Italian Mac N Cheese

I am pulling a recipe out of the vault of my family’s favorite recipes this week! I wrote this down watching a Food Network show 10+ years ago and have been making it ever since. Yes I wrote it down and didn’t print it! I think it was a Rachael Ray recipe but I’m not sure so thank you to whoever shared it first! I have tweaked it slightly over the years but didn’t change much because it’s pretty perfect. You just can’t go wrong with a homemade Italian cheese sauce, Italian sausage, buttery garlic mushrooms, and the tomatoes that brighten it all up!

Italian Mac N Cheese is a 30 minute meal that tastes like you worked for hours. If you want the process to move quickly, my biggest piece of advice is to prep everything ahead of time. Measure out the broth and cream, chop the mushrooms, mince the garlic, etc. While you’re prepping, start boiling your water too. The more prepared you are ahead of time, the less stressed you’ll be when you’re cooking. This dish is really fun to make!

Always salt your pasta water generously! Adds so much flavor!

I prefer to use crimini or baby bella mushrooms in this over button mushrooms because they have more flavor. Side note, my kids HATE mushrooms but still love this dish. They are easy to pick out!

Have you ever made a roux? Knowing how to make one is such a useful cooking skill because you’ll be able to make the most delicious homemade sauces and gravy. You do have to make one in the dish but it is so easy! It’s basically flour and fat cooked together to thicken a sauce. In this case, the fat is the butter and olive oil that the mushrooms are cooked in. Just sprinkle the flour on, cook for a minute or two, then add the liquid.

This is one of those dishes that will impress dinner guests because they’ll think you’ve been cooking all day. I have made it countless times over the years for company and everyone loves it. Because it’s a 30 minute meal, it is also great for busy week nights. It makes a lot too and makes great leftovers (if you don’t devour it all)! This is a win-win kind of meal!

Fresh out of the oven. Hard to tell but that’s a huge 12-inch skillet!

Sponsored post for Lee’s Marketplace. Items on sale at Lee’s the week of Jan 21-27: penne, Italian sausage, olive oil, butter, flour, chicken broth, Italian cheese blend, Parmesan, diced tomatoes

Italian Mac N Cheese

Ingredients

1 lb. penne pasta
1 lb. mild Italian sausage (bulk not links)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
4 garlic cloves, minced
8 oz package crimini or button mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups shredded Italian cheese blend, divided
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

Cook pasta according to package directions. Preheat broiler.

Heat a large non-stick skillet (broiler safe) to medium-high heat. Cook and crumble sausage until brown then drain and set aside. Add olive oil and butter to the pan then add garlic and mushrooms. Sauté for a few minutes or until mushrooms are brown and soft.

Sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms and stir to make a roux. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Whisk in the chicken stock and heavy cream. Bring to a low boil then stir in ¾ of the cheese blend. When the cheese melts, add tomatoes, salt, and pepper then stir. Bring to a boil then add pasta and sausage. Stir until everything is well combined.

Turn off heat and sprinkle remaining cheese blend and parmesan over the top. Place skillet in oven under the broiler for about 5 minutes or until golden brown.

Note: If you do not have a broiler safe skillet, just transfer the pasta mixture to a baking dish. Sprinkle on cheeses and place under broiler.

Korean Beef & Veggie Bowls

Happy New Year! This is my first post of 2020 and I’m so excited to share it with y’all. I have so many delicious recipes and foodie projects planned this year and I feel it in my bones that this year is going to be amazing!

A few weeks ago I asked my awesome followers on Instagram what kind of recipes that they were looking for now that the holidays are over. 99% of the responses were “quick, easy, and healthy.” Surprise, surprise. Ha! I am definitely known for my cheesy, indulgent, Tex-Mex recipes but I also have quite a few healthy ones. I love to balance comfort food with healthy! My philosophy on healthy recipes is that they must still have big, bold flavors. Taste should never be sacrificed for a healthy meal because it doesn’t have to!

The first recipe that came to mind was this one. My Korean Beef & Veggie Bowls are so flavorful and so delicious that you’ll be putting it on your regular dinner rotation. Now, don’t @ me because of the sugar! Ha! “Healthy” is a relative term because everyone is on a different eating plan these days. Sugar to some is a huge “no no” but for me, if it’s full of veggies and has healthy, lean protein, then I’m sold! You could definitely experiment with sugar alternatives and use even leaner meats like ground turkey or chicken.

“Easy” was another big request and this one definitely checks that box. I had my veggies chopped and dinner served in 30 minutes! My kids loved it! You could also double the recipe and use it for meal prep for the week. I love how versatile this is!

This is a sponsored post for Lee’s Marketplace. Items on sale the week of January 14-20: ground beef, bell pepper, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice

Korean Beef & Veggie Bowls

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil (or other light oil)
2 cups zucchini, sliced
1 cup carrot, sliced into matchsticks
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 bunch green onions, sliced and divided
1 lb lean ground beef
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 ½ tablespoons sesame oil
2-3 tablespoons Gochujang sauce
¾ teaspoon ground ginger
¾ teaspoon garlic powder
1 ¼ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups cooked white or brown rice
Sriracha sauce (optional)

Directions

Heat a large non-stick skillet to medium-high. Add olive oil then add zucchini, carrot, bell pepper, and about ¾ of the green onions. Sauté until vegetables start to soften, about 5 minutes.

Push vegetables to the side of the pan and add ground beef. Cook and crumble then stir into the vegetables. Drain grease if needed (use lean meat so you don’t have to).

To the pan, add brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, Gochujang, ginger, garlic, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine, reduce heat to medium, and let cook for 5-10 more minutes.

Serve on top of rice and garnish with remaining green onions and sriracha sauce.

Note: Gochujang can be found in the Asian section of most grocery stores. Don’t leave it out! It’s worth the buy and adds amazing flavor.

Spinach Artichoke Baked Pasta

As the days grow colder, I am craving comfort foods and my Spinach Artichoke Baked Pasta definitely hits the spot. Think spinach artichoke dip and baked pasta combined-so good! All the yummy cheese makes it indulgent for sure but the addition of lemon juice and zest brightens it up and balances everything so well. This totally tastes fancy like you’ve made so much effort but it is not hard to make at all. I love meals like this! Minimal effort but BIG taste!

This is my go-to meal when I want to make my family a meatless meal. However, if you wanted to make it heartier and stretch it further, you could definitely add chicken. Rotisserie would be perfect! This dish also makes a great freezer meal! If you have 4 or less people to feed, you could easily split this into two casserole dishes and freeze one. You might notice that red onions are pictured but they were all I had when I needed to take pictures. Yellow onions are definitely preferred! Food blogger probs-ha!

This is one of those dinners that you’ll keep coming back to and will become a family favorite!

This is a sponsored post for Lee’s Marketplace. Items on sale the week of November 5-11: cream cheese, Parmesan, frozen spinach, artichokes, mozzarella, olive oil, pasta

Spinach Artichoke Baked Pasta

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

16 oz short pasta (mini shells, orecchiette, penne)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup sour cream
4 oz cream cheese, softened (room temp)
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated and divided
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon juice
10 oz frozen spinach (thawed, excess water squeezed out)
14 oz can marinated artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped
1 ½ cups mozzarella, shredded and divided
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 425. Cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1/3 cup pasta water before draining. Prepare 3-quart casserole dish by spraying with cooking spray.

Heat a skillet to medium and add oil and onions. Cook until onions are translucent and slightly browned. Add garlic and cook for one minute.

In a large bowl combine sour cream, cream cheese, ¾ cup Parmesan, ¾ cup mozzarella, lemon juice and zest, spinach, artichokes, onions, and garlic.

Add pasta, reserved pasta water, salt and pepper then stir to combine well.
Add pasta mixture to prepared pan. Top with remaining Parmesan and mozzarella.

Cook uncovered for 10-15 or until golden brown. Serve immediately.

Skillet Pork Chops with Apples & Onions

Who loves a one-pan dinner? I sure do! Skillet Pork Chops with Apples & Onions is one of my favorite, weeknight meals this time of year. This week, Lee’s Marketplace is having a great pork sale on their “3 Meal Deal” that includes boneless chops, country style ribs and a loin roast for only $1.69/lb. I love when they do this because my freezer gets stocked!

This delicious meal is loaded with big flavor but has simple ingredients. It tastes like you’ve spent hours but it honestly takes about 30 minutes total. Pork and apples are a classic pairing and are SO perfect together! The onions balance the sweetness of the apples and the fresh herbs are the superstar finish. Seriously, do not skip the fresh herbs! The brightness of the rosemary and thyme make the dish in my opinion and it just wouldn’t be the same or as good without them. Also, anytime you’re cooking pork you NEED an internal meat thermometer. Overcooked pork is going to ruin your dinner and nobody has time for that! Serve this up with a side of mashed potatoes and you will have the perfect dinner. (Sponsored post for Lee’s Marketplace)

Items on sale at Lee’s Oct 1-7: pork chops, apples, dried sage (Badia brand), and apple cider

Skillet Pork Chops with Apples & Onions

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

6 boneless, skinless pork chops (about 2 ½ lbs)
3 large red apples, cored and sliced
2 yellow onions, sliced thin
2 teaspoons salt
Black pepper, to taste
1 ½ teaspoons dried sage
¾ cup apple cider
1 tablespoon “Better Than Bouillon” chicken base
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
1-2 tablespoons canola oil

Directions

Season both sides of pork chops by sprinkling 1 ½ teaspoons salt, black pepper, and dried sage. Heat a large, deep skillet to medium-high. Add 1 ½ tablespoons canola oil. Add pork chops to skillet and cook for 4 minutes on each side. Remove and set on a plate.

Add apples and onions to skillet. (Add a little more oil if pan seems dry)
Continue cooking on medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes or until softened.
Add apple cider, chicken base, and ½ teaspoon salt then stir to combine. Add pork chops back to skillet and nestle into apples and onions. Continue cooking (no lid) until internal temperature of pork reaches 145 degrees (might only take a few minutes).

Sprinkle rosemary and thyme over the top and serve immediately.

**Notes:
1. Bone-in pork chops can be used instead.
2. Gala apples were used in this recipe but any red apple will do
3. Goes really well with mashed potatoes!
4. Do not replace chicken base with bouillon cubes. You need the thickness and flavor from the chicken base.

Green Chile Sausage Chowder

It’s green chile season! I was so excited to see Hatch green chilies featured in this week’s Lee’s ad. We lived in New Mexico for a few years when stationed there for the Air Force and fell in love with green chilies. Everywhere you go this time of year, there are metal cages full of green chilies roasting over an open flame. The smell is glorious! I had never seen the Johnsonville Hatch Green Chile Sausage before and it inspired me to make this chowder. I love how it turned out! The creamy broth paired with the slightly spicy green chilies is the perfect match! (Sponsored post for Lee’s Marketplace)

Items on sale at Lee’s August 20-26: Johnsonville Hatch Green Chile Sausage, frozen corn, cheddar cheese, flour

Green Chile Sausage Chowder

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

1 (19 oz) package Johnsonville Hatch Green Chile Sausage, casing removed
1 small yellow onion, diced (about 1 ½ cups)
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ stick butter
½ cup flour
2 (14.5 each) cans chicken broth
1 pint half-and-half
2 cups potatoes, diced
1 cup carrots, diced
1 cup frozen corn
1 (4 oz) can green chilies
1 ½ teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

Heat a large Dutch oven or pot to medium-high. Add sausage and onion then cook until browned. Add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes stirring often.

Add butter and once melted, sprinkle flour over sausage mixture. Stir until flour is incorporated and cook for 1-2 minutes. Slowly whisk in chicken broth and half-and-half. Add salt and pepper. Increase heat, bring to a low boil and stir until thickened slightly.

Add potatoes, carrots, corn and green chilies. Reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer for 20-25 minutes or until potatoes and carrots are tender.
Serve with cheese as a garnish.

*Notes: If you cannot find Johnsonville Hatch Green Chile Sausage it’s ok. Just use plain pork sausage and add another 4 oz can of green chilies.

Easy, hearty, and so good!
If you can find this in your grocery store, get it! Delicious!

Sheet Pan Greek Chicken & Green Beans

If you’re not making sheet pan dinners for your family, allow me to introduce you. I love them because there’s little clean up, they’re fast, they look pretty, they’re versatile, and they’re delicious. Convinced? My “Sheet Pan Greek Chicken & Green Beans” is the perfect busy night meal. Back-to-school is such a crazy time for both parents and teachers and this dinner will help keep your sanity! (I am both teacher and parent so trust me!) The chicken marinade is simple but big on flavor and helps keep the chicken so moist. I also love the way the tomatoes burst in the oven and mix with the green beans. The salty feta is the perfect topping! You’re going to love this easy sheet pan dinner! (Sponsored post for Lee’s Marketplace)

Items on sale at Lee’s August 13-19: chicken breasts, olive oil, green beans, grape tomatoes, feta cheese

Sheet Pan Greek Chicken & Green Beans

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced into tenders
1 lemon, divided
1/8 cup + 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3-4 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
¾ lb fresh green beans, washed and trimmed
½ pint grape tomatoes
½ cup feta cheese

Directions

Place chicken in a zip top bag and add the juice of half the lemon, 1/8 cup olive oil, garlic, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper. Close bag and massage to combine ingredients. Place in fridge to marinate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Drizzle about 1 tablespoon olive oil over a large baking sheet (to prevent sticking). Place chicken on one half in a single layer. Add green beans and tomatoes to the other half. Drizzle about 1 tablespoon more of olive oil over green beans only. Season beans with salt and pepper to taste. Slice other half of the lemon thinly then place on top of the chicken.

Bake for 20 minutes or until internal temperature of chicken reaches 165. Remove from oven and sprinkle feta over the top of chicken and green beans. Serve immediately.

Tasty AND beautiful!!!