Slow-Cooker Chicken Fajita Mac & Cheese

Chicken fajita meat is one of my favorite slow-cooker recipes. It’s simple, versatile, and can be portioned and frozen for future use.

While the traditional serving method for fajita filling is on tortillas or over rice, we think it’s a great way to kick mac and cheese (another favorite dish) up a few notches. Everyone knows the best thing about Mexican food is the combination of gooey cheese and spices, and what better way to achieve that than by using classic mac and cheese as a base?

Yes, you can cheat and use boxed mac and cheese for this, but if you’re brave enough to tackle a bechamel sauce (butter + flour + milk. I promise it’s not too hard!), you’ll end up with a very tasty (and impressive) homemade pasta dish. Feel free to save the second half of this recipe for any time you get a craving for plain ol’ mac and cheese.

Enjoy!

-Nicole

Chicken fajita mac & cheese (RazzleFrazzleBlog.com)

Slow-Cooker Chicken Fajita Mac & Cheese

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups frozen corn, pepper and onion mix (We use Wegman’s frozen Tex-Mex Blend. If using fresh veggies: 1 cup corn, 1/2 cup each diced onion and diced bell peppers)
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp. lime juice
  • 2 tbsp. taco seasoning (can be pre-made, but we use The Pioneer Woman’s recipe)
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 16 oz. elbow macaroni (or small pasta of choice. Penne or shells work well, too!)
  • 3 tbsp. salted butter
  • 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (Any kind works, but we’d advise against almond or coconut milk due to the flavor)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground mustard
  • 1 1/2 cups (12 oz.) shredded cheese (Use your favorite! We like an equal mixture of cheddar and monterey jack)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Optional toppings: salsa, guacamole, sour cream

Directions:

  1. Put chicken breasts, veggie mix, garlic, lime juice, taco seasoning and honey in a slow cooker. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-8 hours. When finished, shred the chicken breasts using two forks and stir to combine. (Alternatively, you can quick-cook them by boiling the chicken breasts in water, like in our buffalo chicken dip recipe, and combining the drained, shredded chicken with the seasonings and veggies afterwards.)Chicken fajita mac and cheese (RazzleFrazzleBlog.com)
  2. During the last half hour of the chicken cooking, start making the mac and cheese: Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  3. In a medium saucepan, melt butter. Add flour and stir just until it forms a thick paste (roux). Add milk immediately (burnt roux = BAD!) and stir until smooth.
  4. Continue cooking milk mixture, stirring occasionally, until thickened, but still liquid. Add a bit more milk if it looks too thick. Add mustard, salt and pepper and stir to combine.
  5. Remove sauce from heat and add cheese. Stir until melted and incorporated, then combine with cooked pasta.
  6. Divide mac and cheese into 6 bowls and top with equal portions of shredded chicken. Serve with your toppings of choice.

Chicken fajita mac & cheese (RazzleFrazzleBlog.com)

DIY Small Outdoor Dog Bed

diy-pvc-pipe-dog-bed-13

If you’re like us, you might spend a little too much money spoiling your dog. We always say we’re not going to buy Tina more stuff (this pup has more toys than she knows what to do with), but then we see something adorable and decide she absolutely needs to have it. It might be a little out of control.

Over the summer, we thought Tina might like to have an outdoor bed since she was spending more time in the yard. Instead of buying a ready-made bed, we decided to save a few dollars and make one ourselves at home.

Using PVC pipe and fittings (which are pretty inexpensive and available at most hardware stores) and a “replacement” canvas dog bed cover, we were able to put together a pretty decent bed. Here’s how we did it!

Note: This bed is intended for small dogs (under 20 pounds). We can’t vouch for how well it will hold up with a larger dog.

Materials

  • 1 nylon canvas dog bed cover (we bought a medium Coolaroo Replacement Dog Bed Cover)
  • 4 one-inch 90-degree elbow CPVC fittings (use larger size pipe for a larger bed size)
  • 4 one-inch tee CPVC fittings
  • 4 one-inch cap CPVC fittings
  • 1 one-inch 10-ft. CPVC hot cold pipe (you may need more for a larger bed)

diy-pvc-pipe-dog-bed-1pvc-materials-dog-bed

Tools

  • Permanent market
  • Tape measure
  • Ratcheting PVC cutter (you can use a handheld saw, but this gives you a cleaner, more controlled cut and no pipe dust)
  • Tiger Bond glue

diy-pvc-pipe-dog-bed-2

Directions

1. Measure the bed cover. Cut four pieces of PVC pipe to be 1.5 inches shorter than each side of the cover. Cut four additional 3-inch pieces for the legs.

diy-pvc-pipe-dog-bed-3 diy-pvc-pipe-dog-bed-4

2. Thread the frame pieces through the openings in the bed cover. Place the tee fittings on the ends of each piece and connect the pieces one at a time, using a small amount of Tiger Bond glue to secure them.

diy-pvc-pipe-dog-bed-5 diy-pvc-pipe-dog-bed-6

diy-pvc-pipe-dog-bed-7

diy-pvc-pipe-dog-bed-8

3. Attach the elbow fittings to the tee fittings, with the larger end facing down.

diy-pvc-pipe-dog-bed-9

4. Attach the leg pieces to the elbow fittings, then cover the open ends with the cap fittings.

diy-pvc-pipe-dog-bed-10 diy-pvc-pipe-dog-bed-11 diy-pvc-pipe-dog-bed-12

5. Give it to your pup to enjoy!

diy-pvc-pipe-dog-bed-14

Two dogs on the bed at once is not recommended, but Tina and Jake were just being SO CUTE.

So, it may not save a ton of money, but it’s just fun to make something with your own two hands sometimes. Tina loves her bed and we’re proud that we made it for her!

-Christine & Nicole

Roundup: Our Favorite Fall Recipes

I don’t care what anyone says about summer or Christmas — in my book, fall is the most wonderful time of the year. I love cool-but-not-freezing fall weather, cozy sweaters and boots, and warm fall flavors like apple, pumpkin and cinnamon. I’ve probably said this at least a dozen times, and yes, my affinity for fall probably has a lot to do that my birthday was this past weekend.

We’ll have at a few new recipes to share with you in the next couple of months, but to kick things off, here are some of our favorite past recipes for seasonal treats and beverages:

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins - RazzleFrazzleBlog.com
Easy, low-fat, and delicious. Doesn’t get much better than this. Get the recipe.

Quinoa Stuffing

quinoa-stuffing-razzlefrazzle

A healthier, gluten and dairy-free stuffing for your Thanksgiving table. It’s packed with protein, too! Get the recipe.

Apple Pie Bars

Apple Pie Bars - RazzleFrazzleBlog.com

A true crowd-pleaser. It’s everything you know and love about apple pie in a convenient, portable, sugar-glazed package. Get the recipe.

Spiked Cranberry Apple Cider

Spiked cranberry apple cider - RazzleFrazzleBlog.com
Didn’t think we’d leave you without a boozy beverage, did you? This hot drink is a fun alternative to classic apple cider. Get the recipe.

Pumpkin Cannoli Cones

pumpkin-cannoli-cones-razzlefrazzle (1)
Look at these cute little things! They’re also super fun to make. Get the recipe.

Happy Fall!

-Nicole

Maple Walnut Banana Cake with Streusel Topping

We’re back! It’s been a while since we’ve posted anything, mostly due to the fact that we’ve been busy prepping for and taking an amazing vacation to celebrate our first wedding anniversary. We went to Orlando to do the theme parks, then took an incredible Disney cruise to the Bahamas and Castaway Cay (Disney’s private island). I almost didn’t want to come home, because how could you ever want to leave this beautiful place?

img_0686img_0682 img_0684

But ultimately we had to come back for our little fluffball. And you know, work and stuff.

tina2

Tina wouldn’t like it if we moved to an island without her.

Getting back to reality after a trip is pretty rough, but baking something delicious always helps ease the transition. I first made this maple walnut banana cake back when I was working at Healthy Way to Cook (Fresh Healthy Eats), and it’s been one of my go-to “healthy” baking recipes ever since.

The cake is based on a lighter banana bread doughnut recipe I found on Greatist (written by Kelli Dunn of The Corner Kitchen), which uses nonfat Greek yogurt instead of butter and pure maple syrup instead of refined sugar. Plus, it’s a pretty great way to use up all the overripe bananas we ALWAYS seem to have lying around the house!

The streusel topping is, without a doubt, my favorite part. It kind of cancels out some of the healthier substitutions, but it brings this cake to the next level of fancy/delicious.

-Nicole

Maple Walnut Banana Cake - Razzle Frazzle Blog

Maple Walnut Banana Cake with Streusel Topping

Adapted from The Corner Kitchen
Makes 12 servings

    Ingredients

    Cake

    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
    • 1/4 tsp. salt
    • 1 1/2 tbsp. vegetable oil
    • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
    • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
    • 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
    • 1 egg, lightly beaten
    • 1 tsp. vanilla
    • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

    Streusel

    • 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
    • 1 tbsp. brown sugar, packed
    • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter or margarine
    • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon

    Directions

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    2. Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.

    3. In a separate bowl, combine oil, bananas, maple syrup, yogurt, egg and vanilla. Whisk until smooth.

    4. Add wet mixture to dry and stir until just combined.

    5. Pour batter into a 9″ x 13″ baking dish that has been lightly coated with cooking spray. Top with walnuts.

    6. Combine streusel ingredients together with a fork until crumbs form. Evenly distribute over the cake.

    7. Bake 18-20 minutes or until cake is golden brown and springs back when touched. Cool in pan for a few minutes before cutting and serving.

    Featured on Healthy Way to Cook

    Quick Stovetop Apple Crisp

    Stovetop apple crisp - RazzleFrazzleBlog.com
    Problem 1: Way too many apples that are about to start spoiling.
    Solution 1: Make an apple crisp!

    Problem 2: It’s August and it’s too damn hot to turn on the oven.
    Solution 2: Make it on the stovetop in a fraction of the time.

    I am a HUGE fan of all apple desserts, and apple crisp is one of my favorites. I will, of course, always favor a proper oven-baked crisp, but finding time and gas-saving shortcut for it is one of my greatest culinary achievements.

    Some stovetop/skillet apple crisp recipes instruct you to cook the apples in a pan of melted butter. That’s all well and good, but I’ve always preferred apple filling that’s closer to pie, so my recipe involves making a 15-minute apple compote. Assuming you don’t burn the oatmeal crisp topping (which I have done many, many times—practice makes perfect!), the result is a delightful and tasty treat that doesn’t require you to turn your kitchen into a sauna. The only thing that makes it better? A big ol’ scoop of vanilla ice cream.

    -Nicole

    Stovetop Apple Crisp

    Makes 4 servings

    Stovetop apple crisp - RazzleFrazzleBlog.com

    Ingredients

    Filling:

    • 3 apples (peeled, cored and diced – McIntosh or Honeycrisp recommended)
    • 1/2 c. water
    • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
    • 1/4 c. brown sugar
    • 1 tsp. cinnamon
    • Pinch of salt
    • 1 tsp. cornstarch dissolved in cold water (should be the consistency of paste)

    Topping:

    • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
    • 1/3 c. quick-cooking oats
    • 1 1/2 tbsp. brown sugar
    • Chopped pecans for topping (optional)

    Directions

    1. In a medium pot, combine the apples, water, lemon juice, brown sugar and cinnamon.
    2. Bring to a boil, then simmer over medium heat until the apples are tender and the juices have reduced to a syrup (about 15 minutes).
    3. Add the cornstarch mixture and a pinch of salt, and stir until thickened. Remove from heat and immediately divide into 4 ramekins.
    4. While apple compote cools, melt the butter over medium heat in a small pan. When melted, add oats and brown sugar and stir continuously for 2 to 3 minutes until crunchy. Be careful: This is very easy to overcook and burn!
    5. Distribute crisp topping evenly. Serve warm with pecans on top, and maybe definitely some vanilla ice cream.

    Stovetop apple crisp - RazzleFrazzleBlog.com

    Sweet and Tangy Macaroni Salad

    Sweet & tangy macaroni salad - RazzleFrazzleBlog.com

    It’s 4th of July weekend, and I don’t know about you, but to me, that means barbecues, beers and picnic foods. Christine and I are having our families over for a celebration on Monday, and since we have a ton of household tasks to take care of between now and then, we wanted to keep our food prep pretty simple.

    We decided that macaroni salad would be a great addition to our low-maintenance 4th of July menu. It takes all of about 15 minutes to make, and it requires ingredients that we pretty much always have on hand. But we didn’t want to make just any old basic macaroni salad: We wanted to kick it up a notch with one of our favorite condiments, Hickory Farms’ Honey & Pineapple Mustard.

    Hickory Farms opens up a seasonal kiosk at our local mall during the holiday season, and we always end up buying gourmet food gifts for our friends and family. We picked up a bottle of this unique-looking mustard for ourselves back in December, and ever since we (finally) opened it a couple of weeks ago, we just can’t get enough of it!

    This particular mustard gives the macaroni salad a wonderful sweetness from the honey and pineapple, but it still has that classic mustard flavor. Although you likely won’t find Hickory Farms products in your local supermarket, I’m sure most grocery stores carry some kind of specialty mustard like this, so I’d encourage you to experiment with whatever flavor profiles you like. The mayo base of the dressing plays well with many different flavors, so the sky’s pretty much the limit!

    Whatever you’re cooking (or grilling) this holiday weekend, stay safe and enjoy the sunshine!

    -Nicole

    Sweet and Tangy Macaroni Salad

    Adapted from Hellmann’s. Makes 4-5 side dish servings. 

     

    Ingredients

    • 1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni
    • 1 cup mayonnaise
    • 2 tbsp. white vinegar
    • 1 tbsp. Hickory Farms Honey and Pineapple Mustard (you can substitute your favorite Dijon or honey mustard, depending on what flavors you like)
    • 1 tsp. sugar
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 1/4 tsp. pepper
    • 1/4 cup diced celery
    • 1/4 cup grated carrot
    • 1/4 cup chopped onion

    Directions

    1. Cook macaroni according to package directions, then drain and rinse with cold water.
    2. Combine mayo, vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Stir in macaroni, celery, carrot and onion.
    3. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

    Disclaimer: Hickory Farms did not ask us to write this post, nor were we compensated in any way for highlighting the company’s product. We just really, really love their Honey and Pineapple Mustard.

    Taylor Made: Lauren’s Ombre Frosted Brownie-Blondie Cake

    We haven’t done any Taylor Made projects in a while, but this beauty of a bridal shower cake has been on the books since our friends Lauren and Doug had their engagement party last year:Ombre rose bridal shower cake by Taylor Made Sweets and Treats

    Lauren’s sister asked us to do a pink and purple ombre-frosted cake with buttercream roses and cake pull* charms. Buttercream roses? No problem. Ombre frosting? Not too hard, we can manage. Even the cake pull would be a cinch, since we did it for Jackie’s bridal shower cake a couple years back. The only catch was the cake itself: Lauren wanted a half brownie, half blondie cake.

    *If you’re not familiar with cake pulls, Haydel Bakery offers a great history of this Southern tradition on its blog.

    We’ve made brownies and blondies as bars many times before. But there’s a ton of variation from recipe to recipe. Most cake recipes will yield a pretty similar finished product, but brownies and blondies can range in density and texture, from fluffy and cake-like, to dense and chewy. Our challenge, therefore, was to find the two perfect recipes to produce brownies and blondies with close enough textures that they made sense as a single dessert.

    Since neither of us is a professionally trained baker (oops), I tried to think back to my days as a food studies minor at NYU. We spent a good six weeks of one class learning all about baking and the different textures produced by different orders and combinations of ingredients. I wish I could tell you that I remembered a random nugget of information that would help me, but it was actually the undisputed king of food science, Alton Brown, who came to our rescue.

    Alton’s cocoa brownies have always been my go-to scratch brownie recipe. They’re rich and fudgy, but not so much that you feel like you’re eating an actual piece of fudge. So I started looking at blondie recipes that had similar proportions of fat/sugar to flour, in the hopes that they’d have approximately the same consistency. After scanning through a handful of Google search results pages, I took a chance on these blondies from Taste of Home.

    We cooked a tiny bit of each batter in mini loaf pans so we could taste it and make sure it worked. By sheer dumb luck, we hit the jackpot, and the brownie and blondie ended up working really well together.

    Ombre rose bridal shower cake by Taylor Made Sweets and Treats

    The winning brownie and blondie recipes, stacked and filled with homemade chocolate buttercream, and cake pull charms in between the layers.

    With baking complete, we mixed up our colored buttercream and started piping. To really get the ombre effect, we started with a base frosting of very light pink, and added color to it as we went. We refilled the piping bag with the new colors as we mixed them, so it would blend with the previous color’s leftovers. I wrote a little more about the process on the TMST blog, if you’re interested.

    Ombre rose bridal shower cake by Taylor Made Sweets and Treats Ombre rose bridal shower cake by Taylor Made Sweets and Treats Ombre rose bridal shower cake by Taylor Made Sweets and Treats

    We ended up with a beautiful, decadent and totally delicious cake. 10/10, would make this again. Anyone need a brownie/blondie cake?🙂

    -Nicole

    Ombre rose bridal shower cake by Taylor Made Sweets and Treats