Baked Broccoli Mac & Cheese + The Lady & Sons

Broccoli Mac & Cheese 2
I just got back home today from a little vacation I took with my mom.  We spent three lovely days in Savannah, Georgia.  I will have a full trip recap for you soon!  I had such a good time and it was nice to spend time with my mommy.  Last night we had our final dinner at Paula Deen’s restaurant – The Lady & Sons.  We were looking forward to this dinner the whole trip!  I know we’ve both wanted to try this restaurant for a long time.  I would say my Mom and I are pretty big fans.  Not like, huge fans… but we’ve watched her show quite a bit and have some of her cookbooks.  Actually, I might be a bigger fan than I think I am.  I remember watching several different Paula shows on Food Network plus her sons’ shows.  Remember Paula’s Party?!
We made reservations for 6:30 on Wednesday evening and ended up waiting maybe fifteen minutes before being seated.  Paula was there that night!  She kept smelling this bouquet of flowers and smiling the whole time.  It was kind of bizarre.
We hung out and chatted for a long time.  She was so nice!  Surprisingly tall, too.  :)
We had the option of ordering off of the menu or eating the Southern buffet ($18).  We chose the buffet that way we could try a variety of things.  Even though we’re not really buffet people. 
This is my loaded plate.  I tried to fit everything they had on one plate but it did not work out.  These are some of my favorite foods: fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, cheesy broccoli, candied sweet potatoes, potatoes, dressing, green beans and corn casserole.  They had turkey too but I forgot to get some.
Aerial shot.  Also included: griddle cake and a biscuit.  I ate everything except the dressing.  It was kind of wet and didn’t have any flavor.  I thought everything was pretty good… my favorites were the fried chicken and sweet potatoes.
IMAG4570_1 The piece of chicken I had didn’t have a lot of meat, so it was necessary for me to get more.  :)  I also tried the collard greens, black eyed peas, and some sort of baked cheesy meat pasta dish. The chicken was excellent.  Not sure if I like black eyed peas that much.
IMAG4571_1 For dessert my mom and I chose the gooey butter cake and banana pudding.  We were so full at this point that we could hardly take a couple of bites.  Both desserts were good.  Maybe we would’ve appreciated them more if we hadn’t been so stuffed.
Overall we had a nice experience and would give the restaurant 3 1/2 stars out of five (this is what we mutually decided after dinner).  I’d probably go back if I were going with someone who hadn’t eaten there before.  It wasn’t gourmet food, but it was good Southern home cooking.  I left miserably full.  I recommend not overdoing it like I did. 
Broccoli Mac & Cheese
This Baked Macaroni & Cheese with Broccoli reminds me of something Paula Deen might make.  If you took her baked mac and cheese and cheesy broccoli from the buffet, you’d have this dish.  Except I used whole wheat pasta.  I do like whole wheat pasta but in this case I wish I would have used plain macaroni.  There’s no sense in attempting to make this healthy if there’s a stick of butter in it and a ton of cheese.  Although, there’s a pound of broccoli in it.  =healthy.

I used a combination of cream cheese, muenster, parmesan and sharp cheddar for the cheeses.  The sharp cheddar flavor was strong, so use mild cheddar if you’re not a fan. 

If you’ wanted to make this more decadent you could use whole milk and full-fat cream cheese in the sauce.  Enjoy, Y'ALL.
Broccoli Mac & Cheese3Baked Macaroni & Cheese with Broccoli
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cups reduced fat milk
  • 4 ounces reduced fat cream cheese
  • 4 ounces shredded muenster cheese
  • 4 ounces shredded parmesan cheese
  • 4 ounces shredded sharp cheddar + additional for topping
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound fresh broccoli, steamed, coarsely chopped
  • 2 large eggs, whisked
  • 14 ounces whole wheat pasta or macaroni, cooked according to package instructions
Heat oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease a 13x9-inch baking dish with cooking spray or butter.

Melt butter in a large saucepan or pot over medium heat; whisk in milk until hot.  Reduce heat to low and whisk in cream cheese, muenster, parmesan and cheddar until melted and smooth.  Remove pan from heat and stir in salt, pepper and broccoli until combined.  Whisk in eggs until combined.  Stir in pasta until combined.  Pour pasta into prepared baking dish; top with additional shredded cheddar, if desired.  

Bake 30 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.

Makes 6 servings

Apple Pie Cookies

Apple Pie Cookies I’ll be honest, these Apple Pie Cookies are more work than your average cookies, but they’re well worth the effort.  They’re not difficult to make – just a little more time consuming.  They’re SO GOOD.  Eric said these were one of my best cookie creations, and I’d have to agree.  We could not stop eating them.  Let me tell you a little about what’s going on with these, in case you’re curious.
Apple Pie Cookies2
I thought since it’s apple season I should try to make a few apple desserts before I get too into the pumpkin.  I wanted cookies… something snickerdoodle-like with apple.  I wanted the cookies to taste like apple pie.  I kept thinking about that Talenti Apple Pie Gelato with pie crust pieces.

These babies have browned butter in them, cream cheese, brown sugar, apple pie spices, cinnamon chips, sauteed sweet apples, and crispy pie crust pieces.  Then they’re rolled in cinnamon sugar before baking, just like snickerdoodles.  The sauteed spiced apples help keep the cookies moist, without becoming soggy.  The little pie crust pieces are tasty and add an interesting texture to the cookie.  I liked the cinnamon chips in these, but I wouldn’t say they’re necessary if you want to skip them.

I used a combination of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and clove for my spices, but you could substitute apple pie spice, pumpkin pie spice, or whatever you have on hand.  Just don’t go too heavy on the nutmeg or clove!  I did that recently with a recipe I was testing. 

Make these!  You’ll love them!
Apple Pie Cookies3Apple Pie Cookies

Pie Pieces
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons ice wate
Apple Pieces
  • 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped peeled apple
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons apple pie spice
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon chips
  • Cinnamon sugar (1/4 cup granulated sugar + 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon)
Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Coat cookie sheets with cooking spray.

To make the pie pieces, stir together flour and salt in a small bowl; knead in butter, using fingertips, until well incorporated and mealy.  Stir in ice water until well incorporated.  Gather dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for 15 minutes in the refrigerator.  Break dough into tiny pieces and place on a greased cookie sheet.  Bake 15 minutes at 350 degrees or until light golden brown and crisp.

To make the apple pieces, melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat; stir in apple, sugar and and cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Melt 1/2 cup butter in a small saucepan over medium heat; cook and stir 2-3 minutes, until butter starts to foam and turn light golden brown.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spice; whisk in oats until combined.  Add browned butter to a large mixing bowl, along with cream cheese and brown sugar.  Beat butter, cream cheese and brown sugar, using a mixer on medium speed, until well combined.  Beat in egg and vanilla until well combined.  Reduce mixer speed to low and beat in dry ingredients until just combined.  Stir in pie pieces, apple pieces and cinnamon chips until just combined.

Taking heaping round tablespoons of cookie dough, roll into cinnamon-sugar until evenly coated.  Place on cookie sheets, spacing about an inch apart; press down to flatten.  Bake 12-14 minutes, or until light golden brown.  Transfer to wire racks to cool.

Makes: (Mine made 20 big cookies)

Caturday 6 – Photo Dump

View Cashew

I have taken so many pictures of this cat.  I don’t know what do do with them and they're overtaking my phone.  So I’m keeping them here for now!  Not much has really changed since the last Caturday.  He’s still a sweet boy and loves to play and cuddle.  We switched him over to a combination of wet and dry food since it’s supposed to be better for him.  He has gotten so big! 

He plays on the cat tree quite a bit, and occasionally sleeps on there.  He doesn’t seem to have gotten tired of it.  Other than that, no Cashew news to report!  Happy Caturday to all!


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