Archive for the ‘Casseroles’ Category

One GIANT Sabbatical.

Is there anyone left coming to this blog after my insanely large sabbatical?? I promise I have a valid excuse. I misplaced my camera cord so therefore, I wasn’t able to upload any of my pictures. Over the weekend I spent time looking for it and thankfully it turned up! Without bombarding you with a day-to-day detail of all food-I’m just going to run through the highlights of what’s been going on this past week and a half. Ready everyone? Deep breaths…

Last Monday night we did have Baked Penne with Chicken and Sun-dried Tomatoes, it was good but not as good as I hoped. It lacked in flavor so I’ll have to come up with some spices to add to this dish. For as fattening as it was, it needed to at least be great-and it wasn’t.

Baked Penne with Chicken and Sun-dried Tomatoes

Recipe courtesy of the Martha Stewart


  • 6 tablespoons butter, plus more for baking dishes
  • coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 pound penne rigate
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (8 ounces each), halved horizontally
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 cups whole milk
  • 10 ounces white mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded provolone (6 ounces)
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan (4 ounces)


    Preheat oven to 400. Butter two shallow 2-quart baking dishes. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta 3 minutes short of al dente; drain pasta, and return to pot.

    In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Season chicken with salt and pepper; cook until opaque throughout, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Halve each piece lengthwise, then thinly slice crosswise.

    In a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot, melt butter over medium. Add flour and garlic; cook, whisking, 1 minute. While whisking, gradually add milk; bring to a simmer, whisking frequently. Add mushrooms and tomatoes; cook 1 minute. Off heat, gradually stir in provolone and 1/2 cup Parmesan.

    Add chicken and pasta to pot; season with salt and pepper. Divide pasta mixture between baking dishes; sprinkle each with cup Parmesan.

    Bake, uncovered, until top is golden and bubbling, about 25 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

    Prepare through step 4; let cool. Cover tightly with foil, and freeze, up to 3 months.

    Preheat oven to 400, and bake (still covered in foil) on a rimmed baking sheet until center is hot, about 1 1/2 hours. Remove foil; bake until golden, about 15 minutes more.

    Moving on to Tuesday, the Cayenne-Rubbed Chicken with Avocado Salsa and Garlic mashed potatoes was much better and easier. This adds up to a “win” in my book. My avocado unfortunately wasn’t the freshest but where that lacked, the chicken made up in flavor.

    Cayenne-Rubbed Chicken with Avocado Salsa

    Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart (apparently I was on a kick)


  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (6 to 8 ounces each)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 Hass avocado, pitted and cut into chunks


    In a small bowl, combine 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and cayenne; rub all over chicken.

    In a large skillet, heat oil over medium. Add chicken, and cook until browned on the outside and opaque throughout, 8 to 10 minutes per side.

    Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine onion and lime juice; set aside. Just before serving, fold avocado chunks into onion mixture; season with salt and pepper. Serve chicken topped with salsa.

    Wednesday we ended up skipping the mini-deep dish pizzas and had a frozen pizza instead. I stayed late at work and only had time to scarf something down before going to the NC Music Factory’s Haunted House. Chris and I had a blast! We met up with some friends beforehand at the Black Bear Saloon and after a few drinks attempted the haunted house. It wasn’t that scary but it had been years since I’ve really enjoyed Halloween traditions and this was a great night-totally worth the $8 tickets.

    Thursday was the family dinner at Mama Ricottas and I apologize for the un-pictured special but it was just too good to document. I dove right in to the pasta with carmelized onions, apples and bacon. I didn’t even have leftovers, which was really sad, but that is how good it was. Another great night with family and food.

    Friday I was supposed to have steak and rice cuban-style, courtesy of my best friends father but she ended up having to cancel her trip to Charlotte 😦 I miss seeing her and her husband and new baby boy, but I think they are coming up the first week in November. Friday and Saturday night were spent at home in resting in preparation for the huge Sunday plans I had.

    Chris has been out-of-town doing research at John Hopkins in Baltimore so Sunday I was left to hang by myself. Luckily for my birthday my uncle Kenny gave me his Panther’s tickets and they were great seats! I grabbed my friend Jane and made a day of it-and it wasn’t half bad.

    Beforehand we were able to attend the Charlotte City Club for an 11:00 brunch and it was so nice! I love going there when I get the opportunity but it’s few and far between because they have an exclusive membership. Thankfully my uncle pulled some strings and we were able to go. The food was on point and the service was even better.

    Later that night I had a few ladies over to my house to have a pumpkin carving party! This is one of my favorite things to do during the fall. It gives us a good excuse to get together, drink some wine and enjoy the season’s festivities. There was such great food there too! Pumpkin break, cookie cake amongst other munchies.

    (Jess with her cute little pumpkin!)

    Somewhere in between all of this madness I also made this dinner-which I had to write about. The corn-torilla scrambled dish was so good and filling and the black bean cornbread went perfectly! Chris and I were stuffed for hours, and it was exactly what we wanted for comfort food.

    unfortunately I did not have the right pan to make this dish (thank goodness for our Macy’s registry!) but it still turned out so good. I love cornbread!

    Corn Tortilla Scrambled

    If you would like the recipe to this, just let me know! It was quick and easy and would be a good breakfast as well!

    As for last night, it was Monday night TV and sister time. My sister Kate always comes over so I can feed her and watch our Monday night shows. Unfortunately she does nothing for building my culinary skills because she is such a picky eater. I’ll have to keep that in mind when doing the meal plan. I give you…pasta with marina and meatballs…

    No meal plan for this week! I’m trying to get creative with the food left over in my fridge and pantry and Chris comes back tonight. Thursday we are going out to dinner for my birthday but it’s a “mysterious” location. I’ll be sure to keep you guys posted!




    Homemade Mac & Cheese

    One of my favorite meals growing up was my mom’s homemade Mac & Cheese. I’ve kept a distance trying to make it in my own kitchen however because I was afraid that I would need heavy whipping cream, massive amounts of cheese and butter and I try to stay away from foods that require that much goodness albeit fatty ingredients.

    After doing a little bit of recipe perusing I found that Mac & Cheese doesn’t have to be that bad for you. Granted, this recipe is not the healthiest recipe on the blog, but every now and then I’m no longer going to be afraid to make this dish.

    Macaroni & Cheese 



    • 1 package (7 oz.) elbow macaroni noodles
    • 1/4 cup margarine or butter
    • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground mustard (dry)
    • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
    • 2 cups milk
    • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese


    Heat oven to 350º. Grease 2-quart casserole. Cook and drain macaroni as directed on package.

    Melt margarine in 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth and bubbly. Gradually stir in milk. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute.

    Stir in cheese until melted. Stir in macaroni until well coated. Spoon into casserole. Bake uncovered 20 to 25 minutes or until hot in center.