Monthly Archives: January 2016

Mac and cheese whiz

I knew I had a winning mac and cheese recipe. I had lost to my sister-in-law before with my lobster mac and cheese, and wanted a rematch.

She opted out of this competition, so it wasn’t a rematch per say, but rather, Mac and Cheese, Part Two.

I still had a stiff competitor, though. I actually lost by a half point. We’ve never done half points before – pretty sure my brother-in-law bribed someone to change their score so we could have a winner.

Photo credit: Melissa Severson
Photo credit: Melissa Severson

So basically we tied, but I got an awesome crown.


My sister-in-law made this crown essentially at the last second right before the competition. 

I wouldn’t recommend competing against her in either cooking or crafts.

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Jalapeno popper mac and cheese

This recipe hails from The Mac + Cheese Cookbook, written by two ladies who own a mac and cheese restaurant in Oakland called Homeroom.

This is one of those cookbooks where you actually want to read the additional information besides the recipes. I’d highly recommend it. Also, clearly their life is macaroni and cheese, so let’s just say they know what they’re talking about.

The jalapeno popper mac and cheese is a fairly simple recipe, combined with “mac sauce” – a bechamel-type sauce in the beginning of the book that is included in most of the recipes; it takes some work to make it. But it’s beyond worth it. 


  • 8 oz uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 2 cups mac sauce**
  • 2 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup diced jalapeno pepper, plus extra for garnish*
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs


* I’ve made this with fresh jalapenos, jarred pickled jalapenos, and a combination – it’s all good.

*Mac sauce:

  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp table salt or 2 tsp kosher salt


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Slow cooker meat sauce

This pasta sauce was described as “spicy” in the Slow Cooker Recipes cookbook – while it’s far from what I would consider to be hot, it is might tasty.


  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 (8 oz) cans sliced mushrooms, drained
  • 1/3 cup chopped red or green bell pepper
  • 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup chopped onion


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What did the buffalo say to his son? (Bison.)

Well, I came in second out of four for this competition. 

Photo credit: Alan Nudi
Photo credit: Alan Nudi

I was expecting to come in second, but was surprised by the dish mine lost to.

(Note on photo: We didn’t decide until the last minute if we were doing two competitions – appetizers and main dish – or putting all four in the same competitive pool, which we did end up doing. This is why two certificates say 1st and two say 2nd; 3rd and 4th just got bumped up a little bit, I suppose!)

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Greek-style turkey burgers

For those of you trying to fit more turkey in your diet, or sub in ground turkey for beef, this recipe will fit seamlessly into your dinner rotation.

Thank you to eMeals for this one.


  • 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup peeled and finely chopped cucumber
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 to 3/4 pound ground turkey
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese*
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp grated lemon rind
  • salt
  • 2 hamburger buns or kaiser rolls
  • 1/2 tomato, sliced
  • 2/3 cup baby spinach, stems trimmed off

Will also need cooking spray and/or olive oil.

*I used a tomato and basil feta, but plain would also work.


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Chicken bacon Ranch casserole

This is the casserole recipe I used to win the Kick-asserole competition

As I mentioned there, clearly, chicken, bacon, and Ranch has always been a great combination. The secret here is in the sauce – it really brings this dish up several notches on the awesome dinners ladder.

Many many thanks to, who look like they have some other really awesome recipes I’ll definitely be checking out.


  • 12 oz uncooked penne pasta
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 envelope Ranch salad dressing and seasoning mix
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts, shredded
  • 8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 12 oz frozen peas
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup shredded Mozzarella

Will also need cooking spray.


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