Tag Archives: Quick!

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


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 🙂



Quick Dinner: Tex-Mex Rice and Black-eyed Peas


Since I’m back in the classroom teaching full-time for the second year now (after 14 years of doing other things), I’m all about finding quick, easy and tasty recipes.

Unfortunately, I don’t have near the time to share recipes with y’all now that I’m working full-time.  But I just had to take a few minutes tonight to share this one that I pulled out of a November 2011 Food Network Magazine.  It has the tag of “Weeknight Cooking” and “Done in 30 minutes” and this time the tags really do apply!  I made this dish tonight in no time at all.  I was worried that the girls would not like it so I switched it on our menu.  Brad was home tonight for dinner but will not be home on Wednesday.  I didn’t want to attempt it just on the girls.

But I’m happy to say that Heather deemed it a “four smiley face meal”.  So now I can add another meatless option to our meal planning!  It reminded us of something from Chipotle or Qdoba  but without all the spice.

Tex-Mex Rice and Black-eyed peas

Serves 4

Cook as label directs:

  • 1 cup white rice

Meanwhile heat in a medium saucepan (2 qt) over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes to soften:

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh salsa (I used mild pico from HEB Grocery)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin


  • 1 can of black-eyed peas undrained
  • 1 can of black-eyed peas which has been drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup water

Cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are creamy and tender- about 12-14 minutes.  I put the lid on the saucepan while this was happening.

Fluff the rice and divide it among bowls.

To the black-eyed pea mixture add and stir until wilted: (about 1 minute)

  • 4 cups of baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (I had a wee bit more than 1/4 cup)

Spoon the black-eyed pea mixture over the rice and top each serving with:

  • Avocado slices
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Sour Cream- if desired.
Easy, Quick, and Healthy!

Easy, Quick, and Healthy!



Tortellini and Ground Beef…who knew?


We tried a new recipe at our house this week and it was a winner.  It has the two characteristics of a recipe that I love: fast and easy!  Then it has two more loves for us…tortellini AND ground beef, I never would have thought to put them together.

Our life here in the Smith house has been going a little fast too….not so much easy but not too difficult.  I have had many thoughts of blog entries to write and share with you, but things just are moving too fast to sit down and write at this point.  Meals at our house have not been to creative either as my schedule has been very full.  But I did finally try something new this week and since everyone liked it at our table, I thought I would share it with you.

I first found the recipe and pinned it to  Pinterest and then when we made it had to change a few things to fit the ingredients we had in the house.   So here is my version:

Baked Tortellini Casserole

In a large skillet or chicken fryer pan:

  • Brown 1 lb of lean ground beef

Add to the beef before it is totally browned:

  • 1 small, onion diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp of kosher salt
  • pepper to taste

While the beef is browning, prepare according to package instructions:

  • 1 large (12 oz) bag of dried tortellini (We had cheese and spinach tortellini in the pantry.  I cooked it on the shortest end of the cooking time so that the tortellini would finish cooking in the oven.)

tortellini bag

Once the beef is thoroughly cooked through and drained, stir in:

  • 2, 14-oz cans of diced or petite diced tomatoes (could use crushed tomatoes too)
  • 1, 8-oz can of tomato sauce

Stir into the beef mixture:

  • prepared tortellini
  • 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella cheese (we mixed mozzarella and Parmesan)

Transfer to a casserole dish and bake at 350° for about 20-30 minutes

Sprinkle 1 1/2 cups of Italian cheese of your choice over the top and serve!








Quick and Easy


I love the week of Thanksgiving.  I know in years when I have hosted the big dinner I have been so focused on the Thursday meal that I almost forget about meal planning for the days leading up to Thanksgiving.  If you are in need of some quick and easy dinners for this week, I’ve linked a few here that you might be interested in.  Yes, they are mainly soups but the best thing about soups is that you can get them prepped and walk away!

This one is a dinner your upper elementary or older kids could handle preparing without much help from you.  Pepperoni Pizza Pinwheels

Another quick one that your older kids could do with minimal supervision would be Chicken Fajita Melts

This one is a good one if you want a meatless meal, use vegetable broth rather than chicken broth and it can be vegetarian too!  Tuscan Bean Soup

Then there is always Taco Soup or Taco Soup’s close relative of Chicken Enchilada Soup.  If you don’t have enough chicken to make the chicken enchilada soup, use what you have and throw in a can of black beans to help make up the difference.

I hope you have a great week.  Food and Family are two of my favorite things!

Oh and if you need something to do with your leftover turkey, try this one: Ro-Tel Chicken or Turkey


Blueberry Salsa


I agree…it seems strange but I thought, “Why not try it? I’ve got lots of blueberries!”  My family was not supportive of the idea so I waited until I was hosting a meeting at my house tonight to make it and have out for our snacks.

I don’t have much left and the plates were all clean when I rinsed them so it must have been liked by many!  One 9-year-old even made a point to come up and let me know that she really liked it and my handsome-fella admitted that it was indeed good.

It is easy and quick to throw together.

Blueberry Salsa

original recipe from Southern Living July 2010

Combine together in a 1.5 qt bowl:

  • 2 cups coarsely chopped, fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup whole fresh blueberries
  • 4 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 or 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced (I only used one as I knew it was a “tame” crowd coming)
  • 1/3 cup diced red bell pepper (I then cut probably about 1 Tablespoon more to add as I didn’t think the balance was right with all the colors)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice

Serve immediately, or cover and chill 8 hours.  Serve with tortilla chips.



Photo courtesy of Heather...blueberries not quite ready for salsa!

Photo courtesy of Heather…blueberries not quite ready for salsa!

Chicken Enchiladas


SCORE!  I had no clue what to make for dinner tonight.  I confess…I have not done any meal planning since before Mother’s Day.  Life has been a wee-bit hectic!  I have made it by with ground beef dishes, quesadillas, and burritos…but I needed something more substantial to prepare for my family.  I flipped open a family cookbook and found “Randi’s Chicken Enchiladas”….a recipe I submitted but haven’t made in almost nine years.  I checked out the ingredients and thanks to some shredded chicken in the freezer I had all the required items.

I decided to make mexican rice, a can of corn, and pull out the jello I made earlier this week.  Score—-a meal without a trip to the grocery store.

Here is the recipe; It gets four smiley faces at my house.

Randi’s Chicken Enchiladas

Combine in a bowl and mix well:

  • 2 to 3 cups of chopped, cooked chicken
  • 3/4 c shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 c shredded Monterrey Jack cheese (ok, confession I had shredded fiesta cheese and two thick slices of pepper jack which I chopped up to use for the 1 1/2 cups of cheese needed here)
  • 1/3 c chopped onion
  • 1/2 c sour cream

Spoon the chicken mixture onto:

  • 8 medium tortillas (or 12 small ones)

Roll to enclose the filling and place seam side down in a 9×13 baking dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

Melt in a saucepan:

  • 1/4 c margarine/butter

Blend into saucepan:

  • 1/4 c flour

Gradually stir in:

  • 1 can chicken broth (or make your own with 14 oz water and two bullion cubes)

Cook until thickened, stirring constantly.

Stir in

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 4-oz can of diced green chilies

Cook the sauce until heated through, stirring constantly.

Pour over tortillas

Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

Sprinkle with

  • 1/4 c cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 c Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded

Bake for 5 minutes to let cheese melt.

Kids in the Kitchen: Pepperoni Pizza Pinwheels


I had a very cute assistant tonight help me prepare our dinner.  She donned her new apron from her Mimi and got right to work preparing our fun pepperoni pizza pinwheels.  It is yet another recipe from the Southern Living Ultimate Quick and Easy Cookbook (I gave a HUGE hint at dinner tonight that the cookbook would make a great Mother’s Day gift….I said something like, “It would make a great Mother’s Day gift.”…subtle ehh???)  It is quick to prepare and yummy to eat!

My very cute assistant.

My very cute assistant.

Pepperoni Pizza Pinwheels

Unroll on a cutting board into a rectangle that is about 12 x 9:

  • 1 (10 oz) can refrigerated pizza crust —I used the Pillsbury thin crust pizza crust you find in the refrigerated biscuit section.

Sprinkle the crust with:

  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend
  • Pepperoni slices

Roll up the crust, starting with the long side.  (This was a bit tricky as the crust had warmed up some.  I got it started and rolled it several times before my assistant took over.)

Pizza Pinwheels from beckinpa.wordpress.com

Once it is rolled up, moisten the edge with water and pinch the seam to seal.  (We wet our pointer finger and thumbs and pinched it shut—my assistant liked that!)

Cut into 1 inch wide slices and place about 1 inch apart on a large jellyroll pan (15 x 10 inches or so) that has been lined with foil and then lightly greased.

Bake at 400° for 12 to 14 minutes or until golden.

While those bake, whip up some sauce.  I didn’t want to waste opening a jar of spaghetti sauce like the recipe suggested so I made my own.  I opened an 8 oz can of tomato sauce then doctored it up with some Italian seasoning blends I have in our pantry.  There was more than enough.

Serve immediately with warmed sauce.

Pepperoni Pizza Pinwheels

I made this on a night that Brad was not home so I just sliced apples and served the pinwheels….done.  BUT we ate all but one pinwheel.  So if we were all home, I would serve this with a salad and some fruit; even then it is a quick and easy meal.