Monthly Archives: February 2012
Here is one wagon to get onto my friends! My family has this recipe they call ‘Chuck Wagon Mac’ that is so simple yet so tasty at the same time! It is basically a fancier, home-made version of a cheesy hamburger helper. And my favorite part about it is how versatile it is! You can literally add anything you like or change it up any way you like to suit your tastes. I made a version of this Sunday night, with more of a Mexican flair and it turned out to be, well in my opinion at least, the best one yet! I’ll give you the basic recipe first and then the one I made up on Sunday:
Original Chuck Wagon Mac
- Box of macaroni & cheese, prepared
- 1 can tomato paste, with a few tablespoons of water to smooth it out
- 1 can of corn, drained
- 1 1/2 – 2 pounds ground beef
- 2 ribs of celery, chopped
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 1/2 – 1 onion, diced
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a casserole dish. Cook ground beef with onion, green pepper and celery until cooked through. Mix together with the corn, tomato paste and macaroni and cheese. Pour all together into casserole dish and bake 45 minutes – 1 hour, until heated through.
Honestly, how simple is that?! And this variation alone is incredibly delicious, it used to be a favorite of mine growing up! (I must admit though, I’ve never made this using a boxed mac & cheese, I always make my own or at least do my own with chopped up velveeta and butter)! But it is good even with the box! I just like to have control of the amount of cheese, since I loooove cheese and am able to add as much as I want!!
Mexican Chuck Wagon Mac
- 1 lb elbow macaroni, shells, rotini, whatever
- 20 ounces velveeta cheese, cubed (at least 20 ounces)!
- 3-5 T butter (add as much or as little as you’d like to reach desired creaminess…you can use milk instead or also but butter gives a much better flavor)!
- 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 1 jalapeno pepper, diced (I kept the ribs and seeds because we love spice)!
- 3 ribs celery, diced
- 1 – 2 T cumin
- 1 can corn, drained
- 2 cans diced tomatoes, pureed in food processor to make tomato sauce
- 1 small can diced tomatoes and green chiles
- bag of shredded cheddar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a casserole dish or 9X13 pan. Cook pasta to al dente. While cooking, cook ground beef with onion, peppers, celery and cumin until cooked through. Drain if necessary. Once the pasta is cooked almost through, drain and add back to the pan with the velveeta and butter. Stir over low heat until velveeta is melted. Mix everything together, with a cup of the shredded cheddar and put in casserole dish. Top with remaining shredded cheddar and bake for 45 minutes – 1 hour.
I really liked the spice the jalapeno added and the flavor the cumin added! I think this combination worked great and am going to try more and more…after all, ground beef with mac and cheese could never get old in my book! Hell, mac and cheese with anything will never get old, Josh and I still eat it at least once a week, but usually a few times a week! Enjoy and let me know of any variations you guys try out and like or dislike!
Also, on a side note, I posted about home-made pasta we tried the other day and how well it turned out. Not surprising, I’ve been playing around with it and have made home-made noodles a few times now and Friday we made our own lasagna noodles and they were amazing! And the entire process took less than 45 minutes, including the 30 minutes for the dough to rest! I highly suggest giving your own a shot, it was much easier and tastier than I imagined it would be!
My best friend is getting married in May and her shower is coming up fast! I am in charge of baking some goodies for it and have been doing some experimenting as of late! My latest endeavor has been trying out different kinds of cake pops…let’s be honest, who doesn’t love cake pops?! I think I came up with a great combination the other night, now I just have to perfect my presentation skills! I used a boxed Devil’s food cake mix for the cake, but substituted milk for the water. I then used my sister-in-law’s peanut butter frosting recipe which is TO DIE FOR! I was literally force feeding this to myself by the spoonful (not recommended).
Peanut Butter Frosting:
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
Place the confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as you work. Add the cream and beat on high-speed until the mixture is light and smooth. This frosting is so fluffy, smooth and amazing, it really can be eaten all on its own!
To make the cake balls, bake the cake as directed. I used two 9″ pans to speed the process along. Let cool on a wire rack until completely cooled. Crumble the cake into a large bowl. I used a food processor to finely grind the cake (very important the cake is completely cooled for this or it’ll just stick everywhere and not grind properly). Combine about 1/2 cup of the frosting with the cake crumbs and mix until moistened. Add more frosting if needed but you want a consistency that is neither too dry and will fall apart or too moist and will be too wet and sticky! Roll into balls, place on a baking sheet or tray of sorts and refrigerate at least an hour until firm. Once firm, roll in melted chocolate of your choice and let cool/harden. Save any extra frosting for another cake or to just enjoy by itself 🙂
Emily, my best friend that is getting married, and I realized that these are even better straight out of the freezer! Obviously there is tons of fun to be had with different types of cake pops so if you come up with any combinations that you love, please share here! Pictures to come, I swear…I am terrible at documenting my little projects!
My husband and I are going through the process of buying our first home…exciting yes, frustrating and overwhelming, definitely! We have had to jump through quite a few hoops to get where we are now, which sadly, isn’t even where we need to be! After quite the roller coaster ride of way too many ups and downs, I think we are finally coming to a stop at a high point! Yesterday morning seemed to be the last straw for me though, when my husband called me to tell me of another bunch of documents I would need to accumulate and send in….this was, without exaggeration, the eight time this has happened and the last three were ‘definitely the last things we need!’ Needless to say, the extra stress led to some baking this morning! Now, with the house looking like more of a reality and some time to cool off, I made a delicious pistachio cake (his favorite) as an apology to my hard-working, loving husband who has jumped through more hoops than I have but kept himself together way better than I have!!
- 1 box white cake mix
- 1 box pistachio pudding
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup oil
- Cinnamon sugar mixture
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/4 cup oats
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup butter
- dash of cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. For the crumble topping, mix flour, oats, brown sugar and cinnamon together. Cut in the butter, with two knives, a fork or a pastry blender and set aside. In another bowl, mix all of the ingredients, except the cinnamon sugar mixture, together and blend well. Pour half of the batter into the pan of your choice, top with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Pour rest of batter over top and add cinnamon sugar crumble to top (or you can just add more cinnamon sugar). Bake for 40-60 minutes, depending on the pan you chose. For a loaf pan, about 55 minutes, a 9 inch cake pan, about 45 minutes, muffins or mini loaves about 20 minutes.
I used a heart-shaped cake pan and had some batter left over so I made a few heart-shaped mini loaves, well 6 to be exact, but I ate three of them already, oops! These are great for breakfast or you can even use a cream cheese frosting instead of a crumble for more of a cake! Delicious any way you eat it!! We love this recipe so much that I actually made 150 mini loaves to put in the gift bags for out-of-town guests at our wedding…it’s that easy and that good!
When my mom told me about a recipe she found in one of her cooking magazines, I was intrigued. The combination of brussels sprouts and cream cheese with pasta had me wondering…I knew we would have to try it out! I have tried just about every veggie with pasta, but never brussels sprouts for some reason! And using cream cheese seemed like a cop-out to make an alfredo-ey type sauce without having to do any sort of work but I’ve seen more and more pasta recipes recently that use cream cheese so I figured why not jump on the bandwagon?! The dish ended up being a great weeknight dinner idea, very creamy, thick and rich and fairly easy to make. And the best part being, I usually have all of the ingredients on hand to make it, they are more or less staples for us!
Roasted Brussels Sprout Pasta
- 1-2 pounds brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
- 3 T olive oil
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- 1 pound pasta (I used a shell type, but you can use elbow, orecchiette, etc)
- 3-4 T butter
- 3-4 cloves garlic
- 1/2 onion, chopped or 1-2 t onion flakes
- 1 cup chicken broth or white wine
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened at room temperature
- 1-2 T olive oil
- Parmesan cheese, to taste
- Salt & Pepper to taste
First, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss brussels sprouts with olive oil, salt and pepper. Lay on sprayed baking sheet in one layer and roast about 30-40 minutes or until soft and slightly browned. Meanwhile, bring water to a boil for pasta, heavily salting as soon as it comes to a boil and cook pasta. While that’s cooking, saute onion and garlic in butter until softened, 3-4 minutes, add in chicken broth or wine and bring to a boil until reduced by half. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup of the water. Toss pasta and brussels sprouts with butter mixture, reserved pasta water, 1-2 T olive oil, some parmesan cheese and cream cheese. Heat until cream cheese is melted, add more pasta water as necessary to get to desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste. Top with more parm while eating! I like to add parm in layers as I eat…usually going through an additional 1/4 cup at least…I do not suggest this, however it is one of those habits I just can’t stop!
When we were younger, my best friend and I would go to my gram’s house during lunch and she’d make us pastina and egg. Another amazingly simple yet delicious recipe (seriously, just add a cracked, beaten egg or two to drained pastina, with a half a stick (or more) of butter and a ton of parmesan cheese)! We would eat an entire pound of pastina and go through half a container or more of parmesan cheese….glad to have someone to share my love of parmesan cheese with, mostly because at least I know I’m not the only one!!