Easy Macaroni and Cheese

Soups and comfort food has been my thing recently, so here’s a recipe for mac and cheese.

Ingredientsmacaroni and cheese
For the macaroni
1 lb bite size pasta of choice*
2 cups milk
3 Tbs butter
3 Tbs flour
1/4 tsp tumeric
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1 clove garlic, minced
~0.5 lb grated cheddar cheese
For the delicious bread crumb toping
1/2-3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
pinch smoked paprika
pinch cayenne
~1 Tbs butter

*elbow pasta is traditional, but I chose to try Trottole because I love pasta

Directions
1. Boil noodles according to package directions.
2. While pasta cooks, melt butter for bread crumbs and add pinch of smoked paprika and pinch of cayenne.  Add bread crumbs and stir occasionally until toasty.
3. Drain noodles and set aside.
4. Melt butter and add spices and flour.  Stir butter and flour mixture until it is a light caramel color.
5. Add milk and stir until desired thickness is reached.  It should be the consistency of a sauce.
6. Slowly add cheese and stir to melt.  Do not add all of the cheese at once or it will stick to itself.
7. Add pasta to cheese sauce and mix.
8. Pour macaroni into baking dish.  I used an 8×8 but a 9×13 would also work.  Top with bread crumbs and extra cheese if desired.  Bake at 350 for about 7 minutes.

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Broccoli and Cheddar Soup

Make elevated broccoli and cheese soup with more veggies than some recipes include.

Ingredientsbroccoli cheddar soup.jpg
~ 1 1/2 heads broccoli with stems or 2 heads of just florets*
2 stalks celery, diced
3 grated carrots
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups veggie stock
2 cups half and half
8 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese, optional extra cheese for garnishing
3 1/2 Tbs butter
3 Tbs flour
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp ground tumeric
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp black pepper, or to taste
1 tsp coarse sea salt, or to taste

*I like to leave the broccoli in bite size pieces and cook it until its tender-crisp

Directions
1. Heat 1/1 Tbs butter in pot over medium heat.  Saute onions for about 1 minute before adding celery.  Cook until for about 2 minutes then add carrots.  Cook until onions are translucent.
2. Remove the veggies and about 1/3 cup veggie stock.  Place in blender and blend until smooth, adding liquid as necessary.
3. Melt 3 Tbs butter in pot.  Add flour and stir to create a roux.  Cook until caramel colored.
4. Add veggie puree to the roux.  Slowly add veggie broth while stirring.  Add the broccoli.  Add the half and half. Heat until right before boiling.*
5. Right before the soup boils remove it from the heat and add the cheese in portions and stir to melt it into the soup. **

*If you let the soup boil after adding the half and half, it will begin separating.
**If you add all the cheese at once you risk letting it form clumps.

Mushroom and Dumpling Soup

Warm up this winter with a bowl of slightly creamy mushroom and dumpling soup.

Ingredients
mushroom dumplingsFor the soup
1 small yellow onion, diced
5 stalks celery, diced
4 carrots, diced
8 oz baby portabella mushrooms, stems removed and finely diced
1/2 Tbs Italian seasoning (or to taste)
1/4 tsp dried thyme (or to taste)
1/4 tsp dried rosemary (or to taste)
1/2 tsp curry powder (or to taste)
1/4 tsp cayenne (or to taste)
1/4 cup dry white wine (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
32 oz veggie broth
32 oz water
corn starch and water slurry
For the dumplings
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
dash cayenne
dash Italian seasoning
1/2 cup milk (I use non-dairy milk)
1 Tbs melted butter or olive oil
2 tsp baking powder

Directions
1. Heat 2 Tbs olive oil in a pot over medium heat.  Add herbs and spices and cook for about 90 seconds.
2. Add onions and cook until translucent.  Add carrots and celery; cook about 7 minutes.
3. Add mushrooms and cook until liquid releases and the mushrooms decrease in size some.  Add wine if using.
4. Add vegetable broth and water.
5. Simmer for at least 30 minutes.
6. Add corn starch and water slurry to reach desired thickness.  I left my soup only slightly thickened and it was perfect.
7. In a separate pot, boil water to cook dumplings.*
8. Mix dry dumpling ingredients before adding the wet ingredients.  The mixture should form a soft dough.
9. Use two wet spoons (wet so the dough doesn’t stick) to create about 1 inch pieces of dough, they won’t be perfectly round.  Drop them in the boiling water, but do not overcrowd the pot; you may need to cook them in more than one batch.
10. Cover and cook about 3 minutes.  Flip the dumplings and cover for about 2 minutes longer.  Transfer cooked dumplings to the soup and serve immediately.

 

*You are free to cook the dumplings in the soup itself, but be aware that they will absorb some of the liquid.

Fresh Whipped Cream

Step up your dewhipped cream postssert game a notch with homemade whipped cream!

Ingredients
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tbs powdered sugar

Directions
1. Combine cream and sugar in a mixing bowl.
2. Whisk (or beat with an electric mixer) until stiff peaks form.

Serve immediately.  Try it on hot chocolate, dessert, or get creative with it!  Store left over whipped cream in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 12 hours.  You may need to whisk it again for ~15 seconds.whipped cream hot chocolate

Mixed Bean Chili

Warm yourself with a hearty bowl of chili this winter.  This comes together quickly and only needs one pot, hooray less dishes!

Ingredients

chili blog post.jpg

2 stalks celery, diced
1 small yellow onion, diced
1/2 can Rotel (optional, but I wanted to use what I had left from something else)
1 serrano pepper, minced
2 vine ripe tomatoes, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 15oz can black beans (drain half the liquid)
1 15oz can dark red kidney beans (drain half the liquid)
1 15 oz can garbanzo beans (chick peas) drained
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 Tbs chili powder (or to taste)
1/2 Tbs ground cumin (or to taste)
salt (to taste)
1/4 tsp ground corriander
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
grated cheese garnish (optional)

Directions
1.  Heat 1 Tbs olive oil in a pot and add spices.  Cook about 1 minute.  Add the onions and saute until translucent.
2.  Add garlic, celery, serrano, bell pepper, and tomatoes to pot.  Cook about 7 minutes.  The celery should still be slightly crisp.
3.  Add beans and simmer until slightly thickened.
4.  Garnish with grated cheese and serve.  Try with toasty bread or rice for a variation.

Veggie Lasagna

Ingredients
lasagna28 oz can crushed tomatoes, I used the roasted garlic flavor
6 oz tomato paste
1/4 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Italian seasoning
Oregano
Basil
Red pepper flakes
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 bay leaf
Lasagna noodles, I chose the no boil kind for simplicity
Ricotta cheese
Mozzarella cheese
Parmesan cheese
Broccoli florets
Spinach
Zucchini, cut into thin slices

Directions
lasagna slice1. Heat oil and saute onion in a sauce pan until translucent.  Add garlic and cook 90 seconds more.
2. Add tomatoes and seasoning, simmer stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes.
3. Coat the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish with a layer of sauce.
4. Add a layer of noodles, ensuring that they do not touch the sides of the pan or each other as they will expand.
5. Add a layer of ricotta on the noodles.
6. Add broccoli layer, top with mozzarella and sauce.
7. Add a layer of noodles.
8. Add ricotta on top of noodles, followed by the zucchini and spinach.
9. Top veggies with sauce then noodles.
10. Cover noodles with ricotta, and mozzarella.
11. Top the lasagna with sauce making sure the noodles are completely covered.
12. Top with parmesan and bake according to the instructions on the lasagna noodle package.
13. I cooked mine covered for 30 minutes and then uncovered it and baked for another 12 to get the cheese on top golden brown.
14. Let stand about 5 minutes before cutting and serving.

Black Bean Soup

I had never tried making a pot of bean soup before this, and it’s surprisingly simple and turned out great! And, it all goes into one pot to save on dishes.

Ingredientsblack bean blog post
8oz dried black beans
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 large onion, diced
1/2 orange bell pepper, diced
2 tomatoes, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
1 Serrano pepper, minced
1/3 jalapeño pepper, minced
1/2 lime
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
salt to taste
1/4 tsp black pepper
~4 cups water
1 Tbs olive oil
fresh cilantro, finely chopped (optional)

Directions
1. Rinse and sort beans.
2. Heat olive oil in large pot.  Add onions, bell pepper, celery, and carrot.  Cook for ~3-4 minutes until vegetables are translucent.  Add garlic.
3. Add tomatoes to the pot and cook until the tomatoes begin to release liquid.
4.  Add veggie broth, beans, lime juice, and water to the pot.  Add spices and peppers.  Gently simmer covered with the lid tilted until beans are soft, about 75 to 90 minutes.  Stir the soup periodically to prevent sticking.

This dish is naturally gluten free and is entirely plant based.

Homestyle Vegetable Pot Pie

A great cold weather dish that will leave you feeling satisfied.  This homestyle pot pie is packed full of flavor and veggies and is quite healthy.

Ingredientspot pie
1 russet potato, half-inch cubes
1 ear of corn, cut off of the cob
1 handful green beans, 1 inch pieces
2 carrots, half-inch dice
1/4 large onion, finely diced
8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, stems removed and halved then thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3 stalks celery, 1 inch pieces
1/3 cup red wine (I used a Chianti) opt
2 cups vegetable stock or water
~3 Tbs whole wheat flour
1 Tbs olive oil
Salt
Black Pepper
1/3 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
1 tsp Herbes de Provence
Refrigerated pie crust

Directions

pot pie slice missing

1. Heat oil in a 2-3 quart pot.  Add onions, celery, and carrots and cook for ~4 minutes over medium heat.
2. Add potatoes and wine.  Let cook for about 2 minutes before adding the vegetable stock.
3.  Add 1/2 the mushrooms.
4. Add seasonings and flour.  Cover and cook on medium-low for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
5. Uncover and add remaining vegetables.  Cook for about 7 minutes over medium stirring occasionally.
6. Pour contents of pot into a pie dish and cover with a prepared pie crust.*  Cut several slits in the crust to allow for ventilation.
*I chose to only use one crust for this pot pie.  If you choose to have a bottom crust, I would recommend cooking it slightly before adding the filling.  Cook until top crust is golden brown.

Easy Dark Chocolate Brownies

These quick and easy brownies are a tad bit healthier than brownies sometimes are.

Ingredientsbrownies blog post.jpg
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup olive oil
2 eggs
~3 Tbs water

Directions
1. Mix dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately.
2. Pour dry ingredients into wet ingredients.
3. Pour into a greased baking dish.
3. Bake in a 350 degree oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.*
4. Sprinkle a few chocolate chips on top and place back in a warm over for 1 minute.
* 9×13 about 10 minutes, longer for a smaller pan such as an 8×8

Serve warm with ice cream if desired.

Fluffy Pancakes

pancakesSleep in late on the weekends and then make yourself brunch staring these delicious pancakes.

Makes 4 large pancakes or ~9 small pancakes
Ingredients
1 1/4 cup flour (I like to use whole wheat flour)
2 Tbs sugar
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
3 Tbs melted butter
1 egg
1 1/3 cup milk (I use dairy free milk, usually almond or coconut)
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
*add-ins of choice I really like chocolate chips and bananas in my pancakes but you could use strawberries or blueberries or cinnamon, whatever your heart desires

Directions
1. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl.
2. Mix wet ingredients in a small bowl, then pour into dry ingredients.
3. Mix wet and dry ingredients together, there may be small lumps in the batter.
4. Pour ~3/4 cup of batter in a lightly oiled pan.  Place add-ins on top of the pancake.  Cook on the first side until bubbles form and start to pop on the pancake.  Flip and cook on the other side for about 90 more seconds.

Serve immediately.