a bone in it!  We got so much use out of this ham -- we made country breakfast, we made sandwiches, we made casseroles and when it was almost gone (but still with the bone in it) I decided to make a pot of navy bean soup - in the crock pot.  

This falls into the category of a #retrorecipe for #SundaySupper since my mom would make a big pot of bean soup once in a while but never in the crock pot.  There is just something magical about putting all your ingredients into a vessel and then coming back a few hours later to a perfectly cooked meal.

It couldn't be simpler either.

This is what you'll need:
3-4 large carrots peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
2-3 stalks of celery with leaves cut into 1 inch pieces
half of an onion
1 small tomato cut into large pieces
1 large jar or 2 cans of navy beans
1 piece of ham with the bone attached

Place all the ingredients in a crock pot and cover with about 8 cups of water.  Turn on low and cook 5-6 hours.  That's it!

I don't like to season my bean soup until the end since you don't know how much salt there is in the beans or in the ham.

Do you have a retro recipe that just calls you back to the good ol' days?
Feel free to share it in the comments or join us for the twitter party #SundaySupper #retrorecipes
March 8th at 7 ET  Hope to "see" you there!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Cassoulet- Stew with Chicken Thighs and Sausage

In the winter I'm always looking for easy, hearty food that will warm us from the inside out. And of course it has to have BIG flavor.  Cassoulet fits the bill.  When I first saw this recipe on I thought "oh great! its cooked in the crock pot." But after I read further there are many, many steps you need to go through before it actually gets into the crock pot. So I wouldn't recommend it for a crock pot dinner you throw together before work. But the flavor is worth the effort.

I chose to try this recipe because I had most everything on hand (except the pork loin which I substituted chicken thighs for) and I could finish cooking it in the crock pot which meant I was free to go out before the snow storm hit.

To make this cassoulet version you will need:

2 slices of bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp salt or to taste
1/2 tsp pepper or to taste
1 large can of crushed tomatoes (I used a 26 ounce of sea salt and olive oil flavored tomatoes)
2 cans (15 ounce) Great Northern beans or cannellini beans
1 pound of boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into chunks
1 smoked sausage, cut into chunks
Parmesan cheese and flat leaf parsley for garnish

In a large skillet cooked the chopped bacon until crispy. Remove from skillet. In the same skillet cook the onions and garlic in the bacon drippings for about 3 minutes or until tender. Season the onions and garlic with the thyme and rosemary. Cook until fragrant.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add bacon back to pan and add the tomatoes. Bring to a boil then remove from heat.

Drain and rinse both cans of beans.  Take one can and smash with a potato masher. This may sound easy but it does take some effort. Be sure to mash these beans in a large bowl.  Add the chicken thighs and smoked sausage to the mashed beans along with the other can of beans (whole).

Place a layer of the mashed bean and meat mixture into the bottom of the crock pot. Then layer the tomato mixture. Continue the layers until all the mixtures are in the crock pot.  Turn on LOW and cook 5 hours.  Ladle into bowls and garnish with Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.

Serve with some crusty bread and you have a complete, flavorful and healthy meal that will warm you up!!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Recipe Review: Cauliflower Pizza Crust

I have to admit I've seen this recipe around the internet. When I asked on Facebook for some interesting recipes using cauliflower, this one came up again.  I was hesitant to try it. Was a little worried about how the final product would taste and if it would actually be close to real pizza.  But I decided to give it a try anyway and of course I couldn't stick completely to the recipe I found. I had to add my only little twist.

The original recipe was sent to me by my niece in law and can be found here:

To make Cauliflower Pizza you'll need:

1 cup of cooked cauliflower
1 cup of mozzarella
dried seasonings of your choice-- I used Italian seasonings and dried parsley
1 egg

I used all veggies but if you decide to top your pizza with meat, be sure they are cooked first

Pizza sauce (which I decided not to use, more on that later)
mozzarella cheese
parmesan cheese
veggies of your choice. I used red onions, yellow bell pepper, red bell pepper

The original recipe says to use frozen cauliflower and then grate it.  What I did was steam a whole head of cauliflower because I wanted to use it for another recipe (which I will post later) and stored it in the fridge.  When I was ready to make the pizza I took out a cup and cut it up very finely with a knife.  I hate to dirty another gadget when I can just use a knife to do that job.
I put the cauliflower in a bowl and added 1 cup of mozzarella and then added the seasonings -the original recipe called for sprinkling the crust with the seasonings but I decided to add them right into the crust. I then added the egg and mixed it well.

I spread the mixture out onto a baking sheet that I sprayed with cooking spray so it didn't stick.  I put it into a 425 degree oven for about 12 minutes or until browned and set.  NOTE: In the future I would use a towel to get out some of the moisture from the cauliflower to see if the crust got a little more firm.  Had to eat the pizza with a knife and fork.  Not complaining it still tasted amazing.

Once the crust was set I added my toppings.  Again this is where I deviated from the original recipe.  Instead of using sauce I took some small tomatoes I had in the fridge, sliced them and then tossed them with salt and olive oil.  I put those on the crust first.  Then I topped the pizza with sliced red onions and the bell peppers and finally with Parmesan and Mozzarella cheeses.  I baked the pizza another 10 minutes or so until the cheese melted.  For a final touch I added some fresh chopped basil.  I think that fresh herbs are the secret to making anything taste great!

We loved the fact that the veggies were fresh and crunchy, along with the sprinkle of fresh herbs.  It really brightened up the whole pizza.

Final review:
The Process --

The original recipe I saw said that you can use frozen cauliflower.  I'm not sure that I would go that route. Now that I've used fresh cauliflower and saw how much water is in it.  Steaming a whole head of cauliflower to use for other recipes seems a lot simpler. That being said, the process is simple and actually a lot easier than making traditional pizza dough. For those who are gluten free or eat low carb I would think this recipe would be a god send.

The Taste --

I was a little concerned that the crust would have an overwhelming cauliflower taste but it really didn't. With all toppings and cheese the cauliflower was barely noticeable.

Things to remember --

Cauliflower has a lot of water in it, so be sure to either use a paper towel or kitchen towel to remove as much water as possible.  That way your crust will get crispier.  Also if you're using meat as a topping be sure it is cooked first.

Would I make it again? Absolutely!! If I can have guilt free pizza (except for all the cheese) I would make it again and again.  It's simple and relatively easy.  Once you have the method down you can top it just like you would any other pizza crust.

So grab some in season, on sale cauliflower, steam it up and create your own gluten free (almost guilt free) pizza!!

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