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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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 🙂

 

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.

 

Favorite Frozen Meals (single serve)

*Gasp* But this is a food blog! How dare you blog about frozen meals!

Listen, as much as I love cooking and being creative in the kitchen, some…no, most of the time I don’t have time to create a brand new meal every single day. My life is entirely too busy for that..also, I don’t have any kids so I can afford to pop a meal in the microwave and not worry about other little mouths to feed lol.

A lot of frozen meals are not that good. I’ve had my fair share of bad ones, and I’ve had to call the Chinese take-out place across the street instead. Through trial and error, I’ve found some pretty great choices for the days I just can’t find the energy to do anything more than open and close a microwave. This holiday season is going to be hectic just like last year and the year before that. In between all the family visits, holiday parties, shopping, and huge meals, here are some of my go-to frozen faves (in no particular order).

1.Amy’s Thai Pad Thai: The noodles, veggies, tofu, and sauce are really good and pretty comparable to some of my favorite local Thai restaurants.

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2. Butternut Squash Ravioli: I actually like most frozen ravioli whether filled with spinach, cheese, or butternut squash. You just put it in the pot and boil until soft. Sauce is not included. I prefer a white sauce over a red or tomato sauce with this one. Also, this particular brand was from Whole Foods but you can find frozen ravioli in most grocery stores.

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3. Lean Cuisine Five Cheese Rigatoni: I’m actually a fan of most Lean Cuisine dishes but this one is my favorite. Not as filling as the meals mentioned above. With any of these meals, I suggest making a salad on the side if you know that you will still be hungry.

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4. Amy’s Vegetable Pot Pie: As you can see, I’m also a fan of Amy’s frozen meals. The problem is that they can be pretty expensive. This one is really great comfort food…I’m not going to lie, I usually have a scoop of ice cream or some kind of dessert after this meal 🙂

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5. Stouffer’s Macaroni & Cheese: I will admit that most frozen mac and cheese dishes are pretty awful but this one I can vouch for. This mac and cheese is great with some Morningstar “meat” or the nut loaf from my previous post.

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Like I said before, if these single serve meals don’t fill you up, you can always add a salad or some kind of bread/roll to complete the meal. There are a few other frozen meals that I like so I may do a part 2 in another post.

I hope these suggestions are helpful and stay tuned for my holiday post where I will announce my favorite Christmas song of 2015!

Potato and Nut Terrine

I’m always looking for different veggie “meatloaf” types of recipes. They are super easy and I can live off of the leftovers for the next week. My Aunt Judy’s Morningstar veggie loaf is always a big hit at church potlucks.

Lately, I’ve been trying several recipes from the cookbook “Favorite Vegetarian Dishes”. The recipe for Potato and Nut Terrine was slightly modified but it came from that book.

Ingredients: 1 1/2 c potatoes, 1 1/2 c pecan nuts, 1 1/2 c cashew nuts, 1 onion, 2 garlic cloves, 2 1/4 c mushrooms, 2 tbsp butter, 2 tsp herbs, 4 eggs, shredded cheese, salt, pepper, paprika, ketchup and sugar for the glaze

Dice the potatoes and boil until soft. Chop the onion and garlic and saute in butter in a pan. Then add diced mushrooms. You can chop the pecans and cashews in a food processor.

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Mix the nuts into the mushroom mixture. When the potatoes are ready, drain the pot and add the potatoes to a separate bowl and mash them together.

Add the beaten eggs and shredded cheese to the potatoes and then add the nut/mushroom mixture. I used shredded cheddar cheese and you can also use shredded Parmesan. Mix everything together and add any seasonings (salt, pepper, paprika, Tony Chachere). Grease a bread pan and pour the mixture inside.

Photo Oct 06, 7 50 13 PM Preheat oven to 375.

For the glaze, mix ketchup and brown sugar in a separate bowl and coat the top of the uncooked loaf like icing on a cake. Bake in the oven for 1 hour.

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When you take out of the oven, let it set for a little or else it will crumble when you try to cut it. I know my plate looks a little bare lol…I had short grain brown rice, broccoli, and a roll with it but I forgot to get the whole picture. Also, I’m not that great at photographing food as you can tell. The whole meal was delicious and so filling, I will definitely be making this again!

Side note: It’s Octobeerrrr! Best month ever! I might be biased since it also happens to be my birthday month. Got this cookie today..I’m totally on the fall pumpkin bandwagon. Shoutout to Panera 🙂

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Spinach and Nut Pasta

This recipe is very similar to the Spinach Puffs that I made in my last blog..in fact it has most of the same ingredients minus the puff pastry.

Quick question: why are pine nuts so expensive?? Up until this point, I’ve refused to use recipes that include pine nuts because 1. I wasn’t sure where to find them and 2. I’ve only had them in salads. Now I have a third reason because when I finally found some at Whole Foods, I found out that a small package was $10! They come from pine cones right? I guess I should have known since anything sold at Whole Foods is already expensive (hence the nickname Whole Paycheck)…I have a love/hate relationship with Whole Foods..mostly complicated by how much I love their fruits..they are just so good…and there’s one not far from my house as opposed to Trader Joes which is so far I would have to make a special trip to get there..Ok I digress, back to the recipe.

Spinach and Nut pasta: pine nuts, 1 c. any kind of pasta, 2 handfulls of baby spinach, mushrooms, 1/3 of a red onion, 1 chopped garlic clove, 1/2 c. olive oil

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Saute onion, spinach, mushroom, and garlic in pan with olive oil until soft. Add salt, pepper, and pine nuts. Cook the pasta in a separate pot.

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After pasta is done cooking, drain and put in a separate bowl. Add the spinach mixture and mix it all together.

This pasta is super easy and quick to make, I even had leftovers for lunch. Everything about this dish so good and I’m even happy about the pine nut addition!