Sunday, September 19, 2010

Productive Weekend!

Well, despite a bit of a migraine and some bad allergies, it was a great and productive weekend! I had some time to myself on Friday after having a headache all day, so I just rested, watched Letters to Juliet and made a late dinner of chicken and rice. It was really good - is it weird that I had never made that simple recipe with the rice, water, cream of mushroom soup mixed with chicken on top?? ha...

Saturday, we picked up a pull out couch that we bought from a thrift store in downtown wheaton and an ikea desk and armoire that Joe found on Freecycle. It's pretty crazy - people just list things they want or have to get rid of and it's all free...
So we borrowed a Land Rover made three short trips all around north wheaton and now have three great new pieces for the potential new house...

here is a new picture of the desk from

Here is a picture the owner took of the armoire - pretty nice for free eh???
we think we will use it in the baby's room if all goes as planned :)

So we had a guy friend help us move these items and I was wanted to make him a decent dinner since he was staying and hanging out awhile after, so I made another homemade macaroni&cheese recipe from Family Circle magazine. I just love their recipes. They have provided me with several great homemade mac & cheese recipes over the months that I've subscribed...

Four Cheese Bacon Mac from

Four Cheese with Bacon Mac

1 box (1 pound) cavatappi
6 slices bacon, diced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups 2 percent milk
1/2 teaspoon onion flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 pound sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup shredded colby-Jack cheese (4 ounces)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (4 ounces)
8 slices Kraft Deli Deluxe American cheese (6 ounces)
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 3-quart broiler-safe baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boiling.

2. Cook cavatappi 8 minutes in boiling water, then drain. Meanwhile, in medium-size saucepan, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp, 6 minutes. Transfer to paper towels. Carefully pour off drippings, returning 2 tablespoons to pan. Add butter.

3. Whisk in flour until smooth. In a thin stream, whisk in milk. Stir in onion flakes, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat and simmer 2 minutes. In large bowl, toss together cheddar, colby-Jack and mozzarella.

4. Remove milk mixture from heat; whisk in American cheese and 11/4 cups of the cheddar mixture. Toss bacon pieces with remaining shredded cheese.

5. In pasta pot, combine cooked pasta and cheese sauce. Pour half into prepared dish. Sprinkle with a generous cup of the bacon-cheese mixture. Repeat layering.

6. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes. Increase oven temperature to broil and broil 3 minutes, until top is lightly browned. Cool slightly before serving.

It was VERY good and the boys loved it. It made a full 3 qt pan size, which means plenty of leftovers!!

I also made a Chili since it's rare to find one without tomatoes and beans.....Joe is a little picky when it comes to those two items. So I found Chili Con Carne in the Oct. Family Circle also and had that going in the slow cooker last night. We will hopefully try it tonight!

Chili con carne from

Chili Con Carne

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
2 pounds boneless beef round steak, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon chili powder
3-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 package (10 ounces) frozen corn
3 tablespoons finely ground cornmeal
Sour cream, sliced avocado and cilantro for garnish (optional)
1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef to skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes, draining any accumulated fat. Remove beef to slow cooker; reduce heat to medium. Add 1 teaspoon oil to skillet; add garlic and onion and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir in 3 tablespoons chili powder, 2 teaspoons cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.

2. Scrape skillet contents into slow cooker and add corn and 3-3/4 cups water (enough to cover by 1 inch). Cover and cook on HIGH for 4 hours or on LOW for 6 hours.

3. When there is 1 hour cook time remaining, stir together corn meal and 3 tablespoons water. Stir in cornmeal paste, remaining 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1-1/2 teaspoons cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne; cook for 1 more hour or until thickened. Garnish with sour cream, avocado and cilantro, if desired.

So with that - sorry for the novel... I can't wait for fall! I still need to get me a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks and make my first pumpkin bread, but I'll get there. And hopefully the first frost will bring allergy relief for me! :)
Hope you all have a wonderful week!


  1. love the new furniture! Does Joe like mushrooms? My MIL makes a really good mushroom chili.. without beans or tomatoes!

  2. My allergies have been bothering me too! But I think it is starting to get better. Anyway, thanks for the mac and cheese recipe. I think I might make that this week. We are looking forward to getting pumpkins too! There is this place just off the highway over the Wisconsin border we go to. I forget what it is called but it is a huge pumpkin farm with lots to do. :)

  3. I might have to snatch some of your recipes you find :) We are desperate for new dinner ideas!

  4. No, Rachel, it is not weird that you've never done that chicken recipe. I've never done it and we usually only eat chicken for meat...NICE finds for free! That's great! My allergies are bugging me as you enjoy cooking now? It seems last time I visited you weren't so into it...

  5. yes, beth! I've come a long way in since then. I had NO cooking experience or knowledge at all when we got married, so thankfully I've grown in that arena significantly! :)

  6. How exciting that you guys might be getting a house! Basements can definitely be scary, but there is hope. You guys should come over and see what we did with ours--it's so great to have a whole new space!

  7. hey if you haven't yet, you should invest in a crock pot and crock pot easy recipes is the best thing ever, especially when baby comes and makes your house smell really good all day :) And man, I hear you with the allergies...I NEVER have them, except when I've been preggo...funny little babies inside ;)

  8. Let me know if you need a good pumpkin bread recipe!