Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Oooeey gooeey cheeessy weezzy Macaroni and Cheese.

(Set to the tune of ‘Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini’)

That she ate for the first time today….

Sing it with me now!

Or don’t. :) I get it.

I’m in one of those I’m-so-overtired-I’m-feeling-goofy moods. Since my last post (check it out here!) I’ve been really trying hard to make a better nighttime and morning routine. The first week back to school I was doing really well at my New Years “resolutions” and then last week I feel back into my normal routine. Staying up watching TV/being on my computer/phone too late, snoozing like crazy in the morning, and rushing off to work just to make it in right before school starts. No good. No good at all.

Last weekend (which by that I mean weekend before last) the fiance was out of town. I didn’t have a lot scheduled so it was nice to spend more time relaxing. I even got to finish my book (Beautiful Ruins – highly recommend!). This past weekend was also a little lazier than usual. Watched a few movies, walked to breakfast at the local cafe, visited with some family and friends. I love weekends like that. Which has got me thinking “‘why can’t every weekend be like that?”.

Besides the “resolutions” I made, I’m trying to simplify my life and slow down a bit. Back a few years ago, I started this blog as an outlet for myself and a resource for others. Over the course of time I’ve shifted my focus from the pure pleasure of writing about food and sharing stories of my life, to the stress of blog statistics, followers, etc. It was almost like Keeping up with the Joneses (but in a blogging kind of way).

There was so much worrying about what I was doing (and not doing!) on social media, who I was following (and who was following me), how the layout of my blog looked, etc. that I had started to resent blogging. Which is quite silly as I still love to cook and write, the two main reasons why I started this blog in the first place.

So I guess you could say I’m taking a step back. In a lot of different areas. I’ll likely not blog as much (who am I kidding, I wasn’t following a schedule anyway!), post on social media as much, etc. etc. So far, it feels good. Less stressful. Which is just what I need.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

My New Year mantra.

On my first post back, I’m sharing a recipe for this oooeey gooeey cheeessy weezzy Baked Macaroni and Cheese. The best Macaroni and Cheese I’ve yet to make. Insanely creamy on the inside, with a nice crunch on top (thank you Panko!).

It fits the ‘new’ year. It’s not gluten-free, it’s not dairy-free, and it’s sure as heck not ‘healthy’ by any standards. It is however, all-natural. And damn delicious.

It’s basically comfort food, on steroids.

I think you’ll agree. :)

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients:

1 lb. orecchiette, cavatappi, or elbow noodles

2 cups good shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

4 TBSP butter

2 TBSP flour

2 cups half-and-half

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 yellow onion, diced

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 TBSP dry mustard

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 1/2 cups Panko breadcrumbs (for topping)

salt and pepper to taste

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook noodles al dente, according to directions. Return to pot.

Meanwhile, melt butter in saucepan over medium heat.

Saute onions and garlic until soft, about 5 minutes.

Add in flour, whisking consistently until a roux is formed (flour butter mixture turns golden brown).

Slowly add half-and-half and cream (or milk if making lighter version!), stirring as go.

Bring to a simmer and let thicken.

Take off heat. Slowly add in cheese and seasonings, stirring as you go.

Pour sauce over noodles. Mix until noodles are completely coated.

Transfer noodles into glass baking dish.

Top with breadcrumbs.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until dish is bubbly and top is golden brown.

Enjoy!

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. orecchiette, cavatappi, or elbow noodles
  • 2 cups good shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 4 TBSP butter
  • 2 TBSP flour
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ yellow onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 TBSP dry mustard
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 1½ cups Panko breadcrumbs (for topping)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cook noodles al dente, according to directions. Return to pot.
  3. Meanwhile, melt butter in saucepan over medium heat.
  4. Saute onions and garlic until soft, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add in flour, whisking consistently until a roux is formed (flour butter mixture turns golden brown).
  6. Slowly add half-and-half and cream (or milk if making lighter version!), stirring as go.
  7. Bring to a simmer and let thicken.
  8. Slowly add cheese in, stirring as you go.
  9. Pour sauce over noodles. Mix until noodles are completely coated.
  10. Transfer noodles into glass baking dish.
  11. Top with breadcrumbs.
  12. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until dish is bubbly and top is golden brown.
  13. Enjoy!

Until next time,

Happy clean eating!

Kate

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Quick Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Mamma Mia! That’s a spicy meatball! (Spoken in my best Italian accent, of course.)

Spaghetti. Such a classic Italian dish. There’s nothing that screams comfort food more to me than a big bowl of spaghetti. My mom made spaghetti often growing up and I attended lots of spaghetti dinners during my high school soccer days. And then in college (and for awhile afterwards!), spaghetti was a cheap filling meal I could actually afford.

Spaghetti with meat sauce. Spaghetti with tomato sauce. Spaghetti with pesto. Spaghetti with Italian sausage. Spaghetti with *gasp* alfredo sauce. There are lots of delicious ways to enjoy spaghetti noodles (or pasta noodles for that matter!).

Did you know that thinner noodles work better for thinner sauces, while thicker noodles are best suited for thick creamy sauces? Now you know!

So what’s my favorite spaghetti noodle and sauce combination?

Spaghetti with meat sauce.

Why?

It’s just as hearty as meatballs, but with less work. That sounds lazy, doesn’t it? Yep, that’s me! I want as little of work as possible when it comes down to a delicious bowl of spaghetti. :)

Most store-bought sauce is all-natural, however, is usually in the form of marinara. And in my opinion, kind of bland. I like hearty, thick, bursting-with-flavor spaghetti sauce. Not to mention I don’t trust the meat in those store-bought sauces. I like buying my beef grass-fed and organic. It tastes so much better, and I just feel better eating animals I know were raised humanely.

The only problem with homemade spaghetti sauce?

It usually needs to simmer for a loooong time.

Not anymore my friends. Not anymore. This sauce was done within an hour. And it is sooooo good.

Enjoy over a steaming pot of spaghetti noodles. Or whatever noodles you fancy. We used fresh pappardelle noodles from Costco. We’ve also used gluten-free, quinoa, and whole wheat. The pastabilities are endless! Get it?

I crack myself up. :)

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Ingredients:

1 lb ground beef (preferably grass-fed)

1/2 onion, diced

4-5 garlic cloves, minced (I like it extra garlicky but feel free to use less!)

1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes (crushed would work well too)

1 can (14.5 oz) tomato sauce

2 TBSP tomato paste

1/4 cup red wine

2 TBSP Italian seasonings (or use a mix of basil, parsley, oregano)

1 TBSP brown sugar

red pepper flakes, to taste

salt and pepper, to taste

1 cup water

1 lb. thin spaghetti

Directions: 

Brown meat in large pot over medium heat. Drain fat. Return to pan.

Add in onions and sauté until softened.

Add in garlic, spices, salt, pepper, brown sugar, red pepper flakes. Sauté until fragrant (about 30 seconds).

Add in tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water.

Barely bring to a boil. Add in red wine.

Reduce to a simmer and simmer until sauce has reached desired thickness (between 30-45 minutes).

Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Serve over your favorite pasta noodles and top with parmesan cheese.

Enjoy!

Quick Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Quick Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Quick and delicious spaghetti with meat sauce
Ingredients
  • 1 lb ground beef (preferably grass-fed)
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes (crushed would work as well)
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) tomato sauce
  • 2 TBSP tomato paste
  • ¼ cup red wine
  • 2 TBSP Italian seasonings (or use a mix of basil, parsley, oregano)
  • 1 TBSP brown sugar
  • red pepper flakes, to taste
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 lb. thin spaghetti
Instructions
  1. Brown meat in large pot over medium heat. Drain fat.
  2. Add in onions and sauté until softened.
  3. Add in garlic, spices, salt, pepper, brown sugar, red pepper flakes. Sauté until fragrant (about 30 seconds).
  4. Add in tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water.
  5. Barely bring to a boil. Add in red wine.
  6. Reduce to a simmer and simmer until sauce has reached desired thickness.
  7. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
  8. Serve over your favorite pasta noodles and top with parmesan cheese.
  9. Enjoy!

 What are your favorite childhood dishes?

Real Recipe: Vegan Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed Peppers

Well hello there! Two weeks of school down, and so far so good. Last Sunday I had the place to myself, and decided to take the day to whip up some meals for the week. Not often that I get that kind of time on Sundays :)

On the menu was:

Vegan Stuffed Peppers

Chickpea Curry (also vegan)

Gluten-free Banana Muffins

I’ve been trying out the whole gluten-free thing for awhile on and off, but am really trying to make a serious commitment as of late. For the last two weeks I’ve been the majority gluten-free, and I really can tell the difference. I have had less digestive issues (bloating, gas, you know) and definitely haven’t felt as lethargic (no more food comas!). On Friday night however, I indulged in some spaghetti. And man, did I pay for it that night/the next day!

Anyway, in other news, my team got their first win this past week, and man did that feel good! Here’s one of my favorite pics from the night:

soccer

We just scored (if you couldn’t tell!) :)

Ok, back to the food. Having those meals all made up ahead of time was a big time saver this week. I had curry or stuffed peppers every day for lunch, and they were both delicious! The banana muffins, on the other hand, were not my favorite (although the bf apparently really enjoyed them). I’ve got to play around with that one a little more. Stay tuned…

As for today, I’m sharing the Vegan Stuffed Peppers recipe. For you meat-eating lovers out there, I promise this is just as filling as a meat version. Hearty, healthy, and delicious. What else can you ask for?! (Besides the dishes to do themselves?) :)

Enjoy!

Vegan Stuffed Peppers

(recipe adapted from The Corner Kitchen – http://thecornerkitchenblog.com/vegan-quinoa-stuffed-peppers/)

20130908_183700

Ingredients: 

4 bell peppers, halved and de-seeded (I used red, but green work well also!)

3 cups cooked quinoa

1 small onion, diced

1 15-ounce can black beans, drained

1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes

3 cups kale, chopped (can also use spinach)

2 jalapeños, de-seeded and minced

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 tsp cumin

2 tsp paprika

1 TBSP chili powder

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

oil, for sautéing

salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 375. Place parchment paper on bottom of baking sheet (or grease bottom with oil).

2) Add 1 TBSP oil to pan. Sauté onions over medium heat until soft (about 5 minutes).

3) Add garlic, jalapeño, cumin, paprika, chili powder, salt and pepper. Cook for 1-2 more minutes or until fragrant.

4) Add kale, black beans, and tomatoes. Stir to combine and cook until heated through, about 5 more minutes. Stir in fresh cilantro.

5) Take mixture off heat. Stir in quinoa. Fill peppers with mixture.

6) Place peppers on baking sheet. Cover with tinfoil. Bake for 25 minutes or until peppers are cooked through.

7) Plate, serve, and enjoy!

What are some of your favorite meals to make ahead for a busy week? Leave a comment and let me know! I’m always looking for new ideas :)

Real Recipe: Vegan Stuffed Peppers
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Hearty, healthy, and full of flavor. Great as leftovers and easy to freeze for a quick meal in the future!
Ingredients
  • 4 bell peppers, halved and de-seeded (I used red, but green work well also!)
  • 3 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 3 cups kale, chopped (can also use spinach)
  • 2 jalapeños, de-seeded and minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 TBSP chili powder
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • oil, for sautéing
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375. Place parchment paper on bottom of baking sheet (or grease bottom with oil).
  2. Add 1 TBSP oil to pan. Sauté onions over medium heat until soft (about 5 minutes).
  3. Add garlic, jalapeño, cumin, paprika, chili powder, salt and pepper. Cook for 1-2 more minutes or until fragrant.
  4. Add kale, black beans, and tomatoes. Stir to combine and cook until heated through, about 5 more minutes. Stir in fresh cilantro.
  5. Take mixture off heat. Stir in quinoa. Fill peppers with mixture.
  6. Place peppers on baking sheet. Cover with tinfoil. Bake for 25 minutes or until peppers are cooked through.
  7. Plate, serve, and enjoy!