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Tomato Mac & Cheese

Tomato and Mac & Cheese. It’s sounds like a strange combo doesn’t it?! At first, it really did sound crazy to me, but then I thought about it. One of my favorite comfort foods is grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup. So why not a Tomato Mac & Cheese? See, not so strange now, is it?

The entire idea behind my recipes as of late, is simplicity. Simple weeknight fall comfort foods. I’m no longer just a mom and housewife. I took a part time job at a school, and although part time, it’s fast paced. It’s a busy busy job, and by the time I’m done there and get home, I’m beat. The last thing I want to think about is dinner. This is where planning ahead, and making things very simple come into play.

This Tomato Mac & Cheese couldn’t be easier. It looks a lot like Dad’s Glop, but don’t get fooled because it’s a totally different flavor. Probably just as easy to prepare though, which is not a bad thing at all. Tired or not, I still need to bring my family around the table. Gathering my family around the table in the evenings, sharing a delicious meal, is so important to me that no matter what, it will not be compromised. With this recipe, you can do it too, and enjoy conversation and reconnecting with your family. To save on precious time, I like to chop my onions and garlic the night before and store them in an air tight container in the fridge. That way when I get home from work, and it’s time to cook dinner, I don’t have to waste precious time chopping the veggies. At this point it’s pretty much a dump and cook recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as my family and I did, and enjoy some much needed reconnect time with your loved ones.

Print Recipe
Tomato Mac & Cheese Yum
Recipe by Christine Titus
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. In a skillet, cook ground beef, onion and garlic over medium-high heat until meat is no longer pink. Drain any fat if necessary. Season with salt & pepper.
  2. In a large saucepan, combine cooked pasta, the beef mixture, soup, sauce, and milk. Heat mixture over medium heat until heated through, stirring occasionally.
  3. Serve with Parmesan cheese.
Recipe Notes

Adapted from Campbell's Kitchen

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Broccoli-Sausage Macaroni

It’s supposed to be Fall. Right? I mean, here in Southern Indiana, it really doesn’t feel like Fall. We are in desperate need of rain, and we’re still in the mid to upper 80 degree weather! However, the evenings have become a lot cooler. Down in between 55-60. Beautiful nights for some bonfires, if you ask me. In fact, friends are starting to schedule their Fall bonfire parties. Let the potlucks and fires begin! These get togethers are why I love Fall so much. A big part of it anyway. Another reason I love fall, comforting casseroles like this Broccoli-Sausage Macaroni.

Broccoli-Sausage Macaroni is full of delicious flavor, and creamy cheesy goodness. It’s easy to fix, perfect weeknight meal for busy families. With Fall brings school and all those extra activities that come with that like sports. So having a nice comforting filling dish is greatly needed during this time of year.

What I like to do, is I look at my recipe the night before, and see what I can prep ahead of time. For instance, in this recipe, I need to chop a few things up. I’m not exactly a pro with a knife, so chopping things can take some time. I do all my chopping the night before and store them in Ziplocs, or plastic containers. That way, when I get home and I’m ready to start dinner, the time consuming chopping is already done. Just take it out of the fridge, and toss it in the pan, or mixture, or whatever the recipe says to do with it.

For this recipe, it’s real simple. Cook your elbow macaroni (or any short pasta you prefer) according to the package directions. While that’s cooking, steam  your broccoli. I get the packages of frozen steamable broccoli, and do this in the microwave. No extra dishes, you just do it right in the package and it’s quick. Just be sure you buy the packages that are steamable. Then melt some butter in a pan, and saute the onion, bell pepper and sausage until the veggies are crisp tender. Sprinkle a little flour over that, and cook it just for a minute to get that flour taste out. Gradually add your milk, bring that to a boil and cook and stir for about 2 minutes or until it’s thickened. Cut off the heat and add your cheese and seasonings and stir until the cheese is melted. Drain the macaroni and if necessary, the broccoli. Mix the cheese mixture, broccoli and noodles together.

Transfer this creamy deliciousness to a greased 13×9 glass baking dish. The dish is going to be full. If you’re worried about it spilling over in the oven, just set the dish on a foil lined baking sheet and don’t worry about clean up. It’ll be easy peasy! Sprinkle your breadcrumbs and butter mixture over the top, and bake this at at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until heated through.

All that’s left, is to serve this beautiful comforting casserole, and enjoy!

 

Print Recipe
Broccoli-Sausage Macaroni Yum
Recipe by Christine Titus
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Cook macaroni according to package directions. Meanwhile, steam broccoli according to package directions.
  2. In a large saucepan, saute the onion, sausage and red pepper in 1 tablespoon butter until vegetables are crisp-tender. Sprinkle with flour; stir until blended. Gradually stir in milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.
  3. Stir in the cheese, parsley, mustard and seasonings until blended. Drain broccoli and macaroni; stir into cheese sauce. Transfer to a greased 13x9 baking dish (dish will be full).
  4. Combine bread crumbs and butter. Sprinkle over top. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until heated through.
Recipe Notes

Adapted from Taste of Home

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Chicken, Veggie & Rice Casserole

After this long weekend and returning to every day life, you’re probably going to be looking for an easy weeknight meal. Well, surprise surprise, I have what you are looking for! Today I’m sharing with you my Chicken, Veggie and Rice casserole. It’s so simple, and just perfect for busy weeknights, or for when you’re just tired and don’t want to spend forever in the kitchen. I mean, you need time to put your feet up and have a glass of wine. I’m just saying.

This recipe calls for cooked chicken, which increases the ease of it. If you already have cooked chicken in your freezer (which I like to keep stocked up on), or if you have leftovers from the night before, great! If you don’t have any already cooked chicken, to keep this recipe simple, you can grab a rotisserie chicken from your grocery store deli. That will do just fine.

All you need to round out this meal is a tossed salad. So lets just jump right in so you can get to relaxing!

A few of my favorite things I used in this recipe:

  • Pyrex 4 qt. glass mixing bowl – I love this giant bowl. I use it to mix casseroles together before putting them in the casserole dish, and I also love it because I can make a huge batch of salads to take to potlucks or to have at any party. Lots of space in this one. Plus Pyrex is non-porous so it won’t absorb food odors, flavors or stains, and it’s oven, microwave, refrigerator, freezer and dishwasher safe.
  • Paula Deen Cookware – I absolutely love my cookware set. Paula Deen has many different sets, but this is the one I have and I love it. Always cooks evenly, washes easily, never stains.
  • Pioneer Woman Ceramic Bakeware Set – I just got this set and I adore them! They’re so pretty, not to mention easy to wash.


Print Recipe
Chicken, Veggie & Rice Casserole Yum
Recipe by Christine Titus
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Prepare your rice according to the package directions.
  3. In a very large bowl, combine rice, chicken, soup, milk, carrots, green beans, and tarragon. Season with salt and pepper to your taste. Spoon into a 2 1/2 - 3 qt. casserole dish. Top with bread crumbs.
  4. Bake, uncovered, for 40 minutes or until heated through.
  5. Flip on the broiler, and broil for a minute or two, just to brown the bread crumbs. Watch closely so you don't burn it.
  6. Serve & enjoy!
Recipe Notes

Adapted from Del Monte.

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Lighter Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad

It’s Wednesday folks, and I don’t have a wine to share with you! 😱 I know, right? Imagine how I feel! Being wineless. It happens though, but don’t worry! I’ve got an amazing pasta salad recipe for you though! It’s that time of the year where people fire up the grill, host cookouts, or get invited to cookouts and outdoor potlucks. When the grill masters get that itch to fire up the grill, that’s when it’s the perfect time for pasta salads, potato salads, fruit salads, you name it cold salads to make their grand entrance! This one in particular will steal the spotlight, and if you’re still working hard  to eat healthier, like I promised myself I would, or if you just want to keep your lovely figure, don’t worry! This beautiful salad is all lightened up. It tastes absolutely sinful though. I found the original recipe over on Life in the Loft House, and thought to myself “how can I lighten this up so I can enjoy this without feeling guilty?” Well, here’s what I came up with! Come on in the kitchen and I’ll show you how simple this is. Another one of my favorite things about the salad. Simple!

So first, you’re going to cook your Rotini pasta until it’s al dente. That should take about 8 minutes or so. While that’s bubbling away on the stove, dump your mayo, sour cream and ranch dressing mix in a large bowl.

Then whisk it up real good until it’s all combined. When your pasta is finished cooking, drain that, and rinse it in cold water until cool. Set the pasta aside and cut your grape tomatoes in half.

Now add your pasta, bacon (which I used a pkg. of real bacon pieces), tomatoes, olives and cheese to the large bowl with the dressing.

Toss gently to combine. Then cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. I hope you enjoy this delicious, creamy pasta salad as much as we all did.

 

 

Print Recipe
Lighter Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad Yum
Recipe by Christine Titus
Course Salads
Cuisine American
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Course Salads
Cuisine American
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add rotini and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water until cool; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine mayonnaise, sour cream, dry ranch dressing mix, garlic powder and milk with a whisk until thoroughly combined. Add pasta, cooked bacon pieces, tomatoes, olives and cheese. Gently toss to completely combine everything together.
  3. Cover and chill in refrigerator at least 2 hours before serving.
Recipe Notes

If after chilling in the fridge, and your salad seems a little dry, just add a little milk and stir to combine to moisten it up.

Slightly adapted from Life in the Lofthouse

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Cheesy Broccoli Chicken Casserole

Any recipe that has a name that starts with “Cheesy” will have my full and undivided attention! We love cheese around here. In my opinion, you can NEVER add too much cheese. The more cheese, the better it is. There’s just something about that ooey gooey goodness that is so incredibly comforting. Especially when you add pasta to it

This recipe makes a ton. I’m not gonna lie. 😁 I had enough to feed an army, I’m not kidding. That’s not always a bad thing. There’s nothing wrong with leftovers. I meant I didn’t have to cook the next night and could take the night off. What’s bad about that? Also, since it makes so much, and it’s soooo good you’re going to want to share it, it’s perfect to take to a potluck. Not going to a potluck anytime soon? No big deal, you can turn this one casserole into two separate casseroles and cook one tonight, freeze one for later! I’m a huge fan of cooking ahead and stashing homemade meals in the freezer. They’re better for you than what the freezer section at the grocery store has to offer, they taste better too, and those nights you just don’t feel up to cooking, no problem! Dinner’s already made. Just have to pop it in the oven.  Anyway, lets get on with this recipe so you can go make it for your family.

It’s not a difficult casserole to make, as most casseroles aren’t. First we’ll start with the elbow mac. Cook that according to the package directions until they are al dente (cooked, but firm). While that’s cooking, throw some steamable frozen broccoli in the microwave and cook that according to the package directions, and set aside. While that’s all going on, you can be shredding your cheese.

I bought the sharp cheddar already shredded, so I got to skip that step. I know, I’ve heard it a million times, and people everywhere are saying this, that pre-shredded cheese in the package, do not melt as well as shredding it yourself. I disagree, because I’ve never had that problem. Like ever. Maybe I’m lucky, I doubt that strongly, but hey! Maybe that’s my super power. Pre-shredded cheese melts for me. The only kind of cheese I have found this to be true, is pre-shredded Parmesan. That really doesn’t melt as well as shredding it yourself. So, for the Gouda I had to do myself, and I recommend you do the Parmesan yourself too. Stop and snack a little, it’s ok. Who is going to know?! 😋

If you haven’t already, don’t forget to chop up your chicken.

Now, the best part, making the cheese sauce! Just a little butter and flour, whisked together, and cooked only for a couple short minutes to get that floury taste out. Then slowly add your milk, cream and seasonings, whisking all along the way until it’s nice and thick. Then you add your cheese, handful at a time, whisking until melted. NOW, we get to mix it all together!

Oh man… look at that cheese!!! 😍😍😍 Mix all that yummy together, and spoon it into your prepared 13×9.

Toss your topping ingredients together and sprinkle on top.

Pop that beautiful thing into the oven to bake, 20-25 minutes at 400 degrees. Check it at 20, you don’t want to over cook this or it can dry out. You just want it to be nice and hot and bubbly.

All that’s left is to serve, and enjoy!


Print Recipe
Cheesy Broccoli Chicken Casserole Yum
Recipe by Christine Titus
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degreees.
  2. Cook macaroni according to package directions. While macaroni is cooking, steam broccoli in microwave according to package directions, set aside.
  3. Melt butter over medium heat in a large saucepan. Whisk in flour and let cook 2 minutes while stirring. Slowly whisk in cream, milk, and seasonings. Cook over medium heat while stirring until thickened. Remove from heat and stir cheeses until melted.
  4. Toss cheese sauce, pasta, broccoli and chicken together. Taste, and adjust seasonings as desired. Pour into a greased 9x13 pan. Combine topping ingredients and sprinkle over macaroni.
  5. Bake 20-25 minutes or just until hot and bubbling. Do not overcook, you don't want it to dry out.
Recipe Notes
  • If you are pre-cooking chicken for the purpose of casseroles, I season my chicken breasts with Garlic Pepper prior to cooking them. You can just salt & pepper them as well, or season to your liking. I do not recommend leaving them unseasoned. The more flavor the merrier!
  • No cooked chicken on hand? No problem! Grab a rotisserie chicken at your local grocery store deli, or check out the freezer section and grab a package of fully cooked grilled chicken breast strips.
  • Freeze Option: You can split this huge casserole into two casseroles. I like to use the throw-away foil baking pans for this purpose. Prep casserole as per directions above up to baking, pour into your aluminum baking pan, wrap with a layer of plastic wrap, then a layer of heavy duty aluminum foil, tightly. Label and freeze. To use frozen casserole, thaw in the fridge. When ready to bake, bake as per directions above.
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