joyeux cuisine

a blog about good food, family, friends, and life.

creamy pasta chicken bake.

I’m still trying to figure out good ways to make meals for one or two people. Sometimes that ends with me getting a pizza from somewhere and just keeping it in the fridge for two or three meals. This is not good. Sometimes I forget about eating until late in the evening and by that time it’s too late to thaw chicken or something so I just eat cereal. That’s normal, right?

This meal came out of my brain last night after 5 hours of pep band because I wanted pasta but didn’t have any spaghetti sauce or anything like that. But I had a package of Italian blend cheese and that makes everything okay! I’ve also had boneless chicken tenders in my freezer for awhile (which, by the way, are the perfect size for a meal for one or two people) so I had protein. (This is really how my brain works, I don’t get it…)

I’m not much of a cook; I’m more of a baker (and usually when I make something it involves pasta), but I decided to attempt making cream sauce for the first time. What do you know, it was way super easy and pretty delicious. SO. All you have to do is make each thing and then throw it all together and bake it until everything is all melty and delicious. (I love the word melty.) I baked mine in a 8 by 4 1/2 casserole dish and it worked out really well. But this is one of those things that you can adjust all the quantities and make for a few people or a bunch of people. How good is that?

Gosh. Melted cheese is one of my most favorite things ever. Seriously. Right up at the top of the list with yarn, my cat, and cookies.

Make some pasta. Watch too much Psych. Eat too many Girl Scout Cookies. Save the world.

Creamy Pasta Chicken Bake
serves 1-2 (adjust as needed)

for the cream sauce:

2 Tablespoons butter

2 Tablespoons flour

1 cup milk

spices (salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano leaves), to taste

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. When completely melted, whisk in the flour until smooth. Stir in the milk and cook over medium heat for about 2-3 minutes or until sauce thickens. Stir in desired spices. I used about a half teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of garlic powder, a pinch of black pepper, and a pinch of crushed oregano leaves. Use what you want and what you like.

for the chicken:

2-3 bonesless chicken tenders

salt, pepper, garlic powder

Slice chicken into strips. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder and toss to coat. Saute over medium heat until opaque and cooked through.

for the pasta:

about 1 cup of your favorite pasta (I used penne rigatoni)

Cook according to the package directions.

for the pasta bake:

cooked chicken

cooked pasta

cream sauce

1 cup of Italian cheeses (mozzarella by itself will also work)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Stir together the pasta and cream sauce. Add chicken and stir until coated. Pour half the mixture into a casserole dish (either an 8×8 or 8×4 1/2). Sprinkle on half the cheese. Pour the remaining pasta mixture over that and cover with the rest of the cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is completely melted and golden brown.

Serve immediately. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 2 days.

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red velvet cake truffles.

A few things about my life right now:
I got contacts and am still getting used to them (aka I sometimes still try to adjust my glasses even though they aren’t there…normal).
I graduate in under 100 days.
I miss my cat.
I don’t have a Valentine. (that’s pretty normal.)
I introduced two of my friends to Downton Abbey and we can’t stop watching it.
(SPOILER) I finished Season 3 of Downton Abbey and cried a lot.
I love Downton Abbey. (if you hadn’t guessed that)

Downton Valentine

So, it’s Valentine’s Day, right? I hate Valentine’s Day. I’ve been single a lot more often than not. Here’s the two stories of my two awkward Valentine’s Day experiences:
1. My senior year of high school my boyfriend planned a huge surprise for me. So we went to this fancy Italian restaurant at around 3 in the afternoon because that was the only time he could get a reservation. The food was delicious and we spent awhile walking around the town where the restaurant was. Then we went to the most romantic movie we could; Paul Blart Mall Cop. What a romantic choice, right? Oh well. Life goes on.
2. Sophomore year of college my boyfriend (different boyfriend) planned this huge surprise for Valentine’s Day weekend and didn’t tell me about it until the day it was planned for. Turns out he got tickets for an Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith concert in Chicago. Talk about the most Christian date ever. It was a really fun evening and way better than Paul Blart Mall Cop so I guess that’s a bonus right?

So there’s that. My life…I just don’t even know sometimes.

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Anyway, I made truffles. Red velvet truffles. Because it’s Valentine’s and it’s all about love and who doesn’t love cake? These are a lot like cake batter truffles but altered a little bit. These are very rich and super delicious. They’re really easy to throw together and they make people really happy. They’re also a really good Downton Abbey watching snack.

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Make some truffles, give someone a hug, eat some candy, watch Downton Abbey, smile some more.

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Happy Valentine’s Day!!

Red Velvet Truffles
adapted from Cake Batter Truffles

makes about 30 truffles

for the truffles:

1 and 1/2 cups flour

1 cup red velvet cake mix

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/8 teaspoon salt

6-7 Tablespoons milk

for the coating:

16 oz almond bark or vanilla flavored melting chocolate

sprinkles for topping

To make the truffles: Line a cookie sheet with wax paper and set aside. In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until smooth (about 2 minutes). Add in the vanilla, salt, flour, and cake mix. Mix together with a spatula or the electric mixer on low. This will look really not mixed. Add in the milk a couple tablespoons at a time and continue to mix until everything gets incorporated. The mixture should be dense and stick together really well. If you add to much milk it gets sticky, so be careful. Roll the truffles into 1 inch to 1 and 1/2 inch balls and place on the prepared cookie sheet. Continue doing this until all the dough is used. Chill in the fridge for 15-20 minutes or until firm. When firm dip in the topping.
To make the topping: melt the almond bark according to the directions. Usually 30 seconds in the microwave (in a microwave safe bowl!) at a time, stirring in between each time interval. Dip each truffle in the chocolate with a fork and tap on the side of the bowl to remove the excess. Place the truffle back on the cookie sheet and top with sprinkles before the chocolate hardens. Repeat for all the truffles.

Store these in the fridge on the cookie sheet until they’re all set and then store in an airtight container or plastic sandwich bag for 2-3 days.

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still hanging on.

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I’m here! I promise I’m still alive! It’s been a crazy few months in my life recently and I haven’t found any time for recipe making or baking of anything. I’ll just catch you up on everything pretty quickly:

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First major thing of the semester was my senior recital. But before that I had to do a pre-recital hearing to make sure that I could actually do my recital. I was more terrified for that than anything else about my recital. And, in my opinion, it did not go well. Granted, I am my worst critic and I always make everything worse than it is, but it was not good. Thanks to a generous panel and a very encouraging accompanist I passed my hearing (PRAISE GOD) and went on to do my recital. My accompanist, Dr. Anderson, was the best. He’s one of our piano faculty and I did not deserve him. He played the Strauss better than I could have ever imagined, and he kept me sane through the whole thing.

734892_10151320352141839_2022480007_nMy dad’s parents came down from Michigan (aren’t they adorable?!),my mom’s parents came over with my parents, and a bunch of my aunts and uncles came so it was a big party. When I figure out how to edit things, I’ll post some audio and give you the opportunity to hear some of the more stellar parts of the recital. I’m so relieved it’s over and I had so much fun. I’m so blessed with great faculty that came and cheered and prayed for me. So blessed by them.

The other big thing that happened already this semester was a thing called Band Winter Showcase that the marching band puts on every year. My friend Zach and I were pretty much in charge of the whole thing, making sure people showed up, writing music (which Zach pretty much did by himself), organizing, getting everything ready, etc. But the show went spectacularly! It was a blast. Feel free to watch here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJYXeOUzwMo (Part 1)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pA_n8taLWk0 (Part 2)

793898_10151487727908561_1049568112_oThis picture is from the large group act affectionately called “The Dragon”. I got to conduct this piece and it was so much fun. I loved it. (Picture courtesy of my friend Cymone who is spectacular at art and stuff. Check out her fliker here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pretzelday/ )

So that’s pretty much what my life has been for the last couple months. One thing right after the other. Right now I’m in the process of getting back to normal and catching up on all the homework I didn’t do…you know. Just college.

I did make an apple crisp for the first time last weekend. It was surprisingly delicious. And it helped me think of an idea to bake this weekend. I may have been writing ingredient lists in my night class the other day. I feel no shame. Hopefully I can share my idea with you this weekend, but right now I gotta go work on Jazz Theory homework (did I tell you I got the highest grade in that class last semester!? I still don’t believe it…). Extended dominants, here I come!

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