}]; Noreen's Kitchen: 05/01/2016 - 06/01/2016

Monday, May 30, 2016

Comfort Food At It's Best! Bacon Cheeseburger Mac!

Sometimes you just need some comfort food!  This bacon cheeseburger macaroni skillet fits the bill!  My daughter Micah had happened to mention that I had not made this in a while so we planned to make it for dinner on the night in question.  While I have never done a video of this particular version I have done one of a pantry style version using pantry staples.  This one is made with all fresh ingredients and is perfectly delicious.

When I was growing up in the 1970's Hamburger Helper had just launched onto the scene.  Every busy mom in America reached for that box with the helping hand on the front.  Just brown a pound of burger meat and add the ingredients included in the box and a few others like water, milk and or butter and you were on your way to a delicious meal to set in front of your family.  The iconic commercials always made it seem so homey and great.  

The trouble was that my mom was one of the last hold outs of an age.  A stay at home mother who cooked three squares a day and was there when we needed her 24/7.  She did not work outside of the home until I was 16 years old, out of necessity because my father got laid off from his job.  So the first time we were served Hamburger Helper, it was a potato stroganoff version and all I can say if "eww"!  The memory still haunts me today.  Although we did try both the cheeseburger mac and chili mac varieties and liked them, they were not really a frequently featured meal in my home growing up.  

Fast forward several years later.  I am a newlywed, young married to a man who loves anything out of a box, mix, can or bag.  He loved, loved, loved cheeseburger mac.  So I made it for him.  Truthfully, it never was my favorite.  Fast forward again, I have a couple of daughters, and a desire to prepare healthy food for my family.  Anyone who has looked at the back of that box knows that this is not the best choice and we can do better.

So, better we will do!  Using a few simple ingredients that we most likely all have on hand, we can make this delicious bacon cheeseburger macaroni in no time.  This is a super fast meal that will satisfy and the amounts I have given will feed a family of four for at least two meals and a couple of lunch servings.  This is super budget friendly and easy enough for your "learning how to cook" teens can make without much supervision.    

I have used 2 pounds of 80/20 ground chuck.  This is my go to for this type of meal.  If you prefer, you can use 93% lean or even ground turkey if you like.  Brown that up then add onions, garlic, steak seasoning, onion powder, garlic powder, beef stock, milk, and cheddar cheese.  These simple ingredients come together all in one skillet to create a super satisfying and delicious, comfort food favorite that will have your kids and even your husband clamoring for more!

I have served mine with some lettuce, tomato and pickles on the side to go along with the "cheeseburger" theme and then to top everything off I also offered some additional shredded cheddar and crumbled bacon on the side in case anyone wanted theirs to be bacon cheeseburger mac!    This is the perfect meal for a busy night and the bonus is that you will have leftovers for another meal later in the week if you have a family of four like we do.

I hope you will give this homemade bacon cheeseburger mac a try.  Free from artificial ingredients, colors, flavors, additives, preservatives and a myriad of unpronounceable chemicals.  This version is quick, easy and accessible.  No special ingredients needed, just plain old fashioned goodness.  

I hope you give this bacon cheeseburger macaroni a try and I hope you love it!

Happy Eating!

Get a printable version of the recipe here:    http://bit.ly/1UpW9YH

Noreen's Kitchen
Bacon Cheeseburger Mac


2 pounds ground chuck
1 1/2 cups onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound macaroni
4 cups beef stock
2 cups milk (3 if you like it super creamy)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons flour (optional)
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon steak seasoning
1 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled.

Step by Step Instructions

Brown ground beef in a large, heavy bottomed skillet over medium high heat.  Be sure to cook the meat until it actually begins to brown on the bottom of the pan, all the water has cooked out and all that remains is a bit of fat and a good sizzle.

Add onion, garlic and seasonings and stir well to combine.

Add macaroni, beef stock, milk and cheese.  Stir well being sure to incorporate everything.  

Bring to a simmer.

Reduce heat to medium and place a lid on the pan.

Allow to cook slowly for 15 minutes or until the macaroni is soft and cooked through.

If your mixture looks a little broken, like the fat has not absorbed,  add two tablespoons of flour to your pan and stir well. 

Turn off heat.  Place lid back on the skillet and allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Serve with additional cheese and the bacon for topping if desired.

NOTE:  You can choose to stir the bacon into the macaroni mixture after it is cooked.  My girls did not want bacon in this so we compromised. 

Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and should be eaten within five days.  This recipe is not recommended for freezing.

You can see how I made this in my YouTube video:

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Love from the Bayou Me Oh My Oh! Skillet Jambalaya!

Time to get my Cajun on!  Jambalaya is a favorite dinner in our house.  We don't indulge often, but I don't know why.  This dish is super simple to make and has easily accessible ingredients that you may even have on hand.  I make mine in a skillet in just under 45 minutes time and everyone loves it.  This makes a lot and this recipe will easily serve 12 people a hearty meal.  We always enjoy the leftovers for another dinner and a couple of lunches. 

I have chose a pretty traditional protein combo for this skillet jambalaya of chicken, smoked sausage and fresh peeled and deveined shrimp.  I have the luxury of living on the coast where I can access good fresh shrimp that is caught on a daily basis in season, so I took the time to peel and devein.  If you don't, you can easily pick up frozen shrimp and do the same or if you really want to save time you can grab a bag of cooked, peeled and deveined shrimp and that makes this dish even quicker.

I sauteed the chicken and sausage in some neutral oil until the chicken was opaque.  Then we added the "holy trinity" of vegetables traditional to Cajun cooking, chopped celery, bell pepper and onion as well as a few cloves of chopped garlic.  Nothing fancy, just good simple, southern peasant style food.  I also added in a good dose of my homemade, salt free creole seasoning and gave everything a good stir to get all those flavors melding together.

Then went in some chicken stock and a couple cans of petite diced tomatoes with their juice.  Stir again before adding rice.  I prefer and almost exclusively use par cooked rice in my everyday cooking, but you can use long grain if you like or whatever rice you choose, however be aware of the rice to water ratios and adjust your recipe accordingly.  Some rice takes more or less liquid, so just be aware. 

Give everything another good stir and bring the jambalaya to a simmer then cover, turn the heat down to medium and allow this to cook for 10 minutes or until your rice is tender, but there may still be a bit of liquid. 

When your rice is ready, lay your shrimp on top, turn off the heat and put the lid back on.  The shrimp will cook in about five minutes from the residual heat of the jambalaya.  Then you stir the shrimp in to distribute and allow the pan to sit for five minutes before you dish this up for dinner.

Jambalaya originated in southern Louisiana by a group of immigrants knows as the  Cajuns.  Cajuns came from Brittany, France then migrated to Nova Scotia and then  down to the swampy bayou of Louisiana.  Foof was scarce and the group had to make due with what they had as well as their own knowledge and culinary experience from where they came.  Out of their hardship grew an amazing cuisine that we know and love today known as Creole or Cajun, but we always know as delicious!

The word "Jambalaya",  is said to be a combination of the French word for ham, "Jambon" and the African word for rice  "Aya".   The French and the African American population grew together to create an amazing culture and out of this grew their fantastic cuisine.  A Common belief is that Jambalaya originated from the Spanish Paella, which is a rich dish that includes chicken, sausage, and a variety of seafood and shellfish as well as a rich broth with saffron as it's main flavor enhancer.   Jambalaya is a bit different  but similar, as it incorporates seafood , ham, link sausage rounds and chicken.  However it does not have to include all of these at once and can be easily made with only one protein at a time and still be substantially satisfying

I love this dish for it's simplicity and it's amazing flavor.  This is an incredibly satisfying meal that is great for a busy night after work, or a lazy weekend night at home.  Even great for sharing with guests or taking to a pot luck supper.  I mean, who is going to turn this down right?

You can mix up the meat if you don't like shrimp or smoked sausage, add in some cubed ham or Andouille sausage.  You can leave the shrimp out altogether if that is not something you prefer.  Truth is this is good with just one protein if that is all you have available.   But when you do have them, it is a wonderful combination of goodness!

I hope you will consider giving this skillet jambalaya a try some time soon.  I hope if you do that you and your family love it!

Happy Eating!

You can get the printable recipe here:   http://bit.ly/NKJambalaya

 Noreen's Kitchen
Skillet Jambalaya


1 pound chicken breast cut into chunks
1 pound smoked sausage, sliced
1 pound fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
2 cups rice (not instant)
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup onion, chopped

1 cup bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon salt free Creole seasoning **
4 cups chicken stock
2, 15 ounce cans, petite diced tomatoes

 Step by Step Instructions

 Heat oil in a large, heavy bottomed skillet over medium high heat.  Brown chicken and smoked sausage until the chicken is opaque and the sausage is slightly browned. 

Add vegetables and stir well to combine.

Add in chicken stock and tomatoes and stir.

Add the rice and stir making sure that is it not clumping together.

Bring to a simmer and turn heat down to medium. Place a lid on the skillet and allow to cook for ten minutes or until the rice has become tender.

When the rice is tender, but there is still some liquid in the skillet, place the raw shrimp on the top of the rice in a single layer.  Turn off the heat and place the lid back on the skillet.  Allow the pan to sit for 10 minutes for the shrimp to cook from the residual heat of the jambalaya.

Remove lid and test shrimp to make sure they are perfect.  Then stir into the jambalaya and allow the pan to sit for five minutes before serving.

This is a dish that his hearty enough to serve on it's own but a salad and a crusty loaf of bread is always a lovely addition.

Leftovers should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and eaten within 7 days.

You can see how I made this in my YouTube video:

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Get your Cajun on! Homemade, Salt Free Creole Seasoning!

I am getting ready to make some delicious skillet jambalaya, so I needed to replenish my supply of creole seasoning.  I had made a similar video several years back, but we have decided to update this and make it salt free.  

The flavor profile of creole recipes can be deep and vast as far as the combination of spices and seasonings that go into a blend like this.  Creole can also be called "Cajun".  They can be interchangeable as far as terminology goes.  The Creole people settled in the swampy bayou of Louisiana, but had a long journey to get there by way of Brittany, France and then Nova Scotia and then finally the low lands of the deep south.  Blending their heritage and cooking then with the native Choctaw people, the flavors continued to bloom and grow into what we know today.

Creoles trace their heritage to the French, Spanish, Africans, Italians and other people who chose New Orleans as their home. The French began settling la Nouvelle Orleans in the early 1700's. During the French colonial period, food was characterized by traditional French sauces. Dishes were mild in flavor yet complex in preparation. Meals, prepared by African cooks, also took on a distinct African influence. Gumbo comes from the African word gumba, meaning okra. These cooks favored slow cooking over a low flame to intensify flavor blends.

My blend is salt free because I prefer to season my dishes in layers and in in some cases, depending on other ingredients of a recipe, may not require salt at all in the end.  So this seasoning blend is perfect.  If you are on a salt restricted diet, you mix this up using spices you already have on hand and have a great little jar of creole seasoning at your fingertips to sprinkle into or onto anything you like!

This blend consists of paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, basil, marjoram, parsley, thyme, black pepper and cayenne pepper.  You can add to or delete things that you like better or don't like at all.  Make this blend your own and suit your own tastes.

I will be using this in a skillet jambalaya and this seasoning does the job perfectly.  This is also lovely sprinkled on eggs, used in a dry rub for chicken, pork, fish or shrimp or even tossed into a low country boil!  The possibilities are endless for it's uses and your imagination is your only limitation here.

I hope you will give this recipe for my salt free creole seasoning a try and I hope you love it!

Happy Eating!

Get the recipe here:  http://bit.ly/1WUzs2T

Noreen's Kitchen
Salt Free Creole Seasoning


4 tablespoons sweet paprika
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons oregano
2 tablespoons basil
2 tablespoons marjoram
2 tablespoons parsley
1 tablespoon thyme
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

Step by Step Instructions

Combine all ingredients in a jar.  Seal the lid and give it a good shake.

Perfect for seasoning jambalaya, gumbo or even sprinkled into scrambled eggs or anything you love to give a kick to!

You can see how I made this in my YouTube video:

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Check me out on social media!

YouTube:     http://bit.ly/17JVMTP

Facebook:    http://on.fb.me/12bdibt

Twitter:         @noreenskitchen

Instagram:    http://bit.ly/12bdqrp

Google +         http://bit.ly/1o5GMYy

Read my Blog:   http://bit.ly/15R5GvV

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

A Fiesta At Your Table! Pico De Guaco! Fresh Homemade Guacamole!

Many of you know I grew up in Arizona.  Born in New Jersey, but moved to Az. when I was 10 we moved from the pastoral beauty of the garden state to the foothills of the grand canyon state.  That is where my family lived until 10 years ago.  Now we live in North Carolina, the gateway to the south.  While I love where I live now, I love Arizona and I miss her especially when it comes to good Mexican food!  So today I am going to share with you my way of making a great guacamole. 

The name comes from an Aztec dialect via Nahuatl āhuacamolli [aːwakaˈmolːi], which literally translates to "avocado sauce".  Avocados were first cultivated in South Central Mexico to Central America and as far south as Peru.  They made their way into Mexican cuisine and have been a staple ever since.

My version of guacamole is kind of like a combination of two of my favorite things on every Mexican restaurant table.  Guacamole and pico de gallo.  The first you know, the latter, if you don't is a delicious fresh salsa made with tomato, onion, jalapeno, cilantro and lime juice.   You can sometimes purchase this premade, but trust me, fresh made is best.  Take the two dips and mix them together for an amazing, fresh and creamy dip that will have you reaching for the chips or the tortillas or anything else you can think of to dip or smear this heavenly concoction.

The combination is quite simple really.  Mashed avocados, tomato, white onion, jalapenos or if you prefer, finely diced bell pepper, garlic, cilantro, lime juice and salt.  You can also throw in a dash of black pepper, and even some hot sauce.  You control the heat level here so add more or less jalapeno or none at all.  Garlic also provides a bit of heat so you can adjust that as well.  Mash the avocado, mix in everything else and you are all set.  Voila!  Pico -de-guaco!  Grab the chips and enjoy!

A word of warning.  I have seen a lot of recipes where people include either mayonnaise or sour cream as part of the guacamole.  I am hear to tell you that this is just wrong, wrong, wrong.  Guacamole, does not need the addition of a creamy ingredient to be creamy.  Sour cream may be pushing it for me, but mayo is just stepping over a culinary line that one should never go over!  Mayo has it's place in many things, but guacamole is not one of them.  If you are one of those mayo including folks,  this is not a way to call you out.  I will not apologize for this one though!  Keep the mayo for the tuna and keep it out of the guac!  This will conclude the warning part of my blog!  LOL!

This dip is really best made and eaten right away, however you can store this in the fridge for up to three days in an airtight container.  The avocado may tend to brown a little, but you can add a bit more lime juice, but not too much or it will be much too runny to enjoy.  Do that right before you put it away. 

Dipping is the most popular way to enjoy my pico-de-guaco, but for a light lunch think about making a quick wrap with some of the spread on a flour tortilla, topped with more tomatoes, onion and some shredded lettuce.  If you have some leftover grilled chicken or steak, this would be a great addition as well.  Roll that up, cut it in half and you have an amazing lunch ready to go in no time.  Also great for packing to take to work or school for a quick meal on the go! 

I think you are going to love this version of guacamole, my pico-de-guaco is an awesome way to enjoy a southwestern favorite like the kind I grew up eating in Arizona!  I hope you will give this a try and I hope you love it!

Happy Eating!

Noreen's Kitchen
Pico De Guaco

2 ripe avocados, mashed
1 cup diced roma tomato
1/2 cup diced white onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh jalapeno, minced
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, minced
2 to 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Salt to taste


Combine avocado, tomato, onion, jalapeno, garlic and cilantro together in a bowl.  Blend well.

Add lime juice a tablespoon at a time until you get the right consistency and flavor.  You want this to be thick but not runny. 

Add salt to taste and even some cracked black pepper and or hot sauce if you are so inclined.

Serve with tortilla chips, flour or corn tortillas or as an addition to a guacamole salad like you get on the side at a Mexican restaurant!

You can get a printable copy of the recipe on my website:

You can see how to pick the perfect avocado in my video here:

See how I made this in my YouTube video!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Quick & Easy Creamy Lemon Pepper Chicken! Special Enough For Company!

Sometimes thinking of something new and different to put on the table can be rough.  Add to that our hectic schedules and lives, with work, lessons, practice and this time of year, the end of school activities, we can sometimes find ourselves opting to just run to the drive through or call it in by taking out to put dinner on the table.  Today I want to share with you a delicious, quick and easy meal that can be made in less than half an hour that will have you closing your eyes and melting into the yumminess that is creamy lemon pepper chicken!

This really could not be easier.  I butterflied a few chicken breasts, meaning I cut them in half the flat way to make two thin cutlets.  This helps to stretch my protein as well as making the chicken thinner so it will cook more quickly.  Then I melted some olive oil and butter in my cast iron skillet, sprinkled the chicken on one side liberally with my homemade lemon pepper and herb seasoning and then set the cutlets seasoned side down in the skillet over medium heat.  Don't forget to season the other side when you get them cooking.  This just makes things a little easier.

Now, get your pasta or rice going and let those cutlets cook for a good four minutes before you flip them to cook the other side for the same amount of time.  Then go steam some veggies or make a quick green salad to serve along with.

When the chicken is done and the juices run clear when cut, take the cutlets out of the skillet and set them aside.  Add the onions and garlic to the pan and some mushrooms if you like.  I did not have any on hand this night but they would have been wonderful!  Toss to coat and then add  the lemon juice and chicken stock and scrape some of the brown bits or fond off the bottom of the pan.  Add some heavy cream and stir well.  Return the chicken to the skillet and nestle them all in there so they are coated and cozy.  Turn the heat down to medium and allow them to simmer 5 to 10 minutes to reduce the sauce a bit. 

When the sauce is a bit thicker and coats the back of your spoon, turn off the heat and allow the chicken to rest in the sauce for five minutes before serving.  I always do this, no matter what I am cooking.  I just feel like getting the initial fire off of a dish makes it much more enjoyable to the palate.  When things are too hot, or conversely, too cold, they cannot be fully enjoyed by your taste buds.  Letting things rest gives you a much more enjoyable experience.

Time to serve!  Plate this up with angel hair or orzo pasta or long grain, wild or blended rice and a veggie or salad for a completely wonderful dinner that you can get on the table, even when you are super busy.    This is satisfying and delicious and I know your family is going to love this dish.

Add this to your list to try or even your regular weekly menu rotation.  It's always great to add something new or put a new spin on something that you already enjoy.  I hope you give this creamy lemon pepper chicken a try and I hope you love it!

Happy Eating!

Creamy Lemon Pepper Chicken

2 pounds chicken cutlets
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons lemon pepper seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1 medium onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream

 Step by Step Instructions

Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt and lemon pepper seasoning on one side.

Heat butter and olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed skillet over medium high heat.

Place chicken cutlets, seasoned side down into the skillet.  Season the upturned side with salt and lemon pepper.  Cook chicken on first side for 4 minutes, then flip and cook for an additional 4 minutes or until the juices of the chicken run clear.   Remove from pan and set aside.

Add onion and garlic to the skillet, sauté' for just a minute and then add chicken stock and lemon juice.  Stir well to combine. Add heavy cream and bring to a simmer. 

Return chicken to the skillet and turn to coat.  Reduce heat to medium and bring to a simmer.  Allow to simmer for 5 to 10 minutes until sauce is slightly reduced and thickened and coats the back of a spoon. 

Turn heat off and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Serving suggestions would include angel hair pasta, wild or white rice or a blended rice, steamed veggies or a green salad.  We enjoyed this with baked spaghetti squash instead of a starch and green salad.

Leftovers should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and eaten within 5 days.  This dish is not recommended for freezer banking due to the heavy cream.

Get a printable version of this recipe: http://bit.ly/1TdjPlO

You can see how I made this in my YouTube video:

Friday, May 13, 2016

Breakfast of Tropicals! Pineapple, Coconut Protein Smoothie Recipe!

This week for #Torani Friday I thought it would be fun to make a delicious breakfast smoothie chock full of good things that will make you happy and get you going for a good start to your day!

We love the pineapple coconut combination in our house!  Everything from smoothies and drinks to savory dishes and desserts.  Pineapple and coconut go together like Forest and Jenny or peas and carrots or peanut butter and jelly.  This tropical combination is also one of my favorites for a breakfast smoothie.  This one is not overly sweet and hits all the right notes!  With the addition of protein powder this one will take you from breakfast to lunch with no problem at all.

I have used a good handful of ice, you can use more or less if that is your preference, a generous half cup of fresh pineapple that I diced really small, some pineapple juice about 1/4 cup of unsweetened coconut flakes, 1/4 cup of organic whey protein, some coconut milk and Torani syrup in both coconut and pineapple.  I used about three pumps of each which ends up being just over a tablespoon of each flavor.

I used my Nutri Ninja drink mixer to whip up this smoothie but you could make this in any mixer or regular blender you have available.  I just tossed everything in and turned it on and let it run for about 30 seconds to make sure everything was smooth and creamy.

I garnished my smoothie with more flaked coconut and a little bit more sliced pineapple on the side of the glass for fun.  My recipe made enough for Rick and I to enjoy a smoothie for breakfast and we certainly did enjoy them!  

Because this is really an "idea" for a smoothie, the ingredient amounts can be adjusted to suit your taste and preference.  This smoothie was indeed, very smooth and not icy or frosty or thick.  If you like yours that way, add lots more ice.  You can even add coconut yogurt to make this thicker, tangy-er and boost the protein levels even more!  Like it sweeter?  Add more syrup.  You get the idea.  Make this your own.  But make it nonetheless.

Some of you may be saying "I can't believe she made a breakfast smoothie with that sugary syrup".  Well, you can believe it.  The way I see it is that Torani is made with pure cane sugar.  This is a simple sugar that is pure.  I have no problem adding a bit of this to my smoothie to make it even more delicious and boost the natural flavors that I have put in there to begin with.  You have to make the best decision for you and if you wanted to leave out the sweetener all together or sub out some honey or some agave, then go right ahead.  Your choice!

I hope you give this protein boosted pineapple coconut breakfast smoothie a try and I hope you love it!

Happy Sipping!

You can see how I made this in my YouTube video:

You can find Torani on their website here:

You can get Bob's Red Mill Whey Protein here:

You can get Bob's Red Mill Unsweetened Coconut Flakes Here:

This is the drink mixer I am using, the Nutri Ninja Blender:

Business Inquiries can be sent to: