Buffalo Chicken Mac N’ Cheese

Why is it still raining outside when it is pretty much the end of June?! Ugh sometimes Seattle makes me angry…. Just a few days ago it was beautiful, sunny, warm, refreshing, and I was happy! Now it’s cold, rainy, windy, cloudy, and I’m sad. It has been rainy and cloudy for a few days now, and it needs to go away! Seattle likes to tease you with a few days of summer sprinkled throughout the week. I get all excited, lie out in the sun, play with the dogs at the dog park, drink lemonade and eat popsicles, just to have my happy mood rained on (literally) a few short days later. WHY Seattle?! Can’t you just stay sunny!!! OK OK, I know this weekend is supposed to be in the 80’s, I will patiently wait for just three more days…..But once the 4th of July comes, I will not except anything but sunny, warm, beach weather!

Any who, since it was chilly last night, and REALLY rainy (ok there was a tad bit of thunder last night and that made me VERY happy!!! Thunder hardly ever happens here! It was a bit nostalgic.) I decided to use the warm oven to make a warm meal for dinner. Unfortunately once it gets to the end of the month around the Johnson household, ingredients for dinners become less and less ha! Like I said, we only shop once a month, so we have to stretch all our food to the end of the month. I do plan meals every month, but sometimes I run out of butter too early, or I’ll run out of ground beef (I didn’t buy any this month because I bought it the month before) but  mostly we run out of things like cheese. So last night’s dinner was an improve recipe to what I originally was going to make. It still was tasty tasty, and I made lots extra so that we could bring it for lunches this week! We enjoyed it while watching Under the Dome. Yes we are big Stephen King fans!!! Jesse has been reading like a freakin TON of his books lately, so when we found out his mini-series was starting, we were all over it! I admit, it was a little gross to watch while eating dinner, so next time we will probably eat dinner BEFORE the show ha! I hope you enjoy my Buffalo Chicken Mac n’ Cheese!

Ingredients:  feeds ~2-3 people

  •  ½ lb. Pasta noodles (I used penne, but any short noodle, like elbow or rigatoni would work)
  • 1 Chicken breast, cut up into bite sized pieces
  • ½ C Buffalo sauce (feel free to add more if you like spicy)
  • ½ C Plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 TBS butter
  • 1 TBS. flour
  • 1 TBS Mustard
  • 1 C Milk
  • 1 ½ – 2 C cheese (depending on how cheesy you like it)
  • ½ C Bread crumbs
  • Salt and pepper
  • Parsley

Directions:

  1. Cook your pasta noodles according to the packaged directions.
  2. In a small frying pan, place your bit sized chicken, sprinkle with salt, pepper, parsley and let it cook through until there is no more pink showing. Then remove from the heat.
  3. In a medium sized frying pan, on medium heat, melt your butter. Stir in your flour until there are not more clumps.
  4. Then add in your mustard and stir until well incorporated. (It is important to make sure there are not flour clumps, so that your sauce doesn’t have chunks of flour in it. Sometimes it helps to use a wooden spoon to mix the flour, butter and mustard till its smooth)
  5. Whisk in your milk, (slowly add your milk) and then add in your buffalo sauce. Continuously whisk this until it thickens.  ~5-8mins
  6. Then once thick, add in your cheese, yogurt and chicken, stir them until well incorporated and the sauce is nice and smooth.
  7. Once your pasta is drained and back in the pot, pour your sauce over the pasta. Stir your noodles so the sauce coats ever noodle!
  8. Then place your noodles into a casserole dish.  
  9. Melt about 1 TBS of butter in the microwave.  Once melted add your bread crumbs to it, and stir well. Then sprinkle your buttered bread crumbs on top of your noodles in the casserole dish.
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  11. Place in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 mins so that the bread crumbs can get nice and golden brown. Then EAT!

Enjoy!

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BBQ Chicken Baked Potato

Jesse and I LOVE Costco!! Once a month when we go on our grocery shopping adventure, we look forward the most, to heading to Costco.  Even though Costco is usually really busy on Saturday afternoons, we somehow get passed the crowds to enjoy all the free samples and try to score some sweet deals! Jesse and I only leave Costco when we have had a sufficient amount of tasty samples. I think my favorite samples are the ice cream ones, really just all the dessert samples! I have made Jesse go back to grab seconds of those samples for me before.  (Shh!) I think one of my favorite things to get at Costco is their giant bag of bread rolls (If you don’t know me then you may not know my love of bread! I could live on bread!! ) We go through their giant bag of bread rolls every month, because we eat them with almost every meal ha! I also love getting their Greek yogurt, cheese, French fries, and their GIANT bag of potatoes. They have the best deal on potatoes!  I sometimes get their bag of potatoes that have the colorful purple, red and gold ones, but I just can’t get over the deal they have on their regular russet potatoes. The potatoes are really big, they taste great, and they last a long time.

I often try to find ways to have potatoes (since we have so many) that is different than just your typical diced up potatoes for a side dish, or even mashing them up. So when Jesse and I went to Joe’s Real BBQ out in Arizona for out rehearsal dinner before our wedding, they had this great potato dish that I just had to try to copy. It is a great way to use up our potatoes, it’s super easy, and it involves bacon. (Jesse loves any meal involving bacon!) So next time you are looking at all the potatoes you just got from Costco and wondering what to do with them, here ya go! Enjoy my BBQ Chicken Baked Potato recipe 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 2 Potatoes
  • 1 Chicken breast
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Bacon Bits
  • Green Onions
  • BBQ sauce
  • Pepper
  • Plain Greek Yogurt (or sour cream) *optional

Directions:

  1. Rinse your potatoes under water until they are nice and clean. Poke holes in your baked potato using a fork. Spread butter all over the potato. And then wrap them up in tinfoil so they are completely covered.

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  1. Place your baked potatoes in the 425 degree oven for about an hour to an hour and a half. Until they are nice and soft when you squish them.
  2. While your baked potatoes are cooking, put your chicken breast in a shallow baking dish, cover with tinfoil, and place in the oven as well.  The chicken will take a little less time than your potatoes (about 50-60mins) just make sure your chicken is fully cooked.
  3. Once your potatoes and chicken are done, it’s time to start assembling these bad boys!!
  4. First, shred your chicken with two forks. Place your shredded chicken back in the shallow baking dish and pour in your BBQ sauce. You can add in as much BBQ sauce as you like. I like to get my chicken saturated in BBQ! (YUM!) Then place back in the oven for about 5-10 mins to get the chicken warm again.
  5. Cut open your baked potato. I like to cut mine right down the middle and spread open so you can put all the yummy toppings on it.
  6. Once your chicken is nice and warm start by putting it on top of your baked potato. Then on top of your chicken, add your shredded cheese, green onions, dash of pepper, bacon bits (I like to cook a piece of bacon and just break it into pieces, but bacon bits from the grocery store would work too.) and sour cream.

Enjoy!

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Strawberry Blueberry Muffins

My mom recently underwent back surgery for the THIRD time! I can’t believe that she has been able to handle and tolerate such invasive surgery three times now. She is stuck in bed for weeks, and is unable to function normal for months. I remember the first time she had back surgery; I was in high school. I hated seeing the women who was always in control, always knew how to get things done, was always so independent become, all of a sudden, handicapped and unable to fend for herself. As sad as it makes me to think about that time, I remember how comforting it was for me to help my mom. I was able to do whatever she needed me to do for her, whether it be cleaning, cooking, helping her move, or even just getting her a glass of water! She has recovered both times from her other two previous surgeries, but with time, something seems to happen and she needs to go back under for the procedure again.

With this third surgery of hers, I’m living far far away, too far to be there to help her. I have been getting updates from her that my dad and grandma seem to be helping her a lot, which is a relief, but I think I need to talk to my brothers and sister to get them to step up too…..ha! I pray often that my mom can heal quickly from this surgery, and that she won’t have to have any more crazy back surgeries!! Since I can’t physically be there for my mom, I try to be there for her in the only other way I know how… by baking her treats, making her little get well notes and mailing them to her! So that is exactly what I did on Sunday afternoon. While Jesse was out mowing the lawn in the sprinkling rainy weather, I was inside enjoying our house smelling like a strawberry milkshake! My mom’s birthday was also just on Sunday, so these Strawberry Blueberry muffins where also to celebrate her turning another year older! I hope these muffins can perk her spirit up and also be a quick snack to grab when she is feeling hungry. (They are healthier for you because of the oatmeal, yogurt, applesauce, and blueberries in the recipe. They are great for someone who may be sick or in need of some healthy breakfast alternative.) My mom better keep these by her bedside because if she leaves them in the kitchen, I’m afraid she won’t be eating very many of them herself… (*cough* *cough* DAD, MICHAEL and ALEX…) Haha! Thinking about you all the time mother of mine! Xoxo!

Ingredients:  Made 16 muffins

  • 2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 C oats, plain
  • 1 C Sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 12 oz. Strawberry Greek yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 TBS strawberry applesauce
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 C blueberries

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease your muffin pan well.
  2. Mix all your dry ingredients together in a bowl.
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  4. Mix all your wet ingredients in a separate bowl.
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  6. Combine your dry ingredients to your wet ingredients, just until they are incorporated. (My mixture was a little dry at this point so I added about ¼ C milk to thin it out)
  7. Gently fold in your blueberries.
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  9. Spoon your mixture into your greased muffin tins, filling each cup about ½ ways full.
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  11. Bake for about 20-25mins, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

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Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes

I didn’t in any way come up with this recipe for Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes. I got them off of this website: http://www.annies-eats.com/ Feel free to check out the recipe there or just continue reading on my blog.

Wednesday at my job, there was a going away party for one of my coworkers. We all went out to pizza, had a few beers, and enjoyed these AMAZING cupcakes! My friend Jessica, actually made these cupcakes and brought them into work. I think I died and went to heaven when I took a bite of one. She is a fantastic baker to have made something so delicious! Everyone was saying how tasty they were to her. There was something about the frosting of this recipe that just really brought the cupcakes home for me. I didn’t even have to ask Jessica for the recipe, I think she could see the look on my face when I was devouring my cupcake, that I needed this recipe! She knows I love to bake too. So she gave me the recipe and I immediately went to the grocery store after work and bought the ingredients to make these awesome treats. Lucky for me, Jesse was having a potluck at work so I thought I could bake them for his work friends. I stayed up pretty late trying to make these cupcakes as good as Jessica’s were. I wanted other people to feel and enjoy these cupcakes the way I did. 🙂 I tasted the frosting over and over, trying to get it as tasty as I could! I finally just settled for what I had (because after all, it was approaching 1am!) and put these cupcakes together. I have to say, I’m pretty proud of the end result! I made a few extra cupcakes for Jesse and I to keep at home, and I just HAD to try one before I went to bed. So there I was, sitting in between my two sleeping puppies on the couch, eating a cupcake at 1am! Good thing my dogs can’t talk because they would have been making fun of everything I kept saying to myself about the cupcake!! I was pleasantly satisfied with the way these turned out. I could have ate maybe three or four more!

I find these a great summer treat! Let me know how you like them if you decide to bake them 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ C all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp. Baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • 8 TBS unsalted butter, at room temp.
  • ¾ C sugar
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla
  • 2 TBS lemon juice
  • ½ C milk
  • 1 C fresh blueberries

For the frosting:

  • 8 oz cream cheese, at room temp.
  • 5 TBS butter, at room temp
  • 3 C confectioners sugar, sifted
  • zest of a lemon
  • 1 TBS of fresh squeezed lemon juice

Directions: (taken from the website above)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine all-purpose flour baking powder and salt; whisk together and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter, sugar and lemon zest. Beat together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and lemon juice.
  4. With the mixer on low speed, mix in half of the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Blend in the milk. Mix in the remaining dry ingredients, beating just until incorporated.
  5. Using a spatula gently fold the berries into the cake batter. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared liners, filling each about ¾ full.
  6. Bake 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pans 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. (Makes about 16 cupcakes)
  7. To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Mix in the lemon juice and lemon zest. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat until smooth. Frost cooled cupcakes as desired. Garnish with fresh blueberries.

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(So cute right?!)

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(Cupcakes Jesse took with him to work)

Broccoli and Chicken Alfredo

Last night ,for dinner, I made Broccoli and Chicken Alfredo. My whole family is Italian, so I know my grandma would have been so proud of my dinner last night. She is a great cook! Perhaps I get some of my love of cooking from her. She loves to make the fancy dinners for my family like prime rib and roast beef, but she is great at making pasta too! She even makes her own Alfredo sauce from time to time. My great-aunt and her son are great cooks as well! My grandma would say that they are better than her, but I’m bias and I have to say my grandma is better 🙂

Now, since my grandma is a great cook she, inadvertently, is a huge food pusher!!! She loves to make people eat until they feel like they are going to explode! I guess that is the normal Italian thing… Poor Jesse, when we first got married, and even before we were married and actually still now, always feels bad for saying “no more” to my grandma. She gets her heart broken when you don’t want to eat her three course meal and also the three different desserts she has. Haha, my grandma is so wonderful though! I miss her all the time living here in Seattle! I liked to think of her while I cooked this meal.

Since I can’t eat very much dairy, this Alfredo sauce is pretty untraditional. But don’t get me wrong, it’s very tasty! Jesse said as he was eating it, “I sometimes don’t like Alfredo sauces because they can be bland, but this Alfredo sauce is not bland at all.” (Ain’t he sweet to me!) If Jesse gives it his stamp of approval, I’m sure you guys will enjoy it too!

Ingredients:

  • ½ Box of Linguine noodles
  • 1 Chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 C Broccoli florets
  • 1 C plain Greek yogurt
  • ¼ C Creamer (I used creamer because it’s non dairy, but you can use milk)
  • 1 C Shredded cheese
  • pinch of Chili Pepper
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Cook you linguine according to the boxed directions.
  2. In a frying pan coated with a bit of Olive Oil, add you chicken. I seasoned my chicken with salt and pepper and a dash of chili powder.
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  4. Once you chicken is fully cooked, add in your broccoli and remove from heat.
  5. Once your noodles are done, drain them and put them back in the same pot they were in. Add in your broccoli, chicken, yogurt, creamer, cheese and just a dash more of chili powder.
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  7. Mix everything really well together. Let sit for about 2-3 mins with the lid on the pot.
  8. Enjoy!

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Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

Ever since I was little I have been a really picky eater. (If you ask my mom she would say “really picky” is an understatement!) There was a point in my life, when I was little, that I remember only eating hot dogs and macaroni and cheese at every meal, everyday! I was always the last person at the dinner table, trying to make the three bites my mom told me to eat before I could be done, magically go away! As I got older, my mom was great at catering to my small variety of foods I would actually eat. She was awesome at knowing what would be a wasted dinner and what I would actually eat.  Because I was such a picky eater when I was younger, I grew up to be a picky eater permanently. I remember throughout college having a hard time finding foods that I liked on campus, there were just a few places that I actually would eat at. My friends would make fun of me for eating the same things over and over.

But my picky habits changes drastically when I got married. Jesse is a complete 180 degree different eater then I was. He had been given all kinds of different and weird things to eat when he was little, and so in turn, he loved to eat a whole bunch of weird things. For example, he likes to eat mushrooms! Eww sick! He loves to eat onions, peppers, olives, beans, salsa and even mustard! He loves all genres of foods too, Mexican, Thai, Indian, Chinese, Native American, you name it, he probably likes it! I felt bad when we first got married because our dinners were pretty simple and boring because that is what I liked, and was used to. I remember Jesse telling me to take a bite of his sandwich that had mustard on it, and I thought I would hate it, but I loved it. I remember Jesse ordering green peppers on our pizza once, and I was terrified to eat it because I never had anything besides pepperoni pizza, but it was amazingly delicious. I remember Jesse ordering buffalo chicken wings, Indian friend bread tacos, subs with spinach, burgers with cheese and onions on it, just all these different things that I never would have ate before because I always thought they were so gross. Slowly but surely Jesse started opening my taste buds to all these fabulous new foods, and I liked them!! I have him to thank, in part, for my love of cooking. He has showed me all these beautiful, tasty foods that I now love, and I now love to cook for him.

This brings me to the dinner we had last night. I made Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches. Now, before we were married, if you were to ask me to eat something with buffalo sauce on it, I would have said no way Jose, that stuff is too spicy!  I know that Jesse LOVES buffalo sauce. And as his wife, I only want to make him happy, and because I’m Italian, I want to make him happy by making his belly happy ha! So I pushed my fears aside and started cooking buffalo things. And boy, has it been one of the best cooking decisions ever! I still am not big on really spicy things, but I just add as much buffalo sauce as I can tolerate and then Jesse adds more to his sandwich.  If you are not as picky as I was, and you enjoy buffalo sauce, these sandwiches are fast, easy and definitely delicious!

Ingredients:

  • 2 Chicken breasts
  • ¼ C buffalo Sauce
  • ¼ C plain Greek Yogurt
  • ¼ C shredded cheese
  • Dash of salt and pepper
  • Hamburger buns

Directions:

  1. Place your two chicken breasts into a shallow baking dish. Cover them with tinfoil and put them in the 375 degree oven for about an hour and a half to an hour and forty five minutes. You want to make sure they are fully cooked!
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  3. Take your two chicken breasts out of the oven and place them on a cutting board. Take two forks and shred both of your chickens.
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  5. Then place the shredded chicken back into your shallow baking dish.
  6. Add your buffalo sauce, yogurt, cheese and salt and pepper. Stir them all into the chicken really well.
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  8. Pop back into the oven for about 10 mins so that everything can get nice and hot again.
  9. Once done, pile the chicken on to your hamburger buns and enjoy!!

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(Yes that is Prudy begging for some buffalo chicken!)

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(Jesse enjoying his beer with dinner!)

Fiesta Bowls

I came up with this dinner based on the fact that Jesse and I just LOVE Chipotle. Well actually Jesse LOVES Chipotle and I like it! Jesse usually gets this giant, humongous filled burrito that usually makes him feel sick after because he ate too much, and I usually get their tasty salad bowls. Unfortunately we can’t ever eat at Chipotle as much as we would like. It gets pretty dang expensive, and there are not as many Chipotles here in Seattle as there was in Arizona.  So I decided to come up with our own version of a Chipotle dish. We call them Fiesta Bowls. Jesse and I have this meal probably 3-4 times a month because it possess two of my favorite criteria’s for picking out dinners. 1. It is sooooo fast and 2. It is sooooo easy.  Also you can garnish it anyway you like. That is good for Jesse because he loves to add things to his bowl that I wouldn’t add to my bowl and we both love the way our bowls turn out! Whenever I get home late from work, Jesse and I typically whip this dinner up in a matter of 10-15mins. Now, it’s not anywhere near something as tasty as you would find at Chipotle, but I think it does a good job holding us over until our next visit to Chipotle comes along.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ C Instant white rice
  • Few sprigs of Cilantro
  • 2 TBS Lime juice
  • ½ C black beans
  • ½ C corn
  • 1 Chicken breast cut into bit size pieces
  • Dash of Chili Powder
  • Dash of Paprika
  • Dash of salt and pepper
  • Tortilla Chips

For Garnishing:

  • Lettuce
  • Cheese
  • Salsa
  • Guacamole
  • Sour Cream
  • Jalapenos

Directions:

  1. Cook your bite sized chicken in a frying pan. Season with Chili powder, paprika and salt and pepper. Cook Chicken until it is completely cooked through.
  2. Cook your rice according to the packaged directions in a medium sized sauce pan. When you pour your rice into your boiling water, also add in your lime juice and cilantro at this point so it gives the rice a good 5 minutes to soak up the flavors.
  3. Once your rice is done, remove your pot from the heat and mix in your beans, corn and cooked chicken. Let them sit together, with the lid on the sauce pan, for about 3-4 minutes so everything can get nice and hot!
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  5. Then transfer your rice mixture to bowls and garnish as you please. I love to add cheese, lettuce, guacamole, and plain Greek yogurt (or sour cream if you like) and Jesse likes to also add salsa and jalapenos to his.
  6. Then we eat! We like to eat ours with tortilla chips because I like the extra crunch of the chips. (I’m a texture person. The texture of my meal has to be pleasing or I can’t eat it ha!) It also is tasty to eat it with the tortilla chips because they give that extra little flavor of salt without it being an overly salty dish.

Enjoy!

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