Rice Cooker Series: Simple Yet Yummy Penne with Meat Sauce

Yummy Penne w/ Turkey Meat Sauce!

Yummy Penne w/ Turkey Meat Sauce!

Hello My Creative Foodies,

So I decided to start a series of post about dishes I have made or recipes I have tried using a rice cooker. In my previous posts I have shown a couple recipes (Creative Mac and Cheese) that I have used the rice cooker for certain components of the dish. Using a rice cooker is quick and simple and it is an alternative than using a stove. Since I started my current job I use my rice cooker at least twice a week. I love the simplicity and the easy clean up. I recommend the rice cooker for anyone especially people who like cooking made easy and fast. A good rice cooker makes not only nice and fluffily rice every time but you can use it for other things such as sauces, soups, certain meats such as chicken, the list goes on!

One of the dishes I love to make is penne with turkey marinara. It has since than become a staple dish on our current menu and it is so easy yet DELICIOUS to make! I recommend it to anyone who is not only a pasta lover, but wants something quick and healthy with A LOT of FLAVOR 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups of your favorite brand of Turkey Meatballs (My favorites are Perdue or Shady Farms)
  • 1 can of crush tomatoes
  • 1 can of Hunts diced tomatoes (If you enjoy a chunky marinara sauce, if not just two cans of crushed tomatoes)
  • Olive Oil – enough to coat the bottom of the rice cooker pot
  • 2-3 tsp of minced garlic (I love Garlic but maybe one tsp is just enough for you, its all about your taste buds :-))
  • 1-2 tsp of minced  or chopped onion
  • 3 tbsp of Sugar
  • Chopped Parsley and Basil to taste
  • Italian Seasoning to taste
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Water (if sauce is too thick, splash some hot water to think it out)
  • Cooked Penne Pasta
  • Parmesan Cheese to sprinkle (optional)

Directions:

  1. What I love about the rice cooker is you can make Pasta! So before you make your yummy sauce, you can boil enough water for your pasta and add some salt, olive oil, garlic and onion powder for taste. Set aside once cooked.

    Cooked Pasta

    Cooked Pasta

  2. In a clean pot add your mince garlic and onion and add enough oil to cover the onion and garlic.
    Olive Oil and Garlic with Onion

    Olive Oil and Garlic with Onion

    Saute for a minute or so than add both your crushed and diced tomatoes and stir. Add your seasoning: salt, basil, italian seasoning, sugar, pepper, and any other seasonings. I like to add garlic and onion powder to enhance the flavor.

    Sauce with Herbs and Spices

    Sauce with Herbs and Spices

  3. Let your sauce cook and simmer while occasionally stirring for about 10-20 minutes. *** Rice cookers can cook at a quick rate compared to stovetop so keep a close eye. Also if you do not stir, your sauce can burn from the bottom so REMEMBER to STIR! lol )

    Cooked Plain Marinara

    Cooked Plain Marinara

  4. While your sauce is simmering either thaw out your turkey meatballs or id there already thawed using your hand crush your turkey meatballs till it resembles ground turkey.
    Crushed Turkey Meatballs

    Crushed Turkey Meatballs

    Add your ground turkey to your sauce and simmer for about 10 minutes while stirring.

    End product of delicious meat sauce

    End product of delicious meat sauce

  5. Once sauced is made you can pour on your penne and ENJOY! ***Warning: sauce is SUPER HOT so DO NOT BURN YOURSELF! Lol 🙂

Now that you know how I make quick and easy penne with meat sauce I hope you all try it. The beauty of using a rice cooker or any kitchen appliance in that  nature is you can be creative and do something different. Even with this simple recipe, thinking outside the box can result in delicious outcomes. So let’s throw on our aprons and get CREATIVE!

Happy Cooking my friends 🙂

Creative Quote (Image from inmyownstyle.com)

Creative Quote (Image from inmyownstyle.com)

When Distraction Leads to New Creations… Chocolate Caramel Bundt Cake

Chocolate Caramel Bundt Cake!

Chocolate Caramel Bundt Cake!

Hey My Sweet Tooths and Chocoholics (I admit I am one of each!)

I am finally making my first baking post in a looong time! I guess when you get consumed with work and life you tend to not have time to do what you love! Well I finally took the time to test out a recipe that I have been trying to make for the longest! Well it all started when I stumbled on the recipe online while looking for a new cake recipe to try out. The recipe ended up on allrecipes.com. I have to say allrecipes.com is one of my top sites to look for recipes because it not only has all kinds of sweet and savory recipes but the reviews are honest and really helpful. While on the cake hunt I happen to have found a recipe called “Better than Sex Cake”. The name alone would make anyone stop and be like for real?! So I looked through the recipe and I thought why not give it a try! The combination of chocolate and caramel with sweetened condensed milk, I was like that’s my kinda combo!

Example of Better Than Sex Cake : allrecipes.com Image from Erica

Example of Better Than Sex Cake : allrecipes.com Image from Erica

I decided to make it with my sister as something fun to do on a cold day. The process was a lot of fun to make but heres the thing. I kinda winged the recipe LOL. I had thought I memorized the recipe in my head but I did not make the exact recipe and made something entirely different! (I blame it on my sister for making me laugh and distracting me LOL) I have to say I still like the results and the cake was flavorful and very rich. So without further ado here is Chocolate Caramel Bundt Cake!

Ingredients:

  • 1 box of Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix (I used Betty Crocker)
  • 1 and 1/4 cup of Carnation Whole Milk
  • 1 can of Carnation Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 1/2 cup of Melted (Unsalted) Butter or Margarine (cooled)
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 tsp of Vanilla Extract
  • 1 box of Chocolate Fudge Instant Pudding Mix
  • 1 jar of Caramel Sauce
  • (Optional) 1/2-1 cup of Chocolate Chips to melt for chocolate drizzle
  • Utensils and Gadgets
    • Whisk
    • Rubber Spatula
    • Wooden or Plastic Mixing Spoon
    • Baking Nonstick Spray w/ Flour
    • Large and Medium Mixing bowls
    • Standard Bundt Pan
    • Wire Cooling Racks
    • (Optional) Decorative Squeeze Bottles for chocolate and caramel (Can be found in craft stores such as Michaels and AC Moore)

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven at 350 degrees F and spray your Bundt Pan
  2. In a Large Bowl add in your dry ingredients: Chocolate Cake and pudding mix and mix together with a whisk till combined

    Cake and Pudding Mix

    Cake and Pudding Mix

  3. In a Medium Size bowl add your wet ingredients: Whole Milk, Melted Butter, Eggs, and Vanilla Extract and whisk till combined

    Egg and Milk Mixture

    Egg and Milk Mixture

  4. Pour your milk and egg mixture to your cake mix bowl and mix till combined**cake batter will be very thick. (**The reason why I like this method of combining your dry and wet ingredients is your cake batter will mix more efficiently and your cake will have a fine texture)

    Chocolate Cake Batter

    Chocolate Cake Batter

  5. Pour Cake batter in your greased bundt pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or till cake springs back when you touch it or toothpick method

    Before Baked

    Before Baked

  6. After it is Baked

    After it is Baked

    Once cake is done remove from oven and poke holes throughout cake with either a toothpick or knife and pour sweetened condensed milk. Once soaked in take your wire rack or even your cake plate and flip cake over (**WARNING!!!: By mistake I had left the cake soaked in the sweet condensed milk for WAY t0o long and it had become stuck in the pan! (I told you my sister distracted me!) So my friends if your cake does become stuck, DO NOT PANIC! Just simple put your pan carefully in a hot water bath for a couple of minutes and your cake will come right out unharmed. DO NOT FORCE IT OUT!)

    Sweet Condensed Milk being poured into cake

    Sweet Condensed Milk being poured into cake

  7. Once cake is ready and cooled, drizzle both caramel and chocolate onto the cake. I used my decorative tubes to make the drizzle easier and there a great investment for any baking project!
  8. Serve and enjoy!

    Chocolate Caramel Bundt Cake!

    Chocolate Caramel Bundt Cake!

The chocolate cake is rich with flavor and quite delicious. I had made a cake for my family and for my coworkers and they had both enjoyed the cake very much. I hope some of you may even try out this recipe and let me know what you think! I have to say I had a lot of fun making this with my sister. During that time we caught up with stuff going on in our lives, joked around A LOT and I even taught her a couple baking tips. So next time you bake, do it with someone you love, whether your sibling, child, significant other, or a friend; you will see how much fun you will really have! So my friends hope you get inspired with a new baking recipe and even if you get distracted you never know what delicious creations you come up with!

Happy Baking 🙂

Baking quote <3

Baking quote ❤ (Image from pininterest.com)

For Those Winter Days…Creative Cream of Chicken & Rice Soup

Cream of Chicken and Rice Soup

Cream of Chicken and Rice Soup

Hey my culinary foodies!

So if anyone lives up north you probably feeling as cold as I am! It is FREEZING!!! I mean living in NY has its many advantages, the cold winters is NOT one of them! One way to comfort yourself is making a nice bowl of hot soup. While I’m not a soup person, this cold front were having would convert a non soup person into a soup lover! At work today I made a Cream of Chicken and Rice Soup for the children and I have to say the children loved it. While I like to make soups from scratched for the most part, I am a fan of Campbells Cream of Chicken Condensed Soup.

Campbell's Cream of Chicken

Campbell’s Cream of Chicken

I used it as the starter of my soup, and I have to say it makes life easier ESPECIALLY when you have to make soup for 100+ kids. Even when using condenced soup from a can you can be so creative especially with cream of chicken, you can use it for not only soup but different sauces, cassoroles, the list is endless. Here is my quick and easy Cream of Chicken and Rice Soup.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of Campbells Cream of Chicken Condensed Soup
  • 2 (cans) of Hot Water – use the can for the hot water
  • 1-2 cups of Fresh or Frozen Veggies – I used broccoli, peas, carrots, and corn but you can pick whatever works for you

    Broccoli, Peas, Corn, and Carrots for color and flavor..gorgeous huh :-)

    Broccoli, Peas, Corn, and Carrots for color and flavor..gorgeous huh 🙂

  • 1/2 – 1 cup of Cooked Brown or White Rice – while I am a rice lover and love lots of rice some may not so the amount of rice is up to you

    Cooked brown rice to add texture to the soup

    Cooked brown rice to add texture to the soup

  • 2 tsp of Garlic powder
  • 2 tsp of Onion powder
  • Parsley to sprinkle in and on top of soup
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Pour the can of soup in your pot and scrap off the rest with a rubber spatula

    Cream of Chicken Soup in pot

    Cream of Chicken Soup in pot

  2. Add cans of hot water and whisk soup till combined

    Soup and Hot Water being whisked

    Soup and Hot Water being whisked

  3. Add spices and herbs and set your soup under medium heat till simmering

    Herbs and Spices added to the soup

    Herbs and Spices added to the soup

  4. Combine veggies and rice to soup and simmer for about 20 minutes

    Cream of Soup w/ Veggies and Rice

    Cream of Soup w/ Veggies and Rice

  5. Add salt and pepper to soup and set to low heat
  6. Serve and enjoy the hot soup with nice crunchy bread, cold or hot sandwich 🙂

    Cream of Chicken and Rice Soup w/ Turkey Grilled Cheese

    Cream of Chicken and Rice Soup w/ Turkey Grilled Cheese

I told you that this recipe is easy! You can add whatever spices get you going or any veggies you like the choice is yours. Being creative no matter how you start a dish is the beauty of cooking. So I hope you get a chance to either make your own version or if you do not have the time go to your fave  local restaurant and buy a nice cup or bowl of hot soup, find a good movie and keep warm in your favorite blanket when you get the chance on a cold day.

Enjoy and keep warm my culinary friends 😉

Weekend Is Coming to an End (tear) – Plan A Fitness Goal For the Week!

Image

Fitness Motivation (Image from motivationblog.org)

Hello My culinary foodies!

Hope you all had a FABULOUS weekend. Unfortunately mine was spent mostly in bed due to a cold. But now I am feeling a bit better and even spent the day doing my Sunday rituals (Church, Brunch, and a bit of Shopping! :-)) Since January is coming to an end and I know all of you are probably over fitness, fitness, fitness! Let’s face it, it is the time of the year where fitness products are in your FACE! You cannot even go to a store without seeing fitness wear being displayed as you walk in, or your local grocery store having all their health and wellness food products on sale. (Well benefit for us who do actually buy such products LOL). But here is the thing, you should take ADVANTAGE! Now I know for my culinary people out there, the last thing of our minds is working out, ESPECIALLY after an 8 hour work shift. Trust me after working all day in the kitchen and running out to do errands, by the time I come home all I want is food and my bed! But let’s face it, the more fit and health we are, the more energy we have for work and our daily lives. It also doesn’t hurt to fit our clothes better and turn a couple of heads 😉 But aside from that to be healthy is such a goal that we all should have.

Fitness Motivation #2

Fitness Motivation #2

I have to say I get so inspired from our fellow bloggers who document their weight loss goals or just encourage others by posting healthy recipes or workouts that they encourage others to try. It inspires many to accomplish their own goals and so many have succeeded. Even myself I was once a health nut who ate nothing but healthy food items and even worked out 2-3 times a day. While I was at the slimmest and most healthy every, I also can say I was happy. It was great to walk into a store and not worry that I could not find anything to wear, my skin was glowing, I was forever smiling (For the most part), and I had energy for days! But when the lost of my grandmother happen, I let all of my healthy habits and just focused on helping my family go through such a major lost. Sometimes when we lose someone we tend to forget ourselves and focus on other things. While that time for me was very hard, I did eventually get through and I am better mentally than before. But there was one thing, I gained the weight back! I did not even notice till one day I really looked at myself in the mirror and said, “What the HELL happened to me!”. While I knew I was gaining weight, I did not really pay attention to my eating habits. I had become a fast food junkie that ate fast food everyday and would indulge on things like cookies, ice cream, and LOTS of Resses mini peanut butter cups (those are ADDICTING!!!) So I had said enough is ENOUGH.

Since January started I have stopped such habits completely and went back to my old healthy habits. I can tell you that I feel soo much better since I have stopped such habits such as not eating fast food, and not eating carbs at night, I can already start to feel that I am losing weight. (In my next few blogs I will go into detail my change in eating habits.) Now to my fitness goal of the week…

I will be on my third week of focusing on my diet and since I have that down pact (not one thoughts of cheating) I am now on the fitness! So I have decided to challenge myself to 6 weeks of Tae Bo Insane Abs. I had bought the DVD a while back when I was really into fitness and did the workout video a couple of times. I absolutely love Tae Bo Fitness and the dvds are awesome (I have about 5 that I would play and workout with religiously!). They are easy to follow for anyone getting into cardio and they give you RESULTS! I would recommend them to anyone who is entering the world of fitness and would like to do it in the comfort of your own home. The creator of Tae Bo Billy Blanks motivates you throughout the DVD and gets you revived up and going!

Tae Bo Insane Abs!

Tae Bo Insane Abs!

What my main focus is to work on my upper body and hopefully get the abs I have always wanted or at least a flatter tummy will do LOL. Overall I am striving for better health and for now I want to start with goal #1. I would like to fit back into this awesome dress I wore last Easter. I felt so great in this dress and I hope to fit nicely into it after the 6 weeks. (Thankfully I can fit into the dress but not zip it up all the way ;-()

I loveee this dress!

I loveee this dress!

So my friends while I tackle my goals I want to know what do you want your fitness goals to be, and if you do have one what are they? We should all strive for good health and to feel comfortable in our own skin. I know I will not be a size 2, nor do I want to be but I want to be HEALTHY and feel GREAT! So good luck to you all my friends and lets make ourselves better this year of 2013 and every year after!

Happy Fitness Quote :-)

Happy Fitness Quote 🙂 (Image from sparkpeople.com)

Who would not want one of these 🙂

the CITIZENS of FASHION

Worked in straw, raffia, rattan and jute, spring’s woven accessories go from utilitarian to ultrachic.

accessories-natural-selection02

Clockwise from top left: Coach wedge; Delman flat; Mark Cross bag; Tiffany & Co. bag; Kotur Bag; Stuart Weitzman shoe; Vince Camuto flats;Yestadt hat; Alexander Birman bag; Tommy Bahama Bag; Zoraide wedge; Agl bootie; Felix Rey bag; Tory Burch necklace

accessories-natural-selection01

From left, Anya Hindmarch’s straw cluch with raffia embroidery,Roger Vivier’s rope and silk satin clutch with crystal buckle and Pierre Hardy’s jute and leather sandal.

PHOTO ASSISTANT: BIEL PARKLEE; FASHION ASSISTANT: ALEXANDRA VERCRUYSEE

PHOTO BY KYLE ERICKSEN

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DIY: Inspire Yourself With Your Own Inspiration Board!

Write what inspires you!

Write what inspires you!

“Creativity is intelligence having fun” – Albert Einstein

Hello my culinary girls and friends of all shapes and sizes!

I wanted to first off say how excited I am that I am gaining a following and that I am enjoying writing so much!  I hope you get some sort of inspiration through each post. I know for myself I am just by writing what I know and love. So thank thank you thank you and I hope anyone who stumbles upon this enjoys the blog and gets inspired!

So about two weeks ago I had created an inspiration board for the new year. I had gotten the idea in an old magazine while waiting for my car to get an oil change a while ago (Soo boring but it turned a success! LOL) and thought it was an awesome idea! I had heard in the past that putting up any ideas whether notes of future projects, pictures of items you wanted, or whatever it may be often puts the idea in your head and can lead you to accomplishing your goals. I thought this year since it is the year for change let me make an inspiration board. Making the board was def not hard. Growing up I loved creating collages of pictures of friends or subjects that I was really into like fashion, music artist, make-up and beauty, the list goes on. What I always loved about collages was the fact that I could be as creative as I want and make this keepsake that I could keep for as long as I wanted. So when I made my inspiration board I treated it with the same concept as a collage.

Photo collages I have created

Photo collages I have created

I had started with just going into a crafts store for stickers, colorful scrapbook paper, etc. to fill my board. I wanted it to be like a chalkboard almost, putting things on as I go. Here are some of the things I bought or found around the house:

Board supplies

Board supplies

  • Poster board – I bought black but there are an array of colors and styles in the store you can choose from.
  • Glue – either stick or the gel (I prefer the gel since it holds better for a poster)
  • Stickers – I loveeee stickers and depending on your theme they can add flavor to your board
  • Magazines /Catalogs/Newspapers– You can find all kinds of inspiration in these
  • Paint pens – Great investment if your into crafting, not only can you write with awesome colors for poster board but also glass, ceramic, the list goes on. I usually have an array of colors for different projects 🙂
  • Scissors – well you will need to cut of course!
  • Great music! – listen to what gets you going, I always have Pandora in the backround if I’m working on a project, cooking or baking

Now that you get an overall concept of making your own inspiration board, now go for it and make one! Pick a day where you have some free time to really think about what you would like to accomplish within the year. I always say that inspiration comes when you least expect it, it could happen while your surfing blogs, or having an outing with friends, a previous dream, listening to a lecture, watching your favorite TV show, reading your favorite book, the list goes on. For me it honestly took me a while to find the time to really sit down and make one, and it is still a work in progress. Life changes everyday and so do our dreams. So get inspired and display what you love and want. You never know what you can accomplish! So happy inspiration board making and always remember that with lots of effort and determination, and the belief in yourself ANYTHING is possible 🙂

My Inspiration Board!

My Inspiration Board!

So happy inspiration board making!

Norah 🙂

Marshalls is where its at! Ultimate finds for less!

Marshalls: Courtesy of fulcrumconstruction.com

Marshalls: Courtesy of fulcrumconstruction.com

Hello my culinary gals!

So finally I am making my first fashion post! Yay! Well as a culinary girl I have to say I love to find great bargains! Whether it is clothes, kitchen gadgets, food shopping, you name it I love a great bargain on a good quality product. While what I am about to tell you is not a secret, I just wanted to share some of my finds and how you too can find some awesome stuff for less 🙂

Marshalls has become a store that I practically grew up going to. As a young child going into Marshalls I loved going through all the sections and finding something special. Its also become a family tradition with my mother and sister and we all get excited when we find that one cool or unique thing. Whether it was a piece of clothing, a bag, or even cook or bakeware, I found many things I still wear or use till this day. What is awesome about not only Marshalls but stores like Marshalls is you find great brands for less. Its funny how I sometimes go to a regular department stores and find the same for twice the price and I am like thank God I bought it from Marshalls LOL! For the culinary girls out there I will tell you some of the items I go to Marshalls to find or buy and I know I will get for a great price.

  1. Shoes and Clothing – Whenever I go to Marshalls I usually find something that catches my eye, whether its shoes or a top, I get that giddy I found it feeling and I already envision myself wearing them. Today I found these awesome black suede booties for $29.99 (How low can you gooo!) There great quality from a good brand so when I saw them I thought, “They would go great with a dress I had bought” and I snag them!

    Black suede booties

    Black suede booties – $29.99

  2. Cook and Bakeware – Some people may not know this but Marshalls has AMAZING bakeware. I have bought many baking tins from here and they are of high quality. Today I bought this cool and unique mini bundt cake tin that was orignially $20 but was on sale for $10. That is 50% deduction! If your into cooking and baking as much as I am def check out the home and kitchen departments for not only awesome tins but other items like pots, pans, cupcake liners, aprons, the list goes on and on.

    Mini bundt cake tin

    Mini bundt cake tin – $10.00

  3. Cookbooks – That’s right COOKBOOKS! I have become somewhat of a cookbook collector so there are some weeks where I have bought 2-3 books (I must have over 50 cookbooks right now). I ALWAYS find an awesome baking or cookbook for less than $10 dollars. Sometimes even under $5! I found this awesome baking book for only $3.99! There of great quality and have some awesome recipes that I def use in the near future.

    Baking Book

    Baking Book – $3.99

So my culinary fashionistas do yourself a favor and find your local Marshalls, you are bound to find something awesome. Whether is that date night outfit, a muffin pan, or your new favorite baking book, you will find something special. Have a great shopping adventure!

Happy Shopping!

Norah 🙂

MACing it Up! Creating Your Signature Mac and Cheese

Creamy Baked Mac and Cheese w/ tomato and grilled chicken

Creamy Baked Mac and Cheese w/ tomato and grilled chicken

Hey my culinary peoples!

So during this long and crazy week I had the pleasure to make Mac & Cheese for the kiddies. Normally I would make a standard mac and cheese but lately I have been experimenting with different old recipes that I normally use. Maybe because it is the new year but I definitely been in my creative flow and have been making new changes to recipes ever since!

Now Mac & Cheese is nothing to really mess with, while it is a simple dish, many make different variations and there is always a debate about whose Mac and Cheese is the best! Reason why I love Mac and Cheese, you can be as creative as you want to be You can go either simple or gourmet, death by cheese or subtle, or even add various things like chicken, bacon, veggies, the possibilities are endless. So in my search for a unique way to make mac and cheese, I came across this homemade baked mac and cheese recipe (Courtesy of divascancook.com). What was unique about it was they had added cream cheese to their cheese mixture and I thought that was just brilliant! Once I had tried the recipe I knew it would become a stable for future mac and cheese creations. Another thing that I about the recipe was how creamy and flavorful the mac and cheese to the point it resembled the Haitian baked macaroni and cheese that I LOVEEEE (A staple side dish at any haitian event involving food, if you do not believe me ask any haitian person!) The haitian mac and cheese or macaroni de gratin, is filled with yummy flavors such and onion and garlic, they many put different meats and cheese or keep it simple. Now that you clearly know how much I love Mac and Cheese we will now get to the recipe!

Courtesy of plumsintheicebox.com

Example of Haitian Mac and Cheese: Courtesy of plumsintheicebox.com

I will not lie there are alot of steps to my new mac and cheese creation but once you make this once you will not miss a bit in the future. It is simple and fun and guess what, I made EVERYTHING in my rice cooker prior to baking it in the oven! (I told you I love that rice cooker!) Now lets get crackin!

Ingredients:

  • 1 box of Pasta – (Your choice of elbows, rotini, any of these pastas will do)
  • Equal parts of Chicken Broth and Water to boil the pasta (Example: 1 cup of water and 1 cup of chicken broth)
  • 1 cups of Chicken Broth
  • 1 cups of Evaporated Milk (such as Carnation Milk) or Half and Half
  • 2 tbsps of butter
  • 8 oz of Cream Cheese (1 package of cream cheese)
  • 1-2 cups of Diced Tomatoes (I used 1 can of Hunts Diced Tomatoes) or you can use fresh (I def will try in the near future :-))
  • 2-3 cups of Diced Grilled Chicken Breast 
  • Olive Oil (enough to cover the minced garlic in the bottom of the pan)
  • 1 Tbsp of Minced Garlic
  • 2 tsp Onion powder
  • 2 tsp Garlic powder
  • Paprika (to sprinkle on top)
  • 3 cups of Cheddar Cheese blend (I like to blend sharp and mild cheddar and you can even add montgomery as well or gouda – the desicion depends on your taste buds)
  • (Optional) 1/4 cup of Parmesan Cheese (to sprinkle with the cheese and on top of the baked mac and cheese you put it in the oven)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of Panko Bread crumbs (I found that panko bread crumbs are lighter and give the mac and cheese a great crunch)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Set oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Boil pasta with equal parts of water and broth till cooked and set aside or put in your baking pan
  3. In your rice cooker sautee your minced onion in some olive oil than pour in your diced tomatoes and stir in till simmering

    Diced tomatoes and minced garlic in Rice Cooker

    Diced tomatoes and minced garlic in Rice Cooker

  4. Meanwhile dice your already cooked grilled chicken breast and add the chicken to your diced chicken and minced garlic and simmer to enhance flavor.

    Diced chicken cooking in diced tomatoes and garlic (In Rice Cooker)

    Diced chicken cooking in diced tomatoes and garlic (In Rice Cooker)

  5. Meanwhile add chicken broth and butter to a medium size pot and reach to near boiling. While in the pot you can add in your seasonings such as garlic, onion, and salt and pepper. Than slowly add your milk or half and half to the broth and stir till near boiling and remove.
  6. Cut your cream cheese into chunks and add to your milk and broth mixture and whisk in, I had also used a hand blender to blend in the cream cheese to make the mixture smooth.

    mac and cheese 3

    Broth and milk mixture blended with cream cheese

  7. Once blended you can now stir in your cheddar cheese to the cream mixture than pour into your macaroni, than add your tomato and chicken mixture.

    Macaroni w/ chicken, cheese, tomato, and milk mixture

    Macaroni w/ chicken, cheese, tomato, and milk mixture

  8. Once all added sprinkle parmesan and cheddar cheese on top of macaroni mixture and put into the oven for 25 minutes or until golden.

    Mac and Cheese prior to being baked

    Mac and Cheese prior to being baked

  9. Serve straight out of the oven as a side dish to your fave meal or even by itself with your fave veggies.
  10. Enjoy and trust me you will!

    Bon Appetit!

    Bon Appetit!

I hope you are not overwhelmed with the recipe, this is one of my many creations of baked mac and cheese. Cooking should be looked as a creative form of expression, when I cook or bake anything I like to be creative and see how far I can take a standard recipe and make it my own. I encourage anyone who cooks or bakes to next time instead of following the recipe to the T to switch it up! You might surprise yourself on what kind of new creation you make 😉

Happy Cooking my culinary friends 😀

Nothing Beats a Bowl of Homemade Soup ;-)

Chicken Noodle Soup with a sandwich on the side ;-)

Chicken Noodle Soup with a sandwich on the side 😉

Hello my fellow foodies!

So for today’s menu at work it was chicken noodle soup and turkey and swiss melt. Normally I prepare the soup out of the can ( I know DEFINITELY not culinary savvy). But I was inspired to prepare it from scratch. Now I am going to tell you some of my secrets of how I made it. As much as I have the standard equipment, I have found some tricks that I use on a daily at work. One of them is a rice cooker. Rice Cookers in my opinion is one of the best kitchen gadgets in the planet, and if you do no at have one, GET ONE! With the name rice cooker you think that your limited to just rice, but there is soo much more you can do, from steaming veggies and fish, to cooking pasta their is a lot you can do. One thing I love to do with the rice cooker is to make soup. I have made soups like broccoli cheddar, marinara sauce from scratch,  The water heats quickly and stays nice and warm so whenever your ready, your soup is fresh and hot to be served! Here is how I made a simple yet delicious chicken noodle soup that all the children enjoyed.

 

Courtesy of casnocha.com

Rice Cooker – Courtesy of casnocha.com

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 pieces of Grilled Chicken Breast – diced into small edible pieces
  • 12 cups of water
  • 6 Chicken Bouillon cubes
  • 1-2 tsp of fresh minced Garlic
  • 2 tsp of Onion Powder
  • 2 tsp of Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp Parsley – either freshly chopped or dried
  • 1 pkg of Pasta – for the children I used ABC Egg Noodle pasta
  • 1-2 cups of fresh of frozen Vegetables – I used a bag of frozen mixed veggies that include corn, green beans, peas and carrots for color and for taste
  • Salt and a dash of Pepper for taste

Directions:

  • Fill your rice cooker with water to the 12 cup line and add bouillon cubes, onion and garlic powder and minced garlic. Cover with lid and heat till it boils.
  • Once the broth is at a boil add your chicken, vegetables, and cooked pasta to the broth and simmer till close to a boil. **The Rice Cooker tends to boil more quickly than cooking on a stove so keep a close watch.
  • Add salt and pepper to your taste level and you can set the soup to warm or serve immediately.
  • Serve with a sandwich or nice warm bread such as a baquette and ENJOY!

These simple and fool proof directions will give you a very yummy and enjoyable soup for you to enjoy. The children loved the noodles in the soup and the broth was light yet flavorful. So before I forget everyone please go get a rice cooker! You will thank me later when you do 😉

Happy Cooking 🙂

It’s Our Year to Shine!!!

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Fireworks!!!

First off, HAPPY NEW YEAR WORLD!!! As the world celebrates a new year, I am relaxing and sipping on my mother’s famous hot chocolate feeling like I can take on the world! (Even though I am a bit sleepy and dreading going back to work after a long and needed vacay, but thats beside the point! LOL) While I was on vacation I had thought long and hard about my resolutions and I even had an awesome list of my resolutions. Unfortunately I locked it somehow on my Nook and they are LOST! (tear) … But even with the lost resolutions the theme was to make my life even better than last year. To not be afraid of trying new things, not falling to same tired old routines and feeling comfortable with same old same old. As humans I notice how we can get into a steady groove and just settle. Do not get me wrong, some of the most simple things can give you peace, but I have notice my soul is craving for new and exciting things to experience. In just a couple of days I will be turning 25! That is a quarter of a century old! As I feel like I’m getting old (Oh NO!) I decided to finally step out of my safe bubble and experience life and share what I know and love to the world. 

I am blessed to be in a field that I can express my creativity and share it with anyone in my path. I promise this year of 2013 to change into a better me and take every advantage to pursue my dreams and at the same time help others along the way. Resolutions come and go but for me I will just say I strive to make this year my year to shine and make it mine!

So before I go and enjoy the rest of the first day of the year I wish you all a Happy New Year filled with positive changes, lots of love, good health, and awesome food and treats. 

 

Love you all!

Norah 😉