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


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

Role Reversal

I’ve (Nikki) been in Fresno for one month now and it’s been such an adventure to get used to a new place. We’ve been to Yosemite, we’ve scouted our local eateries and wineries, we are trying out home brewing, and are planning out our weekends for the rest of the year. 

The one thing that I did not expect having to get used to is the role reversal of Ben and I. When we lived in Denver, Ben would stay up late and still be in bed when I went to work in the morning. In Fresno, that is my new gig and Ben is ready for bed at 10:00 or 10:30. Ben is a much better cook than I am, but since I have more time, I am the one doing most of the cooking (besides grilling, of course). Couch snuggling has even changed. I would always get tired and fall asleep while watching TV or movies on the couch and now Ben is doing that.

Of course some things have not changed: the schedule of my day revolves around food. What will I be eating and what time will I be eating it. Ben is still searching for beers available in Fresno that can compete with Crazy Mountain Brewing Company (zero Amber Ales have even come close). 

The best part about being in Fresno is having quality time together and unlimited adventures across the state of California to discover. Don’t worry, we’ll keep you posted about all of them. 🙂