Panera Mac n Cheese

Dinner time

I’ve had this recipe saved for a while because my baby girl is the biggest fan of Panera. I used to be, but sadly, they keep changing the menu and their prices keep rising or the portions get smaller.

Its reached the point where Panera is her reward meal, always the mac n cheese, but I’ve been hoping for a copycat recipe! I finally found this one and girls weekend is the perfect time to try it out.

Recipe requirements:

  • 1 lb shells
  • 2 C sharp, white cheddar cheese
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 C flour
  • 1 C milk
  • 2 C heavy cream
  • 1/4 C butter

Start by melting your butter, then whisking in your flour. Add the milk, cream, salt, and pepper. Mix well and let simmer. I actually grated my own cheese for this, so wow for that! Add in the cheese, stirring as it melts.

Side note: this recipe was way too cheesy, even for my baby girl, so next time I’ll be cutting the amount of cheese to 1C.

Add the cheese to your cooked shells, and enjoy!

Stupid Easy Orange Chicken

I’ve discovered an amazing recipe for sweet and sour chicken and it’s always a hit when I make it. The only down side is that it takes FOREVER to make, so I have to save it for days with no after school activities. Whenever my kids stay with my parents, they rave about Nana’s orange chicken. She gets a kit to make it, which is kind of a cheat to me, so I had to find something different!

Stupid easy orange chicken

Most of my dishes end up looking messy, but this was a big hit.

To make this stupid easy orange chicken, you need four things:

1) chicken (obviously)

2) sweet orange marmalade (I used Smuckers 13oz)

3) barbecue sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray’s Sweet and Spicy 18oz)

4) soy sauce (I use Kikoman)

Start by cubing your chicken and cooking it in a frying pan. Once its cooked, dump in the whole bottle of barbecue sauce, the marmalade, and 4Tbsp of soy sauce. Stir until it’s all mixed together and let it simmer while you make rice.

Serve over rice and enjoy! My kids loved this. This is actually my second time testing this out, and I can tell you I’m not an orange chicken fan. I’ll deal with it a time or two every month though because the kids love it and it’s easy to make. Can we say #momlife ??

Salted Caramel Chocolate Cheesecake


I had such high hopes for this dessert. It looked amazing on the original site, but I was not super impressed with the turn out. My pictures never look as pretty as the originals, but even the taste of this one was a little underwhelming.
It was a lot of work! This cake requires planning ahead, which I don’t mind. You make the cheesecake at least a day in advance.


I’ve never made cheesecake before, so this part was kind of fun. It also gave me a chance to visit a friend that I haven’t seen in a while, as I needed to borrow a springform pan.
After you have the cheesecake layer made, you have to make the two chocolate cake layers. Then put your cake together:


I was getting excited at this point. How freaking yummy does it look? Delicious, right?
Then you make the frosting for the cake, which, after following the recipe, was runny and impossible to use:


I checked the notes on the blogger’s site, and they said you may have to add more powdered sugar to get a good texture. Recipe called for 4 cups of powdered sugar, and I ended up using almost a full two pound bag to get the right texture.
The ganache had an overly thick texture, also difficult to use. But we persevered and finished the cake:


We finally dug in on Thanksgiving, our Thanksgiving was on Friday thanks to work, and the overall opinions were:
Chiara ate the frosting and ganache.
Arthur ate everything except the cheesecake.
Tony enjoyed it, but said he’s had better cheesecake and the frosting was really thick.
I ate one piece and was unimpressed.

The best part about this recipe was the link to her caramel sauce recipe. This was delicious! Caramel sauce was needed for this recipe for both the frosting and the drizzling on top. I have been using the excess for apple dipping!

I’m not posting the recipe as I usually do, mainly because it is super involved. I will not be trying this cake again. It looks amazing on the original site, and I am very disappointed it didn’t come out as intended. It’s a lot of work for a dessert!

So for the moment, I’ll be sticking with chocolate caramel pie, French silk pie or pumpkin pie for my holiday desserts!

Crock Pot Chicken & Dumplings


This was delicious! The amazing blogger had this recipe floating around on Pinterest, so this was a quick pin and make for me. I pinned it before going to work, picked up the few ingredients and made it the next day.

For this recipe you need:
•3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thawed
•garlic powder
•onion powder
•1 tbsp chopped onion (I didn’t use it because Arthur doesn’t like onions)
•2 cloves chopped garlic
•1 stick (or half cup) of butter
•14 1/2 oz chicken broth (I rounded to 16 because that’s what my measuring cup had)
•3/4 cup flour
•2 cups milk
•1 bag mixed veggies (I used a 1lb bag)
•1 tube of biscuits

To start with, take your chicken breasts and sprinkle with your salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. Put them in the crock pot and put the minced garlic and chopped onions over the top.
Next, you need to melt the butter on the stove, stir in chicken broth and flour. Add in a sprinkle of salt and pepper. The directions say to hold off on the veggies till the end, but I put my veggies in here.


Let it cook on low for 6 hours
At the 6 hour mark, shred your chicken. I normally hate shredding chicken, but all I had to do was stab the chicken and it came apart.


After your chicken is shredded, open up your biscuits and cut them into quarters.


Throw the biscuit pieces into your crock pot and let it cook for another 2 hours on low.


This was delicious! The kids didn’t care for it, but they get weird with new stuff. Tony ate two bowls at dinner and took the leftovers for lunch today, so he was a big fan. We’ll definitely be making this again!

Happy dining all!

Buffalo Chicken Lasagna


I’ll say this up front, mine did not come out anywhere near as pretty as the original blogger’s did, but I have never claimed to be a food photographer. More to the point, I can’t present food to be photogenic, but it tastes delicious!

This recipe calls for:
•1 tbsp olive oil
•1 tbsp butter
•1/4 cup diced onion (I left this out because Arthur doesn’t do onions)
•1 clove minced garlic (I used 1 tbsp of my homemade minced garlic)
•8oz cream cheese, softened
•1 cup buffalo wing sauce
•Tabasco or other hot sauce to taste (I didn’t need any)
•2 cups cooked, shredded chicken (I cooked some boneless, skinless chicken beasts and ripped them apart)
•1/2 cup ranch dressing
•8oz shredded mozzarella cheese
•lasagna noodles (I used the Great Value oven – ready ones, just soaked them in hot water to soften them a bit)


Start by melting your butter together with the olive oil. Once the butter is all melted is when you would add your onions if you are using them. Garlic in the pot next. Sorry the picture is dark!


Put your cream cheese in the pot. Original blogger said to cut the cream cheese into cubes, but I’m lazy, so I just stirred it in. Once it’s all liquid, add your buffalo sauce. This is where you would add the additional hot sauce if you so desire.


Smear a little of your buffalo mixture on the bottom of your casserole dish, then lay your lasagna noodles on the sauce.


Add your shredded chicken to the remaining sauce and mix it all up.


Put half of your chicken mixture on top of your base noodles, then half of your ranch. I just spread some, not measuring, in my usual estimating manner. Place another layer of noodles, then repeat with the chicken mixture and ranch.


After using the last of your chicken mixture and ranch, put a final layer of noodles on top, then layer with your mozzarella.

Place in your 350° oven for 25-35 minutes. I only did 20 minutes. The cheese had melted perfectly, I knew the chicken was already cooked, so I figured that would be good. It was delicious! Arthur devoured his, he’s a big fan of spicy food, Tony inhaled his, I think he was just really hungry, I loved it too. Chiara was the only one who didn’t eat it, but she’s not a big fan of spicy food.

Definitely check out the original site, as they feature much better pictures, and be sure to try this recipe, it’s delicious!

Happy dining all!

Better 7-11 Cherry Slurpees

I know that I’ve originally blogged about 7-11 Cherry Slurpees, they were delicious, but a little watery. I like my Slurpees nice and slushy! Then I was looking to make some today with my kids and realized that I’m a moron. I had added a full extra cup of club soda! No wonder it was watery!
Original recipe credit belongs to The Budget Savy Diva.

•2 cups chilled club soda
•2 1/2 cups crushed ice
•1/2 tsp grenadine
•1 packet cherry kool-aid mix
•1/2 cup sugar

Mix 1 cup of your club soda with the kool-aid, sugar and grenadine in a blender until it’s well combined. Add in your ice and blend till smooth. The directions say to just add the other cup of club soda and stir, but I blended it, taking no chances on watery Slurpees!


The kids kept telling me the blender was too loud, but I’m sure they’ll find it more exciting as they get older. Mommy sure gets excited about pulling the blender out!


Though the blender may have been loud, they still loved the drinks! They didn’t get to taste the sugary goodness the last time I made them, but they made up for it today, drinking most of the batch themselves.
Enjoy your summer everyone! Have a Slurpee!

Maple Butter Blondie


I feel obligated to point out that I am not one of those people who take stunning shots of food! You might have noticed! Maybe it’s just that the food I make, while delicious, was never meant to be photographed…… This is Tony’s all time favorite dessert from Applebee’s, so I knew I’d have to try this recipe!
This delicious recipe came from Get Off Your Butt and Bake.
To make your brownie batter you need:
•1/2 tsp baking powder
•1/8 tsp baking soda
•1/8 tsp salt
•1 cup flour (she said sifted, which I didn’t do)


Combine these for ingredients first.

•1/3 cup butter, melted
•1 cup packed brown sugar
•1 egg
•1 tbsp vanilla. extract


•1/2 cup white chocolate chips
•1/4 cup chopped walnuts
Once your butter is completely melted, stir in your brown sugar until it’s well combined. Add your egg and vanilla extract, stir again. Add your flour mixture slowly. Once it is a super thick batter, add your white chocolate chips.


There was not a lot of batter once it was all said and done, hardly enough to layer the bottom of my 9×9 baking dish.


The batter tasted good, so onward we go!
Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes.


*A tip from my mistake* The center may seem a little squishy, but do not continue baking or your brownie will be very tough to chew!

On to the sauce part!
•3/4 cup maple syrup (she said to use real maple syrup, but I used the Great Value stuff and it was delicious)
•1/2 cup butter
•3/4 cup brown sugar
•1/4 cup chopped walnuts
Great the maple syrup and add your butter. One butter is melted, add in the brown sugar and stir until it’s all dissolved. Add the walnuts last.

Put your brownie on a plate, scoop some ice cream, drizzle the sauce over the top and enjoy!
As stated, my brownies were a little tough to chew. Round two with this batch led me to crumbling up my brownie, adding a few scoops of ice cream and then sauce.


It was delicious as well!

Bake on my friends, name on!

Fried Rice


I was both shocked and appalled at myself when I realized I had never blogged about this amazing fried rice recipe that I found here months ago. I’ve made this enough times that I’ve actually memorized the recipe!

All you need for this delicious recipe is:
•3 cups cooked white rice (I have made it with 2 and it’s just a thicker concentration of veggies)
•3 tbs sesame oil
•1 cup frozen peas and carrots (I mix them together in the cup as I make it 1 cup between the two veggies)
•1 small, chopped onion
•2 tsp minced garlic (learn how to make your own here)
•2 scrambled eggs (don’t cook them yet, that comes later)
•1/4 cup soy sauce

You start by putting your sesame oil, frozen veggies, onion and garlic in a large skillet and cook until the veggies are tender. Push your veggies to one side, then cook your eggs on the clear side of the pan.


I use a huge pan for this, so it looks a little sparse, but it works, trust me!

After the eggs are cooked, add your rice and soy sauce and stir it all together. Then you have a delicious side to go with sweet and sour chicken, this is a favorite meal of Tony’s, so he’s always happy when I make it. It never seems to go right when he makes it, so he observed me the last few times. He thinks he’s ready for another attempt, but we’ll see……

Anyone hungry?

Delicious Pork Chops

This is a super delicious recipe that I found through Pinterest, of course. Last night it was my turn to make dinner. I had to do something with pork chops, as it was the use or freeze by date. I wasn’t in the mood for one of our usual recipes so I started browsing Pinterest.
This was an amazingly easy to make recipe and it required only three ingredients, that are found in most kitchens! All you need is:

•2 tsp salt
•1 tsp black pepper
•4 tsp brown sugar

I did adjust the recipe a little as I was going because I was running out of the rub and because we were making four chops instead of the two called for in the original recipe. It was also a little too pepper-y, so I did cut back on the pepper!

First step is to preheat your oven to 325°.


Mix your spices together in a bowl.

Place your four chops on your baking tray, lined with aluminum foil.


Then you go to town rubbing in your seasoning on both sides of your chops. Rub it in good!

Place them in your oven for 15 minutes, flip over and bake for another 15 minutes.


When they are done, you will have juicy, tender pork chops! We served them woth peas, mashed potatoes and gravy. It was so yummy that it was devoured in record time!

Happy dining all!

Tuna Pasta Mozz Melt


So, I’m a big tunafish fan. I love making up a can and having a couple of sandwiches with pickles. It’s my go to snack. This recipe evolved from this love!
To start, you need:
•12oz chicken broth
•12oz water
•1 box of rotini (about 16oz)
•2 cans of tuna (5oz each)
•2 cans cream of mushroom soup
•2 cups milk
•1/2 – 1 cup mozzarella cheese (it depends on how much of a cheese-a-holic you are)


First step is to mix broth and water in a pot and cook your pasta till it is tender. You will have to stir consistently as there is not a lot of fluid compared to the amount of pasta. You won’t be draining it, so you don’t want too much liquid.
After your pasta is tender, add in your tuna, pasta and milk. Continue to stir consistently until it is well combined.
The mixture will be very liquidy at first, but will thicken as it cooks. I usually cook this on medium-high.
After the mixture has thickened to a stew-like consistency, add in your mozzarella cheese and stir.
Afterwards, enjoy!
Happy dining all!