Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese with Fried Chicken

When I was in Utah last weekend I went to Spark restaurant & lounge. The whole dining experience was great, but I especially loved the fried chicken with smoked gouda mac and cheese. The pasta was irrisistably creamy, had such a strong, delicious flavor in the cheese sauce, and had bits of bacon in it too. The chicken on top tasted great paired with the mac and cheese. I decided to make a copy-cat at home, referencing other mac and cheese recipes, and came up with this. It was soooo good! Even if you haven't been to Spark, try this, you will love it.

Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese with Fried Chicken

1 lb curly pasta shapes {I used cavatappi}
6 Tbs butter
3 green onions, sliced
6 Tbs flour
4 cups milk {I used 2%}
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups smoked gouda cheese, shredded
1 1/2 cups pepper jack cheese, shredded
8 strips bacon, cooked and chopped
fried chicken strips {I use frozen Tyson brand from Costco}

1. Preheat the oven and bake chicken according to package directions {usually bakes for around 20 minutes, perfect timing for the rest of your meal}.

2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions. When pasta is finished cooking, drain and return to pot.

3. Cook bacon until crispy in frying pan, then remove to paper towel lined plate to cool before chopping roughly into 1/2 inch pieces.

4. Once you get the first three steps started, you can make the sauce while they are all cooking. Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Saute green onion in butter for a minute, until onion just begins to cook. Add flour and whisk constantly until it forms a nice paste. Add milk and whisk vigorously to combine with flour mixture. Continue to cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally to avoid scalding. After a few minutes the sauce will thicken. Once it thickens, season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. Set aside sauce until pasta is drained and returned to pot. Pour sauce over pasta abd stir to coat all noodles with sauce. Add shredded cheese and stir to combine; the cheese will melt into the sauce, creating a creamy, smooth cheese sauce. Stir in the chopped bacon.

6. Serve pasta with chicken on top. Serves 6-8.


Island Spice Pork Tenderloin

I had never made tenderloin before this recipe, so I was unprepared for how amazing it was. After we took the first bite, my husband and I looked at each other with surprise and delight on our faces. After it melted in our mouth and we swallowed, his first words were, "This is amazing!" followed closely by, "How much did this cost?" Both very appropriate reactions and exactly what I was thinking. This tastes expensive. The meat is so tender it really does melt in your mouth. I felt like I was eating at a fancy restaurant. And I don't remember what it actually cost at the store, but it couldn't have been too crazy expensive or I wouldn't have bought it. So in the end, I would highly recommend this. Make it for a special occasion, like a Valentine's, Anniversary, or birthday dinner for a loved one. Or for Sunday dinner like we did. Just remember NOT to overcook it. You will RUIN this meat if you cook it until it's well done. It will be pink pink pink on the inside and it will be perfect. (We made this again at Christmas and regretfully overcooked it - not nearly as good.) Enjoy!

Island Spice Pork Tenderloin

For the spice rub:
2 tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

2 pork tenderloins (about 2-2½ lbs. total)
2 tbsp. olive oil

For the glaze:
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tbsp. (2-3 cloves) finely minced garlic
1½ tsp. Tabasco sauce

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Combine the salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder and cinnamon in a small bowl. Stir together with a fork to blend. Pat the mixture over the pork tenderloins.

Heat the olive oil in an ovenproof 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Place the tenderloins in the skillet and brown on all sides, turning occasionally, about 4 minutes total. Remove from the heat, leaving the pork in the skillet.

Stir together the brown sugar, garlic and Tabasco in a small bowl until blended. Spread the mixture evenly over the tops of the tenderloins.

Place the skillet in the preheated oven and roast about 20 minutes, until an instant-read themometer inserted in the center of each tenderloin registers 140˚ F. Loosely tent the skillet with foil and let stand 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Recipe from Annie's Eats.