Mac-nificently Cheesy

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Mac and cheese is a weakness of mine.  Throw in a box of Kraft mac and cheese and you will not find a bite in site after that sits in front of me.  When it comes to homemade mac and cheese, I can basically say RIP to any good eating habits I’ve ever had cause that stuff is tooooo good to pass up.  Dream week of dinners: Monday-Lobster mac and cheese, Tuesday-moms mac and cheese, Wednesday-Kraft shapes mac and cheese, Thursday-Mac and cheese bites, and to top it all off… Friday– TRUFFLE MAC N CHEESE.  Probably cheese overload, but a girl can dream.

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Since I can’t have mac and cheese every day of the week, and I really try to avoid eating it as much as possible because it really isn’t the healthiest of dinners, I decided to try out a healthier version this week.  I have cooked a lot with quinoa in the past, so when I found a quinoa mac and cheese recipe from Tasty Kitchen I felt like I just HAD to try it out.  Oh, and the recipe also has some spinach in it which adds some nutrients to the dish which gave me all the more reason to try it.

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I really like the recipe that I chose because I could switch out the butter, cheese, and milk for lower fat or lower % options. It also doesn’t require a lot of time, ingredients, or effort- a recipe right up my ally.  You can pre cook the quinoa beforehand, the sauce is really easy to make, and to bake you just have to make the topping and place in the oven.  Quite simple if you ask me.  Check out the recipe below for a healthier mac and cheese below!

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Quinoa Spinach Mac & Cheese:

  • 3 Tablespoons Butter
  • 3 Tablespoons Flour
  • 1-½ cup Skim Milk
  • 2 dashes Nutmeg
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 8 ounces Reduced Fat Cheddar Cheese
  • 3 cups Cooked Quinoa
  • 2 bunches Fresh Baby Spinach
  • ½ cups Parmesan Cheese
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter, Melted
  • ¾ cups Panko Bread Crumbs

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium saucepan add butter and flour over medium heat. Whisk continuously until it all clumps together. Whisk in milk and, while continuously stirring, increase heat to medium/high and bring to a boil. Stir in the nutmeg, salt & pepper, and cheese. When cheese sauce is all mixed together, remove from heat.

In a large bowl mix together the cooked quinoa, cheese sauce and spinach.  Pour into a baking dish or cast iron skillet.  In a small bowl mix together the butter, bread crumbs and parmesan cheese and sprinkle evenly over the quinoa mixture.

Place in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes. Remove and enjoy!

Adapted from: Tasty Kitchen

Have a sweet day!

-Kelcie

Do The Sriracha Slide

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Sriracha is one of God’s greatest gifts to earth.  For me, it’s kinda similar to the Franks Red Hot commercial slogan where they say: “I put that shit on everything”.  Yeah, it really goes on just about everything.  My mom knows this AND knows my love for spicy foods so she bought me the Stonewall Kitchen Sriracha Aioli when she went to the opening of the Giant Eagle Market District in her area.  Stonewall Kitchen sauces, dressings, and every item they make are all amazing including this sriracha aioli- I have yet to try something I haven’t liked from them!

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The great thing about condiments and sauces is that most of the time they can go with a variety of different things.  It’s not like I can only use the sriracha aioli on a sandwich over and over again.  No, this stuff can be used for soooo many different things. This week- I decided to use it as a dip with some simple roasted Brussels sprouts.  But don’t worry, I had plenty of other recipes that I looked at to use this with AND that I probably will try out in the future.  Need an idea for how to use sriracha aioli? Check out these awesome recipes below:

On burgers/sliders:

As a dip:

With Mexican Food:

Basically, you can put that stuff on anything! Below is the recipe I used for my Brussels sprouts that were dipped in the sriracha aioli.  Check it out and go out and get yourself some of this tasty stuff!

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Simple Roasted Brussels Sprouts:

  • Brussels sprouts (halved & any brown stems off)
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix Brussels sprouts, a couple tablespoons of EVOO, and salt & pepper and place on a baking sheet.  Cook for 30-35 minutes, mixing around about every 10 minutes, until they are crispy.

Sprinkle with more salt and pepper once you remove from the oven and serve with side of sriracha aioli.

Adapted from: Ina Garten

Have a sweet day!

-Kelcie

Taste of the Fallidays

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I look forward to the flavors of fall, basically, all year.  Everyone goes wild for anything pumpkin when Autumn rolls around, but there are so many other amazing flavors that are utilized this time of year from apple-cinnamon, to cranberry, to even the use of different squashes or fruits and vegetables in season. A falling leaf may be summer’s wave goodbye, but it also means a wave hello to pumpkin desserts and hearty meals.

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One of my favorite fruits in season during this time are pears.  My roommates mom brought us Harry & David pears which are like the Mercedes of pears in my eyes, which I have been thoroughly enjoying this week.  I’m a huge fan of just plain, sliced pairs on their own, but I also think they are great when mixed into a dish.

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Pears can be utilized somewhat the same as apples when it comes to dishes.  Some ideas to consider if you have pears on hand: adding pear to a gourmet grilled cheese, utilizing pear in different desserts, or even adding pear to to a crostini appetizer. Most pears start becoming in season in September and there are so many different kinds making them fun to experiment with.

Utilizing the ingredients that I had at home and the tasty spotlight ingredient of pears, I decided to make a Fall Salad with Maple Vinaigrette.  Check out the recipe below!:

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Fall Salad with Maple Vinaigrette:

Salad & Toppings:

  • Mixed Greens
  • Crumbled Blue Cheese
  • Diced Pear
  • Candied Walnuts
  • Dried Cranberries

Dressing: [~2 Servings]

  • 2 Tbsp. Light Mayo
  • 2 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. Maple Syrup
  • 1 Tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. Light Olive Oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Mix dressing together either in blender or with a whisk.  Make salad by taking desired amount of mixed greens and finishing off with equal amounts of toppings.  Pour dressing over, mix, and serve.

Dressing adapted from: Cupcakes and Kale Chips

Have a sweet day!

-Kelcie

In Quiche You Haven’t Heard

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Why do eggs come in a carton of so0o many?? This is a huge problem for the single girl.  I do know that there are half cartons somewhere out there, but the Kroger in walking distance from me does not seem to be selling these.  I should definitely put in a request because I’d like to believe I’m one of their best customers.

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This week I am coming home a little later than the usual 6:00 pm-ish so I decided I would make a meal yesterday that could last me a couple days of reheating.  Eggs+idea for a leftover meal = QUICHE. Well, I did think about making a frittata, but that is just missing one key ingredient: a nice, flaky crust.  Yes, I could have gone the healthy route, but I just wasn’t feelin’ it this week.

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So, the other weekend my roommate and I went to this really cute little brunch/lunch place in Columbus called the Angry Baker.  There, they had a quiche of the day that had butternut squash and other lovely mixins and it was AMAZING.  After seeing that and ALSO seeing one of my favorite blogs post a Butternut Squash & Arugula Quiche recipe it had to have been fate.  I went ahead and copied the Gimme Some Oven recipe and the mass amount of eggs I had were transformed into a beautiful (& might I add extremely delicious) fall quiche.

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Check out this great recipe below- huge thanks to Gimme Some Oven for havin’ some bomb recipes for me to copy.

Butternut Squash, Goat Cheese, and Arugula Quiche:

  • 1 Store bought pie crust
  • 3 Slices bacon, diced
  • 2 Cups butternut squash, chopped (smaller)
  • 1/2 White onion, chopped
  • 1 Clove garlic, minced
  • 6 Eggs, whisked
  • 3/4 Cup Skim milk
  • 3 Tbsp. flour
  • Pinch of Baking Soda or 1/2 Tsp. Baking Powder (I only had baking powder- still worked)
  • 1/2 Tsp. salt
  • 1/8 Tsp. black pepper
  • 2 Handfuls baby arugula
  • 4 Ounces crumbled Goat Cheese

Directions:

Start by getting out all the ingredients you need.  This helps considering things move semi fast when making this. Then, preheat oven to 350 degrees and roll out the pre-made dough in a pie pan.  Once pre-heated, bake for 5 minutes in oven, remove, and keep oven on.

Next, chop up your onion, butternut squash, and mince garlic.  On a separate chopping board, chop up bacon. Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat and cook the bacon until crispy.  Remove bacon with a slotted spoon to keep grease in pan and place on paper towel.

Add in chopped squash and onion into the bacon grease and cook for about 10 minutes or until softened. At the last minute, add in the minced garlic and cook for 60 seconds or until incorporated. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, milk, flour, baking soda, salt, and pepper.  This may come out a little chunky with the flour and all but it turns out well when cooked.  Then mix in the bacon, arugula, and squash/onion mixture into the bowl.

Pour mixture into the crust and smooth out the top. Bake in the oven for about 40-50 minutes or until you stick a fork/tooth pick in the center and it comes out clean. Remove from oven and let sit for about 5 minutes. Serve warm.

Adapted from: Gimme Some Oven

Have a sweet day!

-Kelcie

Whoop There It Is

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After a nice, week-long break in Chandler, AZ I am finally back in the beautiful (50 degree and cloudy) Columbus, Ohio weather.  I already miss the warm weather and sunshine that happened just about every day I was there.  The only thing I really wasn’t liking about the state itself was the dryness and lack of grass.  Looking past that, the beautiful mountains and scenery really make Arizona so beautiful.

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Anyways, I’m back and after not cooking all week I thought it would be a good idea to spend a little time in the kitchen today.  My roommates are all out and about so I decided to stop at the grocery, pick up some mixins, and make something new.  With today also being Sweetest Day, I tried to find something that incorporates that aspect into the mix.  Here’s how my thought process went:

Sweetest Day= Baking + Color Red= Red Velvet!!! (duh)

Don’t be overwhelmed by the mathematical formula I just showed you.  I do know that no one likes to think too hard on the weekends.  Taking that all into consideration, I thought it would be a great idea to make some Red Velvet Whoopie Pies.  My mind works in mysterious ways when it comes to ideas of food, but I think I got the idea for whoopie pies because I really just wanted some homemade cream cheese frosting.

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The nice thing about whoopie pies is that you can either make everything from scratch OR you can make it a little easier on yourself and use a box mix.  Why go the long route when you can take short cuts- I of course used the box mix. These only take a couple ingredients and definitely are not too time consuming, making them a fun, easy, and different dessert than the common cupcakes or chocolate covered strawberries one may decide to buy or make on Sweetest Day (if people out there even celebrate it like my family does).

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Check out the recipe below for these Red Velvet Whoopie Pies and don’t forget to bake up something sweet for your someone special today on Sweetest Day!

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies:

  • 1 Box of Devils Food Cake Mix (I used Betty Crocker)
  • 1/2 Cup Canola Oil
  • 1/2 Cup Water
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 (4 serving) box of chocolate instant pudding and pie mix

For the cream cheese frosting:

  • 2- 8 oz. blocks of cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick of butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Beat together all of the ingredients for the outside of the pies in a mixing bowl with an electric hand mixer. Start slow so the powder in the bowl doesn’t fly out of the bowl and then increase speed until all mixed together.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or use non-stick cooking spray).  Pipe out circles of the cake mixture far enough apart from each other, size to preference, or use a spoon and smooth the tops.  The original recipe says for about 1/4 cup serving size for each circle.  (I made some big and some small, cook smaller ones for less time).

Bake for approximately 10 minutes and cool on paper towels.

To make the cream cheese frosting, soften the cream cheese and butter first.  Then place in a bowl with the remaining ingredients and beat together with electric hand mixer until smooth.

Once the cookies have cooled, either pipe out or spoon the cream cheese frosting onto one cookie flat-end and place another cookie on top to make your sandwiches.  Repeat with remaining cream cheese.

Adapted from: Betty Crocker and All Recipes

Have a sweet day!

-Kelcie

Going Cocoa Bananas

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I honestly can’t get enough chocolate in my life.  I sometimes think it’s a goal in my life to figure out how I can incorporate chocolate into every meal I eat.  There are definitely multiple restaurants out there that have become successful at this concept which I really need to go to. I’lll add that one to the food bucket list…

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I’m really trying to clean out my pantry because I will be in Phoenix, AZ all next week- Hallelujah for warm weather! Anyways, breakfast food is hard to come by when cleaning everything out, but I managed to find all the way back in my cupboard some quick oats.  I bet you can’t guess what I decided to make for breakfast with this……….kidding, obviously I made myself some OATMEAL!

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With the lack of other ingredients I had, I managed to scrounge up enough to make a delicious Chocolate Banana Oatmeal.  I freeze bananas every once in a while and was able to thaw one of those to use, utilize my leftover milk from a recipe earlier in the week, and of course I had to use some unsweetened cocoa powder cause that stuff can make any recipe delicious.  Add some vanilla, sweetener, and salt to that combo and you have yourself one helluva easy, chocolaty, homemade oatmeal. Oh and did I mention it’s one serving too!? Great for those cooking for one, but recipe can always be multiplied for more! Check out the recipe below:

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Chocolate Banana Oatmeal: [1 serving]

  • 1/2 Cup Quick Oats
  • 3/4 Cup Skim Milk
  • 1 Ripened Banana
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1/8 Tsp. Salt
  • 1/4 Tsp. Vanilla
  • 1 Packet Truvia
  • Extra milk to serve

Directions:

Mix together all ingredients in a sauce pan over medium-high heat.  Cook, continuously stirring, for about 5-6 minutes or until mixture becomes thick and ready to serve.  Pour into a bowl and top with extra milk if desired.

Adapted from: Chocolate Covered Katie

Have a sweet day!

-Kelcie

Rolling in the Cheese

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There are so many puns I could have used for today’s recipe using the words roll, cheese, etc. because I decided to make these amazing Cheesy Spinach Lasagna Rollups.  Trending in the lasagna world is rolling up all the lasagna ingredients in noodles and then putting them in a baking dish- no more boring old lasagna here!

Reasons I chose to make this recipe:

  1. I took it from this awesome Skinny Taste blog- and I have been wanting to try them for a while
  2. I had almost a whole container of ricotta that was going to expire by the 14th– definitely needed to use that up
  3. AND all of the ingredients used in this recipe are simple and don’t add up to major spending for one meal

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This recipe for Cheesy Spinach Lasagna Rollups is extra neat because of the fact that it’s pretty versatile.  You can add more ingredients other than spinach (like veggies) into the ricotta mix.  You can make it skinny by using a fat free (or less calorie) ricotta, use less mozzarella on top, and also make it better for you by using whole wheat lasagna instead of regular. My favorite part about making pasta dishes is that you can basically use any kind of tomato sauce you want- regular, tomato basil, spicy, vodka sauce, and any brand you prefer.  So many different options for these fine little rollups.

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I always get really excited when my dinners turn out good- sometimes I don’t have patience and try to rush things without them being fully done.  This one, I had patience and waited the whole cook time and everything turned out just right.  The total preparation and cooking time may be a little long but it is worth it. You can multi task by putting together the filling while the noodles cook.  Once the dish is in the oven, you can do other things like- laundry, shower, watch tv, or anything else to keep you preoccupied without eating your hand off.

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Anyways, check out this simple and delicious recipe for these fun lasagna roll ups below:

Cheesy Spinach Lasagna Rollups:

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  • 9 lasagna noodles, cooked
  • 10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and completely drained
  • 15 oz. Ricotta Cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • salt and pepper
  • 32 oz Pasta Sauce (whichever kind you’d like, I used a good tomato basil)
  • Shredded mozzarella to top

Directions:

Boil water and cook lasagna noodles.

While noodles are cooking, preheat oven to 350°. Combine spinach, ricotta, Parmesan, egg, salt and pepper in a bowl. Put about 1-1.5 cups of sauce spread onto the bottom of a 9×12 baking dish.

When noodles are done cooking, place onto paper towels/towel and pat dry.  Place a piece of wax paper on the counter and lay out lasagna noodles. Take 1/3 cup of ricotta mixture and spread evenly over noodle. Roll carefully and place seam side down onto the baking dish. Repeat with remaining noodles.

Pour desired amount of remaining sauce over the noodles in the baking dish and top each one with mozzarella cheese. Put foil over baking dish and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until cheese melts.

To serve, place a little sauce on the plate and top with lasagna roll.

Adapted from: Skinny Taste

Have a sweet day!

-Kelcie