BBQ Mac and Cheese

No matter where we live, I will always get Southern Living magazine. I love southern houses (especially ones with wrap around porches), southern food, southern charm – all of it! Equally, I love macaroni and cheese. It’s a love affair that has developed from the boxed kind to the “fancy” mac and cheese you see everywhere in restaurants.

The September issue of Southern Living (yes, I’m behind!) gave a few recipes for upgrades to your traditional mac and cheese. We did not follow this recipe verbatim but took inspiration and made it our own. Pics from the magazine version of the recipe are at bottom of this post. For some reason I couldn’t find online…must want you to buy the magazine! 🙂

And here is our take on it based on what we had available in our fridge and pantry. So easy, delicious and different!

BBQ Mac and Cheese

BBQ Mac n Cheese

  • 1 pound Ground Beef (we used 85/15)
  • 1 box of Rotini Noodles (we used Healthy Harvest Whole Grain)
  • 1 package of cheddar cheese (we used Sargento Mild Cheddar)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • BBQ style seasoning (we used Savory Spice shop‘s Red Rocks Hickory Smoke Seasoning)
  • Panko bread crumbs
  • BBQ Sauce (we used Stubbs)
  1. Start out by browning the ground beef in a large skillet. Sprinkle the seasoning across the top of the beef. Drain and return beef to skillet. (5-8 minutes)
  2. Follow the directions on the package of pasta to boil the pasta past the al dente stage (or to your preference). We made the whole box of pasta. (10 minutes)
  3. Microwave 1/2 cup milk for 20-30 seconds. Pour into skillet with beef and mix together over medium low heat.
  4. Sprinkle cheese liberally across the beef. Mix together.
  5. Add pasta to skillet and mix together. Add another layer of cheese.
  6. Move all ingredients to 9×13 glass casserole dish. Sprinkle Panko bread crumbs across top to your liking. Add a few more pinches of the seasoning to the top.
  7. Broil for 2-5 minutes or until the panko bread crumbs have cooked.
  8. Serve warm with BBQ sauce drizzled on top and enjoy!


Nikki and Ben

Magazine Clip from Southern Living, September 2015

SouthernLiving Mac and Cheese IMG_8814


In a New York Minute

We were there…now we’re gone…good thing we fit as much in as possible.

Tuesday our train got in at 12:15 which left us just about enough time to meet up with Patrick and get a quick bite to eat before he had to leave to teach his last final. I can’t remember the name of it but we enjoyed the view from the 39th floor and some pretty good Korean food and then we were off.

Our first stop was the Empire State Building to take in the observation deck. We couldn’t have found a better way to see a 360 degree view of all of NYC. Nikki has been to the Top of the Rock at night so seeing the city during the day was a treat. After being bogged down by lines and crowds we finally made our way out of the tower to happily find Heartland Brewery at the main floor. Shocker, we stopped to have a quick beer. Nikki enjoyed a Cornhusker Lager and I had the Indiana Pale.

We moved uptown a little bit to see Grand Central Station and the New York Public Library (on the way we stopped to get a hot dog, because, why not, we’re in New York). Both are very historic and we enjoyed taking time to go into both and experience them.

Patrick met us at the Library and we were all on the same page…time for some pizza and beer. We took the subway over to the NYU area and enjoyed some Ray’s Pizza and Victory Prima Pils. Our next stop was right around the corner at the oldest bar in New York, McSorley’s. This place dripped history out of every corner, booth, wall and table and smelled like stale beer from 1857 mixed with onions and about 40 New Yorkers who just got off work…so pretty much the definition of a great dive bar. The three of us enjoyed some ‘Light’ and ‘Dark’ beers and took it all in.

After making it out to Brooklyn we found a pub and finally closed the night with a little Sake and Arrested Development…pretty standard.

 Wednesday morning we found a nice Greek diner for a really good (and Cheap) breakfast before sending Patrick off to Massachusetts and exploring more of Manhattan. Nikki and I took off from our hotel to explore Radio City Music Hall and Rockefeller Center (I could have spent hours in the Lego store). From there we walked up 5th Avenue to Central Park. The biggest surprise for me was seeing the massive rock outcroppings throughout the southern part of the park. Our journey to the Park had to make a pit stop at the Wollman Ice Skating Rink for Nikki to show me where her favorite scene of one of her favorite movies (Serendipity) takes place. Unfortunately there was a Fair taking place (one of Nikki’s least favorite things) so to make the Universe right we donated $1 to a local YMCA youth basketball team, Karma is in our favor.

After the park we found Three Monkeys Tavern for a break to get off our feet (we’ve been walking A LOT). We both enjoyed some beer (Yonkers Lager, Three Monkeys IPA and Radiant Pig) with some good sliders and chicken sandwich before hitting up Times Square on the way back to our hotel. We both needed a little down time before attempting our first subway ride without help and the Yankees game last night.

The Subway was a success and far less intimidating than the first time through (thank you Google Maps!). Yankee Stadium was a sight to be seen and pretty much had anything that you could have wanted at a stadium. We picked up our $11 Bud Lights (yep…) and got to our seats in the Bleachers just in time to see Miss USA, Miss Teen USA and Miss Universe in the section next to us and to join in with the Bleacher Creatures in their pre-game rituals (all very cool). Even though it is a new stadium you could feel history all over the place and it retained a very intimate feel. A couple more $12 beers and some Nathan’s Hot Dogs helped wrap up our entire Yankee Stadium experience. We had to stop one more time at Times Square at night. times squre

New York came and went but we enjoyed every minute of it…we’re 30 minutes outside of Boston and a new adventure will begin soon.



Ben and Nikki

Flip, Flip, Flipadelphia

We were sad to be in Philadelphia and miss Claytie and Fletcher. Hope you have safe travels Claytie and Fletch we are thinking of you in your recovery!

Luckily, we got the run down prior to our visit of what to squeeze in our quick stop in Philly.

Jim’s Steaks on South St.
After a 15-minute wait, we were able to enjoy our Pepper Steak with provolone (sorry for all the people who said you have to get the cheese whiz, we just couldn’t do it) paired with two delicious Yuenglings.

Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell
Ben and I aren’t big wait in line people unless that line ends with a beer or food. It was good enough for us to be outside and see. Plus you can see the bell through the window. Cool parts of history.

Betsy Ross house
Our quick break for some A/C…and Nikki wanted to buy all the cool things in the gift store. Love the courtyard in front of her house.

Elfreths Alley
The oldest steet in America. Very tiny and has cute houses along it. Looks like the immediate area is going through a revitalization with some new businesses opening.

Christ Church
Our favorite of things we saw. We love living out west but one thing that you notice and appreciate is who old everything is on the east coast. Just so much more national history. We enjoyed sitting where George Washington, Ben Franklin, William Penn, John Adams, Robert Morris, and others sat for church each Sunday.

City Tavern
After Christ Church the plan was to head back to the hotel. But then our walk took us past the City Tavern. Very likely a touristy place, but hey, it’s where Ben Franklin had a beer once! Ben and I both enjoyed water and beers here. More details about that below.

The Coffee Bar
Ben’s mom and Nikki have been dreaming up a future business: coffee shop/beer/wine bar that is also a book exchange. This place was a good example of the combo of coffee house/chill bar. We had beers here detailed below

The Dandelion
Fletch said we had to go here for dinner. And we did and we enjoyed! We had House made ricotta to start. Ben got the Lamb shepherds pie and Nikki got crab risotto for dinner. Dessert was Pana cotta with lemon/basil sorbet, shortbread and strawberries. It was really different but we enjoyed it.

And now what you’ve been waiting for!
Nikki got Poor Richard’s Tavern Spruce which is a Ben Franklin recipe inspired by his time in France. Reminded of a Christmas Ale named Jubilee.
Ben got Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist Ale.
Nikki got OtterCreek Fresh Slice from Vermont. Unfiltered, delicious, clementine white IPA. So, so, so good!
Ben got Dogfish Head 60 minute IPA
Nikki got Blanche du Bruxulles – 16oz can, not a bad way to enjoy this one.
Ben got Sierra Nevada and Victory collaboration (Sierra Nevada Beer Camp, german style ale)

Philadelphia Art Museum (Rocky Steps and Statue)
This was Ben’s last request before leaving Philadelphia…he had to run up the stairs and take a picture with the Rocky Statue. It was warm and out of the way before leaving but it was worth it.

We are on the way to New York now…keep an eye out for our recaps of Washington DC and Baltimore shortly.

Nikki and Ben

Adventures in the Kitchen: Coconut Curry Chicken Tacos

Tacos have been a fun adventure food for us since we moved to California…we’ve dabbled a little with fish tacos, traditional beef and chicken tacos…every time we attempt a new ingredient and see what works best. We may just have stumbled upon our favorite of the bunch…Coconut Curry chicken tacos with quinoa, cherry tomatoes, fresh sliced avocado and salsa verde on Mission brand Corn and Whole Wheat tortilla…pretty long winded but long on taste too!


Coconut Curry Chicken Tacos

Serves 4 – Prep Time 40 Minutes, Cook Time 15 Minutes

2 chicken breasts and 2 chicken tenders (we use the package from Costco)

Coconut Oil

Curry Powder

Cayenne Pepper Seasoning

1 Large Avocado

Handful of Cherry Tomatoes

Mission Corn & Whole Wheat Blend tortillas

Quinoa (brand does not matter here, but we used plain)

Herdez Verde Salsa (or your favorite brand)

Mexican Shredded Cheese

  1. Slice chicken breasts into smaller pieces, about the same size as the tenders in the package. You’ll get about 8-10 strips from this.
  2. Take 2 Tablespoons of Coconut Oil and coat the chicken. Add Curry Powder and Cayenne Pepper seasoning to taste preference. Both are bold flavors, keep this in mind. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  3. Prepare quinoa based on package instructions. We made 1/2 cup of quinoa for this. This will take about 10 minutes.
  4. Slice cherry tomatoes into quarters and avocados into square chunks.
  5. Heat grill to “High” and place chicken directly on heat. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, allowing the chicken to get a good sear on it. Remove chicken and cover with aluminum foil for 5 minutes. Chop chicken into thin small pieces
  6. Heat tortillas on a griddle. Each side should start to bubble slightly, but don’t leave long enough to crisp. Once both sides have been warmed, add shredded cheese to melt on the tortilla. (Trust us on this one).
  7. Assemble! Tortilla, Quinoa, Chicken, Avocado, Tomato, Verde Salsa.

Enjoy and let us know if you have any other ideas for taco recipes.

Cheers, Ben and Nikki