Sweet Pork Mac N’ Cheese

A few weeks ago Jesse and I went to Long Beach, Wa. If you haven’t read my blog post on it yet, you should because that place is awesome! Any who, we went to this restaurant there called Pickled Fish. It was a fabulous place with cute old rustic decorations, live music and fantastic food. I got a pizza and Jesse got this pork mac n’ cheese. Don’t get me wrong, I love pizza, but Jesse’s dinner was AMAZING! AMAZING is really an understatement…. I could have eaten his whole bowl plus 6 more bowls of that heavenly dinner.  I have never had pork in mac n cheese before. It wasn’t just regular old pulled pork, but it kind of tasted like sweet bacon. I have been craving that meal ever since that night, so the dinner I made the other night was inspired by Jesse’s dinner from Pickled Fish. I call it Sweet Pork Mac N’ Cheese. You may be having some doubts right about now, saying to yourself, Sarah, pork mixed with mac n cheese just sounds a little too far-fetched for me….. let alone sweet pork mixed with the sweetness from the cheese may not taste so good….. BUT I’m going to tell you as many times as you need to be convinced that this dish is AMAZING!!! You have to try it, you really must. I have some leftover pork in my fridge right now and I’m thinking about making this mac n’ cheese again today and I just had it two nights ago! 🙂 I used about 3-4 lbs of pork for this dish and I definitely didn’t use all of it for the mac n cheese. Since I have some leftover, like I said, I am going to make this meal again, but I’m also going to eat some of it like pulled pork sandwiches. Try it out, and let me know what you think.

Ingredients:

For the Sweet Pork

  • 3-4 lbs of pork butt/shoulder
  • 1 packet of Ol El Paso sauce. This was tricky for me to find, but it’s in the Mexican food isle, near the taco seasoning. It is a yellow packet that has some words on it like ancho chili pepper with garlic sauce. Make sure you get the one that says garlic sauce on it.
  • 1 C Root Beer
  • 2 C Golden Brown Sugar

For the Mac N’ Cheese

  • ½ lb of noodles. Any noodle you like.
  • 2 TBS. butter
  • 2 TBS. Flour
  • ½ tsp. Dijon Mustard
  • 4 Dashes of hot sauce (I actually used buffalo sauce because that is all I had, either one works)
  • 2 C Whole milk
  • 1 C Shredded Cheese, any you like. I used a mixture of cheddar and Colby jack.
  • 2 TBS melted butter
  • ½ C Italian style bread crumbs

Directions:

  1. Place your pork shoulder/butt into a crock pot. Pour the El paso packet, the root beer and brown sugar on the pork and then cover and cook the pork on low for 8 hours. Once it is finished shred the pork and place back in the crock pot.
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  4. When your pork is almost finished, start your mac n cheese.
  5. Cook the half a pound of noodles according to the packaged directions.
  6. While the noodles are cooking, place 2 Tbs. of butter in a medium sized sauce pan on medium heat. Once the butter is melted pour in your flour and stir stir stir those two together.
  7. Then, slowly pour in your milk. Add only a little at a time, stiring constantly until all the clumps of flour are gone.
  8. Once all the milk is in the sauce pan, mix your mustard, hot sauce, salt, and pepper  into it.
  9. Let it thicken up. Once it is thick, take it off the burner and add in your 1 C of shredded Cheese.
  10. Now lets assemble.  Take your drained pasta noodles and place them in a 9×13 casserole dish. Place some shredded sweet pork and it’s juices on top of the noodles. Then pour your milk mixture on top of that and sprinkle more cheese on top of your sauce. Mix together your last 2 Tbs of melted butter and bread crumbs and then sprinkle those on top of your shredded cheese.
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  14. Pop in the 350 degree oven for about 20-30 mins until the cheese is nice and melty.

Enjoy!

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Chicken Cordon Blue Casserole

If you have never been to Long Beach, Wa I highly recommend you make a special trip out there. That is where Jesse and I went this last weekend and we had a blast. We stayed at the Adrift Hotel. It is literally right on the beach and they are pet friendly so bring your animals along with you. 🙂 They had so many extra amenities including beach cruisers that you can borrow for free and cruise around the beach. Jesse and I went for a 7 mile bike ride with our dogs and we all loved it!! Everything was so beautiful, on one side of us was the forest with all these massive pine trees and on the other side was the ocean! We also took our dogs for a nice long walk on the beach at sunset and I can’t even begin to tell you how gorgeous that was!! We shopped around their cute little town, I beat Jesse in shuffleboard and he beat me in ping pong, we listened to live music while dining at the Adrift’s restaurant “Pickled Fish,” we drank beer from a local brewery called Fort George (literally they have the best beer I ever tasted) and we just relaxed and enjoyed being away on a mini vacation. I wish I was still there, relaxing and sipping a beer on the beach, but I guess we all have to come back to reality at some point.

Anyway, before I keep rambling on and on about my vacation I will tell you about a delightful dinner I made the other night. I call it Chicken Cordon Blue Casserole. You know I have a love for casseroles so anything I can make into a casserole I will. 🙂 This recipe is great if you like chicken cordon blues. It’s fast to make, you pop it in the oven for a short period of time so dinner is ready quickly, and everyone is sure to enjoy it. Try it out; let me know what you think!

Ingredients:

  • 2 C Ham, diced into bite sized pieces (I have a big chunk of ham I bought around Christmas time and have been keeping it in the freezer chipping away at it, so if you don’t have a ham, I suggest either buying a smaller sized ham at the grocery store, or you can also use the deli ham.)
  • 2 C Chicken, about 2 smaller sized chicken breasts cooked and shredded
  •  ~1-2 C Swiss cheese, shredded
  • 2 TBS. Butter
  • 2 TBS. Flour
  • 1 C Milk
  • 1 TBS fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • Salt/pepper
  • Pinch of paprika
  • 3 TBS. melted butter
  • ~ ¾ C Italian style bread crumbs

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease a square baking dish. I don’t know the exact dimensions of my square baking dish, sorry!
  2. Place your shredded chicken into your casserole dish first. Season with salt and pepper. Then add your diced up ham on top of your chicken.
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  4. Sprinkle the Swiss cheese on top of the ham and make sure to cover everything with the cheese.
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  6. Next in a pot, melt your 2 TBS. butter on medium heat. Once your butter is melted, you are going to make a rue by mixing your flour and butter together. Once your flour and butter are mixed together, they will form sort of a paste.
  7. Then slowly add your milk into your rue. Make sure you are constantly mixing to avoid flour clumps from forming.
  8. Once all your milk is added, squeeze in your lemon juice, mustard, salt/pepper and a pinch of paprika
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  10. Let it cook until the milk thickens up. Once it has thickened, pour it over your chicken, ham and cheese. Make sure to fill it only about half way up the casserole dish. You don’t want to over fill it because then your casserole will be kind of runny. I made the mistake of adding to much liquid to my casserole. It still tasted great but it just was a little runnier then I would have liked.
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  12. Finally, take your last 3 TBS melted butter and mix in your bread crumbs. Sprinkle the bread crumbs on top of the casserole and pop in the oven for about 30 mins.

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Enjoy!

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Pesto Chicken Sandwiches

This last weekend I made a delightfully tasty sandwich for dinner. I call it a Pesto Chicken sandwich. It is nothing extravagant or complicated, it’s rather simple and quick to make, but it makes a great lunch or dinner when you pair it with a pasta salad or maybe some potato chips. The bread I used for the sandwich was homemade ciabatta bread that I made from scratch. It paired really nicely with this sandwich but any bread that you prefer would taste great. Try this tasty dish out and let me know what you think! 🙂

Ingredients:

  • Bread slices (any you prefer)
  • 1 chicken breast, butterflied
  • 1 pkg. Knorr Pesto sauce
  • ¼ C Greek yogurt
  • Lettuce, cucumber, tomato, cheese anything you wish to garnish your sandwich
  • Salt/pepper/garlic

Directions:

  1. Place your butterflied chicken breast on a grill and let cook until it gets the nice black charred marks on both sides. Make sure to sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic and cook all the way through.
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  3. While your chicken is cooking, prepare your pesto sauce according to the packaged directions.
  4. Mix some Greek yogurt into your finished pesto sauce. Place one butterflied chicken breast onto a slice of bread and brush on lots of your pesto/Greek yogurt sauce.
  5. On the other slice of bread place a slice of cheese of your preference as well as any garnish you would enjoy.
  6. Place the two slices of bread together and ENJOY!IMG_2697

Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers

Valentine’s Day was this past weekend and yes I am a sucker for Valentine’s Day! 🙂 I love all the love in the air. My hubby is so sweet to me every day…hehe but he pulls all the strings on Valentine’s Day. Meaning, he always makes me a delicious dinner, picks out and watches sweet sappy romantic movies with me and he gets me beautiful flowers. This year he also planned a romantic train ride to Mount Rainer. He really is so great, I sure do love him hehe. 🙂

I made a nice tasty EASY dinner this weekend. You must try it if you love Philly Cheesesteaks and green peppers. I call this dinner Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers. Jesse ate three of these in one sitting because he liked it so much. I don’t think this meal could come together any faster or be any easier. You must try it out and let me know what you think.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Green Peppers
  • 8 slices of provolone cheese
  • ½ C Mushrooms, diced
  • ¼ C of a Yellow Onion, diced
  • Roast beef, I just used the carving board lunch meat kind
  • Salt/pepper/garlic

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a frying pan, place some olive oil, your onions and mushrooms on medium heat and cook until the mushrooms and onions are nice and soft. Season with some salt, pepper and garlic.
  3. While your mushrooms and onions are cooking, cut your two peppers in half and take out the seeds and veins.
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  5. Place a slice of provolone cheese inside each pepper.
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  7. Then put a spoonful of your onion and mushroom mixture in each of the peppers.
  8. Next, place a good amount of your roast beef in each pepper so it seems to be overflowing.
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  10. Then place one more slice of cheese on each pepper and place it in a baking dish.
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  12. Place the baking dish in the oven for about 15-20 mins until the cheese is nice and bubbly.

Enjoy!

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Butter

Bread and butter are essential in my everyday eating habits. I eat bread and butter at least once a day. I did get a bread machine for Christmas this year and I have been making all kinds of homemade bread in it. It brings back memories from when my mom use to make bread for us when we were little, in her bread machine. Not only does it make the house smell incredible (I couldn’t sleep the other night because I was making bread and it’s warm fragrance over took the house and caused me to get super hungry haha) but there is nothing quite like a fresh slice of bread with dinner every night. I thought, well I make my own bread regularly; why not try making my own butter? That way I know exactly what is in the pounds and pounds of butter I eat in a month and who knows, maybe it could save us some mullah in the long run. So I found a recipe to make my own butter. Not only was it incredibly easy to make, but it was a BLAST. Jesse’s was napping (because he only got 4 hours of sleep the night before 😦 ) but I really wish he could have been up to watch the transformation from cream to butter. I will definitely have to make butter again so he can participate. I tried it on some bread immediately after I made it, and to no surprise, it tasted just like regular store bought butter. 🙂 Doing the calculations on the ingredients needed and how much a tub of butter costs at the store, I am pretty sure they are about even. But I think you should at least try it out or get your kids to participate in it.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Quart of heavy whipping cream
  • ¾ tsp. salt

Directions:

  1. Pour your quart of heavy whipping cream in a big mixing bowl and add your salt. I used a hand held mixer, but I’m sure it would be much easier if you had your own stand mixer. Either option will work just fine for this.
  2. Turn your hand mixer on low and begin stirring up the cream and salt. You can gradually increase the speed as the mixture gets thicker. I suggest you start on a low speed because the cream will splash everywhere if you don’t. You will continue mixing the cream for about 20-30 mins. After about 20–30 mins the cream will clump up and start to produce liquid. The liquid is buttermilk. (Be careful to bring the speed back down on your mixer or place a towel over the bowl because again, the buttermilk will splash all over.)  At this point your butter starts to stick together really well, and it feels almost waxy, you are done!
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  8. Squish all your butter together so it forms some sort of ball.
  9. Place a strainer on top of bowl and strain off the liquid. Place your buttermilk liquid in an airtight sealed container and keep it in the fridge. Use it in other recipes such as fried chicken YUM!
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  12. Take your butter ball and rinse it in water to get any excess buttermilk off.
  13. Place butter in an airtight sealed container and place in the fridge for up to 4 weeks.

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Enjoy!

Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Just the other day it snowed 3 inches here! It was amazingly beautiful and peaceful. Growing up in AZ I never really got the opportunity to see snow fall or snow on the ground. When I went to college up north in AZ, I fell in love with the snow seasons. There is nothing more beautiful, to me, than seeing the bare trees covered in white snow, or the bushes no longer green, but white from snowflakes, and mostly I love the snow because of the quiet peacefulness it brings with it. For some reason whenever it is snowing it just seems like everything stands still and there is no noise outside. I LOVE that J (is it just me who feels that way haha!) Anyway, the snow was so fun to play in and the dogs were having a ball prancing around in it in our backyard. I am sad to see the snow melting already but I guess that’s what I get when I live in Seattle.

I have all of a sudden become some kind of super domestic women this weekend….I mean I made my own butter, yogurt, and applesauce. I also made lunch for the week for Jesse and I, dinner for the next two days, a fresh loaf of dill bread, and I made a delicious Cream Cheese pound cake for Jesse and I to enjoy for breakfast for the week. I have been really interested in making my own things like butter and applesauce, to see if it really saves Jesse and I some money. (If you know me, I’m always trying to save a buck where ever I can.) We just went grocery shopping this weekend and it was fun to pass by regularly purchased items thinking in the back of my mind, I’m going to make my own. J

Like I said, I made a Cream Cheese Pound Cake for breakfast this week. I may have had a little sliver of it last night because I couldn’t resist. 😉 Let me tell you, it was probably the most delicious pound cake I have ever had. Seriously, I don’t know why I liked it so much, maybe it was the denseness of the cake, maybe it was the slight sweetness it had, or maybe it was because I got to cook it in my new bundt cake pan, but whatever the reason, I highly recommend you try this cake out and let me know what you think.

Ingredients:

  • 1 C Butter, softened
  • ½ C Buttermilk (If you don’t have buttermilk, use an extra ½ C butter in its place)
  • 1 8oz. package of cream cheese, softened
  • 3 C Sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 C All-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 T. vanilla

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. In a mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together your softened butter and cream cheese.
  3. Add in your buttermilk; make sure you are beating this at a low speed so the buttermilk doesn’t fly everywhere.
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  5. Next, add in your sugar and combine all the ingredients together until nice and fluffy.
  6. Then add in your eggs one at a time, mixing the egg into the batter well before adding in the next egg.
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  8. Once all your eggs are mixed into your batter, sift in your three cups of flour, then add salt, and your vanilla.
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  10. Make sure everything is well combined.
  11. Take your 10in budnt cake pan and spray it with non-stick cooking spray. Pour your batter into the cake pan and place in the 300 degree oven for 1 hour and 40 mins.
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  13. Cake will be done when a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Enjoy!

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Pretzel Chicken with Ranch Potatoes

In just a few days Jesse and I will be vacationing in AZ! We are excited to visit family, have lots of time to relax, and mostly enjoy the warm 70 degree sunny weather. Right now it’s cloudy, rainy and cold in Seattle, so the complete opposite of that sounds delightful. We are going to AZ, also, to be a part of one of my great friend’s weddings. I simply can’t wait to be there for her big day! We have been such great friends since high school, going on church retreats together, having sleepovers, and chit chatting about boys for hours and hours. It makes me so happy to see that she has found the right guy and is spending the rest of her life with someone who makes her really happy. 🙂 Marriage sure is great! I know her wedding is going to be beautiful and so will she. I can’t WAIT!!

We are getting to the end of the month, which means groceries are dwindling down and I am having to stray away from the menu (probably because I didn’t make a great menu this month..ooopps!) and come up with dinner’s with food we already have in the pantry. This is where I can up with my Pretzel Chicken. It has a honey mustard coating and it’s topped with a little cheese. I also made ranch potatoes as a side that ended up being a tasty combination with the chicken. Jesse kept saying how moist and delicious this chicken was. You need to try this recipe out and let me know what you think. 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 2 Chicken breasts
  • 1 C crushed up pretzels
  • 1 egg
  • ½ C Honey mustard (or combine some yellow mustard and honey if you don’t have honey mustard.)
  • 1 C flour
  • Salt/pepper
  • Shredded cheese

For the potatoes:

  • A few potatoes diced up (any potato you prefer. I just used russet.)
  • Olive Oil
  • Packet of Ranch dressing mix
  • Pinch of garlic
  • Pinch of salt/pepper

Directions:

  1. Place your flour on a plate.
  2. Place your crushed up pretzels on a different plate.
  3. In a bowl, mix together your honey mustard and egg.
  4. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  5. First, dip 1 chicken breast into your egg/mustard mixture, then dip it in your flour. Mix it back into your egg/mustard mixture and then place on your pretzel plate and cover the chicken with pretzels.
  6. Repeat with the other chicken breast.
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  8. Pop in the oven for 40-50 mins until the chicken is cook all the way through.
  9. Once finished, take out of the oven and sprinkle a little cheese on top. Let it melt on your chicken.
  10. Serve with a side of honey mustard for dipping.

For the potatoes:

  1. After you have diced up your potatoes place them in a ziplock baggie. Pour in your olive oil, as well as your pinch of garlic powder, salt and pepper, and about ½-or all of your ranch packet depending on how many potatoes you used. Shake the ziplock baggie until everything is evenly coated with goodness.
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  3. Place in the oven at the same time as your chicken and they should be finished around the same time.

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Enjoy!

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