Sunday, May 26, 2013

Slow Cooker Beer Chicken

I can’t believe that it's already Memorial Day weekend!  This weekend is definitely one that can always put a smile on my face, mostly because it means many exciting things are about to come.  For one thing, our community pool is opening.  I  absolutely love spending my lazy summer afternoons at the pool (an upside to being a teacher).  Next, it means that school is almost done!  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my job and all, but I'm always ready for, and appreciate the break, which also means I have time for mini summer vacations.  Plus, Memorial Day means grilling out, boating, camping, bon fires, parties, etc.  My list could go on and on, but for now I’ll quit rambling.  I will say one more very important thing though, I never truly forget the real reason for this Holiday. Thank you to all the brave men and women who dedicate their lives to serving our country. You and your families are  all appreciated beyond words. 

I think that you'll enjoy today’s recipe because it's one that can easily be put together for a large Memorial Day crowd (just double the recipe) and also one that you don't have to spend all day in the kitchen making, which is especially nice if it's hot out.  Another upside to this recipe is that it’ll give you time to go out and enjoy an afternoon together with your family or friends! 

This recipe would also make a fantastic dish to take tailgating with you, because if your plans are like mine, they involve going to some sort of event, such as a NASCAR race. 

Slow Cooker Beer Chicken
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2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 bottle or can of your favorite beer
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. dried minced onions
Dash of ground cayenne red pepper


Place all of the ingredients into the slow cooker and cook on high for 4-5 hours, or low for 6-8 hours. (Tip: Combine all the liquid and powders together in the slow cooker first and stir together, and then add the chicken in)
Source: Slightly adapted from LaLoosh

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Macaroni and Cheese Lasagna

Who can honestly say that they don't like macaroni and cheese?  I mean think about it for just a have pasta, and could you go wrong?  Personally, I've always been a fan.  Actually.....if I think back to my teenage years, I'd have to admit that Kraft macaroni and cheese would probably have to be one of the first things I could actually "cook" myself, without messing up.  It's also a meal that I enjoyed quite frequently in college, other than Ramen noodles or Hamburger Helper of course. (Don't was tight) 

Therefore, I've been wanting, and meaning to post this macaroni and cheese lasagna recipe for quite some time now.  It's definitely a meal that goes above and beyond just your ordinary mac and cheese, which in my mind, makes it a 'grown-up' version of a classic.  I original got the idea idea from a friend of mine and I knew right away that it'd be something Jeff and I would enjoy! (mostly because we are both fans of macaroni and cheese, plus lasagna)

Another bonus about this particular recipe is the fact that it's pretty adaptable.  (I myself heavily adapted it from the original)  What this means is that you could use whatever macaroni and cheese you like, (I prefer spirals) add in any additional ingredients/seasonings, or even take out some of the seasonings that I chose to add in.  I also believe that adding a layer of fresh spinach or some freshly chopped onions would be divine!  Unfortunately though, Jeff wouldn't eat it if I added those things, so I'll just stick to the recipe that follows.

Macaroni and Cheese Lasagna
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2 boxes Kraft spiral macaroni and cheese (cooked according to package)
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 (23 oz.) jar Prego sauce (I use Three Cheese, however you could use whichever flavor you enjoy most)
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tsp. red pepper flakes (I may use more, we like hot)
2 tsp. oregano
1 cup Cheddar cheese
2 cups Mozzarella cheese

In a large skillet, over a medium heat, begin to brown the lean ground beef.  Once the beef starts turning slightly brown, add in the garlic powder, garlic clove, red pepper flakes, and oregano.  Mix around until well combined and then continue to cook the beef until it is completely brown.  Drain the excess grease. (I do this by lining a colander with paper towel, so as not to lose any of the seasoning)  Return to beef to the skillet and set over a low heat.  Pour in the Prego sauce and stir around until the beef is completely coated with the sauce.  Allow to cook on low, until the sauce is warm.
In the meantime, cook the macaroni and cheese according to package directions.

To Assemble:
Coat an 8x8 baking pan with PAM cooking spray.  On the bottom of the dish, evenly layer on half the macaroni and cheese.  Top the mac and cheese layer with a little cheddar cheese, then add on half of the meat/sauce mixture and finish with a layer of mozzarella.  Repeat the layers one more time.

Place the dish in the oven at 375 degrees for about 10-12 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.  Switch the oven to broil and cook for about 2 more minutes or until the top of the cheese starts to turn that nice golden brown color.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes.  Serve warm.
Inspired by Kraft