Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Week 4- Ham & Cauliflower Mac & Cheese

It is taking everything in me to keep wanting to cook on my days off! January is a tough at work so maybe I am just feeling extra lazy. I did manage to make some pork chops last week, but they were nothing special so I am not going to put that recipe on here. But I will share this amazing one Rob cooked!

Rob loves to watch a show called The Chew. Its basically just a day time cooking show on ABC. One of the host, Michael Symon, made this recipe one day. It has cauliflower in it, so I was very afraid (I am not a veggie girl). But it was so yummy! You have got to try this if you love Mac & Cheese!

Michael Symon's Ham and Cauliflower Mac & Cheese

  • 1
  • pound Conchigliette (pasta shells)

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  • 2 cups Cauliflower Florets (shaved)

  • Salt and Pepper to taste

  • 2 tablespoons Butter (divided)

  • 2 tablespoons Flour

  • 3 cups Whole Milk

  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated Nutmeg

  • 1 tablespoon Red Chili Flakes

  • 2 cups Gruyere

  • 1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano (grated and divided)

  • 1/2 pound Baked Ham Steak (julienned)

  • 1 cup Panko Breadcrumbs

  • 1/4 cup chopped Parsley

  • 1. 
Preheat the oven on broil. Bring a pot of water to a boil and season with salt. Cook the pasta 1 minute short of the package directions.
2. Heat a large heavy bottomed pot over high heat. Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and add cauliflower, tossing to coat. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 5 to 6 minutes until the cauliflower begins to caramelize.
3. Add the butter to the pot. Whisk in flour to form a paste. Season with salt and cook for 2 to 3 minutes just until the paste starts to take on a warm golden color. Whisk in the milk and season with salt, pepper, nutmeg and chili flakes. Stir in the gruyere and half of the Parmigiano-Reggiano to melt. Add in the ham. Add the cooked pasta and stir to coat. Transfer to a greased baking dish.
4. Mix the bread crumbs, remaining cheese and chopped parsley. Sprinkle evenly over the pasta and place under the broiler. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, just until the bread crumbs are golden brown.

  • It was very yummy! The whole tablespoon of Red Chile flakes made it too spicy for me. I don't eat a lot of spicy foods, so take that into consideration when you are making this. I could barely finished my whole plate :(

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Week 3- Crock Pot Beer Chicken & Baked Potato Casserole

I am really starting to like this whole cooking thing. It makes me feel more accomplished and I have leftovers that I can take for dinner at work! I only ate 1 Lean Cuisine this week!!! That's a huge deal for me.

This week I made Crock Pot Beer Chicken and Baked Potato Casserole. Both were wonderful and simple to make! I warmed up some cream corn and then we had a complete meal. I was able to prepare these two dishes earlier in the day while Rob was at work, which is really nice. Less mess to clean up after dinner!

We will start with the Crock Pot Beer Chicken. I found my recipe from LaaLoosh. It is a Weight Watchers +3 points, if you are into that thing. (I am not sure what that means!)

Crock Pot Beer Chicken
2 lbs skinless, boneless chicken breasts (thawed)
1 bottle/can of your favorite beer (I used Guinness Extra Stout)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
 1 tbsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp black pepper

Place all ingredients in the crock pot. Cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 6-8 hours.

It was a yummy dish. Rob made a gravy from the leftover beer in the crock pot by just adding cornstarch to it in a saucepan and stirring. Rob rates this dish a 7 out of 10. It was a little dry, so we will try it with thighs instead of breast next time. I didn't really prefer the chicken, but the gravy helped out a lot. There just wasn't much flavor to it in my opinion.

Now for the Baked Potato Casserole. Potatoes are one of my favorite things. I can eat them any way, all the time. So I love this creative dish! I found it from Very Best Baking. It was simple and I was able to prepare it when I did the chicken and refrigerate until ready to cook.

Baked Potato Casserole
8 medium potatoes
1 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup light sour cream
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
6 slices of bacon
sliced green onions (optional)

1. Peel and cut potatoes into 1 inch chunks. Then place in large saucepan covered with water. Bring to a boil. Cook over medium-high heat for 15 to 20 minutes or until tender. Drain.
2. Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Grease a 2 1/2 - 3 quart casserole dish.
3. Return potatoes to saucepan; add evaporated milk, sour cream, salt, and pepper. Beat with hand mixer until smooth. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of cheese and half the bacon. Spoon into prepared casserole dish.
4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until heated through. Top with remaining cheese and bacon and green onions. Bake for an additional 3 minutes or until cheese is melted.

5. If you want to prepare it early, you can. Just refrigerate it after step 3. When ready to cook, cover with foil and preheat oven to 350 F. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until heated. Uncover and top with cheese, bacon, and green onions. Bake for an additional 3 minutes or until cheese is melted.

This was amazing to me! Rob gave it a 7 out 10. He thought it was too cheesy. I had left the skins on the potatoes and he liked that. I will definitely be making this one again! We have a lot of potatoes leftover so next time I might half the recipe.

On side note, Rob made a wonderful Cedar Plank Salmon for dinner last night! He used the leftover potatoes as one of his side dishes and cooked them in our individual Staub pots. He fixed his salmon two different ways; one with the Tony's Creole spice from my previous dish and one with Old Bay. The one with Tony's was significantly better! So if you every make Salmon, try it with Tony's Creole Seasoning!

Aren't the pots adorable!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Week 2- Crock Pot Red Beans and Rice

This week I made a wonderful Crock Pot Red Beans and Rice recipe from this gal's blog: Little Magnolia Kitchen. It was quick, easy to prepare, and delicious to enjoy! Plus it had the whole house smelling yummy!


1 pound red beans
7 cups water
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped or minced
21 oz Chicken broth
1-1/2 pounds sausage 
2 tablespoons Creole Seasoning 
Hot cooked rice

Check red beans for any small pebbles then rinse thoroughly. Add beans, water, and chicken broth to the crock pot. Chop all the veggies and add to the crock pot. Next, chop the sausage. Optional: Boil the sausage for 5 minutes to remove the grease. Add to the crock pot when done or if you skip the step. Complete it with creole seasoning (I used Tony's). Turn the crock pot on high for 7 hours. When ready to eat, prepare your rice. Pour red beans over rice and serve.

 I also cooked some corn bread muffins with ours. I just followed the instructions on the side of the Jiffy box. It added a little something extra to the meal.

Rob rates this a 9 out of 10! It was very good. I accidentally used too much chicken broth so it was more soupy then I would have liked. I have got to learn to read the reviews before I make something. We have a lot left over as well, so maybe half the recipe for the two of us. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Week 1- Chicken Pot Pie & Baked Spinach Dip Bites

For my new year's resolution, I choose to COOK at least once a week. If you know me well enough, you know I love to bake. Cookies, brownies, cupcakes...those I can handle. Meat, potatoes, vegetables...forget it. But I always heard the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. Time to work on that!

From now on, I will be posting my weekly cookings on here. It will make me feel more accountable and also to show off my masterpieces (and disasters!!) So for my first week...

I actually cooked twice this week! The first time was New Year's Eve. Although it was a bunch of snacky foods I was really impressed with one recipe; Baked Spinach Dip Bites.

Yummy! Spinach Dip is my favorite! These were very simple to make. I got the recipe from here. I have no corrections for it, so try it out!

For my real meal this week I made Chicken Pot Pie. This recipe is so simple! I got my inspiration from the Real Simple magazine. It took hardly no time; most time was taking the chicken off the bone!


  • 1  3 1/2- to 4-pound  rotisserie chicken, meat shredded
  • 1  10-ounce package  frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1  10.75-ounce can  condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/4  teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  black pepper
  • 1  10-count tube  refrigerated biscuits


  1. Heat oven to 400° F. Combine the chicken, vegetables, soup, salt, pepper, and 3/4 cup water in a large bowl.
  2. Transfer the mixture to an oven-safe casserole, cover with foil, and bake for 15 minutes.
  3. Lay biscuits on cookie sheet and cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Remove the foil, cover the filling with the biscuits (bottom from previous cook as bottom), and bake until the biscuits are golden brown and cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Rob rated this a 7 out of 10! It didn't turn out creamy enough for us. I suggest trying to cans of cream of mushroom or one can of cream of chicken along with the cream of mushroom. I got two rotisserie chickens from Whole Foods with flavoring already added, the 'classic' they call it, and that helped because otherwise there is no flavor.

Try them out! Look out for this week's recipe!