Simple Mac n Cheese

I have been on the hunt for an easy mac n cheese recipe for years. I found one that is satisfactory. I have decided that I will use it frequently BUT I will continue to experiment so I can have multiple options in my arsenal. In order to do a “quick” mac n cheese, people kept telling me to use velveeta; but something didn’t sit right with me…it tastes ok but it’s not real cheese! The following recipe was adapted from Tia Mowry’s YouTube tutorial (link below)

Ingredients: Cavatappi (so much better than elbow), half and half, Guyere, mild cheddar, butter, cream cheese, 1 egg (not pictured), salt and pepper

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I got the cheeses from Trader Joe’s. I apologize in advance, I’m not great at measurements. Shred the cheeses (about 2 cups total) and put in a bowl. Then cube/tear the cheeses, about 1/2 c.

Preheat oven to 375 and grease a casserole dish with olive oil.

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Boil water in a pot and cook 2-3 cups of cavatappi (follow the cooking instructions on the box). When finished, drain and set aside.

In a separate large frying pan/ wok type pan, melt 2-3 tablespoons of butter. Keep on a low heat. Add the cubed cheeses and constantly stir. Next, add about 1 c of half and half.

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Keep stirring and add salt and pepper. Add the egg into the mixture and keep the heat low. Add the cooked pasta and 3 tablespoons of cream cheese.

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After mixing everything together, transfer 1/2 to the casserole dish. Put 1/2 the shredded cheese over it and then layer the rest of the pasta on top.

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Finally, add the rest of the shredded cheese on top and put it in the oven

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Put in oven for at least 45 min or until top is golden.

Sooo cheesy and soooo good.

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Here is the link to Tia’s channel:

And here’s the link to my fave 2017 Christmas song:

Santa’s Coming for Us – Sia

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!!!

 

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Spinach and Red Pepper Quiche

This dish is super easy and works perfectly for a light lunch.

Ingredients: baby spinach, red pepper, half an onion, 4 eggs, 1/2 c. almond milk, shredded cheddar cheese or crumbled feta, frozen pie crust, salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Cut the red pepper into strips and chop half an onion. Saute the red pepper first in a teaspoon of olive oil. When the peppers are a little soft, add the onions. After a little bit, add a couple hand fulls of spinach. Spinach is always hard to measure because of the way it wilts lol.

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Add seasonings like salt, pepper, garlic powder, season salt. In a separate bowl, beat the 4 eggs and add the milk.

Add the spinach/pepper mixture to the pie crust. Sprinkle the cheese on top and then add the egg mixture over everything,

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Put in oven and bake for 35 min, check to see if top is golden brown. After you take it out, let it cool.

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I had it for dinner with some garlic bread, and I was also able to have the leftovers for lunch the next day. Sooooo good 🙂

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Peanut Butter Banana Cupcakes

Wow…it has been a full year since I’ve last blogged. Ha! As I wrote that, I spoke it out loud and it sounded like “It has been a year since my last confession.” I’m not Catholic so I’m not quite sure how that whole thing works but like many of us I am an expert via many hours of TV and movie watching 😉

Anyway, I’m not going to bore you with why I have been absent. Nothing major happened…my last post was about Blue Apron and I still use them about once a month or every other month. I’m going to start posting again but probably not monthly as I used to.

This idea of combining peanut butter and banana came about because I had leftover baking ingredients in my fridge from when my good friend came over and made cupcakes for her boyfriend’s surprise party. Her cupcakes were a combination of chocolate, rum, peanut butter and some other ingredients that I won’t give away because it is her personal recipe. It was so delicious and she told me that adding peanut butter to the batter makes the cupcakes super moist. So with the leftover peanut butter, milk, eggs, etc, I decided to give these a go!

Ingredients: yellow cake mix, 3 tblsp peanut butter, 1 cup milk/almond milk, 3 eggs, 2 bananas, 1/3 c. butter, buttercream frosting (from can)

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I basically followed the directions on the box and added the peanut butter and bananas.

1. Preheat oven to 350. Melt the butter in a bowl to soften, add milk and eggs. Then mix in the peanut butter.

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2. Peel the bananas and mash with a fork in separate bowl. Add the cake mix and mashed bananas to the liquid mixture.

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3.Mix until smooth…this is where I regret not investing in an electric mixer. Now that I am baking more often, I should at least look into buying the electric hand mixer. My friend who came over had one and it elevated the entire baking experience for me. The picture above is me struggling to get the batter smooth using my weak arm strength.

4. After the batter is smooth, use an ice cream scoop or spoon to put it into the cupcake pan. I had cupcake liners. This recipe makes 24 cupcakes and my cupcake pan holds 12 so I put the leftover batter in a cake pan.

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5. Put in the oven and bake for about 20 min

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6. Wait a few minutes for them to cool before frosting with the buttercream.

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The taste of the peanut butter is pretty faint but it definitely makes these cupcakes so moist and the banana/yellow cake combo is heavenly.

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Since it has banana, I assumed it can be eaten in the morning for breakfast. I mean what are muffins?? What I’m trying to say is that I have eaten this cupcake after each meal: breakfast, lunch, and dinner…Probably not good to have 3 cupcakes a day but whatever 🙂

Blue Apron Vegetarian Review

I don’t know how many of you listen to podcasts or watch YouTube family vlogs, but ever since I finished school I’ve been kinda addicted to them. Podcasts make the commute to work 1000% better and the NPR ones can be really informative. Anyway, the reason I am bringing this up is Blue Apron has ads on all of my favorite podcasts and vlogs (perfect ad placement, like how did they know this was something I would totally be interested in?!).

I should also mention that I am not getting paid for this review. The only reason I really got into it is because a friend of mine posted a Groupon for the first 3 meals on Facebook. After using the Groupon deal, I was hooked. I’ve been getting the 2-person vegetarian plan every other week.

The way it works: Once you sign up, you choose a delivery schedule and you can opt out or skip weeks. You have to be careful because it will automatically bill you and send you a box if you don’t sign in and choose to “skip this week” ahead of time. On your chosen delivery day, the Blue Apron box will arrive at your doorstep with all of the ingredients needed for 3 meals including the step-by-step instructions. Everything is fresh and the box is refrigerated so its ok if you aren’t home (just make sure you get it sometime later in the day).

There are several services that send you fresh ingredients and recipes but I was really happy with the vegetarian option at Blue Apron. All of the recipes are really creative, and it’s not just salads and pastas. I don’t need special cooking utensils or appliances, it’s pretty basic. Some of the recipes can take a long time but most of the recipes that I’ve done haven’t been more than an hour including prep time.

Yall know my main complaint with cooking new recipes is that I end up wasting so much food especially when it calls for rare vegetables or spices that I know I will not use again. Blue Apron is perfect for that because they only send exactly what you need! It can be pretty expensive but it works for me because I spend about the same in groceries for 2 weeks. I usually eat the leftovers for lunch or dinner the next night so overall I am able to stretch the 3 meals a week to like 6.

I didn’t take a lot of pics of my meals because I wasn’t sure if I was going to do this post so now I wish I had but here are some of the meals:

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I’ll do another short post of future Blue Apron meals. This also means that I won’t be posting any recipes for the next month but stay tuned because there is still a ton of stuff I want to try.

Overall, I am very happy with the Blue Apron vegetarian plan and would recommend it to anyone who wants to try new recipes and hates grocery shopping lol. Well, it doesn’t eliminate grocery shopping completely…you’ll still need breakfast, lunch, and snacks guys 🙂

 

Simple Oreo Brownies

Today’s post is a quick and simple way to add something extra to your brownies, for all those Valentine’s Day chocolate lovers. Brownies from a box are pretty awesome especially the Ghirardelli brownie mix. What I am about to share is one of the best kept secrets when it comes to brownies. Ok, I’m exaggerating..It only feels like a secret to me because I never heard or thought to try it before.

All you have to do is make brownies using the instructions on the box or from scratch if you prefer. Pour half the batter in a baking pan and then put a layer of Oreos. Cover the layer with the rest of the batter.

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I crushed up a few Oreos and sprinkled them on top before putting it in the oven.

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You can use Oreos or Reeses or York peppermint patties or any of your favorite cookies!

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Sooo good! And even better with ice cream. You’re welcome for this life hack 😉

Spaghetti Squash

Happy New Year!

To start the new year off right, I have a recipe for making spaghetti without pasta!

Whattt?? But you love pasta! Yes, I do indeed love all different kinds of pasta and, as a vegetarian, that’s pretty much all I order when I go out to eat. A good friend of mine recently told me about spaghetti squash and I wasn’t thrilled about it because I’m not a fan of squash in general. Well, I am here to reassure you pasta lovers that the spaghetti squash was a great substitution. It doesn’t taste exactly like pasta but it has the same texture as an angel hair pasta and adding a sauce you can barely taste a difference.

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I got a small one from Whole Foods. Preheat oven to 400. Cut it in half and scoop out the seeds.

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I turned both halves down in a dish. Put in oven and bake for 30 to 45 min depending on the size of the squash.

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After it was done or tender, I took it out of the oven and waited for it to cool before turning them over. Use a fork to separate the strands.

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I put the spaghetti-like strands in a bowl. I made a marinara sauce with baby spinach and added it on top. You can also add shredded cheese too.

Photo Jan 05, 8 33 37 PM It was delicious!

You don’t even have to use a tomato sauce, you can just toss it with olive oil and some salt and pepper. And it’s supposed to be a lot healthier than regular angel hair pasta.

 

Almond Slice Dessert

Happy Holidays my fellow foodies! I hope you are able to take some time to enjoy family, friends, and of course food!

I got the idea of this simple dessert from a cookbook but I’ve modified it slightly, see below:

Ingredients: 2 c. whole almonds, 2 eggs, 1 tblsp soy milk, 1 c. sugar, 1/2 c. butter

Grind the almonds in a food processor or I’m sure you can buy ground almonds somewhere if you really wanted to.

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In a bowl, mix the ground almonds and sugar together. Melt the butter and pour it over the dry ingredients. Mix it all together really well.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and milk together. Then, combine it with the almond mixture.

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Preheat oven to 340. Grease a bread pan and pour the mixture inside. Bake for about 45 min. Check with a knife to see if it comes out clean.

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Have you ever had baklava? It tastes almost like that sweet nutty taste minus the pastry part. It’s soo good and you can have it cold or hot. I prefer hot with a scoop of ice cream. I’ve also had it for breakfast with some hot tea (see below).

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Last year my holiday song of 2014 was Santa Tell Me from Ariana Grande. This year my favorite holiday song of 2015 is….Sleigh Ride by the Pentatonix! I have so much respect for a cappella music and they are one of the best out there right now..the way they blend and how each song is arranged is simply amazing.

I know it came out last year but I still love everything about this Christmas album.

Thank you for reading and following my tiny little blog this year! Have a happy holidays and happy new year, 2016 will be the best one yet!