Ultimate Loaded Mac & Cheese

Are you looking for the ultimate comfort food or maybe just a 30 minute dinner for the weeknight? You’ve found it! This loaded macaroni and cheese recipe will have you scraping the bottom of the bowl for more. It’s super hearty and delicious with chicken, bacon, mushrooms and of course LOTS of cheese.

Loaded Mac and Cheese - Cover Photo - Double Knotted Apron

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 large chicken breast
  • 1 cup fresh mushrooms, chopped
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 1 box rotini pasta (or your choice)
  • 2 cups mild cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • extra salt, pepper and garlic powder to season chicken breast

To ensure this meal is prepared within 30 minutes and that everything is ready at the same time it is key to do the following three steps first and then read the rest of the directions.

1. In a large pot begin boiling water for the pasta.

2. In a medium skillet drizzle 2 – 3 tablespoons of olive oil along the bottom of the pan and heat on medium.

3. Preheat your oven or toaster oven to 375 degrees for the bacon.

Now the rest of the directions!

Season the chicken breast with some salt, pepper and a little garlic powder. Once seasoned on both sides place in the skillet and brown on both sides cooking the chicken completely.

Simply Seasoned Chicken Breast - Loaded Mac and Cheese - Double Knotted Apron

Once the oven has reached 375 degrees insert the bacon and cook for about 20 minutes. (Place the bacon on an aluminum foil covered pan to help make clean up a breeze and reduce the amount of grease spills.)

When the water comes to a boil add the box of pasta and cook until al dente. While the pasta is boiling start the cheese sauce.

In a medium sauce pan melt 4 tablespoons of butter over medium-low heat. Add 3 tablespoons of flour while whisking. Next add the salt and pepper. Slowly add the cup of milk while whisking. Continue to stir until the sauce has thickened. Add the cheese and stir until melted and blended. Reduce heat to simmer and stir frequently while the pasta finishes cooking. Once the pasta is al dente, drain and return to the pot and pour the cheese sauce over the pasta. Mix and cover to keep warm.

The Best Cheese Sauce Recipe - Loaded Mac and Cheese - Double Knotted Apron

When the bacon is browned and almost crispy, remove and drain the grease.

Baked Bacon - Double Knotted Apron

Chop the bacon slices and then add to the pasta and cheese.

BACON - Double Knotted Apron

Loaded Mac and Cheese - Add Bacon - Double Knotted Apron

When the chicken is fully cooked cut into bite size pieces with kitchen scissors. I added the chicken back to the pan and the chopped mushrooms. Sauté for two or three minutes to heat the mushrooms through and absorb any chicken juices left in the skillet.

Loaded Mac and Cheese - Sauteed Chicken and Mushrooms - Double Knotted Apron

Once the mushrooms have softened and browned add (along with the chicken) to the pasta.

Loaded Mac and Cheese - Add Chicken and Mushrooms - Double Knotted Apron

Mix well and serve. Top with grated parmesan cheese if you would like.

Loaded Mac and Cheese - Double Knotted Apron

I love this recipe because it allows for so much interpretation to your favorite additions with different meats, cheeses and pastas. I hope you enjoy this dish as much as hubs and I did.

Enjoy!

xo – M

Homemade Peanut Butter Dog Treats

Calling all dog lovers! This recipe is something to bark about! My lab is somewhat a treat snob and only eats a few certain brands. Thankfully they aren’t super expensive, but when you can make your own gourmet treats at home for a fraction of the cost why wouldn’t you! My little treat snob loved these and practically rolls over for them without me telling him to. I can’t wait to try my next batch which will be beef flavored!

Homemade Peanut Butter Dog Treats - Double Knotted Apron

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup white corn meal
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 heaping tbsp creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside.

Add all dry ingredients into a medium bowl and whisk together. Mix all wet ingredients together in a large bowl with a hand mixer. Once blended, begin adding portions of the dry mix while mixing. Do not over mix. You may have to use a spatula to scrap the sides of the bowl for any flour stragglers. Once blended begin forming a large dough ball. Knead and work the ball with your hands for a few minutes to ensure all of the dough is mixed.

Homemade Peanut Butter Dog Treats - Rolled Out - Double Knotted Apron

Roll out a sheet of parchment or wax paper on the counter and lightly dust regular flour over the surface and do the same to your rolling pin. Place the dough ball in the middle of the paper and being kneading out with your fists and then start using the rolling pin to form a nice even 1/4 – 1/2 inch thickness all the way across the dough. Once you have completely rolled out the dough start cutting out the treats with a cookie cutter. You can use any shape you prefer, I used a turkey! (Find cute cookie cutters here.)

Homemade Peanut Butter Dog Treats - Cookie Cutter Turkey - Double Knottd Apron

Place each treat onto the greased baking sheet with at least a 1/2 inch between each. These treats will not rise or spread much at all if any. If you have left over dough after cutting out treats, roll back into a ball and repeat the process until all dough has been used.

Set your timer for 20 minutes and place the baking sheet in the oven. Remove from oven after the 20 minutes and let cool and harden on a cooling rack. Store in an air tight container or storage bag for up to 2 – 3 weeks at room temperature. This recipe will yield about two dozen treats depending on the size of your cookie cutter.

Homemade Peanut Butter Dog Treats - Dog Approved - Double Knotted Apron

Your pups are sure to enjoy these yummy and healthy treats! You will love the smell as well as no preservatives or chemicals!

My two fur babies are already begging for more!!

My Pups Love Homemade Peanut Butter Dog Treats - Double Knotted Apron

Enjoy!

xo – M

*Feed as a snack or treat, as part of a healthy diet. Always monitor your pet while treating. It is recommended  to give only 1-3 treats per day as part of your dog’s regular diet. (Resource: Milkbone’s Treat Feeding Guide)

Homemade Chicken Parmesan Meatballs with Angel Hair Pasta

MAMA MIA NOW THAT’S A SPICY MEATBALL! Well, not necessarily spicy, but definitely one heck of a good meatball! I can’t wait for you to try these guys out. They turn an ordinary chicken parmesan dish into a new favorite!

Chicken Parm Meatball - Click for Recipe - Double Knotted Apron

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 lb. ground chicken
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan (out of the container)
  • 1/2 cup Italian or Original bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp onion, finely minced
  • 2 tbsp dried parsley flakes
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp dried basil flakes
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tbsp EVOO
  • 1 jar pasta sauce (I used a jar Bertolli Tomato and Basil, which was delicious, but you can use your own preference.)
  • 1/2 box of angel hair pasta (for two)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and place aluminum foil (or as I call it, tin foil) on a large baking sheet. Lightly spray the foil with cooking spray to help alleviate any sticking. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl adding the whisked egg last. Mix well with a spatula for the first turn or two. Remove jewelry, wash hands thoroughly if you haven’t already and dig in. Yes, I am instructing you to start kneading the chicken mixture with your bare hands. You will be fine, just don’t lick your fingers like you would with cake batter. Mix the chicken and other ingredients really well to blend. Once blended start forming small to medium size meatballs (1.5 – 2 inches in diameter).

Lay out the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet in rows. (Wash your hands!) In a small bowl add about 1/4 cup of pasta sauce and 2-3 tablespoons of EVOO. Stir and then brush a small amount on each meatball. Place in the oven on the second rack from the top (you should have a good 8 inches or more from the top of oven) and bake for 15 minutes.

Chicken Parmesan Meatballs - Double Knotted Apron

Remove and spoon just the pasta sauce over each meatball and then sprinkle some parmesan cheese on each ball. Place back in the oven for another 10 minutes. Remove and cut one of the larger meatballs to ensure it is completely cooked through. It should be white meat, with no pink.

Chicken Parm Meatballs - Double Knotted Apron

I paired my meatballs with angel hair pasta and the remaining tomato and basil sauce. Top with more parmesan and parsley before serving.

Chicken Parm Meatballs with Angel Hair Pasta - Double Knotted Apron

Keep in mind this recipe is for a quick dinner. If you are feeling up to the fresh challenge, substitute the grated parmesan for fresh grated or shredded parmesan, freshly minced parsley for the dried, freshly minced basil for the dried and homemade pasta sauce for the jar. Either way it is sure to be a hit!

Bon Appetit! You will love this dish!

xo – M

Homemade Chicken Parmesan Meatballs Recipe Card – Double Knotted Apron

Pickled Jalapeños at Home

Hot Pickled Jalapenos - Double Knotted Apron

If you like spicy, you will love this! I have been picking jalapeño peppers like crazy the past two weeks and desperately needed to do something with them before they spoiled. I ran across this EASY pickling recipe by Peanut Butter and Peppers. It was so simple and I can’t wait to make another batch.

Even if you don’t have a garden that is overflowing with jalapeños, next time you are in the grocery store pick up a few and try it. You can even substitute for other hot peppers or banana peppers. I also have a ton of those…I think I just found my next pickling post.

What You’ll Need:

  • 10 jalapeños
  • 3/4 cup distilled vinegar
  • 3/4 purified water
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed

Pickled Jalapenos Ingredients - Double Knotted Apron

To begin, add all of the ingredients to a medium saucepan except for the jalapeños. Bring the ingredients to a boil and stir a few times to ensure that the sugar and salt dissolve. While the vinegar mixture is coming to a boil, rinse the peppers and then slice each jalapeño into relatively thin slices. This is all a matter of preference. I just sliced them how you would normally find them in the grocery store.

Sliced Jalapenos - Double Knotted Apron_edited-1

 

Once the mixture has come to a boil, remove from heat and add the pepper slices. Stir a few times over the next 15 minutes.

Add the jalapeños and vinegar water to a sterilized mason jar or up cycled jar of your choice (I used an up cycled, sterilized pickle jar). Let cool at room temperature before placing in the fridge.

Pickled Jalapenos at Home - Double Knotted Apron

Enjoy with tacos, hotdogs or whatever you like pickled jalapeños on!

This recipe has been husband approved. They even made his eyes water a little. Always a good sign!! (For those of you who prefer to tone down the heat a bit, just add more sugar by the tablespoon.)

Enjoy!

xo-M

Pickled Jalapenos Recipe Card – Double Knotted Apron

Cooking for Independence…Day

American Flag - Double Knotted Apron

As Americans all around the world celebrate our independence today, we will be doing so by grilling, snacking, three-legged racing and shooting off beautiful firework displays. I want to wish everyone a Happy Independence Day but also a safe one. I have listed a few tips below to help prevent food borne illnesses during your celebration whether its a picnic, BBQ or snacking at your city’s center.

Tips:

  • Make sure you keep hand sanitizer on hand and use before each meal or snack. Hand to mouth contact is one of the number one causes of germ transfers so be sure to keep those digits clean.
  • When grilling or preparing any meat be sure to cook it thoroughly to kill any bacteria that the meat may harbor.
  • If you take cold or hot dish to a picnic or party keep the dish cold or hot by insulated bags and ice packs. If you don’t have any insulation to help with this simply take the food inside if the whether starts to affect the food’s temperature.
  • Use a new plate or platter each time you pick up new food to help prevent cross contamination.
  • Keep in mind when you are celebrating today that not everyone takes precautions when preparing food and use your judgement on what you decide to eat, drink or snack on. It can be the difference in a HAPPY HEALTHY FOURTH or a sickly fourth.

Enjoy today wherever you may be and remember to thank those who so graciously and selflessly fight for our freedom and our country.

GOD BLESS AMERICA! 

isly-happy-fourth-of-july-graphic

xo-M

Summertime Potato Salad

Summertime Potato Salad - Double Knotted Apron

Looking for a summertime side to pair with your Fourth of July BBQ? This potato salad will make a great addition to any party or dinner you are planning. It’s simple, affordable and most importantly delicious!

What You’ll Need:

  • 7-8 medium red potatoes, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 1 small apple, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp onion, minced
  • 1/4 cup sweet pickle relish
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/8 cup mustard
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • salt
  • pepper

Rinse the potatoes and then dice into bite size chunks. Place in a medium size sauce pan and cover with water. Boil for ten minutes or until fork tender. Drain and spread out on a baking sheet to let cool. Place baking sheet in the freezer for about 15 minutes to cool faster.

Diced Potatoes - Double Knotted Apron

Prepare the apple, celery and onion by finely chopping each.

Potato Salad Ingredients - Double Knotted Apron

In a medium bowl combine the mayonnaise, pickle relish and mustard and mix well. Fold in the apple, celery, onion, and dill and add a pinch of salt and pepper to the mixture then blend.

Potato Salad Mix - Double Knotted Apron

Once the potatoes have cooled, fold in the mayonnaise mixture with a spatula.

Summer Potato Salad - Double Knotted Apron

Store in the refrigerator until serving. Don’t forget to garnish with paprika!

Enjoy!

xo – M