One-Pan Broccoli-Bacon Mac ‘n’ Cheese—kind of

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This week is Thanksgiving Break in our district and I am enjoying the unstructured schedule!  With the extra time I have been trying some new recipes.  The one I’m sharing with you today is not technically new to my family as I’ve made it once before.  But I want to share it as for one it has pumpkin in it so it fits the Thanksgiving theme.  However, one would never know it has pumpkin unless you were helping in the kitchen.  This mac ‘n’ cheese is light on the cheese…just about a cup of cheese to go with 10 ounces of cooked elbow macaroni.  The look of cheese comes from the pumpkin.

My family really does like this dish but my handsome fella tells me to not remind him that there is hardly any cheese!

This is a good supper for after the big Thanksgiving meal day as it is easy to prepare and relatively healthy.  (I got the recipe from the September 2015 Cooking Light Magazine)

One-Pan Broccoli-Bacon Mac ‘n’ Cheese

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat add

  • 2 center-cut bacon slices, chopped

Cook until bacon is crisp, stirring occasionally.  Remove bacon from the pan but leave the bacon drippings.

Add to the drippings in the pan and saute for 30 seconds

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

Add to the pan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally:

  • 1 can of pure pumpkin
  • 2 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 cup of milk (we use 1%)

Now add

  • 10 ounces of uncooked large elbow macaroni

Cover the pan and reduce heat.  Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in:

  • 3 cups of chopped broccoli florets (I buy a bag of broccoli in the produce department to make it faster!)

Cover and cook 3 minutes or until pasta is done and sauce is thickened.

Stir in:

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 ounces of cheese (about a cup)

Sprinkle on top:

  • bacon
  • remaining cheese (about 1/4 cup)

Cover and let stand 1 minute.

 

The recipe said that it only costs about $8.15 for six servings.  I make my own chicken broth so it probably costs a bit less for us!  Totally worth it as it is healthy and economical.

OH, but don’t tell your family it is pumpkin until AFTER they have eaten it all up 🙂

Enjoy!

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Making time for Family time

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The school year is well underway (finally after start two brought to us by Hurricane Harvey) and life is at that crazy-busy level.  It is our “normal” and I am thankful for the clubs, classes, Bible studies, and parties my girls are able to be involved in, yet finding time to reconnect as a family can be T-O-U-G-H.

Sundays set the tone for the week.  Sundays are a special day—that is how God intended it.  We all need a Sabbath, a day set aside for rest and worship.  Our Sundays can still be crazy though.  How can we carve out Sabbath time as a family on our Sundays when…

  • we have church in the morning,
  • a quick lunch all together before Brad heads off to his second job—thanks Babe!
  • the girls finish up the last of homework not completed on Saturday and then run off to Bible Studies at different locations
  • No one is home at dinner time and one child has dinner at Bible Study, the other snacks herself silly and Mom and Dad are running the roads to pick up everyone

I reflected on this and realized that in December our family makes time to have an Advent devotional and prayer time each Sunday night so why not do the same EVERY Sunday.  We love our time in December so let’s make it work for year-round.

I have decided that if we can’t have dinner together on Sunday night that at least we can have dessert.  I make sure we have something to snack on while we meet to reflect on our week ahead, discuss our time at church earlier in the day and then have prayer time as a family.  It has been a sweet time of fellowship.  It gives us time as a family to share concerns, laugh together and plan the week so the week can run more smoothly.

Sometimes I make an “involved” recipe dessert like the one Heather and I made a few week’s ago, salted caramel brownies, and then other times I pick up a box of “just add water” scones from Trader Joe’s and throw together the easy and well-loved “Fall Munchie Mix” (A box of golden grahams, mini-marshmallows, Reese’s Pieces, and chocolate chips all combined in a bowl!).

Easy desserts for our family time- Trader Joe Scones and Fall Munchie Mix

 

How do you connect as a family when life is crazy-busy?  Leave a comment and let’s share our collective genius!!!

Mexican Brownies go gluten-free!

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Tonight our group of friends from church got together to eat, visit and just enjoy our time.  Wow- what cooks we have!  We decided to have a mexican-themed dinner and I think it was as good as you could get in a restaurant….maybe better depending on which restaurant  you go to!!  I took the rice and a dessert.  So of course I took my Mexican Brownies (well the ones from food network that I love to make.)  One of our friends that was coming has to eat gluten free and I decided to make a half batch of brownies that she could eat.

I had no idea how they would turn out, but they were just as amazing as the regular recipe batch.

Oh so yummy even before the oven!

Recipe Changes for Gluten-Free

 

  • Substituted King Arthur 1 for 1 Gluten-Free Flour  for the flour and
  • Used Clabber Girl baking powder.  You have to watch the baking powder as some is not gluten-free.

The half batch cooked for about 18-20 minutes.

They were so good and when I got to our destination, the gluten-free batch was still warm so my friend was able to try one warm from the oven—delicious!

 

Enjoy!

 

Summer Salads!

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I love salads but especially in the summer.  I have fond memories of my Mom and I making big salads to share for lunch while we were home in the summer months and we always ended up putting Lemon Pepper on it for seasoning! Ah, fun memories.

I pulled this pasta salad recipe out of Food Network Magazine from 2012 but finally made it recently!  (five years….yes, I know that is a long time)  But it was worth having it kick around for that long as it is a keeper in my recipe book!  I did everything the recipe called for except the toasted pine nuts/slivered almonds.  I do love toasted nuts but I didn’t want to turn on the oven and also knew that my girls wouldn’t eat them.  First you make the dressing (while your pasta is being prepared) then you put the salad together.

Garden Pasta Salad with Bocconcini

Pasta Prep:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Then add

  • 4 cups of fusilli or campanelle pasta

Cook until al dente (about 2 minutes less than the label directs)

Drain and rinse under cool water; shake off the excess and transfer to a bowl to toss with the dressing.

Dressing:

Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil and add to the water

  • 1 clove of garlic (make sure to take the peel off)

Boil for 2 minutes.

Remove the garlic and place in a blender (I only have a broken smootie machine…but it does the trick!)

Add to the blender:

  • 1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes…mixed colors is preferable (I used red and yellow)
  • 3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil

Puree until smooth.  Then with the motor running add in a slow steady stream until blended well:

  • 1/3 cup of extra-virgin olive oil

Season with kosher salt and ground pepper.

Toss the dressing with the cooked pasta.

Salad:

Shave with a vegetable peeler or mandolin

  • 1 small zucchini

Then halve the strips crosswise and add to the pasta.

Add to the pasta:

  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups of halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup halved bocconcini (small mozzarella balls)
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts or slivered almonds toasted (optional)
  • Freshly ground pepper and a bit of Kosher salt to taste.

Serve immediately or refrigerate, covered, up to 6 hours (Bring to room temperature before serving)

I served this alongside some fresh cut peaches and  chili-honey rubbed chicken Brad grilled.  It was a winner of a meal!

 

So kick back and relax with this winner of a meal too!

One-skillet dinner!!! Spanish Chicken and Rice

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Recently I made this dish and my handsome fella declared that it was “the best chicken dish” he has had in a while!  So naturally I knew I needed to share it on this blog.  I found this recipe in the USA Weekend from May 13-15, 2001.  It is from ThreeManyCooks by Pam Anderson.  I of course love that it only messes up on dish and by the time the dinner is finished on the stove, I have cleaned up the kitchen.

I found the recipe when we lived in Pennsylvania and finding chorizo was a tough task….living in Texas now I have my pick of chorizo at ANY store I walk into.  I purchased chorizo that had no casing, so rather than cut it into slices, I just crumbled it into the dish and cooked it well.  I liked this better.

Spanish Chicken & Rice

Combine together:

  • 1 T of olive oil
  • 1 tsp each of paprika, garlic powder and dried oregano
  • sprinkling of salt and pepper

Toss into the rub mixture

  • 6-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

Heat a large, deep skilled over medium-high heat.

Add to the skillet the chicken and saute, turning once until it is well browned, about 6 minutes.

Remove the chicken and set aside.

Add to the skillet and cook until browned (about 3 minutes or so)

  • 1 T of olive oil
  • 1/2 pound of crumbled chorizo

Add to the browned chorizo and cook until tender (about 4 minutes)

  • 1 medium onion, cut into a medium dice
  • 1/2 red bell pepper cut into a medium dice

Stir in:

  • 1 1/2 cups of rice (I used Uncle Ben’s long grain rice)
  • 3/4 tsp turmeric

Stir everything to coat the rice and turmeric with oil

Add to the pan:

  • 2 1/2 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 can of petite-diced tomatoes
  • The browned chicken

Bring everything to a simmer over medium-high heat.

Reduce heat to low, cover adn cook until liquid has absorbed and rice is tender (about 20-25 minutes)

Stir in:

  • 3/4 cup frozen peas

Cover, turn off heat and wait a few minutes before serving.

This picture has nothing to do with Spanish Chicken and Rice! But if you want to pin the recipe…you need an image 🙂

Lights and Dust

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This morning I was able to get up before the rest of my family for some rare time to myself.  I made coffee, I cleaned up some dishes left soaking from the night before, and I spent some time with the Lord.  Then I decided to open the blinds to let the sun shine in and sit down to quietly play some Christmas carols on the piano.

As I sat down, I noticed dust on the top of the piano.  Dust!???  I had recently dusted.  I had checked the house over before we hosted a gathering the night before and I had not seen dust.  Where had the dust come from?  The dust had been there but now  the light was shining in.

God then reminded me that He shines light in the darkness and reveals our sins and weaknesses.  Those sins and weaknesses are there, within us.  Many times we live life, day to day, without ever acknowledging them or even realizing how they are hurting us.  Then God sends the light to reveal what the darkness has hidden.

Acts 26:18

to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’
I was reminded how we have to daily open the blinds and  then dust.  I have to daily take time with the Lord to ask him to reveal what is keeping me from knowing Him better.  Then I have to ask forgiveness and change my behavior.
I am so thankful for The Light.  This time of year the entire world loves looking at lights…..Christmas lights on trees and those decorating yards.  I pray that as you take in the seasonal lights that you remember The Light that we are actually celebrating.  God sent his son, The Light, as a baby to deliver us from our darkness of sin that separates us from Him.

Isaiah 9:2

The people who walk in darkness Will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them.
So get out the dust rag and get rid of the dust that the light reveals.
Let the light reveal the dust and then get rid of the dust!

Let the light reveal the dust and then get rid of the dust!

School-year Swing!

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School started this last Monday for us and we are in full swing at this point.  As most of you know, eating as a family is very important to me.  I like to gather my family around the dinner table and talk about our day and not think about homework, lesson plans, etc for a few minutes.  However, after re-entering the full-time work force two years ago, getting dinner made is harder than it was for many years.  Tonight I prepped this dish for my high schooler to start in the slow cooker once she gets home on Monday and I made breakfast tacos to zap in the mornings for a little sturdier breakfast for each of us.

How did I find time tonight to do all this?  Well, I cooked a roast in the slow cooker for Sunday lunch and told everyone they were on their own for dinner!  Then tonight I was able to spend about an hour in the kitchen getting these two separate things ready.  So this is my plan for the “School-year Swing”– to try to prepare ahead of time so that I can enjoy my time at home with my family more and not be standing in the kitchen too often on weeknights.

And now, I’m going to sit with my feet up for a bit before the second week of school gets underway!

Take it Easy