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Dinners

Roasted Broccoli Baked Mac and Cheese

Welcome to 2020: a year of uncertainty, unknown, and lack of clarity. This is also a new decade, with new memories to be made, new things to explore, new opportunities, and new experiences. It’s unfortunate what is happening in our world at this time, and while it takes us out of our comfort zones and forces us to isolate, we remember to cherish the time we have with our loved ones, FaceTime with family we can’t get to physically visit, and look for the silver lining: how lucky we are to be alive right now.

I decided to get back to simple and easy meals, some that really only require pantry or already-at-home items because while everyone stocked up on toilet paper, I was hopeful to just make sure I had enough milk, bread, and eggs in my home. I knew I wanted to make something equally delicious and comforting, so I opted for a staple: Macaroni and Cheese. My pantry always has pasta, heavy cream/milk. I had butter and flour, I also remembered I had some cheese in the house, as well as broccoli. To ramp up the fun in the MAC, I roasted broccoli and threw that in the mix too. It’s ok to drool on your screen, I won’t judge ya.

I love making pasta meals with veggies because it’s just a perfect balance of carbs: complex versus simple starch. Broccoli is a house favorite and we more often than not have it on hand at all times. I tossed the broc in some avocado oil, salt, and pepper and threw it in the oven to bake for 20 minutes, right at the peak of crispiness, since I knew it would cook more and soften in the oven with the pasta. It added a whole other dimension of salt and savory to this dish that I didn’t realize I needed – this will absolutely become a freezer staple in my house.

Ok, enough narrative, here’s the deal with this recipe:

  • For the MAC:
    • 1 pkg macaroni
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 1 1/2 cups broth (veggie or chicken)
    • 2 tbsp butter
    • 1/4 cup flour
    • 2-3 cups grated cheese (cheddar: sharp and mild)
  • For the broccoli:
    • 2 cups broccoli florets
    • 2 tbsp avocado oil
    • Salt
    • Pepper
  • Products used:
    • Organic Valley butter, heavy cream, cheese
    • Rao’s macaroni pasta
    • Chosen Foods avocado oil

Toss broccoli in avocado oil (or oil of your choice) and season with salt nd pepper. Bake at 375° for 20m.  Set aside. Boil pasta to al dente (2 minutes less than package).  Strain and set aside. For the cheese sauce, you’ll make a roux, which is flour and butter whisked together. Melt butter and whisk in flour to create a paste.  Add in heavy cream and stock. Bring to a boil then simmer.  Turn off heat and melt in cheese.  Using a oven-safe dish, pour in the drained pasta, then the broccoli, and then pour in the cheese sauce and mix, making sure the broccoli is dispersed evenly and the cheese sauce coats all the noodles.

Sprinkle a little bit more cheese on top and some breadcrumbs (totally optional). Bake for 10 minutes and broil for two to get a nice golden top. Serve and enjoy! PS. There will be leftovers, which is great for working from home 🙂

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Beef and Bean Chili

It’s March, and while it’s not necessarily Spring yet, it’s certainly starting to feel like it. I’ll also admit that I haven’t had my usual energy to do much cooking or prepping, so this week is about keeping things simple and delicious, and helping my husband not spend money on lunch everyday for the rest of the week. Nevertheless, chili is something that I have always loved making because you can virtually make anything into a chili. I have a traditional chili on the blog already, but decided to ramp this one up with black beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas) and roasted corn, all ingredients easily found in Trader Joe’s. I must admit, I couldn’t stop “taste testing” this one as it simmered.

I’ll keep this blog post super simple and cut right to the ingredients and recipe directions, because mama’s tired and needs her sleep (after all, we only have 10 more days until bub is due and I’ll need as much sleep between now and then as possible!).

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb grass-fed ground beef
  • 1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 can rinsed and drained garbanzo beans
  • 1/2 can rinsed and drained black beans
  • 1 cup Trader Joe’s frozen roasted corn
  • 2-3 tbsp Chili powder
  • 2 tbsp Paprika
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • A shake of red pepper flakes

Directions:

  1. In a large pot (I love my Staub cocotte), add 1 tbsp of olive oil to the pot and turn the heat to medium. Add in chopped onions and saute until fragrant.
  2. Add in ground beef and brown until done. Add in can of crushed tomatoes, and seasonings (you’ll more than likely need more seasonings as the chili builds).
  3. Rinse and drain black beans and garbanzo beans, add them to the chili and stir to combine. Add in the cup of frozen corn and add a second round of seasonings (as desired, taste the chili first – when I did this I noticed it needed more smokey flavor so I added more chili powder).
  4. Turn heat to low/simmer and cook for another hour, stirring occasionally as to not burn the bottom.
  5. Serve with rice, potatoes, or quinoa!

Paleo Chicken Nuggets

Hi my name is Morgan and I am a five year old when it comes to chicken nuggets or tenders. Whenever hubby and I go to Citi Field for a Mets game (LGM!) I always get the same. exact. thing: Chicken tenders and french fries with a shake (from Shake Shack because duh…). I’ve ventured off the beaten path once and got a sausage and peppers, and the game wasn’t the same. What’s not to love about tenders and nuggets? They’re crispy, fried, juicy, and honey mustard makes for the perfect pairing. No questions asked.

I love using cassava flour to make nuggets, tenders, and cutlets because not only is it grain/gluten free, it’s provides such a depth of flavor from the yucca root itself. I use Thrive Market’s Cassava Flour – found here (also if you use the banner, you can get $20 shopping credit when you sign up for a membership!) and love the texture of it. Cassava is also super versatile and is usually a 1:1 ratio for subbing out AP flour when baking. The way the chicken crisps up when battered in cassava flour is very similar to using breadcrumbs.

Here’s what you’ll need for these paleo nuggets:

  • 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup Thrive Market Non-GMO Cassava Flour (or preferred brand)
  • Dried oregano
  • Dried thyme
  • Dried rosemary
  • 4 tbsp avocado/olive oil
  • 3 tbsp grass fed butter
    • having a blend of healthy fats to shallow fry the chicken in helps with the crispiness and less splatter.
  • dipping sauce of choice
    • we used Cedar Foods tzatziki sauce.

For these nuggets, it’s as simple as a four-step process:

  1. Rinse and pat dry your chicken. Slice each breast into bite size pieces.
  2. Pour the cassava flour and dried spices into a large bowl and whisk to combine.
  3. Add chicken pieces to the flour and mix together to fully coat each piece.
  4. Heat a skillet/large pan with oil and butter on medium heat and begin to place several pieces into the skillet. Let each piece sit for 3-4 minutes per side. Repeat until all chicken is cooked.

I swear this will become a family favorite, and will definitely be a weeknight go-to as this is one simple and quick dinner to pull together, especially if you have the chicken cut ahead of time. This could be delicious as chicken alfredo, thrown in with some broccoli for a stir fry, or just as is with a dip and veggies on the side!

Easy Baked MAC (Mac-n-Cheese)

It’s the holiday season, and there’s nothing better than seeing family, friends, and eating a ton of different foods. It’s the third night of Hanukkah, and while I didn’t make latke’s this year (which you can find my recipe from last year here), I did toy around with something anyone celebrating any holiday would love, MAC AND CHEESE.

There are a ton of different ways to make mac and cheese (or as I simply call it MAC), and I usually start by making a roux. A roux is a base for sauces such as a cheese sauce: you take chopped onions and butter, sauté until fragrant and translucent, then add flour and it makes a paste. Then, you pour in some cream/milk/alternative to milk and stock, and bring to a boil. This will thicken; turn the heat off and layer in the shredded cheese until fully blended and combined. Yeah, this recipe is labeled EASY MAC for a reason, because we skip the roux step. We use four ingredients and it’s done in one pot. You heard me, ONE POT.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 lb or box of pasta – I used Banza’s wheel shaped pasta (this is a chickpea flour pasta and it is delicious – find it here)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp grass fed butter
  • 1 and 1/2 cups mixed shredded cheese – I used Organic valley cheddar, sharp cheddar, and mozzarella.
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Breadcrumbs – to top off prior to broil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Cook your preferred pasta to the desired doneness, since Banza is gluten free I cooked two minutes below the recommended time on the box as I prefer to have pasta more al dente. Strain and rinse.

Add back into the same pot and turn the heat onto medium. Pour in the milk and butter, stirring the pasta in and coating. Have patience here, the butter will take some time to melt. Sprinkle in the cheese a little at a time, stirring to combine frequently. Keep the heat between medium and low, so the cheese melts and coats all the pasta.

Set the oven to broil. Pour the MAC from the pot into an oven friendly casserole dish and sprinkle with breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese, plus a pinch more shredded cheese bc #yolo. Broil for three minutes, check after three because it can go from nicely brown to “OMG I BURNT IT” in a matter of minutes. Serve immediately and scarf down because this baby will go fast at your dinner table! NOMaste and Happy Holidays! <3

Chicken Teriyaki Meatballs

Being that it’s Thanksgiving, I should probably experiment with turkey recipes, but neither my husband or I are super crazy about it, although I do have my eyes set on tying to make roasted turkey legs (i’d prefer dark than white meat from a turkey anyway). I remembered I had ground chicken in my freezer and decided to give this one a shot, because chicken meatballs can take one sharp sauces such as teriyaki and I figured why not, it’s Black Friday and I am absolutely not about to go shopping – may as well cook!

Here’s what you’ll need for the chicken meatballs:

  • 1 lb or package of ground chicken
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs as a binding agent
  • Chopped veggies such as carrots, celery, and onion (aka Mirepoix – you can buy store made already which I did this time around)
  • Paprika
  • Garlic powder

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a medium sized bowl, combine the ground chicken, egg, breadcrumbs, spices, oil, and mirepoix. It will be a rather sticky blend but it will bake just fine.

Line a baking pan with aluminum foil and spray with your choice of spray oil. Portion on the meatballs with a tablespoon, roll into balls and place on the tray. The mix should make around 16 meatballs. Bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees.

For the teriyaki sauce, I used Primal Kitchen’s No Soy Teriyaki but added arrowroot to thicken it up and a bit more coconut aminos. The end result is a super delicious soy-free, paleo sauce to pour over the meatballs, and pair with a side of wild rice and veggies! Enjoy!

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