Sunday, March 3, 2013

Baked Mac and Cheese

Mac and cheese is my all time favorite comfort food. I adapted a recipe my mom used when I was a kid, and think the finished product is a real winner. I use skim milk and reduced fat cheese as much as possible to try to keep the calories down.

What you need:
1 pound pasta (I use shells or mini elbows)
1/4 cup butter
2 and 1/2 cups skim milk
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon flour
4 and 1/2 cups shredded cheese (this time, I used half pepper jack and half sharp cheddar, but my favorite is to used all extra sharp cheddar)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons yellow mustard 
Salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 350. 

Boil pasta according to package directions and set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. When the butter is completely melted, mix in flour until combined. Slowly mix in milk, stirring often until thickened.
 Looks pale and yucky, ends cheesy and yummy

Add mustard and Worcestershire sauce, stirring until combined. Add 4 cups of cheese, and mix until melted. Add salt and pepper to taste. (Sometimes I add a little extra Worcestershire or mustard too...)

Stir in cooked pasta until combined. could this be bad?

Fold pasta mix into a casserole dish. (I use a 9X9 glass one) Top pasta with remaining cheese.
 Cheese OVERLOAD... delish.

Bake in oven for 30 minute, or until top is melted and golden brown.
Let cool about 5 minutes and ENJOY!!!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Spinach Garlic Spaghetti

I love garlic. And spinach. And pasta. So when I found my pantry flush with these ingredients, I decided to cook up some garlic-y spinach-y goodness. I had seen a recipe for  garlic butter pasta here and decided to alter the recipe a little to fit by budget and tastes :)

What you need:

8-10 cloves of garlic, minced (depending on their size)
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter. (This seriously matters--the flavor of the butter vs. margarine makes a difference!!)
1 lb spaghetti or similarly shaped pasta
5 cups fresh or frozen spinach, chopped (I used fresh, but have tried frozen in the past which was just as delish)
1/2 cup chopped basil
Grated Parmesan cheese (the fresh stuff is the best, but my budget called for the cheapo one)
Salt and pepper

Mix spinach and basil together and set aside. Cook pasta according to package directions. While pasta is cooking, melt butter on medium heat. Once melted, add the garlic and reduce heat to medium-low. Stir garlic occasionally until soft, but not brown, about 5 minutes.

  Yumm...I can smell the garlic now....

 Add in spinach mix and stir until spinach and basil have wilted and absorbed some of your delectable sauce. Salt and pepper to taste, I used about a teaspoon of salt and a 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

 Mmm mmm antioxidant goodness....

 Add about a tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, then combine pasta and sauce, stirring until combined. I topped each plate with a little extra parm for good measure! Now, pour yourself a nice glass of Chardonnay and enjoy.....

Easy Lasagna

I LOVE hearty, body warming, quick clean up meals to make in the dead of winter. I've never seen a lasagna recipe I loved, so I decided to create my own.

You need the following:

1 15 oz container part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup chopped parsley
4 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella
1 egg, well beaten
1 24 oz jar of your favorite tomato-based sauce (I like ones that feature garlic--YUM)
1 pound lowest-fat ground beef
3 cloves minced garlic
1 package lasagna pasta (I used no boil lasagna, but the regular kind can work too!)
1 cup water
13 x 9 baking pan

Preheat oven to 375 Fahrenheit. 

Add beef and garlic into 6 qt pan and stir occasionally until beef is browned through. Drain the fat. Stir in the tomato sauce, then shake the water in the jar, and add it to the mixture. Stir until combined. In a separate bowl, mix together parsley, ricotta, egg, and about 1 cup of mozzarella. 

In your baking pan, put down about 1/2 cup of meat/sauce mixture just enough to barely cover the bottom.Layer the lasagna as follows:
Ricotta mix
Sprinkle of mozzarella

Continue layers until you run out of ingredients. MAKE SURE that your noodles are COMPLETELY touched in either ricotta or sauce so that they can cook evenly! Otherwise they make be crunchy. Sprinkle your remaining mozzarella on top, and bake in the oven for 35-45 minutes, or until the top cheese is melted and golden.

I like the crispy edges....

Looook at those layers--yum!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


I have long been an advocate for homemade dishes, done easily, quickly, and deliciously. As a twenty-something, I'm constantly doing a balancing act of work, school, relationships, and health. The best meals are cooked at home, and I'm on a quest to find the best FAST recipes even the millennium generation has the attention span to create! Welcome to the world of fast and cheap cooking that leaves your tummy happy, and your body healthy!