Chicken Mac and Cheese

Reading now:

I finished watching part of the HBO drama “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” with Oprah since I adore the book.  The book is fantastic and was a hit at our book club!  I really couldn’t finish the HBO show.  I was bored …. maybe because I knew what was going to happen?  I’m not sure.  I stopped watching after 30 minutes.

I did also start the Margaret Peterson Haddix series “The Missing, Book 1″ that was in one of our 4/5th grade classrooms.  It was great!  A very fast read – I think I finished in a couple of days.  The plot moved along and the kids were interesting characters.  I love the revelation at the end.


What kid doesn’t like chicken or mac & cheese?  This dinner was a hit with kids big and small and will be for yours too!  I just love the Instant Pot and use it to cook almost everything now from roasts, pasta, rice, yogurt, stew, soup and chicken.  I haven’t used my slow cooker in years now unless I need to keep something warm for a pot luck.  I don’t like how chicken dries out and the roasts are still not cooked all of the way by the time I get home.

I do include how to make this without a pressure cooker/instant pot in the Notes section!

**Warning**  If you do use the Instant Pot or pressure cooker for the recipe, please release the vent SLOWLY.  I made the mistake of releasing the valve full blast!!  Pasta water and chicken stuff sprayed everywhere!  But don’t worry!  You can learn from my mistake.  Use a towel or wooden spoon to move the vent halfway slowly and not quick like me 🙂


Chicken Mac and Cheese
Author: Mary Ellen P. Riley / Whisk Together
Serves: 6 servings
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into small bite size pieces
  • 8 ounces dried elbow macaroni or spiral pasta (I like whole wheat)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups half and half or milk
  • 1 Tb. all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. mustard or Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 and 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (about 6 ounces) (or use your favorite cheese)
  1. Add to you instant pot: 6 cups water, chicken and pasta. Cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. (No pressure cooker/instant pot? Just go to the notes section)
  2. Once finished cooking, SLOWLY open the valve HALFWAY. Allow the pressure to slowly release.
  3. Pour the chicken and pasta into a colindar.
  4. Meanwhile, put the pot back on the stove or insert back into the Instant Pot. Switch it to saute mode and keep it on normal. Add the half and half, flour, mustard, salt and pepper. Whisk together! Allow the mixture to come to a boil and boil to thicken for about 2-3 minutes. Whisk while it boils to keep the bottom from getting too hot!
  5. Now, add your pasta, chicken and cheese back into the pot. Stir it all up and eat!
  6. Serve warm with a salad, peas, broccoli or any of your favorite veggies!
No Instant Pot? Fear not! Just cook the pasta and drain. Use the same pot to the saute part of the recipe where you mix the half and half, mustard, etc. Boil and thicken 2-3 minutes. Add the cheese. Stir. Add the pasta. Add in some rotisserie chicken and voila![br][br]Recipe from “The Great Big Pressure Cooker Book” by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough


Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese on Whisk Together Blog

Book:  The reviews for “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo are quite amusing.  Here are the major points of the book.  I like how they are highlighted in bold.  That way I can just read the bold font and skip over the rest 🙂

Let’s start with one of the funniest lines.  The rest isn’t too bad.  But page 70 is where she really gets me: “If you are a woman, try wearing something elegant as nightwear.  The worst thing you can do is to wear a sloppy sweat suit.”

Oh, and make sure you don’t “ball up your socks.”  They need to rest and breathe.  Seriously.  I couldn’t make this stuff up myself.  Seriously, the book has some good points.  Here are some from the first half:

page 16:  “If you tidy up in one shot, rather than little by little, you can dramatically change your mind-set.”  (I do agree with this one… tackle it once and get ‘er done.  Otherwise it feels like I always have something left to do.)

page 22: “A booby trap lies within the term ‘storage’.”   (I thought this was interesting.  Anyway, it is the irony of buying and obtaining more stuff (organizing storage) to store more stuff.  Not that it is wrong to store things.  But I like the reflection and the thought process behind whether it is important to keep it to begin with.)

page 23:  “Putting things away creates the illusion that the clutter problem has been solved.”  Hmmm…

page 25: “Tidying up by location is a fatal mistake.”  (Again with doing it in one shot, you don’t have to buy things you couldn’t find because they were in another location.)

page 41: “…we should choose what we want to keep instead of choosing what we want to get rid of.”  (Ahh, the priorities game…Does this apply to family and friends?  Ha ha.  Just kidding!)

11694122_10206713063483334_7262394879101562266_nCheck out this workshop!!  There are few that I would LOVE everything in it and this is one of them.  It is a Wildtree Freezer Meal Workshop.  I provide the shopping list, the labels for the bags, extra ingredients and the kitchen.  You purchase the food bundle and get ready to party!  I used to do freezer workshops and loved them, but I would have loved it even more to take home some of the extra ingredients which you get to do here.  Email me or Facebook on how to get on board.  If you don’t live in the area – that is fine!  I send the bundles out all the time and email you all of the recipes, step by step shopping lists, and workshop checklist for your freezer full of meals.

Which reminds me the kids are going to school soon.  I’m going to miss my buddy 🙁  At least we will have some meals ready to go!

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese on Whisk Together

Recipe:  This is another weeknight recipe from Food Network Magazine (Jan/Feb. 2014).  It is paired with BBQ chicken or taste great all on its own.  The cauliflower used is 3 cups or 8 ounces – I bought a whole head of cauliflower and used half of it.  The pasta is a typical elbow macaroni, but you could substitute your own favorite shape or even a gluten free variety.  Trader Joe’s carries a brown rice and quinoa pasta.

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
Author: Mary Ellen P. Riley / Whisk Together
  • 6 oz. elbow macaroni (1 and 3/4 cups)
  • 3 cups chopped cauliflower florets (about 8 oz/half a head)
  • 1 cup low fat milk
  • 1 and 1/2 cups shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese
  • 1 Tb. grated Parmesan cheese
  1. In a large pot, on medium high heat boil the milk and cauliflower together.
  2. Put on the lid, turn the heat down to medium and simmer for 8 minutes. The cauliflower should be tender and a fork should pierce through it easily.
  3. Put everything in the pot into a blender or food processor and turn it on until the mixture is smooth. Pour back into the pot and add only 1 and 1/4 cup of the cheddar and all the Parmesan cheese.
  4. While the sauce is cooking: In a medium pot, boil some lightly salted water. Add pasta and cook 6-7 minutes (or what the package says). Keep about 1/2 cup of pasta water and drain the rest.
  5. Add cooked pasta to the cheese sauce you made. Add a little of the reserved pasta water to the sauce or as much or little as needed to make the sauce to how thick you want it. Heat through over low heat. Top with the rest of the cheddar cheese.
Serve with BBQ chicken, or add ground beef, or add chili for chili mac, etc.[br][br]Recipe from Food Network Magazine Jan/Feb 2014

The hubby and kiddos all ate it.  I try to tell them about halfway through what is in it because I’m mean like that.  Plus, I do offer them regular cauliflower when we have it.  They don’t like cauliflower roasted/steamed/cooked/raw, but we’ll keep trying.  I don’t agree with”hiding” vegetables in kids’ food for every meal, but this added interesting flavor and texture.   Plus, I don’t need to cook a separate vegetable because it is already in the side dish!  Two for one!  Woot woot!

Tortellini with Italian Sausage

Tortellini with Red Sauce on Whisk Together 2-3078


I purchased a rash guard last summer for swimming and it was the BEST investment I ever made, so I thought I would share it here.  Since they went on sale, I purchased another one so that I have one for swimming and one for just hanging out at the pool or if I know we will be outside a long time.  I know they are $31 or so (normally they are $50), but I find this cheaper than skin cancer and/or 5 bottles of sunscreen.  With a UPF of 50, you don’t have to worry about your chest or shoulders getting burned.  I wash mine in the washing machine on gentle.  They dry super quickly and the new designs this year are super cute.



Recipe:  The entire family LOVED this meal.  The kids even asked for seconds!!  Super simple and delicious, I cannot wait to add this to the binder of all things pot luck and serving crowds.

Tortellini with Red Sauce on Whisk Together-3097

Why we loved this recipe:

1.  Easy and every day ingredients.
2.  Fast!
3.  Different ways to cook it so I can change the cooking method based on time I have.
4.  Freezer friendly
5.  Delicious

Tortellini with Red Sauce on Whisk Together-3099


Tortellini with Red Sauce on Whisk Together-3078

Tortellini with Italian Sausage
Author: Mary Ellen P. Riley / Whisk Together
A delicious tomato based pasta dish with an Italian sausage base and topped with creamy cheese.
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 pound ground Italian sausage (no casings)
  • 18 oz. jar marinara sauce
  • 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes (drained)
  • 9 oz. cheese tortellini (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  1. For the stovetop: cook ground beef and Italian sausage in a large skillet over medium heat. Drain if necessary.
  2. Add marinara sauce and diced tomatoes. Heat through.
  3. Add cheese tortellini. Cover and simmer for about 5 minutes or until tortellini is cooked through.
  4. Sprinkle mozzerella cheese on top. Allow to melt (about 5 minutes). Serve with Parmesan cheese, sprinkle with parsley, or serve as is.
  5. For slow cooker: cook ground beef and Italian sausage in the microwave or in a skillet over medium heat until brown. Drain.
  6. Add meat to slow cooker. Add marinara sauce and diced tomatoes. Cook on low 4-8 hours. Add cheese tortellini and cover. Cook 15 minutes.
  7. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top. Let melt for about 5 minutes. Serve with Parmesan cheese or parsley or as is.
Recipe adapted from


Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup

Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup-2352 on Whisk Together


Book:  My new favorite cookbook right now is “Healthy Slow Cooker” by America’s Test Kitchen.  This book takes many of the awesome slow cooker recipes from their other two books and puts them into the this one.  You can learn to make side dishes, soups, desserts and main dishes with their nifty tricks and techniques – all in the slow cooker.  Like to make mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes, they recommend spraying the top of the potatoes with cooking spray, then putting parchment on top to keep the steam in, and then adding the lid onto the slow cooker!  So easy and yields much better results.

I like my slow cooker in the summer.  When I don’t feel like grilling, the slow cooker doesn’t heat up the house like the oven does and still cooks quite a large meal.

Now, if you need a book for your kids.  My 8 and 4 year old LOVED this book I ordered from Amazon called Paper Flying Dragons.  We worked on the Best Ever Paper Airplanes book last year and he is having a blast making Paper Flying Dragons out of this book.

Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup-2354 on Whisk Together

Recipe:  Since it has been 39 degrees some mornings here in St. Louis (I read that it is actually warmer in Alaska right now…), I made chili this week and this slow cooker chicken noodle soup.  My husband and I cannot stand chicken noodle soup out of a can and this is the easiest way I have found to make chicken.  Well, pretty much because the shredding is the worst part I think and the slow cooker does the work for you.

Leave out the noodles and you have a total freezer meal ready to go.  Just add noodles!

Make a big batch and share with a friend in need 🙂

Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup-2347 on Whisk Together

Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup
Author: Mary Ellen P. Riley / Whisk Together
  • 4-5 carrots, peeled and chopped (1 and 3/4 cup)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 stalks of celery, chopped (1 and 1/4 cup)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 6 cups (3 – 15 oz. cans) low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 and 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast (3-4 chicken breasts)
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups uncooked wide egg noodles
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 Tb. lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Into a 5-7 quart slow cooker: add carrots, onion, celery and garlic. Spread that on the bottom. Pour in the chicken broth and water. Nestle the chicken into the liquid. Sprinkle thyme and rosemary on top. Cover and cook on low for 3-4 hours. (If you want to use chicken thighs, the cooking time is 4-6 hours on low).
  2. About 30 minutes before serving, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Boil the noodles per the directions on the package. Drain.
  3. Test chicken to make sure it is no longer pink and temperature is at least 165 degrees. Shred it inside the slow cooker with two forks.
  4. Add noodles to slow cooker. Stir in parsley, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with crackers, Parmesan cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches, etc.
Recipe adapted from Cooking Classy


Homemade Hamburger Helper

Homemade Hamburger Helper on Whisk Together

Books I’ve read:  Since the move, I really haven’t had the time to read many books.  I did just finish “Wonder” by RJ Palacio.  It has nearly 4,000 five star reviews and with good reason.  The characters are great, the plot is moving and the message is one that every adult and child should hear.  Unless I find something better, this will be my pick for book club.  Here are some favorite quotes below:

“When given the choice between being right and being kind. Choose kind.”
“Jack, sometimes you don’t have to be mean to hurt someone.”
“…your deeds are like your monuments. Built with memories instead of stone.”
“Kinder than is necessary. Because it’s not enough to be kind. One should be kinder than needed.”
“Courage. Kindness. Friendship. Character. These are the qualities that define us as human beings, and propel us, on occasion, to greatness.”

Homemade Hamburger Helper on Whisk Together 2


This recipe was a hit with kids and adults.  Easy, fast and delicious.  I really think it tastes better than the box Hamburger Helper.  Is it an exact match?  No – the ingredients are real here and not chemical lab concoctions.  But, I agree with other commentators on the recipe that it does taste better than the box mix.  And, of course, it is much cheaper, too!  Bonus!  Plus those allergic to yellow #5 can eat this version!  The box version includes artificial colors like yellow # 5 and #6.  Oh, did I mention the box version contains MSG and partially hydrogenated soybean oil?  Hmmmm… yeah, let’s stick with the real stuff that tastes better.  If you need to actually make this mix ahead of time, please do!  Simply mix all the seasonings up yourself ahead of time, add a baggie of pasta and you have your own “box mix” version.

Homemade Hamburger Helper


  • 1 pound ground beef or turkey
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni, uncooked
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2-1 cup water (I like mine thick and use 1/2 cup water)
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp. oregano
  • 3/4 tsp. parsley
  • 3/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded


  1. In a great big skillet (12" or so), heat to medium heat. Cook onion and meat together until the meat is brown. Drain on paper towels if desired.
  2. Add the meat back to the pan with the milk, water, pasta and seasonings.
  3. Cook just like the box mix does: bring the whole thing up to a boil on medium heat. Turn down the heat to medium low and simmer until the pasta is cooked. Usually about 6-8 minutes.
  4. Take the skillet off of the burner. Add the cheese and gently stir until melted through. Eat immediately or keep warm in a covered skillet on low.


Recipe from Divas Can Cook

Meatball Tortellini Soup

Meatball Tortellini Soup on Whisk Together

The high temperature today was 12 and the low was -1.  The normal temperature would be a high of 43!  It is so cold I can only think of warm soup and roasted sweet potatoes to make all day, so that is what I did!  I have two yummy soups to show you and they are both LOW in calories and FAST.   Today is meatball tortellini soup.

This recipe uses 8 oz. ground beef or ground chuck.  I know most packages sell their ground beef in 1 lb. or larger.  So, I simply made a large 16 oz. batch of the same size meatballs and the kids ate spaghetti and meatballs for dinner the next day.  Three kids approved these meatballs, so they must be good!  And much easier to make than my previous meatballs.

Why I love this recipe:

1.  It is less than 500 calories per serving!
2.  It is fast to put together (less than 30 minutes; 15 minutes if you pre-made your meatballs and stored them in the fridge)
3.  The soup reheats nicely.
4.  It can be frozen.
5.  It is meaty and light at the same time.

The one minor problem I had was that a few of the meatballs fell apart when turning them over.  You can avoid this by baking the entire batch of meatballs in a mini-cupcake pan.  I liked the small chunks with the big chunks myself.

Meatball Tortellini Soup_1 on Whisk Together

Meatball Tortellini Soup
Recipe Type: Soup
Author: Mary Ellen P. Riley / Whisk Together
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
A hot bowl of meatballs, pasta, cheese and spinach simmering in broth. Comfort food for less than 500 calories per bowl!
  • 8 oz. ground chuck or beef
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or 2-3 tsp. dried parsley, divided
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 Tb. olive oil
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 qt. (32 oz.) low sodium chicken broth
  • 9 oz. package refrigerated cheese tortellini
  • 4 cups loose baby spinach (3 oz.) – or more (I added about 4 -5 handfuls to add more spinach to the soup)
  1. In a medium bowl: mix the beef, cheese, half the parsley, egg, 1/2 tsp. salt and pepper.
  2. Add oil to pot or dutch oven. Heat over medium-high heat. Scoop in your meatballs with a small cookie scoop or spoon. Let them brown on one side about 2- 3 minutes. Turn over. Brown on the over side 3-4 minutes. Put on a plate to use later.
  3. While the pot is still hot, add the carrots and celery. Cook about 5 minutes.
  4. Pour in the chicken broth. Scrape the bottom of the pan to get the yummy beef goodness off the bottom.
  5. Boil the mixture. Add back the meatballs, rest of the parsley and salt to taste. Cook 2-5 minutes or until meatballs are done.
  6. Drop in the tortellini pasta and cook about 4 minutes. They will float to the top when they are done – which is pretty quickly.
  7. Fold the spinach into the soup and stir to let it wilt – about 1 minute.
  8. Top with salt, pepper and any extra parmesan cheese.


Recipe from Food Network Magazine

Lasagna Soup

Lasagna Soup on Whisk Together

Book Update:  The “new books” section of the library is right by checkout.  Since I have had the kids nonstop for… 3 months now… I’m not able to really preview anything there.  I grab my books at the library and hope for the best!  Like clothes at Old Navy or bras at Victoria Secret.

Or check out the reviews on Amazon later…  like the Lego Bible I *almost* bought at Costco for my son.  Apparently, The Lego Bible is like porn.  Well, good thing I held off, huh?  Anyway, I grabbed “Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps”

(photo from Amazon)

because the cover looked funny, and I thought it would be a light fiction novel.   Oh, no!  Apparently, this book really is 468 steps to becoming an adult.  The target audience is 18-25 year olds who like to laugh and don’t know how to do much on their own.  The psychology behind it is short, sweet and to the point in the very beginning – I did like that.  I guess since I have been doing things on my own since I moved away at 17 years old,  I didn’t find much use in the book.  But anyone who is 18-25 years old should read it and save themselves so much grief.  This is the list of things I wish I could tell myself in the past if I had a time machine.

Recipe Update:  This soup is the bomb!  Of course, Paula Deen does it again.  Just awesome awesome awesome.  Make it.  Today.  You won’t regret it.  I think this may work as a pot luck meal if you sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top of the individual bowls of hot soup.  This would freeze well in a freezer bag or hard container.

Lasagna Soup_6 on Whisk Together

Lasagna Soup
serves 8

1 lb. ground beef  (I think Italian sausage would be good here, too)
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 Tb. brown sugar
32 ounces chicken broth
2 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes
1 (15 oz.) canned tomato sauce
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups broken lasagna noodles (I used the rest of my box up… 4-5 noodles)
5 ounces grated parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Tip:  A little tip I learned while selling Pampered Chef.  Put a lasagna noodle into a clean dish towel and wrap.  Break the noodle in the dish towel.  The breaks will be easy, clean and no pasta flies everywhere.

1.  In a great big pot, or Dutch oven:  cook the ground beef, onion and bell pepper until cooked through over medium heat.  Drain on paper towels if needed and throw it back into the pot.
2.  Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds.
3.  Add:  thyme, brown sugar, chicken  broth, tomatoes, tomato sauce, Italian seasoning and salt.  Bring to a boil.  Simmer 20 minutes.
4.  Add the lasagna noodles.  Boil and then simmer those until the noodles are cooked through.  About 10-15 minutes depending on how big the pieces are.
5.  Add Parmesan cheese.  Stir and heat through.
6.  Pour the soup into ovensafe bowls.  Sprinkle mozzarella on top.  Throw them under the broiler in the oven to get nice and golden bubbly on top.  Remember to keep the door slightly ajar on the oven and don’t look away!  As soon as you look away… it knows.  Somehow it knows and burns on you.
7.  Serve hot.

Lasagna Soup_3 on Whisk Together

Recipe from Paula Deen

Blackened Chicken with Pasta Alfredo

Blackened Chicken_1 on Whisk Together

I am still working on the 250 cupcakes and wedding cake for this Saturday.   Not much else going on … I have almost finished the components of my book project.  I have an ISBN number for my book, too!  Just need to get it laid out now.  For the low, low price of a minimum of $349, I can have someone else do that.  And, guess what?  For the low, low price of $399, I can have someone design the cover!  Yeah….  Guess I’ll be working more in Photoshop myself 🙂   I also found out that a black and white book would cost be about $4 to pubish.  If I make it color, then the book is $12.  So, if you ever wonder why you see a cookbook or other piece in black and white and wondered why they didn’t include color photos… well, it’s because it cost 3 times more.  I think its worth it personally.

Among all this, I was offered a piece to write in the Heirloom Cookie Sheet book that is being published!  I can’t wait to get my package and share the insights on Whisk Together!  My due date is late October, so I should have the details of the recipe by then.  It will be a book of solid cookie recipes made generation after generation.  Yippee!  I love solid cookie recipes.  They are most of my cookie boxes while I try a recipe or two each year.

Recipe Update:  So, I covered one of my favorite Applebee’s dishes earlier: Bourbon Street Steak, and Chicken Fajita Roll-up a few months ago, so this is my last savory copycat from Applebee’s.   The creamy pasta works really well with the blackened chicken and added broccoli for vitamins and fiber.  I haven’t had this dish in years, but I thought it was close from what I remember.

Blackened Chicken_2 on Whisk Together

Blackened Chicken with Pasta Alfredo
serves 4

1 Tb. olive oil, canola oil or grapeseed oil
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. dry thyme
1/4 tsp. white or black pepper
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 – 1 box of fettucini or rotini pasta
1 jar – Alfredo sauce or homemade Alfredo
2 cups chopped broccoli florets
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1.  Stove Method: Heat oil in a large 12″ cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.
2.  While the skillet heats up, mix the spices together and sprinkle onto both sides of the chicken.
3.  Place chicken in skillet and cook 5-7 minutes on one side.  Flip.  Cook 5-7 minutes on other side.  Reduce heat to medium and cook until the chicken is done/ reaches internal temperature of 165 degrees.
4.  While chicken cooks, boil water and cook the pasta per the box’s directions.
5.  Drain pasta.  Add alfredo sauce to the empty pot and add pasta.  Let sit on low.
6.  Steam broccoli over water or in microwave until cooked through – about 5 minutes.  Drain and mix into the pasta alfredo.
7.  Slice chicken into thin strips.  Place the pasta alfredo mixture onto the plate and place the chicken on top.
8.  Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top.

Alternate method:  Grill the chicken after putting the spices on over medium-high heat.


Blackened Chicken Spice Mix
this will make 4 recipes.  Great to have on hand for chicken, pork or steaks

1Tb. & 1 tsp. paprika (I like smokey paprika)
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. dry thyme
1 tsp. white or black pepper
1 tsp. onion powder

Shake and use!

Spice mix inspired by
Rest of the recipe is my own

Caprese Lasagna Roll-Ups

Good morning!!!  I have so much to tell you.  First of all, I was in the Dominican Republic last week.  Since we stayed at the super awesome Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, I couldn’t make or cook anything.  They give you room service just like on a cruise – whenever and whatever you want!  My husband and I went by ourselves (Thanks Grandma, Grandpa, Maggie, Sarah and Kathleen!) and had the best vacation ever.  Hard Rock really does make you feel like a rock star.  Here are some of my favorite photos and some of the resort.

CAM00312  Pretty Desserts!  (Phone photo)

CAM00314 Lady Gaga and a Phone in the bathroom!

Punta Cana Punta Cana_2 Punta Cana_3 Punta Cana_5 Punta Cana_6 Punta Cana_11 Punta Cana_15 Punta Cana_16 Punta Cana_18 Punta Cana_24 Punta Cana_26 Punta Cana_28 Punta Cana_30 Punta Cana_34 Punta Cana_36 Punta Cana_40 Punta Cana_42 Punta Cana_43

Of course, I read lots of books as well and I will get to those later.  But first the recipe!

This was a relatively fast and easy recipe.  Rolling each lasagna up made it look pretty, but was a little time consuming.  The flavors were delicious – especially since the tomatoes were fresh and home-grown.  I love everything Caprese!

Caprese Lasagna_9 on Whisk Together

Caprese Lasagna Roll-Ups
yield 8 servings

8 lasagna noodles (not the No Boil)
14 oz. shredded mozzerella
3/4 cup Ricotta cheese
1 egg or 1 egg white
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan Cheese
4-5 Roma or small tomatoes the size of a lasagna noodle, sliced 1/4″ thick
1/4 cup fresh basil, sliced thin
1 cup marinara sauce*

*Marinara sauce:  you can purchase this premade.  I opened a 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes and added 1 Tb. of the Wildtree Spaghetti blend right into the can and stirred it.  That’s it!  Or you could take a little oil and onion, saute with some garlic and oregano/basil/salt/pepper and add 28 oz. crushed tomatoes and simmer for 20 minutes.

1.  Bring a large stockpot filled with water to a boil and boil the lasagna noodles.  I had trouble fitting them in a Dutch Oven, but the stockpot would be tall enough.
2.  Add your lasagna noodles once water is boiling and cook per the box directions.  Drain, and do not rinse.
3.  Turn on the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 7×11 pan with cooking spray.  Add about 1/2 cup of marinara sauce to the bottom of the pan.
4. While the noodles cool, make the cheese mixture:  combine your Ricotta cheese and egg.  Add 12 oz. mozzarella and Parmesan.  Mix that up really well.  Add some black pepper to taste.
5.  Now time to assemble!  Take you noodle and lay it flat.

Caprese Lasagna on Whisk Together
Add about 1/4 cup of cheese to the noodle and spread.

Caprese Lasagna_1 on Whisk Together

Layer 4 slices of tomato.

Caprese Lasagna_2 on Whisk Together

Sprinkle with basil.

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Roll your lasagna noodle up from the short side.  Place seam side down into the pan.

Caprese Lasagna_6 on Whisk Together
6.  Add about 1-2 Tb. of marinara sauce on top of the noodle.  Repeat with all the noodles.
7.  Before putting in the oven, feel free to add some more cheese on top.
8.  You can cover the top with a piece of foil sprayed with cooking spray to keep the edges from getting too crispy.  Or leave it off if you like that.
9.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove foil if you used it and Bon Appetit!  Feel free to top with more shredded basil!

Caprese Lasagna_8 on Whisk Together

Recipe from Cooking Classy

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