Macaroni and Cheese with Ham 

I had leftover ham from Easter that I needed to use up so I found a version of Mac and cheese with ham and sort of made it my own. It came out really good and my whole family loved it. 

Ingredients: 

– 2 cups diced ham 

– 1 onion, diced 

– 3/4 box of bow tie pasta (or any pasta) or 2 cups cooked pasta 

– 2 cups cheddar cheese 

– 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese 

– 2 cups whole milk 

– 1/4 cup butter 

– 3 tbsp. flour 

– pinch of salt and pepper 

Directions: 

Preheat your oven to 350F. 

Spray a 9×13-inch casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. 

Begin by heating up a pan and adding a tbsp. of butter. Add in the onion and diced ham. Cook for a few minutes until the onions are translucent. Pour into a bowl and set aside. 

Cook the pasta. 

After the pasta cooks, add the butter to the pan you sautéed the ham and onions in. Once the butter is melted, add in the flour and whisk for two minutes constantly. Then, add in the milk slowly and continue to whisk. 

Next, slowly add in the cheddar and Parmesan cheeses and whisk until the cheese is incorporated and begins to thicken. 

Add the pasta to the cheese sauce and then add in the ham and onion mixture. Give it all a big stir and pour into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle with a bit more cheese and bake for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, turn the oven to broil and broil until the top is golden. 

Serve with a side of veggies. Enjoy! 

   
    
    
    
    
    
 

Cheesecake Bars 

These bars are so good and perfect for finger foods at a party. I love traditional cheesecake but enjoyed these bars for a fun handheld spin on cheesecake 🙂 

Ingredients: 

(Crust) 

– 3 cups graham cracker crumbs 

– 1/2 cup sugar 

– 1 stick (1/2 cup) melted butter

(Filling) 

– Three (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened 
– 1 1/2 cups sugar 

– 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla 

– 4 eggs 

– 1/2 cup sour cream 

(Strawberry Sauce) 

– 2 cups frozen strawberries 

– 1/2 cup sugar 

Directions: 

Begin by preheating your oven to 350F. 

Line a 9×13-inch baking dish with tinfoil and spray it with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. 

Crust: Combine the graham cracker crumbs and sugar in a small bowl. Add in the melted butter and stir to incorporate. Press moist crumbs into the foil lined baking dish, it’s ok if some come up the sides. 

Filling: Add the cream cheese, vanilla, and sugar to the bowl of your stand mixer. Beat until smooth. Add eggs one at a time to the bowl and beat to combine. Add the sour cream and mix again. 

Pour the filling into the crust and smooth the top. Bake for 50 minutes in your preheated oven. After the 50 minutes, turn off the oven, and open the door. Let the cake stay in the oven for an additional 15 minutes. Once the time is up remove and set aside to cool. 

While the cake is cooling, make the filling. Place the frozen strawberries and sugar in a pan and turn the heat to medium. Let the berries cook down and release their juices. Once the berries are soft, mash with a potato masher, I like to leave a few of the berries not completely mashed for texture. Turn off the heat and remove the pan. Allow to cool, then place the mixture in a Tupperware and refrigerate until needed. 

 

 
   
    
    
    
 

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies 

These cookies were very good. At first I was skeptical with them not having the traditional cookie ingredients, but I had a massive jar of peanut butter I needed to use up, so have them a shot. They came out very moist, packed full of chocolate, and the peanut butter came through nicely. Everyone could not believe they were flourless, butter free, and white sugar free! 

Ingredients: 

– 1 cup creamy peanut butter (the original recipe called for Skippy or Jif and not natural or homemade because the natural peanut butters tend to make the cookies flatter and thinner) 

– 1 cup brown sugar, packed 

– 1 egg 

– 1 tbsp. vanilla extract 

– 1 tsp. baking soda 

– 1 cup semi- sweet chocolate chips 

Directions: 

Begin by combining peanut butter, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla to the bowl of your stand mixer. Cream together until it is nice and incorporated and the texture is not grainy from the sugar. 

Add the baking soda and beat to combine. 

Add the chocolate chips and beat to combine. 

 Using a cookie scoop, scoop out dough and roll together in your palms, creating spheres. This helps the abundance of chocolate stay together in the cookie. 

Place balls on a large cookie sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Chill for at least two hours before removing the dough balls to bake. 

Preheat oven to 350F. Line another baking sheet with a silpat or wax paper and place the dough balls a couple inches apart. 

Bake the cookies for 8-9 minutes or until you notice the edges getting slightly crisp. Even if the cookies seem soft in the middle, they will firm up once removed from the oven. You do not want to over bake these cookies or it will really ruin the softness. 

Allow cookies to cool on the cookie tray for about 10 minutes before removing them to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Enjoy! 

   
    
    
    
 

Lasagna 

I believe this was only the second time making lasagna in my adult life. I am kind of weird about cheese and do not care for ricotta, which has caused me to shy away from lasagna. My inlaws made it when they were visiting a few months ago and I actually really enjoyed it, ricotta and all! So I gave it a try and it came out pretty good. I served it with garlic bread and a Caesar salad. 

Ingredients: 

– 1 lb. sweet Italian sausage

– 1/2 lb. ground beef 

– 1/2 cup onion, diced 

– 2 cloves garlic, minced 

– 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes 

– 2 (6 oz) cans tomato paste 

– 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce 

– 1/2 cup water 

– 1 tsp. sugar 

– basil, oregano, onion powder, parsley seasoned to taste 

– 12 lasagna noodles (I used the no-boil) 

– 1 (16 oz) container or ricotta 

– 1 egg 

– 3/4 lb shredded mozzarella cheese 

– 3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese 

Directions: 

In a large pan with tall sides, cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until cooked through and browned. Drain the fat and return to pan. 

To the meat, add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Stir everything together. 

Next add the sugar, basil, oregano, onion powder, parsley, taste and adjust accordingly. Stir to combine. 

Simmer, covered for at least 1 1/2 hours or longer. 

In a medium sized bowl, combine ricotta, egg, a bit more parsley, and a pinch of salt. 

Preheat oven to 375F. 

To assemble: grab a 9×13-inch pan and spread 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce on the bottom of the pan. Place a single layer of noodles on top of the sauce. Spread with one half of the ricotta mixture, and top with 1/3 of the cheese. Repeat layers and add Parmesan to the top layer. 

Cover with foil and bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes. Place a cookie sheet on the rack below to catch any drippings that may fall. Remove foil and bake for an additional 25 minutes. Cool 15 minutes before serving. 

   
    
    
    
    
 

Japanese Sweet Potato  Fries 

I have never liked sweet potatoes, and I have tried them a few different ways. Recently, I was served Japanese sweet potatoes at a friend’s house and was a bit skeptical at first, but oh my goodness they were good! I can now say that I like a type of sweet potato 🙂 If you have never seen or heard of them (I hadn’t) they have a purply skin with white flesh inside and are much milder than a regular orange sweet potato. You must give them a try! 

Ingredients: 

– 2 to 3 Japanese sweet potatoes 

– olive oil, coconut oil, or any oil you want for frying (I used coconut and olive oil) 

– salt and pepper 

Directions: 

Preheat your oven to 375F. 

Begin by washing and drying your sweet potatoes, then piercing them all over with a fork. 

Bake them in your preheated oven for 60-90 minutes, depending on size. The smaller potatoes will cook much faster, so just keep checking them after that 60 minute mark. 

Once they are done, remove the potatoes from the oven, slice in half, and place in the refrigerator. 

Once the potatoes are cooled, remove from the fridge. Remove the skins, and slice into strips, depending on how thick or thin you want your fries  

Heat up your oil of choice and let it get hot. Once your oil is heated, add the potato strips a few at a time. Fry your potatoes and flip over after 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown.  Remove fries to a paper towel lined plate to soak up the extra oil. Season with salt and pepper. I served them with homemade burgers last week and it was divine! 

Enjoy! 

   
    
 

Cilantro Chicken Stir-Fry 

Oh boy, was this good! I am such a sucker for cilantro so when I saw this I just had to make it. Also, the peanuts were a surprising, but great addition to the stir fry, and we all enjoyed it. 

Ingredients: 

– 2 tsp. Olive oil 

– 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts 

– 1/2 cup honey roasted peanuts 

– 1 red bell pepper, diced 

– 4 cloves garlic, minced 

– 1 tsp. ground ginger 

– 1 tbsp. soy sauce 

– 2 tsp. rice vinegar 

– 1 tsp. Sriracha sauce 

– 1 tsp. sesame oil 

– 1 tsp. cornstarch 

– 1 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped 

Directions: 

Begin by heating up the olive oil in a large frying pan preferably with tall sides over medium- high heat. Addin the chicken and cook for three minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Add the peanuts, red bell pepper, garlic, and ginger to the pan with the chicken. Cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. 

While the chicken is cooking, combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, Stiracha, sesame oil, and cornstarch in a small bowl. Whisk to combine. Add the sauce to the skillet and cook, stirring until the sauce thickens and coats the chicken. 

Remove the pan from the heat and add in the chopped cilantro. Stir to combine and serve over rice with lime wedges on the side. I always use brown rice in my dishes and it is delicious! 

Enjoy! 

   
    
    
    
    
    
 

Raspberry Buttercream Frosting 

Ok guys…  This is. The. Frosting!! I made it for cupcakes for my youngest daughter’s first birthday 🙂 Oh my goodness, it was so good and the secret is freeze dried berries! I’ve never done a recipe like this before, but this took it to an entire different level and no artificial flavorings or colors 🙂 A must try! 

Ingredients: 

– 2 sticks softened (1 cup) unsalted butter

– 1 cup (10-12g) freeze dried raspberries (or strawberries) I think any berry would be good! 

– 4 cups powdered sugar 

– 2 Tbsp. Heavy cream 

– 1 tsp. vanilla extract 

Place the freeze dried berries into a food processor and blend into a powder. I don’t have a food processor, so I just used a gallon bag and hit the berries with the back of a metal measuring cup until they were powder. Set aside. 

In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the softened butter on medium speed about two minutes until creamy. Add the powdered sugar, raspberry powder, heavy cream, and vanilla extract. Mix until well blended on low. Increase speed to medium high and beat for a full three minutes. Add 1/4 cup more powdered sugar if the frosting is too thin and add a couple more tbsp. heavy cream if it’s too thick. Add a pinch of salt if the frosting is too sweet. 

Frost as desired.