Mushroom, Caramelized Onion Macaroni and Cheese

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This isn’t something that I get many chances to make, so as soon as I saw it I sent a text to my vegetarian food-loving friend. As expected, she was all in for this fancy mac and cheese! It was so good – full of savory flavors from the caramelized onions and meaty mushrooms. Don’t substitute any of the cheeses; they’re worth every penny – besides, when I make her lunch I get a date night ūüôā Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Mushroom, Onion Macaroni and Cheese – adapted from Joy the Baker

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided, for cooking the onions and mushrooms
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced in semi-circles
  • half a pound of button or cremini mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, divided
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 scant teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Gruy√®re
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 pound pasta shells, boiled until just undercooked
  • 1/3 cup panko crumbs

Directions –

In a medium skillet over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter.  When heated, add the sliced onions and saute until translucent, stirring occasionally.  Add a pinch of salt, a pinch of black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme, and reduce the heat to low.  Continue to cook until the onions are completely browned and thoroughly cooked, about 10-15 minutes. Spoon caramelized onions into a small bowl and set aside.

In the same skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add the quartered mushrooms and stir to coat in fat. Allow the mushrooms to soften and brown, about 2 minutes. Add a pinch of salt, a pinch of black pepper , and remaining thyme and reduce the heat to low. Cook until mushrooms are browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the flour and stir until mixture is combined. Add the milk and whisk together until mixture has thickened, about 5-7 minutes. Add scant teaspoon of salt and black pepper. Stir to combine.

In a small bowl, beat the egg. Add a few tablespoons of the warm cream sauce to the egg and whisk together. Once the egg is warmed, add it back to the cream sauce and whisk well to combine. Reduce heat to low and stir in cheeses. Stir until melted and combined. Add the cooked pasta, onions and mushrooms and stir until all is coated in cheese sauce.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a  a 9×13-inch pan, and scoop the pasta mixture into the greased pan then top with panko crumbs. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the bread crumbs are browned and the pasta is sizzling. Remove from the oven and serve warm.
**Pasta can be made a day ahead and left in the fridge unbaked. Just add the bread crumbs just before baking.

Orange Glazed Chicken Thighs and Coconut Rice

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Quick Post: It doesn’t look like much, but my family enjoyed it. I really loved the coconut rice – it doesn’t taste like coconut, but the coconut milk makes the rice rich and creamy. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Orange Glazed Chicken Thighs – adapted from The Stay at Home Chef

  • 8 chicken thighs
  • 1 cup orange juice (about 4 oranges)
  • 1 orange, zested
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
¬†Directions –
1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Spray a 9×13 pan with non stick cooking spray. If you want to be fancy, line the bottom of the pan with orange slices (optional).
2. In a small saucepan, combine the orange juice, orange zest, rice vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 5 minutes.
3. Place your chicken thighs skin-side up in the prepared baking dish. Pour half of the glaze over the chicken thighs.
4. Cook in the oven for about 30 minutes. Take the remaining glaze and pour it over the chicken.
5. Cook for an additional 15-20 minutes. The skin will get nice and crisp and browned.

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Coconut Rice –

  • 1 1/2 cups long grain white rice
  • 1 can of unsweetened coconut milk, plus enough water to make 2 cups
  • 1 cup water
  • salt to taste (optional)

Directions –

In a medium saucepan, add water and coconut milk and rice. Cover and bring to a boil, then add salt – stir to dissolve, reduce heat to a simmer and continue cooking until all the liquid has been absorbed, about 15-18 minutes.

 

Honey Chipotle Chicken Salad with Lime Quinoa

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Quick Post: This salad was everything I wanted it to be – sweet, spicy, smokey, tangy – perfect! The chicken soaked up all the flavors of the marinade and once grilled, it caramelized and became it’s own finger-licking-good sauce. The surprise hit for me was the lime quinoa – I cooked it in homemade chicken stock with a little salt and pepper. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Honey Chipotle Chicken Bowls with Lime Quinoa – adapted from How Sweet Eats

honey chipotle chicken

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons adobo sauce, from a can of chipotles in adobo
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey mustard (*I used this recipe*)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced

salad

  • 6 cups spring greens
  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved (*I had Roma tomatoes)
  • 1/4 cup torn fresh cilantro (*the store didn’t have any*)
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1 lime, juiced

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Lime Quinoa 

  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed well (at least 3 times, or until the water is clear)
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 lime, juiced and zest freshly grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions –

Add the chicken breasts to a baking dish or Ziploc bag and season with salt and pepper. In a bowl, whisk together the olive oil, adobo, honey, mustards, cilantro and garlic. Pour the marinade over the chicken, covering it evenly. Place it in the fridge and marinate for at least 2 hours, or even overnight.

When you’re ready to make the meal, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add a tiny bit of olive oil and add the chicken, then cover the skillet and cook until the chicken is deeply browned on both sides and cooked in the center, about 6 minutes per side.

To make the salads, add the greens in a large bowl and toss them with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Add the chicken on top along with the quinoa, the tomatoes, cilantro, green onions and avocado. Drizzle the bowl with the lime juice, olive oil and honey. Serve!

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Add the quinoa and stock (or water) to a saucepan over high heat and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and cover the pot. Cook for about 15 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed. Stir in the coconut oil (you can swap butter), lime juice, zest, salt and pepper.

Soft and Fluffy Cinnamon Rolls

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Verdict: These were really good and I only made some minor modifications – 1/4 cup butter and 1 cup brown sugar in the filling, 1 tablespoon of cinnamon, and ¬†a pinch of salt. My husband likes my go-to cinnamon roll recipe just a bit more, but likes this frosting recipe better. These rolls are so much bigger than those (about 3 inches in diameter), and they are lighter – just stop yourself from adding too much flour. The dough rolls out easily, but it’s not as easy to slice into rolls. I need to invest in some flavorless and wax-free dental floss – that would definitely help. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Go to AverieCooks.com for the recipe: Overnight Buttermilk Soft and Fluffy Cinnamon Rolls

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Honey Buttermilk Bread

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Quick Post: Plush interior, nice chew, light, with a dark crust; and great for egg sandwiches! Thanks for reading, enjoy!

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…and look: toasty perfection ūüôā

Honey Buttermilk Bread – adapted from Restless Chipotle

** makes two – 8 x 4 inch loaves **

  • 2 1/4 tsp. yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 2 cups warm buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 5 – 5 1/2 cups white bread flour ( 635 grams – 698 grams)

Directions –

Combine 5 cups of bread flour along with the other dry ingredients inside your standing mixer bowl. Pour the liquids over top and mix until it forms a shaggy dough. Knead on low speed for 5 minutes, adding remaining flour 1 tablespoon at a time if needed. When dough pulls from the sides of the bowl remove it from the mixer to a floured surface and knead until elastic and smooth.

Place in greased bowl, turn to grease the top, cover and allow to rise for 1 1/2 hours. Punch down and form into two loaves. Place in prepared loaf pans, lightly cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400F. Bake for 30 minutes, covering tops with foil if they brown too fast. Remove loaves from oven and brush with melted butter. Turn out and cool completely on a rack. Cover the loaves if you want soft crusts.

Buttermilk Baked Chicken with Mashed Potatoes and Homemade Creamed Corn

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I’m all for eating healthier in January to sort of make up for all the rich foods that I made during the holidays…but sometimes it’s hard to quit the comfort. All of these recipes were delicious, but the cream corn had me swooning and will definitely be a repeat offender in this house! Thanks for reading, enjoy ūüôā

Buttermilk Baked Chicken – adapted from Food Republic

  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce, such as Tabasco
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, smashed (*I used garlic powder*)
  • 4 (6-ounce) skinless boneless chicken breast halves
  • 2 cups panko (Japanese-style) breadcrumbs
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
Directions –
To prepare the marinade, in a large mixing bowl whisk the buttermilk, mustard, hot sauce, paprika, salt, onion and garlic together to combine. Put the chicken in a plastic storage bag, add the buttermilk mixture and smoosh the chicken around to thoroughly coat in the marinade. Press out the air, seal the bag and marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours, preferably up to 2 days.
When ready to cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Remove the chicken from the marinade, wiping off any excess buttermilk, and discard. Season both sides of the chicken breasts lightly with salt and pepper. Spread the breadcrumbs out on a flat plate. Press the chicken breasts into the breadcrumbs to completely coat all sides, shaking off the excess.
Put a cast-iron or ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Coat the pan with 2 tablespoons of oil. Once the oil is shimmering, lay the chicken in the pan ‚Äď you may have to do this in batches. Sear for 3 minutes on each side. Nestle the seared chicken breasts side by side in the skillet. Transfer the skillet (and chicken) to the oven and bake for roughly 20 to 25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and the crust is golden.

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Home-Style Mashed Potatoes – adapted from Pass the Sushi

      • 2 pounds potatoes (I had Russett)
      • 2 TBSP butter
      • 1/2¬† cup heavy cream
      • salt

Directions –

Scrub and peel the potatoes. Dice into even 1/2″ cubes to even out cooking time. Place in a large Dutch oven with just enough water to cover. Salt the water and bring to a boil. Cook, covered, for 15-20 minutes, or until a fork pierces the potatoes easily.

Drain the potatoes and return to the Dutch oven. Add the cream and using a blender or a masher, mash the potatoes. Add 2 tablespoons butter and mix until incorporated. Add more cream if needed (starch may very from potato to potato). Season with salt and pepper to taste and top with remaining 2 tablespoons of butter to entice friends and family into extra big spoonfuls.

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Homemade Creamed Corn – adapted from Fabulously Fugal

      • 20 ounces frozen corn thawed
      • 1 cup heavy cream
      • 1 tsp salt
      • 2 T sugar
      • 1/4 tsp pepper
      • 2 T butter
      • 1/2 cup milk
      • 2 TBS flour
      • 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese

Directions –

Heat first 6 ingredients together in a large pot. In a separate small bowl, wisk separately  the 1/2 cup milk and 2 TBS of flour (this is what will help thicken the cream).

Stir into corn mixture and cook over medium heat (stir often so the cream doesn’t burn) until mixture is thickened and corn cooked through.¬†Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.

Buttermilk Waffles

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School ¬†just started up again and breakfast time can be a bit of a hassle, and I love having waffles in my freezer for easy, no-brainer breakfasts. I doubled this batch and it made 14 – 1/2 cup waffles that I “healthified” slightly by using whole wheat pastry flour and some grapeseed oil instead of all butter.¬†These are lightly crispy, fluffy with just a touch of sweetness; and they don’t even need syrup. Once the waffles cool, I pull them apart, stack them, bag them and freeze them. Depending on how much time I have in the mornings, I’ll reheat them in my oven at 35o for 7-10 minutes – or if we’re running late, the microwave works just fine. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

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Buttermilk Waffles – slightly adapted from Completely Delicious

**Click the link for the unmodified recipe**

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 1/2 cups AP flour
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot powder or cornstarch
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions –

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, melted butter and vanilla. Add the buttermilk mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.

Preheat a waffle maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Grease with non-stick spray if necessary. Pour scant 1 cup batter into the hot waffle maker (1/2 cup for smaller waffle irons). Cook until golden brown, and serve.

Salad with Maple-Dijon Dressing

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It’s a new year and I tend to get inspired to eat a little healthier. This is a really simple, light but flavorful salad with lots of textures and flavors.¬†Use whatever you have to make it interesting, because salads can be so bland and boring. I listed goat cheese in the ingredients even though I didn’t have any, but it would have been a nice tangy, creamy addition. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Maple-Dijon Dressing – adapted from The Six o’clock Scramble

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp. herbes de Provence

Salad –

  • grilled chicken, chopped
  • apple, sliced
  • tomatoes
  • almonds, chopped
  • crumbled goat cheese

Directions –

Place all dressing ingredients into a lidded jar and shake well to combine.  Spoon over your salad greens and toss.

Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup

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I had just enough leftover chicken to make this, plus everything else on hand to make this recipe – I love that! This was perfect for a Sunday lunch and we all enjoyed it with our favorite crescent rolls. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Creamy Chicken + Lemon Rice Soup – adapted from Simply Scratch

  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 medium peeled carrot, diced small
  • 2 stalks celery, diced small
  • 8 cups chicken stock or broth
  • 3/4 cup white rice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, strained
  • 2 whole eggs, beaten
  • kosher salt and fresh black pepper to taste
  • 1 heaping cup leftover shredded chicken

Directions –

Heat your Dutch oven over medium heat and add one tablespoon of olive oil.

Saut√© the diced carrots and celery until they’re just starting to soften. Pour in the low sodium chicken broth and bring to a boil.

Pour in the 3/4 cup of long grain rice. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and reduce the heat to medium high. Cook the rice for 20 minutes; stand nearby just in case there’s a boil-over.

In a bowl, beat the two eggs and add in the lemon juice. Once the twenty minutes are up, remove the lid to the soup and gather some of the broth into a ladle. While stirring, slowly pour in the hot broth into the egg mixture. Then pour the warmed egg/broth mixture into the Dutch oven and stir.

Add in the shredded chicken and minced parsley. Taste the soup and check the seasonings, season with salt and pepper to your liking.

One Bowl Chocolate Cake with Dark Chocolate Mascarpone Frosting

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I decided this holiday season to start some new traditions for my family. Before Christmas, the kids and I attempted to make a gingerbread house from scratch…next year we’ll work out all the kinks and I’ll post those results ūüėČ We never do anything for the New Year, so I decided it would be fun foods for dinner (the kid’s choice) and a cake to celebrate and make a “wish” on (actually, we’re going to announce what goals we’d like to meet for the New Year).

Verdict: Yum! The cake itself is fairly lean, but the three sticks of butter and cup of mascarpone cheese more than makes up for that! ūüėČ This cake is a new favorite and I love that¬†it makes a double layer 8-inch, cute, little cake ūüėČ Oh, and the frosting! It’s fluffy, rich, but not too sweet. It makes a huge batch (about 4 cups) so I used about half and froze the rest. Oh, and I piped “2014” ¬†with melted white chocolate with some coconut oil mixed in to make it thin it out and make it smooth. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

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One-Bowl Chocolate Cake – adapted from Martha Stewart

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached cake flour (150 grams) or AP flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup water + 3/4 tsp espresso powder (*espresso optional*)
  • 3 tablespoons safflower oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions –

Preheat oven to 3o0 degrees. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans (2 inches deep); grease and line each cake pan with parchment paper. Sift cocoa, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of a mixer. Beat on low speed until just combined. Raise speed to medium, and add eggs, buttermilk, water/espresso powder, oil, and vanilla. Beat until smooth, about 3 minutes.

Divide batter between pans (my portions weighed 1 pound 2 ounces). Bake until set and a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean, about 40 –¬†45 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes. Turn out from pans. Transfer, face-up, to wire racks. Let cool completely. Wrap and freeze layers if desired.

 

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Dark Chocolate Mascarpone Frosting – adapted from Not So Humble Pie
*frosts a 8-inch two or three layer cake 

  • 1 pound semisweet chocolate, finelly chopped
  • 6 tablespoons dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 6 tablespoons boiling water
  • 3 sticks (1 1/2 cups or 339g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup mascarpone cheese (or in a pinch, cream cheese)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • pinch salt

Directions –

Combine the boiling water and dutch processed cocoa. Mix well to remove any lumps and then set aside to cool.

Melt the chocolate over a double-boiler and then set aside to cool. Allow the melted chocolate to come to room temperature before using (otherwise it will melt your butter and that’s bad), this should take 25-30 minutes.

Once the chocolate is cool, beat the butter and powdered sugar in your stand mixer with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy (roughly 4 minutes).  While it is mixing, combine the mascarpone cheese with the cocoa powder slurry.

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Once the butter is light and fluffy, add the cooled melted chocolate to the butter and beat until uniform, scraping down the sides as needed.  Then add the mascarpone cocoa mixer and beat until well combined.  The frosting should be ready to use, however if it seems too soft you can place it in the refrigerator for 10 minutes and it will firm up.