Lentil Veggie Macaroni and Cheese

Who doesn’t love mac and cheese? This version is fancied up with some lentils and veggies for a more complete version of a childhood favorite.

Who doesn't love mac and cheese? This version is fancied up with some lentils and veggies for a more complete version of a childhood favorite.

When it comes to macaroni and cheese, I usually gravitate towards the baked variety. Don’t get me wrong, a box of Kraft or Annie’s is pretty much always in our pantry for those desperate nights… but when I REALLY want mac and cheese, this is what I’m talking about. Ben and I can make our way through a pan of that stuff in just a few days… it’s crazy good. And now that #BabyVolde is eating more and more of my regular cooking, heaven help us. When I made that mac and cheese a few weeks ago, he gobbled it up.

Sunday dinner… baked mac & cheese with roasted broccoli. All of us loved it (especially #BabyVolde)! 🧀

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While that mac and cheese will always always always be my favorite, sometimes I want mac and cheese… but with a little less cheese and a little more nutrition. Yeahhh… especially since I have a pretty non-picky-baby eater right now and I want to keep it that way. So that’s when I bring in Lentil Veggie Macaroni and Cheese. You still have your cheese and pasta… but with a little extra protein (helllllllooooo lentils) and some extra veggie power. I won’t say the lentils and veggies aren’t noticeable, but they do make this dish a bit heartier and a little healthier. I can’t wait to make it again soon–it’s absolutely delicious!

Who doesn't love mac and cheese? This version is fancied up with some lentils and veggies for a more complete version of a childhood favorite.

One last thing before I go… I did make this recipe into a baked mac and cheese cause that’s my favorite. #crispynoodlesforlife But if that’s not your thing, or you’re in a time crunch, you can omit the panko topping and the baking step, no problemo! Enjoy!

one year ago: Chocolate Chip Butterscotch Bars
two years ago: Butternut Squash and Mushroom Tart
three years ago: Oatmeal Fudge Bars
four years ago: Neely’s Lemon Pasta Salad
five years ago: Pineapple-Apricot Teriyaki Chicken
six years ago: Sweet and Tangy Pork Chops with Pineapple over Coconut Toasted Rice

Lentil Veggie Macaroni and Cheese

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 45 minutes
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slightly adapted from The Lean Green Bean

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces dry pasta
  • 3/4 cup lentils
  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3-4 cups mixed vegetables, diced – can be fresh or frozen, or a combination
  • 5 ounces frozen spinach, defrosted – or 3 handfuls fresh baby spinach
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2/3 cup panko breadcrumbs

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a large baking dish – 9×13 inches or similar and set aside.

Prepare pasta according to package directions. Prepare lentils according to package directions.

While pasta and lentils are cooking, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet. Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds until fragrant, then stir in mixed vegetables and spinach. Saute for 5-10 minutes until softened – less for frozen vegetables and more for fresh. Sprinkle with flour, paprika, and cayenne, then stir to coat. Add milk and cheese, stirring until well combined.

Carefully fold in pasta and lentils, then transfer mixture into greased baking dish.

In a small bowl, melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in the microwave. Toss with panko, then sprinkle panko mixture over the macaroni mixture.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until bubbly. Enjoy!

Note: If baked pasta isn’t your thing or you’re in a time crunch, just omit the panko and baking steps. It’ll be just fine without it. 🙂

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Trader Joe’s Chili Lime Chicken Burgers

A copycat version of a Trader Joe’s fave… chicken burgers spiced up with chili, lime, cilantro, and garlic. This is an epic burger you don’t wanna miss!

A copycat version of a Trader Joe's fave... chicken burgers spiced up with chili, lime, cilantro, and garlic. This is an epic burger you don't wanna miss!

If you’ve ever stepped foot into Trader Joe’s, you have probably seen tons of delicious-looking treats. At Trader Joe’s, I’m always tempted to buy so many more convenience foods than I ever would in a regular grocery store. I don’t know what it is about that insanely crowded grocery store with a death trap parking lot, but everything inside sounds SO FREAKING GOOD. I mean, seriouslyyyy. Is it just me? I sure hope not.

A copycat version of a Trader Joe's fave... chicken burgers spiced up with chili, lime, cilantro, and garlic. This is an epic burger you don't wanna miss!

One of my favorite things to get at TJ’s is their Chili Lime Chicken Burgers. Alright, I know they’re probably everyone’s favorite. Maybe that’s not true but I literally know SO many people who love them. After buying them one too many times, it’s no surprise that I sought out a homemade copycat version. Because… why not? These burgers are just as good (if not better) than their counterpart, and come together in a flash in your kitchen! Be sure to dress them up with all your favorite burger toppings–avocado is a must for me! Oh, and p.s. I suggest using non-smashed buns (don’t be like me–but I hate food waste so…yeah). ENJOY!

A copycat version of a Trader Joe's fave... chicken burgers spiced up with chili, lime, cilantro, and garlic. This is an epic burger you don't wanna miss!

one year ago: Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps
two years ago: French Toast Casserole
three years ago: Tasty Mexican Lentils
four years ago: Quick Chocolate Pudding
five years ago: Alice’s Vanilla Tea-Infused Granola
six years ago: Roasted Tomato and Black Bean Soup

Trader Joe's Chili Lime Chicken Burgers

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 30 minutes
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from Iowa Girl Eats

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • zest and juice of half a lime
  • hamburger buns
  • avocado, tomato, lettuce, cheese, etc. for topping as desired

Directions:

In a medium bowl, combine ground chicken, green onions, red bell pepper, cilantro, garlic, red pepper flakes, and lime zest and juice. Use your hands to mix together, then divide into four equal portions. Press into patties and coat each side with nonstick spray or brush with olive oil.

Cook in a skillet, set over medium-high heat, for approximately 3-4 minutes per side until cooked through. Alternatively, you can use a George Foreman-type grill.

Serve on a bun with desired toppings.

Apple Cheddar Bacon Soup with Cheesy Croutons

Cheesy soup gets dressed up with sweet apples, salty bacon, and ooey gooey cheesy croutons!

Cheesy soup gets dressed up with sweet apples, salty bacon, and ooey gooey cheesy croutons!

At first glance, this is an unlikely soup. Apples, cheddar, and bacon? “Pass!” you might be thinking. But hold up just a minute… cheddar and bacon is a classic combo, right? And you’ve heard of the whole cheddar cheese with apple pie thing, right? And applewood smoked bacon is totally a thing. So let’s put it all together–apples, cheddar, bacon. Not so unlikely after all! (And pssttt… I made a fabulous Maple Apple Pie Crisp with Cheddar Crust and Bacon Crumb Topping a couple years back!) And if you need further convincing, just think of it this way: this soup has the sweet and salty thing down pat.

Cheesy soup gets dressed up with sweet apples, salty bacon, and ooey gooey cheesy croutons!

And it’s utterly delicious. Next time you’re in the mood for an interesting new soup recipe, check out this one! I’m sure you’ll love it. 🙂

one year ago: Spicy Ranch Chicken Rice Skillet
two years ago: Chocolate Coffee Bundt Cake
three years ago: Strawberry Yogurt
four years ago: Cumin-Scented Cabbage Salad
five years ago: Extraordinary Grilled Cheese
six years ago: Best Egg Salad

Apple Cheddar Bacon Soup with Cheesy Croutons

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 30 minutes
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from What Megan’s Making

Ingredients:

  • 3 slices bacon
  • 1 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 2 cups apples, peeled and chopped (about 2 medium)
  • 1 large potato, peeled and diced
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups no-sugar-added apple juice
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 slices sourdough or rye bread, toasted
  • 1 teaspoon whole grain dijon mustard

Directions:

Cook bacon in a large stockpot set over medium heat until crisp. Remove to paper towel to drain. Meanwhile, remove most of grease from pot, leaving about 2 tablespoons.

When bacon is cool, chop into small pieces and set aside.

Combine the onion, apples, and potato in the stockpot and saute over medium high heat until onion and apples are soft, about 8-10 minutes. Pour in chicken broth and apple juice, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until potato is soft, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and season with pepper, then stir in almost all the cheese, reserving 3 tablespoons. When cheese is melted, use an immersion blender to puree soup until smooth.

Meanwhile, preheat the broiler. Spread the toasted bread with dijon and evenly divide reserved cheese between slices. Broil–watching carefully!–until cheese is bubbly and melted. Remove from oven, cool for a couple minutes, then slice into bite-sized squares. Serve soup with bacon, cheese croutons, and lots of black pepper. Enjoy!

Annette’s Layered Chicken Enchiladas

Cheesy, bubbly layered chicken enchiladas–so comforting and delicious. This dinner is super easy and can be made ahead or even frozen. Recipe from Shauna Niequist’s Bread and Wine!

Cheesy, bubbly layered chicken enchiladas--so comforting and delicious. This dinner is super easy and can be made ahead or even frozen. Recipe from Shauna Niequist's Bread and Wine!

I’m not usually one to make recipes I find in books (unless they’re cookbooks, that is) but when I read Shauna Niequist’s Bread and Wine a couple years ago, I knew I HAD to make her friend Annette’s awesome enchilada recipe one day. And one day is here! These enchiladas were gifted to the author as a new baby meal–and having a little one myself, let me just say that I would have LOVED to receive this meal when #BabyVolde was small. What can be better then layered enchiladas and all that ooey, gooey cheese and that creamy verde sauce? Not much! I will say that we weren’t too deprived in our new parenthood exhaustion–we were the lucky recipients of many tasty meals from family and friends, and I also made a ton of freezer meals too. So we were set. But if YOU know someone having a baby soon, consider making this dish!

Cheesy, bubbly layered chicken enchiladas--so comforting and delicious. This dinner is super easy and can be made ahead or even frozen. Recipe from Shauna Niequist's Bread and Wine!

Normal enchiladas are great, but all that rolling can be sorta fussy sometimes. Though the presentation here is a little messier thanks to a few layers of sauce, cheese, chicken, and tortillas instead of neatly rolled tortillas, the taste is ALL there! One neat trick that makes this version of enchiladas different from others I’ve tried is that Annette (whoever she is) came up with GENIUS idea to dip the tortillas in warm chicken broth before layering them. This extra step helps the enchiladas get super soft but also adds a little extra flava! And can’t we all use that? 🙂

Cheesy, bubbly layered chicken enchiladas--so comforting and delicious. This dinner is super easy and can be made ahead or even frozen. Recipe from Shauna Niequist's Bread and Wine!

These enchiladas are filling and delicious… a great dish to make with love for your family or others in your life! Shauna Niequist’s whole point in her book is to embrace hospitality for the sake of love, community, and friendship–a messy hospitality of sorts. In my opinion, this recipe is the epitome of that! Hope you enjoy!

one year ago: Copycat Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls
two years ago: Cheesy Molasses Chicken with Mushrooms and Homemade Rice a Roni Mix
three years ago: Champorado [Filipino Chocolate Rice Pudding]
four years ago: Hawaiian BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches
five years ago: Hunter Fieri’s Chicken Salad
six years ago: Monkey Bars

Annette's Layered Chicken Enchiladas

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 75 minutes
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from Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 – 28 ounce can green enchilada sauce
  • 2 – 4 ounce cans diced green chilies
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 12-15 small corn tortillas
  • 3 cups cooked, shredded chicken
  • 2 cups shredded Monterrey jack cheese
  • chopped cilantro
  • lime wedges

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13 baking pan with cooking spray.

In a medium pot, simmer chicken broth until just warm, then remove from heat.

In a medium bowl, stir together sour cream, enchilada sauce, and green chilies to make the sauce. Spread about 1/4 of the sauce on the bottom of the baking pan. Dip tortillas in broth and layer over sauce, to completely fill the bottom of the pan. Tear tortillas if necessary. Top with half of the chicken and a third of the cheese, then repeat: sauce, tortillas in broth, chicken, cheese, sauce. Finish with tortillas in broth, sauce, and cheese.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until bubbly. You can broil for a minute or two at the end to make the cheese extra brown if desired. Let rest for 15 minutes before serving with cilantro and lime wedges.

Recipe can be made up to 24 hours before baking. It’s also a great meal to freeze and bake when ready to eat!

Simple Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas

Simple sheet pan chicken fajitas – I think you are going to want these in your mouth, like, last night for dinner. They bake ALL BY THEMSELVES in the oven but still have a bit of that smoky flair you love. A great weeknight dinner that the whole family will enjoy!

Simple sheet pan chicken fajitas - I think you are going to want these in your mouth, like, last night for dinner. They bake ALL BY THEMSELVES in the oven but still have a bit of that smoky flair you love. A great weeknight dinner that the whole family will enjoy!

Yup, hopping on the sheet pan meal train. I even have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to them. Because seriously… they are a #weeknightdinner savior.

My oven died a few weeks ago, and I was utterly devastated. Fortunately, it was just the heating element–a pretty inexpensive repair–but I did freak out quite just a bit, especially since this happened after I prepped English muffin bread dough AND lasagna so I couldn’t bake either. Bummer. But on the bright side (if there is a bright side to a non-functional oven), I salvaged the dough by making individual English muffins on the stovetop. Phew! But back to sheet pan dinners. They are the best cause they are eeeeeeeasy! I mean, seriously. Chop, cut, slice a few things, throw it on a pan with some seasonings… bake bake bake, and presto! Dinner. Kinda like a casserole, except without the weird cream ‘o soup sauce. And now I can make ALL THE sheet pan meals and casseroles I want ’cause my oven is back in action! Hooooray!

Simple sheet pan chicken fajitas - I think you are going to want these in your mouth, like, last night for dinner. They bake ALL BY THEMSELVES in the oven but still have a bit of that smoky flair you love. A great weeknight dinner that the whole family will enjoy!

My sister introduced me to this fabulous recipe over the summer, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made it. The fajita seasoning is absolutely mouthwatering and is full of simple seasonings you probably already have in your spice rack. The veggies come out perfectly crisp-tender, and the chicken is sizzling hot. I like to dress my fajitas with plenty of lime juice and cilantro, and not much else–maybe a little bit of sour cream or avocado if I’m feeling it. But like with most Tex-Mex recipes, everyone can customize their plate as desired. #WIN! This recipe makes great leftovers–enjoy it the first night in tortillas, the second day for lunch over Mexican rice or lettuce, and the third day in a quesadilla! Don’t be frightened by the one hour time mentioned in the recipe below. Most of it is cooking, promise! If I can make this after work with a baby in tow, so can you! 🙂

one year ago: White Bean Sriracha Dip
two years ago: Homemade Turkey Sausage Patties
three year ago: Flourless Peanut-Chocolate Cookies
four years ago: Buffalo Pretzels
five year ago: Chicken Noodle Soup
six years ago: Mediterranean Tuna Salad

Sheet Pan Fajitas

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 60 minutes
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slightly adapted from Budget Bytes

Ingredients:

fajita seasoning

  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • dash of cayenne powder – omit if you don’t want a lot of spice
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste – I’m pretty liberal with black pepper 🙂
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

fajitas

  • 1 large onion – I like sweet onions or red onions
  • 4 bell peppers – I like to use a combination of colors
  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken breast
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • juice of 1 lime
  • tortillas, rice, sour cream, avocado, cilantro, pico de gallo, etc. – for serving, as desired

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a small bowl, stir together all ingredients for the fajita seasoning and set aside.

Slice the onion and bell peppers into 1/4-1/2 inch wide strips. Place on a large sheet pan [or divide between 2 9×13 baking dishes]. Cut the chicken breast into thin strips and add to sheet pan with the vegetables.

Sprinkle the seasoning over the chicken and vegetables, then drizzle the olive oil on top. Toss together [your hands are great for this!] and spread into an even layer.

Bake for 20 minutes, then stir everything and return to oven, baking for another 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle lime juice over fajitas, then serve in tortillas or over rice with sour cream, avocado, cilantro, and pico de gallo. Enjoy!

Pro Tip: Make your life easier by making this ahead! Make the seasoning, then cut chicken and veggies and put everything in a ziptop bag. Then pour the olive oil into the bag and shake. Let it marinate in the fridge up to 24 hours before baking.