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)! 🧀

A post shared by Sarah K. // The Pajama Chef (@thepajamachef) on

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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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!

Jalapeno Beer Cheese Spread

Spicy, spreadable cheese dip… what could be a better way to eat your veggies? 🙂 This Jalapeno Beer Cheese Spread is a great make-ahead holiday appetizer!

Jalapeno Beer Cheese Spread--spicy and spreadable cheese dip is a great addition to your holiday table!

One of our favorite Trader Joe’s finds is their Jalapeno Pub Cheese. We first tried it at their sample station with corn chips and totally walked out of the store with both items. Suckers! Haha. All their pub cheese options are good, actually, but the jalapeno flavor is our fave. Last year for New Year’s Day [I know… I am so behind], we whipped up an appetizers feast, and this was one of our favorite snacks from the day! I know we could have gone to Trader Joe’s and bought the real deal, but what’s the fun in that? And the Trader Joe’s in Nashville is smack dab in the middle of a busy shopping area that I avoid like the plague during peak times. So clearly, this was the best option even though it was a little work. But honestly? It’s not really that much work and it’s totally delicious and SO worth it.

Jalapeno Beer Cheese Spread--spicy and spreadable cheese dip is a great addition to your holiday table!

Basically, all you do to make this delectable spread/dip of the goddesses is throw some ingredients in your food processor [hope yours isn’t part of the Cuisinart recall 😦 –I have my grandma’s 1980s food processor, fortunately… or a blender would work fine too] and pulse away! Just a few minutes to deliciousness!

Jalapeno Beer Cheese Spread--spicy and spreadable cheese dip is a great addition to your holiday table!

We enjoy this beer cheese spread with corn chips the most. There’s just something about those salty chips with the spicy spread… but if you want to be a little healthier, you can use it as a veggie dip too. The snap peas were surprisingly good with the spicy dip! Now, I know I’ve been going on and on about how spicy and wonderful this beer cheese spread is, and if you use jalapeno–it is going to be spicy! But fear not–if spice isn’t your thing [no shame! I didn’t start delving into the spice world at ALL until I met my husband]–just leave out the jalapeno! It’ll be equally flavorful and delicious without the jalapeno. I mean, who can resist cheese!??!

one year ago: Cranberry Crumb Bars
two years ago: Crockpot Minestrone Soup
three years ago: Dark Chocolate Ginger Squares
four years ago: Streuseled Cran-Apple Sweet Potato Casserole
five years ago: Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies
six years ago: Sweet-Spicy Pretzel Mix

Jalapeno Beer Cheese Spread

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 5 minutes
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adapted slightly from The Fresh Market

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup liquid – beer is preferable to make this spread more “authentic” but for serving to children, non-drinkers, pregnant ladies, etc. you can use water, cooking wine, chicken broth, etc. Some people who make this bring the beer to a boil on the stovetop, then reduce it to a simmer and cook it down over an hour or so to reduce the alcohol content. Then you can add extra water/broth to make a 1/2 cup of liquid. Use whatever liquid you feel comfortable with!
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1 jalapeno, finely minced – most of the seeds removed
  • corn chips, crackers, pretzels, crudites for serving

Directions:

Combine liquid, cheddar cheese, cream cheese, dry mustard, cayenne pepper, and parsley in a food processor. Pulse until blended. Add jalapeno and pulse again–mixture may have some lumps.

Serve with corn chips, crackers, pretzels, or crudites. Jalapeno Beer Cheese Spread can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge. Letting it sit for awhile before serving helps the flavors marry but it’s addictive no matter when you break into it! Enjoy!

SRC: Loaded Cornbread Waffles

Cornbread waffles filled with cheese, peppers, and onions are loaded with sausage, tomatoes, a creamy avocado spread, and a fried egg for an impressive brunch like no other! This is a fantastic restaurant-worthy dish that’s easy to make at home. You’ll be sure to love it!

Cornbread waffles filled with cheese, peppers, and onions are loaded with sausage, tomatoes, a creamy avocado spread, and a fried egg for an impressive brunch like no other! This is a fantastic restaurant-worthy dish that's easy to make at home. You'll be sure to love it! #secretrecipeclub

I can’t believe I’m writing my LAST Secret Recipe Club post! So sad. But I’m glad the club is going out on a good note…it was a good run, guys! And this month, I had a GREAT SRC assignment. I was assigned to choose and make a recipe from April’s blog, Home Sweet Homestead. April lives in the great state of Indiana [YAY I still love Indiana even though I now live in Tennessee]. She always is making lots of delicious recipes that her carnivore husband loves while still accomodating her food allergies. I’m always impressed by her creativity and innovation in the kitchen. It was hard to narrow down the list, but I eventually decided to choose between the following: Swedish Meatballs, Fish & Chips, Peanut Butter Quinoa Protein Balls, Chicken Fried Chicken, Apple Pie Breakfast Quinoa, or Loaded Cornbread Waffles. I think by the title of this post you can figure out what recipe I chose, but MAN was it hard to decide. I guess I had frying things [even though I rarely do that] and quinoa on the brain when I browsed her blog… and I chose neither, ha.

Cornbread waffles filled with cheese, peppers, and onions are loaded with sausage, tomatoes, a creamy avocado spread, and a fried egg for an impressive brunch like no other! This is a fantastic restaurant-worthy dish that's easy to make at home. You'll be sure to love it! #secretrecipeclub

For those of you who know me, you know I’m a breakfast fiend so when I saw loaded waffles I said, “sign me up!” April’s original recipe is gluten and egg-free, but I just used my regular all-purpose flour and an egg because that’s what I had on hand. I’m sure the original recipe is wonderful too! It’s been a long time since I’ve made waffles so I was glad to dust off my waffle iron for this delectable meal! It is absolutely perfect for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner. No matter when you serve it, everyone is bound to enjoy this savory take on waffles. [Unless you don’t let them, like poor #BabyVolde below.]

There is so much good stuff in and on these cornbread waffles. Though loaded dishes are super popular at restaurants, I rarely order them because usually the base [fries, tortilla chips, potato soup, etc.] is soggy and/or bland and the dish itself isn’t very healthy. While I won’t say this is the healthiesbreakfast or brunch on the planet, it’s better than some–and these waffles are certainly NOT bland or soggy. 🙂

Cornbread waffles filled with cheese, peppers, and onions are loaded with sausage, tomatoes, a creamy avocado spread, and a fried egg for an impressive brunch like no other! This is a fantastic restaurant-worthy dish that's easy to make at home. You'll be sure to love it! #secretrecipeclub

The waffles are filled with peppers, onions, cheese, and garlic and are the crispiest, heartiest waffles I’ve ever made at home! That’s the cornmeal for you! They truly DO deserve that cornbread title. These aren’t cornmeal waffles; they are cornbread in waffle form. Yum. In terms of toppings, I took a slightly different route than April–I added some ground sausage and a fried egg to the mix. But don’t forget April’s fresh toppings! These waffles wouldn’t be the same without the creamy avocado spread, chopped tomatoes, shredded cheese, or sour cream. I suggest using all these toppings but feel free to use what your family will enjoy. 🙂 No matter how you make them, they are sure to be great!

Cornbread waffles filled with cheese, peppers, and onions are loaded with sausage, tomatoes, a creamy avocado spread, and a fried egg for an impressive brunch like no other! This is a fantastic restaurant-worthy dish that's easy to make at home. You'll be sure to love it! #secretrecipeclub

Thanks, April, for a great recipe. And thank you to everyone who has been a part of the Secret Recipe Club–it’s been fun and tasty, guys! 🙂 I’ll miss checking out posts every Monday but look forward to other blogging events in the future.

one year ago: Simple Teriyaki Chicken
two years ago: Chaider
three years ago: Pizza Frittata 
four years ago: Lemon Herb Eggs in Ciabatta 
five years ago: Honey Whole Wheat English Muffins
six years ago: Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Loaded Cornbread Waffles

  • Servings: 3
  • Time: 60 minutes
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adapted from Home Sweet Homestead

Ingredients:

for avocado spread

  • 1 avocado
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh cilantro
  • juice of 1/2 a lime
  • salt

for waffles and toppings

  • 1/3 to 1 pound ground sausage
  • 1/2 bell pepper – approximately 3/4 cup, finely diced
  • 1/4 onion – approximately 1/4 cup, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • chopped tomato, for topping
  • cilantro, for topping
  • sour cream, for topping
  • 1 egg per person, for topping
  • shredded cheddar cheese, for topping

Directions:

In a bowl, mash avocado. Mix in cilantro, lime juice, and a sprinkle of salt. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

In a large skillet, brown ground sausage. You’ll only need about 1/3 pound for 3 servings, but you could make a whole pound and have leftovers–this is what I did!

When cooked through, remove sausage to a bowl and cover to keep warm.

In the same skillet, add peppers, onions, and garlic and cook for 4-5 minutes until softened.

Meanwhile, prepare waffle batter. In a medium bowl, stir togehter flour, cornmeal, and baking powder. In a measuring cup, whisk together milk, cheese, egg, and butter. Pour wet ingredients into the dry and stir gently to combine. Fold in softened vegetables and a healthy amount of freshly ground black pepper. Batter should be thick but still able to be poured, so add a little extra milk if its too thick. I ended up adding a bit TOO much milk so I had to add another tablespoon of cornmeal too.

Cook batter in your waffle iron according to manufacturer instructions, until crisp and golden brown. Batter should yield about 3 waffles.

While waffles are cooking, fry one egg per person using, you guessed it, the same skillet as before! Scrambled eggs would also be delicious–or no eggs too if that’s what you prefer.

Top each waffle with a smear of avocado spread, sausage, chopped tomatoes, chopped cilantro, cheese, a dollop of sour cream, and a fried egg. Enjoy!


Be sure to check out all the other SRC recipes linked up today below!

SRC: Pumpkin and Sausage Pizza

Pizza gets an autumn twist with pumpkin sauce! Mmmm mmm good!

Pizza gets an autumn twist with pumpkin sauce! Mmmm mmm good! #secretrecipeclub

Welcome to another SRC post! Secret Recipe Club has been my big blog event for most of my blogging career, and it was just announced that the club will be disbanding this fall. But don’t you worry–there are still a few more posts before that happens! Tear! It’s sad, but great to see the club go out on a high note.

This month I was assigned to Natural Noshing. Nora began her blog as a way to share her passion for nutrition and healthy, real food. She has tons of great recipes to share and I love her passion for food! I was drawn to SO many of her healthy recipes–it was hard to pick what to make, but I finally narrowed it down. Breakfast Quesadillas sounded interesting, as did Cappuccino Sour Cream Muffins. But I must have been in a pizza mood when recipe choosing because I loved the sound of anything and everything pizza–Pizza Potatoes! Pizza Quinoa Casserole! And lastly… the winner… Sausage and Pumpkin Pizza!

Pizza gets an autumn twist with pumpkin sauce! Mmmm mmm good! #secretrecipeclub

You guys know I love pumpkin so really, it was a no brainer. I don’t know what took me so long to make this decision. 🙂 Oh wait I do. Ben. He loves pizza, but this qualifies as “weird pizza” in his book so I was a bit skeptical if he would enjoy it. And I do like him to enjoy the food I make. 🙂

Pizza gets an autumn twist with pumpkin sauce! Mmmm mmm good! #secretrecipeclub

Well, I am happy to report that he not only enjoyed it, but he loved it! We both did, actually. It was a wonderful, hearty, fall pizza–the flavorful pumpkin sauce was the perfect base for sausage and kale. Nora’s original recipe used spinach, but she made this recipe as a “clear out the fridge” meal so I decided to do the same here! Why buy something else if you don’t need to? This pizza may just become a surprising fall favorite in our house. Hope you enjoy as much as we did–and thanks, Nora, for the great recipe!

two years ago: Banana Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins
three years ago: Funfetti Cookies
four years ago: Chicken Enchiladas with Green Chili Sour Cream Sauce
five years ago: Roasted Vegetable Soup
six years ago: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins

Pumpkin and Sausage Pizza

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 2 hours
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from Natural Noshing

Ingredients:

  • 1 pizza crust – I used my favorite recipe but any will do
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces sausage, thinly sliced – smoked sausage is what I used, but chicken sausage, brats, etc. would all be great
  • 1 1/4 cups tightly packed kale, washed and chopped into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons fresh herbs, chopped – I used rosemary, basil, and marjoram
  • 8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F [or follow directions for your specific pizza crust].

In a small saucepan, mix pumpkin puree, water, sage, garlic, and pepper. Heat over low heat until combined, then set aside.

In a medium skillet set over medium-high heat, cook sausage for about 2 minutes per side. I used precooked sausage, so this was just to add color. Top with kale and herbs and stir together for about 30 seconds or until kale just begins to wilt.

Spread pumpkin sauce over uncooked crust [unless you bought a precooked crust]. Top with half of the cheese, then the sausage and kale mixture, and finally the rest of the cheese. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is melted. Broil for a minute to make the cheese look extra delicious, then remove from oven. Let rest for 5 minutes before cutting, then serve and enjoy!

Check out the other SRC recipes today at the link below!