cheddar and broccoli macaroni with pancetta

Yay, this month's recipe challenge was pasta and I decided to go with my roots and do a mac and cheese (please) recipe for you guys today! Be sure to check out all the amazing recipes everyone has for you today, including my other macaroni recipe for you on my other blog...beer cheese macaroni with crushed pretzels!!

I am kind of a macaroni junkie. and of the homemade variety, keep that blue box to yourself. (unless it is 2 am and I am starving, in which case: delicious) I grew up with it being a staple my grandma made at pretty much every meal, you could count on that and biscuits. Hers is a simple elbow pasta, sharp cheese, and whole milk thrown together and baked and it is divine. I can't even try to replicate the goodness and therefore...I don't. My versions are gooey masses of different cheeses and cream. and pretty delicious in their own right. 

Today's macaroni dish is a simple, yet tantalizing version that was born from a twist on a classic soup I made last fall: my broccoli and cheddar soup with pancetta. The recipe is basically the same except I left out the broth and added in pasta. It is creamy and cheesy heaven with bites of crispy pancetta to round out the bite. 

I like a really gooey sauce and this recipe will show that. You can probably use less cream and cheese and it would still be quite tasty but you will pry those from me when I am dead;) I also only used about 3/4 of the lb of the pasta, you could probably use more or less. Again, this is suited to your taste. If you want a thicker sauce, add more cheese and if you want it slightly creamier, add more cream. You really can't go wrong. 

Also, I will say that I have used half and half for this recipe and it was more than fine. I wasn't the greatest fan of making it with milk, but you certainly can!

1 lb pasta cooked and drained

2 cups shredded cheddar
1 cup shredded colby jack
1 to 1 1/2 cup steamed broccoli (finely chopped, remove stems)
1/2 cup diced pancetta
 3/4 to 1 cup cream or half and half
salt/pepper to taste

in a sauce pan pour in the cream and add in the cheese, whisk on low to medium heat until completely melted. Once it has begun to thicken up, stir in the cooked and chopped broccoli, add in your salt/pepper.  In a saute pan, crisp up the pancetta on low heat. Toss the pasta with the broccoli cheddar sauce and pour into a serving dish. Top with the pancetta and serve.  You could also skip crisping the pancetta and place pasta into baking dish, add a little extra cheese, top with the pancetta and broil for about 5 minutes before serving. 

I do not add flour to this because it thickens up really nicely on its own, but you certainly can do that. I have also added red pepper flakes and garic salt. You really can't go wrong and can add any spices you would like. I also keep a little extra cream/cheese on hand in case my sauce needs a little more of each, I always just do a taste test before I add in the broccoli. 

I hope you enjoy this delicious version of macaroni that has the addition of broccoli...because it is totally a healthy dish;)


Whimsy Travel: Berry Hill Resort: South Boston, VA

We were able to make the trek to Berry Hill for my birthday. The mister ended up surprising me and it was funny once I figured out where we were headed. I grew up about half an hour from South Boston and if you would have told me ten years ago I would be going for a weekend away there, I probably would have laughed in your face and...the joke would have been on me. 

I drive through South Boston and Halifax on the way to visit my parents at least once every six weeks. I have loved seeing the changes over the past few years and the best part is that the town hasn't lost it's small town character. I can't even rmember the amount of times I spent there growing up. There are quite a few delicious and I mean really excellent high quality restaurants and the resort itself gave us no real reason to even leave if we didn't want to. 

Driving up the tree lined road and seeing the house just put my mind in relaxation mode and taking time to test out the rocking chairs on the grande porch was one of my favorite moments of the weekend. 

They have the main restaurant which we devoured our brunch, still drooling over my banana brulee french toast!  They also have a more casual tavern. Admittedly, I prefered the tavern. It just screams 'history' and the wings were so divine! They had really good drink specials going on as well. 

Our room was really spacious and had a great balcony with a nice view where we enjoyed chocolate covered strawberries and champagne. Then, my husband treated me to a spa service that was severely needed and what a treat it was! I loved the atmosphere and they offered an abundance of services on short notice! Afterwards we took a dip in the heated pool and spent some time in the sauna. 

If you are looking for a weekend away, I definitely recommend the Berry Hill Resort. It's about an hour from Lynchburg and an hour or so from Raleigh/Durham.


Warm Goat Cheese & Salsa Dip

I have a super easy but very tasty appetizer for you all today as part of the Fiesta blog hop!  More and more lately I have found myself on the hunt for simple recipes. I have tendencies to go all out for gatherings to serve really creative and festive dishes for my friends. I still love doing those things, I have just come to a happy medium. I was becoming so flustered and spending a lot of money and only recently have I leaned more towards simple dishes but ones that still packed a powerful punch in the taste department. I think today's appetizer fulfills those standards. 

I am really pumped to be a part of today's blog hop that is all about Mexican food. Yum, my mouth is already watering imagining what the other bloggers have prepared for us as well! When we did the Italian hop last month, I added quite a few new dishes to our repertoire! The idea for my dish today came from one of my favorite local restaurants, Tazza Kitchen. My go to appetizer there is the  warm goat cheese and marinara dip they serve. It is a hit with everyone and I think this version is pretty delish in its own right!

I just used a plain goat cheese this time, but a flavored one would probably work just as well. Our local grocer had an onion and garlic version, YUM! I used a homemade taco seasoning but you could easily use store bought or any spices that you like. I used a homemade salsa verde and some shredded Mexican blend cheeses. 

The best part about this is that from start to finish takes less than 20 minutes with only about 5 minutes of prep time!


4 oz goat cheese log
2 tbsp taco seasoning
1/4 cup salsa
1/4 cup shredded cheese

preheat oven to 325 degrees. 

Pour taco seasonings onto a plate, roll goat cheese in seasonings until completely covered. Place log in a small baking dish and, using your fingers, press down to flatten goat cheese. Pour the salsa over the goat cheese and top with the shredded cheese. 

Bake about 10-15 minutes or until shredded cheese has begun to melt. 

Serve with tortilla chips. And probably a margarita or even a Paloma.

You can mix this up to suit your taste in quite a few ways. Maybe mix the goat cheese and some queso. I think I would like it with a more spicy and robust red salsa next time. and I want to try it with shredded queso vs the Mexican blend. You really can't go wrong!


Hippity Hoppity Easter

This past weekend was a fabulous time home with my family. We got to take in one of my nephew's baseball games to start our weekend off right and then on Saturday we caravanned (sp?) it up to Scottsville for some delicious lunch, walking around downtown and then hitting up a quaint bakery before ending our day at a local winery. It was so nice just to be together. 

I may only live two hours from home, but I still miss the doing the everyday business of life with them.  So any time I get to spend a fun filled day, much less weekend,  I am over the moon. 

Sunday we went to church and listened to a great service, Easter is most assuredly my favorite holiday. It is the cornerstone of my faith, after all. Not the bunnies and the eggs, even though they are an added bonus. 

That niht we had hunt with my niece and nephews, followed by a delicious meal with my favorite people. it is these simple pleasures of life I used to take for granted but with my husband and I living away from each of our families, I appreciate them so much more now. 

My parents yard was in full showing off mode and I snapped a few pictures of it in its glory. I do love Virginia, it will always be my home!

The one added shot is of our dessert in Scottsville, it was a deep fried french toast ice cream sandwich, I have now officially lived;)


Sweet N Spicy Bacon Wrapped Sweet Potatoes

I do love a recipe challenge, almost as much as I love bacon. Ergo, today's recipe is one of my favorites. I am participating in a bi monthly recipe challenge and this months ingredient is potatoes. I love me some potatoes and I will have 40 some recipes to look through and make these next few weeks. 

When I was deciding what to create,  I went round and round with a few ideas and then remembered I had this recipe post in my drafts from a long time ago. I looked it over and ,after gasping in horror, once I spied my photos, I decided this was definitely the recipe I wanted to go with and it was also the perfect time to practice my food photography on one of my first recipes. Slowly, I am getting better at capturing good shots. 

I am still learning as I go with my cameras and interestingly enough, I preferred the ones I took with my phone (galaxy 6) and so I went with those for this post. I hope they do justice to this simple appetizer because I promise, it is simple, yet delicious! This is also a recipe that you can play around with the spices to perfect it to your taste. 

2 medium/large sweet potatoes
1 package bacon
1 1/2 tbsp bourbon
1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp chili powder

preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Cut the potatoes somewhat thin, in rounds. Cut each slice of bacon in 3rds. ( if your slices are little thicker, you can cut your bacon in half) wrap the bacon around the slices and place on the baking sheet.  

In a small bowl, combine the bourbon, brown sugar, and chili powder. ( if you want it more sweet or more spicy, adjust the spice amounts to your taste. also, if you do not want to use bourbon, use melted butter) Once combined, using a basting brush, brush the mixture onto the bacon. 

Place the potatoes in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, remove from oven and flip potatoes over and repeat the basting process. 

Cook for 15-20 minutes or until done. 

These are great for a dinner party or get together. I also sometimes use prosciutto basted in olive oil and sprinkled with garlic salt and pepper. This is a dish that you really cannot go wrong with and can make completely to your taste. 

Now, try not to spend so much time salivating on all of these other posts that you get nothing done today. I can see that happening to me!