Thanksgiving Day Macaroni & Cheese

I make macaroni and cheese……like……a lot. An unholy amount of mac’ n cheese has been put into this body. I didn’t plan to make mac’ n cheese for Thanksgiving this year, but when the night came to make my scalloped potatoes I just couldn’t resist making one more thing. Over achiever much? The sauce for my scalloped potatoes was a base for mac’ n cheese so how could I really say no? This is what I refer to as “last minute mac” because I used penne in replacement for elbow noodles, because, hello, I didn’t know I was making this so of course I didn’t have the right pasta on hand. I threw in some spicy Jimmy Dean sausage because Kyle is constantly bitching at me that the freezer is too full….so I used something from the freezer, probably the smallest item in the freezer, but still counts!

Ingredients
1 box of penne pasta (or elbow if you’re smarter than me)
3 Cloves of Garlic (minced)
3 Cups of Whole Fat Milk
3 Cups of a three cheese blend or the cheese of your choosing
1 Stalk of green onion diced
1 package of Jimmy Dean Spicy Sausage
1 Cup of Panko
4 Tablespoons of Kerrygold Butter
4 Tablespoons of Flour
S&P

How To
Don’t be an idiot like me and wait until you are done with the sauce to boil the pasta – you should do that first. Remember the pasta trick with the water – your pasta water should look and taste like ocean water – more flavor!

I fried up my sausage next, and once it was completely cooked through I added the garlic and onions. Next, I added the butter (all in the same pan, sausage fat and all, this is Thanksgiving!), let the butter melt down over medium heat, and then add in the flour. Cook this mixture for about 3-4 minutes, and then stir in the milk and begin to whisk. Whisk until your arm falls off OR you no longer have lumps of flour/butter. Cheese, cheese, and more cheese, but only add one cup at a time and wait until it’s melted down into the sauce to add the next. At this point I also take a small ladle of the pasta water and place it into the cheese sauce. The starches released from the pasta while it bowls will help the sauce really adhere to the noodles.

Butter a casserole dish and mix your sauce and noodles all together. I bake this at 400 covered for 30 minutes, and then take it out, place panko all over the top, drizzle the panko with olive oil, and then broil for 5 minutes. Delicious! Last minute mac!

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Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Lord have mercy do not bring hummus as a Christmas appetizer unless your entire family is vegan. I about got voted off the island for bringing hummus a few Christmas’ back. You know what, though? I am a grown up(kind of) and have my own blog now so I am just going to publish the recipe because I am a loud and proud hummus lover!

Embarrassing Fact: A few colleagues of mine had a hummus war competition and it just so happened to be on the day I was interviewing for a management position at my work. Well, ALL afternoon my stomach would not stop sounding like a blue whale searching for its family and couldn’t tell if I was just nervous OR overdosing on too much hummus.

P.S plain hummus is boring – make some exciting flavors and share them with me! I know roasted red pepper is pretty boring, too but I love it!!

Recipe

2 Cups chickpeas drained and washed
1/2 Cup Tahini (just buy it – I know it’s expensive but it’s what makes hummus HUMMUS)
1 whole lemon squeezed
1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Cloves Garlic
1 Cup Roasted Red Bell Peppers (I roast mine on the oven – stick them in a ziplock once black- let them steam – take off the char and done)

How To

How easy is this? Throw it in the food processor and hit the Go button. Blend until smooth and the consistency you’d like – you may need to add additional olive oil. I crack fresh pepper on top one plated, a squirt of lemon, and a final drizzle of olive oil. Eaasy breezy beautiful snack. Pita chips, veggie sticks, naan bread. Gurl.

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Chicken Fried Steak Bites!

Okay, so like, did everyone know as a kid that chicken fried steak was actually steak and NOT chicken? I know I know it is in the name, Krystal but it tricked me every time! I would get so excited thinking we were having fried chicken to only be served this chewy fried steak. UGH.  I never really liked red meat as a kid and even now as an adult I rarely eat it. I tend to stick with fish, chicken, and 3-4 nights a week vegetarian. I am not a big red meat eater and when I am it has to be done right, and so I generally leave it up to the expert: 2nd dad. I can make chicken fried steak though, right? Yes! I made these a little differently by cutting the cube steak into pieces rather than “steaks” and making bites to dip in black pepper gravy. Baby, these were good. I am now a fan of chicken fried STEAK.

I found that chicken fried steak (CFS) is all about the gravy. Gravy is life. Gravy runs through these veins. I served these with mashed potatoes, because what else? These would be an excellent appetizer for a party.

Ingredients

2lbs Cube Steak (I cut mine into pieces) Cube steak is generally just top round that has been tenderized
2 eggs
1 1/4 Cup Flour (can substitute almond or coconut here) – reserve 3TBSP for gravy
S&P
Garlic Powder
Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
25-30 Saltine Crackers
1/4 Cup Panko
Vegetable oil for frying
1 1/2 Cups Whole Milk (coconut milk can be substituted)
1/2 Cup Beef Stock
3 TBSP Kerrygold Butter

How To

Set up your batter section while your oil is heating up for frying. As always with 99% of fried foods you COULD bake these by getting some color on them and then placing in the oven, but we are going authentic today. Beat your eggs in a bowl. In a separate bowl add the crushed saltines, garlic powder, pepper, panko, and flour. I do not add salt to this because the saltines have salt.

Cut the cube steak into strips. Place strips into eggs, then into the dry batter, and then into the fryer! Since these are strips and not full steaks they only take 4-5 minutes a piece in the oil. Place them on a paper towel once out of the oil to get rid of excess oil. Taste one to see if they have enough salt for your liking.

Now, the most important part – the gravy. Country gravy. I always make gravy with pan drippings but it isn’t possible with chicken fried steak since you know….you fry it. We will pass on using oil in our gravy. Melt your butter and make a roux with those 3TBSPs of flour we reserved. Once your roux is cooked add the milk and beef stock. I added the beef stock as a little trick for one you could split the milk/stock ratio and save some calories, and two it adds a beef flavor that the gravy would lack due to the pan drippings situation. Let your gravy thicken and right before serving add a TON of freshly cracked black pepper. Delicious!

I still prefer fried chicken…… but these were bomb! Bring these to your next event and as always if you make this recipe tag us on Instagram or Facebook!

 

Brussel Sprouts & Cranberries

The holidays are upon us!

Well, they will be when I decide to publish this. Currently, it is the day before Halloween but no one cares because Halloween is on a Monday this year so everyone was drunk yesterday. Also, drunk today if you are me.

Brussel Sprouts are a staple in our home. Kyle will eat them but I am honestly not convinced that he enjoys them nearly as much as myself. I am prepared for no one to like this article since I can count on one hand how many people I know that like the brussels. I will tell all the haters though that you probably just weren’t raised right. When I bring these babies to work I get these disgusted looks from coworkers and always a similar story: my grandma/mom/aunt always made brussel sprouts boiled and made us eat them. Boo hoo your childhood was tragic. Disaster number 1 would be to boil brussel sprouts as they deserve to be sauteed or roasted.

I have many recipes for the brussel: asian, spicy, butter & parm, brussel caesar salad etc. We will see how this recipe goes over before posting any further.

This is one of the easiest side dishes but impressive with the fun ingredients and colors. Just.Make.It.

Ingredients

Brussel Sprouts (I did about 3 cups)
2 Cloves Garlic
Olive Oil
Tablespoon Butter (you know I am the Kerrygold girl)
1/2 Cup Dried Cranberries
1/2 Cup Feta Cheese
Red Pepper Flakes
S&P

I sauteed the brussels in olive oil and butter – added my S&P, red pepper flakes and let these heifers cook.

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Added in cranberries when brussels were about 4-5 minutes away from being done. Taste the brussels as you go since everyone will have their own variation of “done”. I do not like mine mushy so I generally only cook them on medium for no longer than 10 minutes depending on how they were cut.

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When you are satisfied with the done-ness? of the brussels turn off the heat and toss in your feta to serve. Feta is not a good melting cheese so you want to serve this quickly after tossing everything together.

Final Thoughts 

Next time I think I am going to throw some roasted walnuts in here.

Perfect Holiday Dish.

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