Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese

It’s winter and that means COMFORT FOOD. All day every day. I love mac and cheese and I love buffalo, so…ta da! Buffalo chicken mac and cheese it is. I found this recipe which was “lightened-up” but I tweaked it a bit based on my tastes and what I had in the kitchen. It turned out to be delicious, easy, and made about 8 servings, so I could eat plenty!

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Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese

Adapted from: Prevention RD

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 cups dry whole wheat pasta
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups 1% milk
  • 1 cup Frank’s Hot Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp ranch dressing (or ranch dip mix)
  • Garlic powder and dried dill, to taste
  • 1 cup Mexican blend cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ⅔ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 lb cooked chicken, cooked and shredded
  • ¼ cup panko

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and keep warm.
  2. Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet (I used a Dutch oven) over medium heat. Once hot, add flour and stir, then add milk and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Once simmering, stir in hot sauce, ranch, garlic and dill, and shredded cheeses. Mix until cheese melts; remove from heat and stir in the yogurt, mixing well. Mix in cooked pasta and shredded chicken.
  3. Transfer pasta to a greased baking dish and top with panko [I ended up needing an 13 x 9 AND a 9 x 9 pan because it made a lot!] Bake for 20-30 minutes or until bubbly. Broil for 1-2 minutes or until panko is browned.

Butternut Squash and Black Bean Enchilada Casserole

Welcome to the enchilada casserole – the perfect busy girl’s Mexican comfort meal. By turning the enchiladas into a casserole, you save tons of time that you would have spent rolling each enchilada individually and can better use that time to do homework, do your hair, vacuum the living room….all those things I wish I had more time to do. Basically you take all the ingredients, layer them in a baking dish, and throw it in the oven. So easy and relatively mess-free. This is also a great vegetarian meal; since it’s so hearty and filling, you won’t even miss the meat! But don’t worry, there’s plenty of cheese. You always need cheese. 🙂

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Butternut Squash and Black Bean Enchilada Casserole

Adapted from: Cooking Light Magazine

Ingredients:

  • 20 oz enchilada sauce
  • 18 small corn tortillas
  • 1 1/4 lbs butternut squash, peeled and sliced into small cubes
  • 1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can green chilis, diced (not drained)
  • 3 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese
  • Salsa, hot sauce, and sour cream for toppings, if desired

Directions:

1.) Heat oven to 375 F. Spread 1 cup of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish and top with 6 tortillas, evenly spaced (might overlap). Top with one more cup of the sauce, a third of the squash, a third of the beans, and 1 cup of the cheese, spreading all evenly. Repeat this layering two more times, saving the final cup of cheese. The baking dish might be full but that’s ok!

2.) Cover with foil and bake for one hour or until squash is tender. Then uncover, sprinkle with the rest of the cheese, and broil for about 2 minutes or until cheese is bubbling. Let stand for about 15 minutes before serving, then top with desired toppings.

Pork Chops with Herb Goat Cheese Butter and Asparagus

So confession time: this is the first time I have cooked both pork chops AND asparagus. I really have no explanation for why I’ve never cooked either, other than that I always thought pork chops were nothing special and asparagus seemed too hard to cook (I know, I know, lame excuses here). But this recipe looked too good not to try! And I found asparagus on sale and decided they would be the perfect side for my (hopefully-they-turn-out-well) pork chops. Everything was so good and also so easy. This recipe will definitely be on repeat!

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Pork Chops with Herb Goat Cheese Butter and Asparagus

Adapted from: Cooking Light Magazine

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 3 boneless pork chops, about 1 lb.
  • Desired pork seasonings – I used adobo, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and salt and pepper
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 400 F. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and layer asparagus evenly, ends trimmed. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic powder, salt, and pepper.

 2.) While asparagus is baking, combine butter, thyme, lemon juice, goat cheese, and salt and pepper in a small bowl and set aside.

3.) Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle one side of pork chops with desired seasonings and place pork, seasoning side down, in the skillet. Let cook for 3 minutes and season the uncooked side, then turn pork over. Cook for about 4 minutes and remove from pan.

4.) Top each pork chop with 1/3 of the goat cheese butter and serve with a side of asparagus.

Crock Pot Burrito Bowls

Nothing better than a burrito bowl! This is a super easy recipe too, since the chicken, corn, and bean mixture is made right in the crock pot. That way you can come home from work, make some quick-cooking rice, and build this bowl in less than 15 minutes. It’s also great for packing for lunches during the week! Customize it with whatever toppings you love and enjoy a quick and filling Mexican meal.

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Crock Pot Burrito Bowls

Adapted from: Skinnytaste Fast and Slow

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs chicken breasts
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups medium chunky salsa
  • 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen corn
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper
  • 2 tbsp cilantro

Directions:

1.) Season the chicken with salt and add it to the crock pot. Top with the salsa, corn, black beans, garlic powder, cumin, and red pepper. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 8 hours.

2.) Once cooked, shred the chicken and add the cilantro. Pile into bowls on top of brown rice and top with any desired toppings.

Roasted Beer and Lime Cauliflower Tacos

These meatless tacos came from an awesome cookbook that my brother got me for Christmas. Thug Kitchen is full of creative vegan recipes written with a creative flair…they really tell it like it is. 😉 I was surprised at how good these tacos were, you definitely don’t miss the meat! These would be perfect for Meatless Monday or for sneaking in those extra veggies.

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Roasted Beer and Lime Cauliflower Tacos

  • Servings: 6 (2 tacos per serving)
  • Print

Adapted from: Thug Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 2 heads cauliflower
  • 1 1/2 cups beer
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • Juice from one lime
  • 3 tsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp hot sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • pinch salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • Toppings (I used cruciferous slaw, creamy guacamole, and salsa)

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 400 F. Chop cauliflower into small florets. In a large saucepan, add the beer, broth, lime juice, soy sauce, hot sauce, and garlic over medium heat. Add the cauliflower and simmer for about 3-4 minutes, then drain.

2.) In a large bowl, add the salt, spices, and olive oil. Add the cauliflower and onion and stir well until coated. Spread onto a baking sheet and bake until browned, stirring halfway, for about 25 minutes.

3.) Warm the tortillas and fill with cauliflower and toppings!

Cheesy Spinach and Bacon Breakfast Strata

I love a good hearty breakfast, especially for mornings when I go into work early and have a long wait until lunch. I also love when I can make a big batch of something and eat it all week, since I like when I only have to cook once! This breakfast strata is perfect for that. It makes enough servings to last all week, so you can grab it and heat it at work. It has the perfect combination of carbs, fat, and protein to keep you full until lunchtime rolls around. You can switch up the cheese, veggies, and type of bread to really make this your own. I think this recipe will be on repeat for me a lot this winter!

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Cheesy Spinach and Bacon Breakfast Strata

Adapted from: Cooking Light Magazine

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices bacon
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups diced onion
  • 1 cup frozen chopped spinach
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 slices bread, toasted, cut into 1-in. cubes (I used whole wheat)
  • 3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar
  • 3/4 cup milk (I used soy)
  • 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

1.) Cook bacon in large skillet until crisp. Transfer bacon to a towel-lined plate and chop into small pieces. Add onion and garlic to drippings in skillet and cook until browned and soft. Add spinach and tomatoes and cook until soft.

2.) Spray an 8-inch square glass baking dish with cooking spray. Add bread cubes, bacon, veggie mixture, and cheese to the dish evenly. In a bowl combine milk, yogurt, eggs, egg whites, mustard, salt and pepper and whisk together.  Pour over the bread mixture, cover, and chill for 8 hours or overnight.

3.) Preheat oven to 350 F. Uncover dish and let strata sit at room temperature while oven heats. Bake until top of strata is browned and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Broccoli Bacon Mac ‘n Cheese

I just realized that my last three recipes were all full-blown comfort meals…I don’t mind it at all! This time of year certainly calls for warm meals that make you want to stay inside and forget about the cold New England weather outside. This mac and cheese was the perfect winter recipe – it has plenty of cheese while sneaking in a bunch of veggies! Then the addition of crumbled bacon is the perfect topping. Enjoy and stay warm!

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Broccoli Bacon Mac 'n Cheese

Adapted from: Cooking Light Magazine

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (or more if desired)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup milk (I used soy)
  • 1 10-oz package frozen butternut squash puree, thawed
  • 10 oz uncooked pasta
  • 4 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

1.) Heat a large skillet or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook bacon until crisp and remove from pan onto a paper towel-lined plate.

2.) Add onion and garlic to bacon drippings and saute until soft. Add stock, milk, and squash and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

3.) Add pasta, cover, and reduce heat. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add in broccoli. Cook until pasta is done and sauce is thickened.

4.) Add 1 cup of cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle bacon and the rest of the cheese on top.