I grew up eating the best macaroni and cheese ever made. Maybe if you put it up against something full of fancy cheeses and truffle oil, it wouldn’t win, but it was – and still is – my favorite macaroni and cheese.
And this life-changing cheesy pasta is made by my mom’s best friend, Jill, who I’ve known all my life. She’s also the same Jill that makes the molasses cookies, and my family has spent almost as much time in their house as our own.
Anytime I see a macaroni and cheese recipe, I think to myself “does this sound like it would be as good as Jill’s”? Any most of the time, the answer is no. So I never try them. Because, if it doesn’t have a shot at being at least as good (if not better – which would be hard to do), it’s not worth the time to me.
I honestly don’t know what it is that makes hers so perfect. It might be the crispy, baked topping or maybe her pasta is always cooked perfectly or it may be a combo of all of that and the good memories I have of eating it when I was a kid.
I mean, you can’t really beat an afternoon of macaroni and cheese, fort building, and Cinderella watching (only the Rogers and Hammerstein 1965 version, please and thank you!).
All I know is that when I was making and updating this recipe a few weeks ago, I thought, for just a second, that I was back in their kitchen, scooping out a second helping of Jill’s macaroni and cheese. And all I wanted was to be back there, with my bad bangs and crimped hair, playing with my friends, and eating my favorite food in the whole world.
Jill’s will always be the best, but this one is pretty darn close. Now all I need is a day to have a few helpings of this and watch Cinderella.
Whole Wheat Mac and Cheese
Makes: 8 servings
- 2 cups dried whole wheat macaroni noodles (or regular is fine, too)
- 8 ounces (2 cups) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
- 1 1/2 cups evaporated fat free milk
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons Dixie Crystals Light Brown Sugar
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Paprika, for top
- Cook macaroni in large amount of boiling, salted water until tender but not mushy. Drain.
- In a small bowl, beat the eggs with the brown sugar, dry mustard, and some black pepper.
- Stir the cheese and milk into the hot pasta and mix together. When thoroughly combined, add the egg mixture to the pasta.
- Pour into a casserole sprayed with vegetable spray. Press down to smooth the top. Sprinkle with more black pepper and paprika.
- Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes.
I have an ongoing partnership with Dixie Crystals. All recipes and opinions are my own, as always.
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It’s What’s for Dinner.
It’s what I wish was for dinner tomorrow.
It’s one of the quickest and most delicious things I’ve ever made at home…and you probably wouldn’t think so when you look at it.
Maybe you’re the opposite of me and you have your life together.
Maybe…you don’t get into pajamas as soon as you get home from work. Maybe your kitchen is clean when you walk in the door and not full of cereal bowls that need to be washed and a sink of juice glasses and coffee mugs. Maybe you have hours to spend on dinner every night and you wear an apron so you don’t mess up your clothes.
I wish all that was me, but it’s not. After a 40 minute drive home from work every day, the last thing I want to do is wash dishes. And the next last thing I want to do is work on dinner for 2 hours and then wash more dishes. I really just want to sit and be lazy for a few minutes, an hour even. Maybe take a nap.
But since most of my nights are kind of mix of those 2 things (usually the sitting for a few minutes, minus the nap, plus all the washing of the dishes and definitely the pjs as soon as possible), quick dinners win out during the week.
I love having a long, relaxing meal just as much as anyone else, but it’s not always possible after a long day of work when we’ve still got stuff to do around the house and no one else here to do it for me.
So – quick and easy it is! And if all my quick meals tasted like this one, I would have no problem getting everything done at night.
Thanks to buying a cow with our families this year, we are stocked with beef right now. Our freezer has over 50 pounds of ground beef so you might be seeing a lot of recipes soon. I’ve been trying to not only post beef recipes, but it’s bound to happen when we’ve got this much.
But one can only eat so many burgers, meatballs, and pasta dishes in a row. Enter Sweet and Spicy Beef. This is my homemade trial at making something close to what I had at a korean restaurant, and it turned out just how I wanted: a little sweet, a little spicy, a rich flavor in the beef punched up a little with some fresh lime juice.
if you find yourself in your pjs, looking for something to make for dinner tonight….I think this might be it.
Sweet and Spicy Beef
Makes: 6 servings
- 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 and 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup Dixie Crystals brown sugar
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (depending on how spicy you like it)
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 limes, quartered
- 1 bunch green onions, sliced
- cooked rice, for serving (about 6 cups cooked)
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat and brown the ground beef with the garlic in the sesame oil.
- Add the brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, salt, pepper and red peppers. Simmer for a few minutes to blend the flavors. Squeeze the juice from one of the limes into the beef and stir in half of the sliced green onions.
- Serve over steamed rice and top with green onions and another squirt of lime juice.
i have an ongoing partnership with Dixie Crystals. All recipes and opinions are my own.
Well, this is just killing me.
I want to share this recipe with you guys soooooo much, but I’m using it as my entry into the Dole Cookoff! I’m also still working on the presentation, but the ingredients together? Spot. on.
Okay, I’ll at least spill that info. Pound cake. Grilled pineapple. Bananas. Jalapenos. Coconut. Stacked and whipped and simmered together before putting them all in one ridiculous dessert.
Ooh, I can’t wait to share this.
In the meantime, have you entered?! The grand prize is $25,000! I could finally pay off my school loans with that if I was being responsible….and if not, we could take the best vacation ever.
They’re taking entries through May 15th, so you’ve still got some time!
Have you ever made a sweet + spicy dessert? They’re kind of my new favorite thing, I think.
If you eat coffee cake at, say, 1 (or 3) in the afternoon…does that still count as “brunch”? Or is it just the most delicious snack ever?
I don’t think there’s ever an end to brunch time, but even if you do, this coffee cake makes a killer afternoon snack with a cup of tea or coffee or even dessert, warmed up a little.
This is another Dixie Crystals recipe I’ve been working on, making and updating from some of their older cookbooks and from my first bite, I was hooked.
This isn’t like any other coffee cake I’ve ever had. First of all, the dough has yeast in it, so you get that incredible flavor that you only get when you bake with yeast. Second, it’s layered and filled with melted butter and sugar and almonds and dried fruit, topped with more, baked, and then topped with a layer of whipped cream (crazy) that gets baked into a crispy shell on top.
I don’t even know how to describe that top layer of baked cream except that it’s like heaven spread on the top of your coffee cake.
I’ve already made this cake a few times – one for us, once for a shower at work – and there have been requests for it again soon.
I thought I loved coffee cakes and brunch cakes already, but this one….it just can’t even be compared to a regular old coffee cake. Maybe we need a new category for this? That might be the best idea.
Bavarian Potato Coffee Cake
Makes: 16 servings
- 1 envelope active dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons firmly packed Dixie Crystals Dark Brown Sugar
- 1/2 cup lukewarm milk
- 1 cup mashed Russet potato (loosely packed, about 1/3 pound, cooled to a lukewarm temperature)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1 large egg
- 2 and 3/4 – 3 cups all purpose flour, plus flour for kneading
- 2 ounces slivered almonds
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons dried cherries
- 1 cup firmly packed Dixie Crystals Dark Brown Sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup dried apricots
- Sprinkle yeast and 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar over the warm milk. Stir together and allow mixture to sit until bubbly, 3-4 minutes. Beat together yeast mixture, mashed potato, salt, butter and egg.
- Gradually add flour and knead (with a mixer or your hands) on a lightly floured surface until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Turn dough into a large greased bowl, cover and allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1-2 hours. Punch dough down, cover and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight, if desired.
- Grease a 10-inch springform pan. Divide dough in half and press one half lightly into prepared pan. Sprinkle dough with half of almonds and 2 tablespoons of dried cherries. Combine remaining 1 cup of dark brown sugar with melted butter and sprinkle half of this mixture over almonds and cherries.
- Top with remaining dough, almonds, 2 tablespoons of dried cherries and remaining brown sugar and butter mixture. Let cake stand, covered, at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350°F and place pan over a piece of foil (to catch any drips). Bake cake, uncovered for 35 minutes. Beat heavy cream with vanilla until firm and spread whipped cream over the top of cake. Arrange dried apricots and rest of dried cherries over cream and bake for another 15 minutes or until golden brown on top. Serve warm.
To say that I’m getting obsessed with parfaits is a little bit of an understatement. Maybe it’s these cute little glasses I got from Zulily? Maybe it’s just that the weather is finally warming up here and I can eat yogurt again for breakfast without needing a sweater on. Whatever it is, bring it on, Spring.
Besides spring vegetables like asparagus and peas, the one other flavor that I love using this time of year is lemon. It’s not even really a spring fruit – well, it’s never an in-season fruit here – but I love the brightness that it gives to whatever you use it in. Even in things like pasta and soup and margaritas, lemons are born with the talent to make everything seem light.
I mean, you’ve had lemon cheesecake before – and even though it probably has the same calories and ingredients as a normal piece of cheesecake or even a piece of chocolate cheesecake, don’t you feel like it’s a better choice? I know I do. That light flavor makes it seem not so heavy, which means, of course, we can eat more of it. Obviously.
But since I can’t have cheesecake for breakfast every day, I decided to throw some lemon in with some blueberries and vanilla and layer that with creamy yogurt and crunchy almonds for a spring breakfast. It might not be the same as a piece of cheesecake….but for a pretty healthy breakfast, it’s close enough.
And make sure to check out these other springtime recipes – you won’t want to miss them:
Paula made Strawberry Filled Jelly Doughnuts
Susan made Mini Peach Pie and Waffle Trifles
Angie made a Grilled Apple Galette
Blueberry Lemon Yogurt Parfaits
Makes: 4 servings
- Put 1/4 cup of yogurt in the bottom of 4 dishes.
- In a medium bowl, mix the blueberry filling with the fresh lemon zest and vanilla. Drop 2 Tbsp of the pie filling mixture onto the yogurt in each dish.
- Top the filling with 1 Tbsp of almonds, then add another 1/4 cup of yogurt, a little dollop of pie filling and another tablespoon of the almonds. Serve.
And to go along with our springtime recipes, Lucky Leaf has a Pinterest Contest that starts today – the grand prize is $500, and two additional winners will receive $200. They’ll also pick ten finalists and send them each a Lucky Leaf gift pack. You can find all the details on Lucky Leaf’s Good Things Come to Those Who Pin CONTEST PROMOTION PAGE. The contest goes from today through May 15.
Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Lucky Leaf. I was compensated for my time. Opinions are my own. Always have been. Always will be.
Anytime I think of pudding, I think of one thing: snack packs.
But my love for snack packs didn’t even really hit until college when I was away from home, useless in the kitchen, and needed cheap/easy snacks. I think it was a combination of pudding cups, cherry coke, and pineapple orange juice that helped me gain my junior 25. Thanks, sugar.
It never even crossed my mind that I could make my own pudding. I mean…why would you when you can buy it in those little cups or get the boxes of instant pudding? Plus, at that point, I couldn’t cook anything other than a grilled cheese or boiling pasta – literally. That was the extent of my meals for myself.
Now that I can at least put a dinner together, I like having a challenge in the kitchen every few weeks. Taking something that I would never think to make on my own and actually making it? It’s an awesome feeling, even when those trials flop. And believe me…there have been plenty of flops.
But pudding is so easy!
Making your own pudding does take a little more than the 5 minutes you need for a packet of instant pudding BUT it’s about 100 times more delicious and you know exactly what’s in it AND then you can say that yes, you did make this pudding.
For this batch, I stuck with a classic vanilla pudding and topped it with some fresh pineapple and coconut chips, but you know vanilla: it can go with anything you want.
And watch out for some more recipes and posts coming soon cooking with dairy! This is my first post working with the NDC to share some recipes you can make with dairy, even if you’re Lactose Intolerant. I don’t have a dairy allergy, but I have noticed that drinking straight milk isn’t usually the best idea for me and my stomach, and that makes me sad because I love milk. But coming up with new ways to use dairy is going to be a lot of fun. Check them out on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and their website and blog for more info and recipes.
Vanilla Bean Pudding with Pineapple and Coconut
Makes: 4 servings
- 1/3 cup Dixie Crystals sugar
- 2 and 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
- 2 cups 2% milk (lactose free if you need it)
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
- fresh pineapple and coconut chips or flaked coconut for topping, optional
- In a medium saucepan, whisk the sugar and cornstarch together until all the lumps are cornstarch are broken up into the sugar.
- Slowly pour the milk into the sugar mixture, whisking to break up any clumps.
- In a small bowl, beat the egg and set it aside.
- Heat the milk mixture over medium until it begins to bubble, stirring frequently. Once the milk has come to a low simmer, lower the heat to low-medium and let it cook, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes until the mixture has started to thicken.
- Take a spoonful of the pudding mixture and pour it in the bowl with the egg, stirring it in quickly so the egg doesn’t start to cook. Once the pudding mixture has been mixed in with the egg, pour the egg mixture into the pan with the rest of the pudding, stirring constantly.
- Add the vanilla bean paste to the pudding and cook over low-medium for another 3-5 minutes until the pudding has thickened.
- Serve immediately if you want warm pudding. If you’d like your pudding chilled, pour into ramekins or into one large bowl and place plastic wrap directly on the pudding; place in the fridge and let it chill for 30 minutes – 1 hour before serving.
- Top with fresh pineapple and coconut (or your choice of fruit) before serving.
Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by NDC – all recipes and opinions are my own, as always. I also have an ongoing partnership with Dixie Crystals.