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?

Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon

Macaroni and Cheese

Raise your hand if you love bacon. And caramelized onions. And cheese. If you aren’t raising your hand by now, jumping up and down screaming “MEEEEEEE!!”, then I just don’t know if we can be friends. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, I forgive you (I was once a vegetarian, after all). If you’re not….well, you know the answer to that one. :)

Cooler weather this week (as in highs in the 30s and 20s) calls for comfort food. In the form of cheesy bacon goodness. Don’t worry gluten-free folks, this is an easy substitution. I used quinoa elbow noodles, and even the fiancé couldn’t tell the difference (I love when that happens!).

This dish has a multitude of steps, but I promise you it’s nothing you can’t handle. So much tastier than the store-bought versions (not to mention healthier, unless you are making one of these all-natural versions here). And it is one hundred and ten percent worth it. If that’s even possible….which, in this case, it is.

Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, and lay the thick cut bacon strips (these babies are from the farmers market!) on a lined baking sheet. 5-6 pieces should do.

Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon

Peppery bacon goodness = mouth watering.

At this point, you will want to start caramelizing your onions as they take awhile. 2 TBSP of butter with your sliced onions on low.

Macaroni and Cheese with Caramelized Onions and Bacon

Melt in your mouth onions. The best kind of onions.

Once your bacon is done, take it out and let cool on pan. Transfer to paper towel lined plate. Cut into chunks. Try not to eat too many pieces. :)

Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon

When your onions get close to being done, it’s time to start the cheese sauce. Also a good time to put the water on to boil. Add 2 TBSP butter to medium saucepan.

Macaroni and Cheese with Caramelized Onions and Bacon

Once butter has melted, add in 2 TBSP flour to make a roux. Gluten-free will do (just won’t be as thick). Whisk until flour/butter paste forms and turns a golden brown color. Then slowly add in 2 cups of milk (I used whole milk from a local farmer) and salt and pepper.

Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon

Turn up to a simmer and let thicken (about 5 minutes), stirring occasionally.

Once your sauce has thickened, slooooowly add in 2 1/2 cups of shredded cheese, stirring as you go. Keep sauce on warm.

Cook noodles al dente, strain, and return to pot. Pour cheese sauce over. Top with bacon and fresh herbs (we used sage, but rosemary or Italian parsley would be nice).

Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon

 This was the second round of gluten-free noodles as I made a double batch of sauce!

And then enjoy this creamy, hearty, cheesy deliciousness. Bah – I just can’t take it anymore!

Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients:

16 oz. elbow noodles (gluten-free, whole-wheat, whatever suits your fancy!)

2 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar

2 cups milk

5-6 slices thick-cut bacon (regular will work – just make sure it does not contain nitrates!)

4 TBSP butter, divided

2 TBSP flour (can be gluten-free)

1 medium onion, sliced thinly

salt and pepper, to taste

fresh herbs (sage, rosemary, or Italian parsley)

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place bacon on lined baking sheet and bake until crisped through.

Meanwhile, add half of butter to small pan. Add in onion slices and caramelize on low heat.

Once bacon is done, let cool on pan. Transfer to paper towel lined plate and cut into chunks with knife.

As onions get close to done (they should be brown and extremely soft), place rest of butter in medium sized pot.

Once butter is melted, add 2 TBSP flour to make roux. Whisk until flour/butter mixture turns golden brown.

Slowly pour in milk. Bring mixture to simmer. Let simmer until slightly thickened (about 5 mins), stirring occasionally. Slowly add in cheese, stirring to combine. Keep on low.

Meanwhile, bring water to boil in separate pot and cook noodles according to directions.

Once noodles are cooked, strain and return to pot. Pour over cheese sauce. Top with onions, bacon, and herbs.

Enjoy!

Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 16 oz. elbow noodles (gluten-free, whole-wheat, whatever suits your fancy!)
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
  • 2 cups milk
  • 5-6 slices thick-cut bacon (regular will work - just make sure it does not contain nitrates!)
  • 4 TBSP butter, divided
  • 2 TBSP flour (can be gluten-free)
  • 1 medium onion, sliced thinly
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • fresh herbs (sage, rosemary, Italian parsley)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place bacon on lined baking sheet and bake until crisped through.
  2. Meanwhile, add half of butter to small pan. Add in onion slices and caramelize on low heat.
  3. Once bacon is done, let cool on pan. Transfer to paper towel lined plate and cut into chunks with knife.
  4. As onions get close to done (they should be brown and extremely soft), place rest of butter in medium sized pot.
  5. Once butter is melted, add 2 TBSP flour to make roux. Whisk until flour/butter mixture turns golden brown.
  6. Slowly pour in milk. Bring mixture to simmer. Let simmer until slightly thickened (about 5 mins), stirring occasionally. Slowly add in cheese, stirring to combine. Keep on low.
  7. Meanwhile, bring water to boil in separate pot and cook noodles according to directions.
  8. Once noodles are cooked, strain and return to pot. Pour over cheese sauce. Top with onions, bacon, and herbs.
  9. Enjoy!

 

What are your favorite comfort foods? Leave me a comment below – I love hearing from you!

Real Recipe: Cheesy Spaghetti Squash and Spinach Bake

spaghetti_squash

Friday night and no football. Well at least not for me (the bf ended his season last week, and is out on the town watching a friend’s game). Me? I’m at home. Making a vegetarian dinner, watching Diners, Drive-In’s and Dives, and drinking wine. Perfect. Friday. Night. Especially now that the weather’s cooled down and it’s the beginning of that I-can’t-be-bothered-to-leave-the-couch-and-go-outside season.

I’ve been dying to try this Spaghetti Squash Bake all week. With a birthday dinner on Monday, conferences till late on Tuesday (which meant Chinese take-out from our fav msg-free place!), date night Wednesday (we grilled whole Snapper for the first time), annnnd the soccer state championship for the boys last night, there just hasn’t been time. So toniiiight is the niiiiight (cue Spice Girls song!)…

…when two squash become one…

In a bake. :)

Yes, I laugh at my own jokes (just ask the bf).

Anyway, I got this idea from my ‘ol college buddy Nikki at Grab Your Kicks. Love following her blog and all of her great ideas!

And she got the idea from Skinnytaste, which is where I adapted this recipe from.

Disclaimer: I have never used spaghetti squash before (butternut yes, spaghetti no). Every time I make squash, I remember how much dang work it is. Cutting it open is the first challenge. I work the knife slowly but surely around the squash until I can use the knife as a lever and crack that baby open!

Then you have to de-seed them (and yes, this is mandatory!).

And then, after you’ve labored your way through that, you can finally bake. At 375 degrees. For about 1 hour.

It’s worth it. Trust me.

At first I was hesitant. Squash with cheese? Weird. Or so I thought. As I read on another blogger’s post regarding substituting noodles with spaghetti squash: Will it curb your craving for pasta? Probably not. Will you think it’s delicious and make it again? I think so. At least, that’s what I’m doing!

Creamy, healthy, and delicious. Try it for yourself!

Spaghetti Squash and Spinach Bake

Ingredients:

2 small spaghetti squash (makes about 5 1/2 cups)

1 small onion, diced

4 TBSP butter

2 TBSP flour (substitute arrowroot powder or corn starch for gf)

5 oz baby spinach leaves (about 4 cups)

1/2 cup organic cream

2 cups organic milk (I use whole)

1 cup organic cheddar cheese, grated

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Panko bread crumbs (or gf bread crumbs) – optional

salt and pepper, to taste

Directions: 

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2) Slice squash lengthwise. De-seed.

3) Bake on baking sheet for approx. 1 hour or until fork inserts with ease. Let cool slightly. Shred with fork until you have your spaghetti! Discard shells. Maintain oven temperature.

4) Meanwhile, melt butter in medium saucepan. Saute onions over medium heat until soft.

5) Add in flour. Lower heat. Stir continuously for 2-3 minutes to make a roux.

6) Add in cream and milk. Turn up heat to start a boil, reduce to simmer. Stir frequently until sauce reaches desired consistency.

7) Fold in squash and spinach. Sprinkle parmesan over. Top with breadcrumbs if desired.

8) Transfer to baking dish. Bake at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes or until bubbling and browning on top!

9) Enjoy :)

spaghetti_squash

 

Real Recipe: Cheesy Spaghetti Squash and Spinach Bake
 
Delicious and creamy Spaghetti Squash and Spinach Bake. A great way to eat your veggies!
Ingredients
  • 2 small spaghetti squash (makes about 5½ cups)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4 TBSP butter
  • 2 TBSP flour (substitute arrowroot powder or corn starch if gf)
  • 5 oz baby spinach leaves (about 4 cups)
  • ½ cup organic cream
  • 1 cup organic milk
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • Panko bread crumbs (or gf bread crumbs) - optional
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Slice squash lengthwise. De-seed.
  3. Bake on baking sheet for approx. 1 hour or until fork inserts with ease. Let cool slightly. Shred with fork until you have your spaghetti! Discard shells. Maintain oven temperature.
  4. Meanwhile, melt butter in medium saucepan. Saute onions over medium heat until soft.
  5. Add in flour. Lower heat. Stir continuously for 2-3 minutes to make roux.
  6. Add in cream and milk. Turn up heat to bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer. Stir frequently until sauce reaches desired consistency.
  7. Fold in squash and spinach. Top with parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs if desired.
  8. Transfer to baking dish. Bake at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes or until bubbling and browning on top!
  9. Enjoy :)

Real Recipe: Fettuccine Alfredo

pasta

Annnndddd…soccer season is officially over. Bittersweet. Bitter in that the season went by so fast, and I was sad to be done last week. Sweet in that I have a life again (or a life outside of soccer I should say!). I survived my first season as head coach, and am already looking forward to next year. However, in the mean time I’ve got time to do the things I haven’t had time for (like work out,  practice yoga, hang out with long lost friends!).

Oh and did I mention cook?! As I’ve been subsisting off of take-out since school started in September, you can bet I am ready than ever to get back in the kitchen more regularly. I was pretty good about whipping up a batch of gluten-free banana muffins or making a large meal to have leftover for the week, but not very good about cooking regularly through the week.

This past Sunday I made a crock pot of Honey Sesame Chicken with Broccoli (recipe to come!) and last night the bf and I made one of my all-time favorite comfort foods, Fettuccine Alfredo. As I’ve been cutting out gluten, we made these with some delicious gluten-free Fettuccine noodles from RP’s Pasta (http://www.rpspasta.com/) made in Madison, WI. I love using fresh noodles, and was kind of sad when I decided to go gluten-free and couldn’t enjoy some of my favorite RP noodles. But then I discovered they make some of my favorites without gluten! Fettuccine, linguine, fusilli, and even lasagna sheets. Woo hoo!

So we made some (Meatless Monday!) gluten-free Fettuccine Alfredo last night. Creamy, rich, and delicious. There are a handful of vegan dishes featured on this blog, however, some days, I just can’t do without dairy. Although I’ve found my allergies and sinus issues are MUCH improved without a lot of gluten or dairy, good-quality cheese (and cream in this case!) usually treats me pretty well. It’s the processed, who-knows-where-I’m-from dairy that does me in.

And why the full-fat dairy in this recipe? Because full-fat dairy has some enzymes that lower-fat dairy doesn’t. It has to do with the process of extracting out fat. When I switched from Skim milk to Whole milk years ago (although I don’t really drink much milk these days!), I felt so much more satisfied. One of my new favorite blogs, Girl Meets Nourishment, has a great article on why all fat isn’t created equal and why our bodies need good-quality fat. You can check it out here: http://girlmeetsnourishment.com/the-fat-truth/

OK so back to the recipe. Sure you can make this lower fat by using less butter and substituting half-and-half or milk for the cream. If that’s your thing, go for it! I’ve definitely made this version lower fat. However, you will miss all the creamy goodness. Not to mention, some important enzyme building blocks :)

Mmm, just looking at this picture makes my mouth water! fettuccine alfredo

Fettuccine Alfredo

(adapted from Emeril’s Fettuccine Alfredo: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/fettucine-alfredo-recipe2/index.html)

Ingredients:

9 oz. fresh fettuccine noodles

1 shallot, diced

1 head broccoli, cut into small florets (optional)

1 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated

4 TBSP butter

1 TBSP flour (optional)

1 pint cream (or half-and-half or whole milk)

salt and pepper, to taste

red pepper flakes (optional)

Directions:

1) Cook noodles according to directions until al dente (Careful, if using fresh pasta it will only take a few minutes so you may want to wait awhile to start on this step if so!). When done, strain the noodles, reserving 1/4 cup of pasta water for later.

2) Meanwhile, in a separate pot steam broccoli until tender. Can also add to the boiling pasta noodles in the last few minutes to cook.

3) While water is boiling/noodles are cooking, melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and saute until tender.

4) OPTION: If using milk or half-and-half, consider adding 1 TBSP flour to melted butter to make a roux. Stir in the flour and wait a few minutes, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and starts to turn a light golden color.

5) Add heavy cream and bring to a boil.

6) Lower heat to a simmer and let sauce thicken. Salt and pepper to taste.

7) Add in cheese. Let melt and stir to distribute. Slowly add in reserved pasta water until sauce reaches desired consistency.

8) Place pasta back into pot, pour sauce over. Add in broccoli. Serve and top with extra parmesan and black pepper if so desired. Enjoy!

NOTE: On non Meatless Mondays, some good quality grilled chicken is a nice addition to this dish as well! :)

fettuccine alfredo

Fettuccine Alfredo
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 2
 
A deliciously creamy Fettuccine Alfredo. Perfect comfort food on a cool day!
Ingredients
  • 9 oz. fresh fettuccine noodles
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into small florets (optional)
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 4 TBSP butter
  • 1 TBSP flour (optional)
  • 1 pint cream (or half-and-half or whole milk)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • red pepper flakes (optional)
Instructions
  1. Cook noodles according to directions until al dente (careful, if using fresh pasta it will only take a few minutes so you may want to wait awhile to start!). When done, strain the noodles, reserving ¼ cup of pasta water for later.
  2. Meanwhile, in a separate pot steam broccoli until tender. Can also add to the boiling pasta noodles in the last few minutes to cook.
  3. While water is boiling/noodles are cooking, melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and saute until tender.
  4. OPTION: If using milk or half-and-half, consider adding 1 TBSP flour to butter to make a roux. Stir in the flour and wait a few minutes, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and starts to turn a light golden color.
  5. Add heavy cream and bring to a boil.
  6. Lower heat to a simmer and let sauce thicken. Salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Add in cheese. Let melt and stir to distribute. Slowly add in reserved pasta water until sauce reaches desired consistency.
  8. Place pasta back into pot, pour sauce over. Add in broccoli. Serve and top with extra parmesan and black pepper if so desired. Enjoy!
  9. NOTE: On non Meatless Mondays, some good quality grilled chicken is a nice addition to this dish! :)

Real Recipe: Zucchini Pasta with Pesto

Zucchini Pasta

Whoa, I’ve missed two days of posting! Tuesday I didn’t post as it was a bit crazy around here. Soccer is starting in 4 days after all :) And yesterday I was hanging out with the bf’s niece and nephew most of the day. They are seriously so cute (but I suppose all little kids are, aren’t they?!).

Anyway, here’s how the “detox” week is going:

Tuesday

Breakfast – Smoothie with banana, frozen mixed berries, a scoop of my “green” energy powder, hemp milk (which I’ve decided I like better than almond milk! Much creamier texture – mmm mmm), and a tablespoon of almond butter.

Lunch – Leftover sautéed kale and white beans with rice (from Day 1) http://eatcleanwithkate.com/sauteed-kale-with-white-beans/

Snack – Peach and trail mix

Dinner – Zucchini noodles with pesto and roasted rosemary red potatoes

Have never in my life made zucchini noodles, and they actually turned out really well! Next time I would make sure to fully dry the zucchini with paper towels first (as it is a bit watery). All in all definitely a dish I’d make again. And when I’m not pretending to be vegan, I’ll add some some parmesan cheese on top :)

Here’s the delish recipe:

(Adapted from http://www.topwithcinnamon.com/2013/06/lazy-girls-zucchini-spaghetti-no-fancy-tools-required-with-peas-creme-fraiche-and-pesto.html)

Zucchini Pasta with Pesto

Ingredients:

2 large zucchini

2 TBSP favorite pesto

3/4 cup frozen peas

1 clove garlic, minced

2 TBSP olive oil, for sautéing

salt and pepper to taste

lemon zest and parmesan for serving (optional)

Directions:

Wash zucchini, and then run lengthwise against a box grater (or use a mandolin, or a spiralizer, or whatever works best for you!) until you’ve created long zucchini strips (pasta)

Gently pat down zucchini strips with paper towels until most of the extra moisture is absorbed (don’t skip this step!)

Add 2 TBS oil to pan and sauté garlic until fragrant (about 30 seconds)

Add in zucchini strips and saute until tender, about 3 or 4 minutes (be sure to stir frequently as to not let burn!)

Add in pesto and stir to coat zucchini evenly

Add in frozen peas (they will defrost) and stir to combine

Once peas are defrosted, serve immediately

Optional: Grate over parmesan cheese

Enjoy!

This picture really doesn’t do this dish justice. First off, when I plated and tried to take a picture the first time around, my phone battery was too low (yes, I use my phone as a camera until I can afford one of those sweet, fancy, looking things!) to take the actual picture. And being I was hungry I couldn’t be bothered with waiting for it to charge enough to take. So this is plated up cold the next day, and thus, not looking as hotsy totsy (as my mom would say!). Still delicious though!

20130808_100843

 

Zucchini Pasta with Pesto
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-3
 
Delicious zucchini pasta with pesto. Vegan and gluten-free, perfect for a light lunch or dinner!
Ingredients
  • 2 large zucchini
  • 1 TBSP favorite pesto
  • ¾ cup frozen peas
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 TBSP olive oil, for sautéing
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • lemon zest and parmesan for serving (optional)
Instructions
  1. Wash zucchini, and then run lengthwise against a box grater (or use a mandolin, or a spiralizer, or whatever works best for you!) until you've created long zucchini strips (pasta)
  2. Gently pat down zucchini strips with paper towels until most of the extra moisture is absorbed (don't skip this step!)
  3. Add 2 TBS oil to pan and sauté garlic until fragrant (about 30 seconds)
  4. Add in zucchini strips and saute until tender, about 3 or 4 minutes (be sure to stir frequently as to not let burn!)
  5. Add in pesto and stir to coat zucchini evenly
  6. Add in frozen peas (they will defrost) and stir to combine
  7. As soon as peas are defrosted, serve immediately
  8. Optional: Top with grated parmesan cheese and lemon zest

Real Recipe: Creamy Avocado Pasta

Avocado Pasta

Wow. I thought last time was a long break between posts, but this one was even longer.

Mostly due to this: I got a head soccer coaching job at my alma mater! :)

I found out the last week of school, and thus, my summer has been filled with a lot more soccer than I expected. However, I’m not complaining. I’m super excited about it!

Anyway, as I’ve been coaching in the morning now 5 days/week, as well as coaching soccer approximately 16 of the past 23 nights, the kitchen (and cooking!) has really gone by the wayside. We’ve been eating lots of (healthy!) convenient meals, such as wraps, salads, etc. and we’ve used the grill a few times (lobster tails and asparagus is becoming my new favorite), but nothing too crazy.

So after my last soccer game this afternoon all I wanted to do was come home, play around in the kitchen, and write on my blog. And that’s exactly what I’m doing :)

Not a lot of groceries in the house, but I saw this recipe awhile back and had everything I needed without having to go to the store (which seriously never happens!).

Creamy Avocado Pasta. Yep, a delicious vegetarian meal (the bf wasn’t home, so I can get away with this!). It was so light and creamy, a truly perfect summer dish. And did I mention easy to make? Seriously. so. easy. It takes about 15 minutes, no joke (and I’m a slow cook!).

Also, I’m currently attempting to eat less gluten, so I made this with fresh gluten-free noodles (I honestly can’t really tell the difference). Why less gluten? Mostly to see how it affects my allergies and energy levels. I’ll keep you posted on what I find! So far, so good :)

Creamy Avocado Pasta

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Ingredients: 

9 oz. favorite pasta

1 avocado, pitted and peeled

1/2 lemon, juice and zest

3 cloves garlic

5 fresh basil leaves (more or less to taste)

2 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup parmesan or goat cheese (optional)

Directions:

1) Cook pasta according to directions.

2) While pasta is cooking, add avocado, garlic, lemon juice, basil, salt and pepper to food processor. Process until smooth, adding in olive oil as you go.

3) When pasta is done cooking, drain, reserving a cup of pasta water.

4) Toss with sauce. If too thick, add a bit of reserved pasta water to loosen.

NOTE: You can also add grilled shrimp or chicken if you’d like to go the non-vegetarian route. In addition, adding pine nuts or almond slivers to your food processor will make it a bit more pesto like. And finally, this is best eaten the day of due to the avocado!

Enjoy! :)

Creamy Avocado Pasta
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-3
 
A delicious, easy-to-make avocado pasta. Creamy, yet light! A perfect summer meal.
Ingredients
  • 9 oz. favorite pasta
  • 1 avocado, pitted and peeled
  • ½ lemon, juice and zest
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 5 fresh basil leaves (more or less to taste)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup parmesan or goat cheese (optional)
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta according to directions.
  2. While pasta is cooking, add avocado, garlic, lemon juice, basil, salt and pepper to food processor. Process until smooth, adding in olive oil as you go.
  3. When pasta is done cooking, drain, reserving a cup of pasta water.
  4. Toss with sauce. If too thick, add a bit of reserved pasta water to loosen.
Notes
Best eaten day of. Can add grilled shrimp or chicken. In addition, can add pine nuts or almond slivers for a more pesto-like sauce.

Real Recipe: Pasta Carbonara

Carbonara

I had probably only eaten Carbonara once before the bf and I moved in together, and that was at a restaurant (and probably at the Olive Garden, where I used to work). When he made me Carbonara the first time, I was pleasantly surprised. So delicious! And so easy to make. I now find myself craving it on a semi-regular basis.

The version we make is without cream, but still turns out nice and creamy. Perfect for when you are craving a creamy pasta, but don’t want all the extra fat and calories of a cream based sauce.

This is an easy, quick, and clean dish to share with your loved one!

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Pasta Carbonara

Serves 2-3
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 10 minutes
Total time 20 minutes
Allergy Egg, Wheat
Meal type Main Dish
Occasion Valentines day
A delicious, easy to make Pasta Carbonara that has all the creaminess without the extra fat and calories!

Ingredients

  • 9oz angel hair pasta (preferably fresh)
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 garlic cloves (minced )
  • 2 thick slices bacon or pancetta (diced small)
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese (finely grated)
  • flat-leaf (Italian) parsley (for garnish )
  • salt (to taste)
  • pepper (to taste)
  • oil (for sautéing )

Note

  • Make sure the sauce is prepared before you start
  • Don't forget to reserve some of the pasta water
  • Take the pasta off the heat before whisking in the sauce mixture, otherwise the eggs will scramble!

Directions

Prep
Step 1
Beat eggs in small bowl, mix in cheese. Set aside
Step 2
Set up small cup in sink in order to reserve pasta water when draining noodles
Noodles
Step 3
Bring water to boil, cook pasta al dente according to directions
Sauce
Step 4
As pasta is cooking, sauté bacon until crisp. Add garlic to bacon mixture and sauté until fragrant, about a minute or so
Step 5
Add pasta to bacon/garlic mixture and toss to combine
Step 6
Taking pan off heat, slowly pour in egg/cheese mixture, whisking quickly to prevent the eggs from scrambling
Step 7
Stir in reserved pasta water until pasta reaches desired consistency
Step 8
Top with chopped parsley
Step 9
Enjoy!

Butternut Squash Ravioli & Brown Butter Sage Sauce

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In the Thanksgiving Day edition of the Pioneer Press (the local St. Paul newspaper for those of you not from this area) there was a recipe for Leftover Turkey Butternut Squash Ravioli with a Sage Browned Butter sauce. The kicker? The ravioli was made from wonton wrappers! So much easier than making your own pasta.

It sounded delicious and totally doable. There was only one problem. The boyfriend and I ate most of our leftover turkey in sandwiches for lunch the day after Thanksgiving, and thus, there was definitely not enough left for ravioli. Yet, I was still determined. So after browsing butternut squash ravioli recipes online, I found what looked like a good one from Giada of The Food Network Channel. A Butternut Squash Tortellini with Brown Butter Sauce. Made with wonton wrappers. Now we’re in business!

Instead of re-typing the whole dang recipe, I figured I would just give you the link (being I pretty much followed it exactly) and let you know of the substitutions/additions I made. So, here it is: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/butternut-squash-tortellini-with-brown-butter-sauce-recipe/index.html 

First step is to roast your butternut squash. You can peel the butternut squash beforehand and then cut it into cubes and roast that way. Or you can halve the squash and roast it that way. I followed Giada’s directions for peeling thinking it would save me roasting time, however, it was a pain in the butt and I’m pretty sure it took longer than if I would have just done it the other way. Your choice however :) Don’t forget to toss (or slather) with the olive oil, salt, pepper, and spices before roasting.

Next sauté your shallots and garlic in olive oil until soft. Then, puree the squash with the ricotta cheese and shallot/garlic mix in a food processor. We added in some grated parmesan and gruyere and omitted the amaretti cookies (only because I couldn’t find them/didn’t want to look any longer at the store!). We also added in some chicken stock to soften the mixture before we pureed.

Now it’s time to fill the tortellini. This is the fun part (if only you could sense my sarcasm!). I apparently like to fill my too full, so that the mixture squirts out the sides when you try to wrap up the wonton wrapper. Slowly, I learned my lesson. Here’s how to make a perfectly filled wonton:

First, place a small (about 1 tbsp) amount of mixture in center of wrapper.

 Second, wet the edges of the wrapper with water. I used my finger, but you could be more classy and use a brush if you’d like :)

Third, pull over one side so the wonton is in a triangle shape.

Fourth, pull in two sides and make sure the ends stick together (add more water to ends if necessary).

Taadah! You have made a tortellini. Now time to boil some water and plop the tortellini in lightly (I’m always getting in trouble for being too aggressive in the kitchen – whoops!). Should only take a couple of minutes to cook. When the tortellini float to the top they are done. Tip: Don’t put too many in at a time as they will either a) float up right away or b) not be able to get to the top. And don’t overcook. Nobody likes soggy tortellini. I scooped mine out with a small mesh strainer. Worked perfectly.

Now for the sauce. Brown the butter, walnuts, sage leaves, and dried cranberries until the butter is a deep brown color (but not burned!). We caramelized our walnuts first with a little butter and brown sugar.

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After your ravioli is done, pour over a small amount (a little goes a long way!) of the butter sauce. And don’t forget to sprinkle some parmesan on top. Mmm mmm.

Now go enjoy your oh-so-gourmet meal :)

Real Recipe: Traditional Italian Lasagne al Forno

DSC00221

With high school soccer starting tomorrow (where did the summer go?!), I knew I wouldn’t have a lot of time for cooking this week. Thus, I needed to make something that would last me the majority of the week, and re-heat nicely. Lasagna sounded like the perfect dish for the occasion (not to mention I haven’t made it in forever!).

Now usually I make my lasagna American style, with ricotta or cottage cheese (substitution courtesy of my dear friend Kalyn) and mozzarella. Tonight was a little different though. I had stopped at the Farmer’s Market Saturday morning and picked up an array of peppers, zucchini, and fresh spinach (among other things!). I also ran across a traditional Italian “Lasagne Al Forno” recipe. Never having made my own Besciamella sauce (think creamy cheese sauce), I decided to give it a try.

This lasagna is loaded with veggies, packed full of protein, and has plenty of calcium (especially with both spinach and dairy!).

Here’s my recipe for an entirely clean, amazingly delicious, traditional Lasagne al Forno:

Traditional Italian Lasagne al Forno

Serves 6
Cook time 40 minutes
Allergy Milk, Wheat
Meal type Main Dish
Misc Freezable, Serve Hot
Region Italian
A delicious, traditional Italian "Lasagna al Forno"! Can easily be made vegetarian.

Ingredients

  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 small onion (chopped)
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (organic preferably )
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2lb ground beef or Italian sausage (cooked and drained )
  • 28 oz whole tomatoes (peels on or removed )
  • 4 1/2 cups milk (preferably organic)
  • 7 tablespoons butter (local or organic)
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 7 tablespoons flour
  • 1 red bell pepper (diced)
  • 1 green bell pepper (diced)
  • 1 orange bell pepper (diced )
  • 1 zucchini (diced )
  • 2 cups spinach leaves (organic preferably)
  • 2 cups parmesan cheese (finely grated)
  • 1/2 cup white wine

Note

  1. Don't let your besciamella sauce burn! Be sure to whisk frequently and watch the heat.
  2. Make this vegetarian by omitting the ground beef or sausage.
  3. You may use whole peeled tomatoes or leave the peels on for more texture.
  4. Using whole milk will ensure a thick creamy consistency.
  5. Cooking time may vary. Lasagna is typically done when sauce and cheeses are bubbling and dish is starting to brown.

Directions

Tomato Sauce
Step 1
Saute garlic, onion, bell peppers, and zucchini in oil. Add pre-cooked beef or italian sausage.
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Step 2
Add white wine and let evaporate.
Step 3
Add tomatoes and bring to boil. Simmer for approx. 45 minutes (or until tomatoes are completely broken down), breaking tomatoes into small pieces as you stir.
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Step 4
Add milk and cook for approx. 15 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
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Besciamella Sauce
Step 5
Melt butter into saucepan, slowly stir in flour while whisking over low heat for about 2 minutes.
Step 6
Slowly pour in milk, adjusting heat to allow sauce to bubble.
Step 7
Add nutmeg and 1/2 tsp. salt. Whisk for about 5 minutes or until sauce thickens.
Cooking Noodles
Step 8
Cook noodles according to package (with a drop of olive oil in water to prevent sticking!)
Lasagne Preparation
Step 9
Cover bottom of 9" x 13" glass baking dish with 1/4 cup tomato sauce (or more as needed!) and place one layer of noodles on top. Layer with spinach.
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Step 10
Spread approx. 1/3 cup besciamella sauce over spinach.
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Step 11
Cover with approx. 1/4 cup tomato sauce and 1/2 cup parmesan.
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Step 12
Repeat for 3 layers. Add remaining tomato sauce and parmesan cheese over top.
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Baking
Step 13
Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
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Real Recipe: White Wine Garlic Pasta

White Wine Garlic Pasta

Last week I had just gotten back from yoga but had to leave shortly to see a friend’s band play, which means I needed to eat something, and fast! This dish is quick, clean, and easy – couldn’t ask for much more in a recipe :)

White Wine Garlic Pasta (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound favorite pasta (I used bionaturae 100% whole wheat organic fusilli)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/4 c. parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup white onion, chopped (organic if possible)
  • 1 cup kale, roughly chopped (organic if possible)
  • 1 cup baby tomatoes (organic if possible)

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta according to directions
  2. While pasta is cooking, add butter to skillet and let melt
  3. Saute garlic, onion, and spices in butter until onion is tender
  4. Add in kale, baby tomatoes, and wine
  5. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for approximately 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until kale is tender
  6. Drain pasta, add back to pot and toss in olive oil
  7. Remove bay leaf, pour wine mixture over pasta, stir to combine
  8. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and ground pepper
  9. Enjoy the light, fresh flavors!

 

Real Recipe: Easy Peanut Noodles with Lime Vinaigrette Salad

DSC00136

Stopped at the farmer’s market today to pick up some fresh cucumbers, the last ingredient I needed to make a Peanut Noodle dish I have been craving for the past couple of weeks. It was a perfect dish for a hot night, in which one of my best friends and I sat on the porch catching up on our lives, sipping our glasses of wine, and eating what turned out to be a delicious meal!

This dish is light enough for a warm summer night, yet filling at the same time. I made mine without meat (you’ll find I don’t cook with meat very often!), but you could add cooked chicken to yours if you prefer the extra protein.

Easy Peanut Noodles (adapted from smittenkitten.com’s Peanut Sesame Noodles) (feeds approximately 6 people)

Ingredients:

1 lb. soba or spaghetti noodles (I used organic whole-wheat spaghetti noodles)

4 scallions, thinely sliced (organic preferably)

2 red bell peppers, cut into thin strips (organic preferably)

2 medium cucumbers, thinly sliced (organic preferably)

1/2 cup peanut butter (organic preferably)

1/4 cup soy sauce

3 cloves garlic, minced (organic preferably)

2 tbsp rice vinegar

2 tbsp sesame oil

1 tbsp honey

1 pinch red pepper flakes, or a squirt of hot sauce or chili paste (more if you like it spicy!)

1/2 cup roasted peanuts, chopped (optional)

 

 Directions:  

  1. Boil 6-8 quarts of water (covered with a lid to save time and energy!)

  2. While water is coming to a boil, combine peanut butter, soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, sesame oil, honey, and pepper flakes in a bowl; whisk to combine (can add hot water to thin out sauce, I used about 1/4 cup)

  3. When water reaches a boil, cook noodles according to directions (or until tender)

  4. Drain noodles and add back into pot

  5. Pour in peanut sauce

  6. Add scallions, bell peppers, and cucumbers; stir to combine

  7. Garnish with chopped peanuts (optional)

  8. Can serve warm immediately, or put into fridge for 10-15 minutes and serve cool

Lime Vinaigrette Salad

Ingredients:

6 cups salad (I used Romaine, but a Spring Mix would work well too!) – organic

1/4 cup scallions, thinly sliced

1/4 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

1/4 cup roasted peanuts, chopped

1/4 cup peanut oil

1/2 tbsp peanut butter

1 tsp soy sauce

1 garlic clove, minced

2 limes, cut into quarters (approximately 1/4 cup lime juice)

 

Directions:

  1. Add peanut oil, peanut butter, soy sauce, garlic, lime juice (from whole limes), and peanuts together in bowl; stir to combine

  2. Combine salad, scallions, and cilantro leaves together

  3. Pour dressing over salad; toss to combine

Mmm…nothing says summer like a light, refreshing, clean dish like this! Enjoy!