To Mac & Cheese Bake

Mac & Cheese Bake

Nothing beats a good bowl of Mac & Cheese, but I didn’t want to have the traditional Kraft Mac & Cheese so thought I would go searching for an amped up version. I came across the Curvy Carrot Blog where the blogger posted a clever way of serving up mac and cheese – in mini pie forms. Now I adapted the recipe quite a bit and yet it was delicious, but the ideas all stem from the blog.

Servings: 2

6 crackers – I used whole grain crackers we had on hand (the blogger used ritz crackers)
½ Cup Cheddar Cheese, grated and divided
1 Tbsp. Melted butter
2 handfuls of uncooked whole grain penne noodles
2 oz. of grated parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. egg white
1/8 cup milk
1 Tbsp. Cottage Cheese
Dash of Red Pepper Flakes – pending on how much of a kick you want

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Spray two ramekins and set aside
In a food processor, combine the crushed crackers, 1/4 cup of the shredded cheddar cheese, and the melted butter. Blend together until it sticks together. Press into the bottoms and up the sides of the ramekins.
In another large bowl, combine the cooked (and still hot!) macaroni with 1/8 cup of the shredded cheddar, and the parmesan cheese, mixing well.
Then add the egg white, milk, cottage cheese and red pepper flakes. Mix until all the ingredients have melted and the mixture is smooth.
Divide the macaroni mixture between your two ramekins.
Top each muffin cup with the remaining 1/8 cup of cheddar.
Bake the mac and cheese until lightly golden on top, about 20-25 minutes.
Let cool slightly before removing from the muffin pan, serve immediately.



To the Best Homemade Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

So I didn’t just recently make this, but it is a recipe I use quite a bit and when I mean quite a bit I mean every weekend or every other when I was a senior in college since me and my running buddy Jessica craved it all the time.

The best thing about it is the crust stays constant but the toppings change. I sure have done quite a mixture of toppings with it. The first time I ever had this crust it was with green apple, sweet onion and gouda cheese – I was a little hesitant but it was absolutely fantastic and is now one of my favorite topping combinations. A traditional classic is fresh mozzarella and juicy tomatoes with a pesto sauce – can’t get much better than that.

If you are feeling extra fancy and deserve a special treat than try a stuffed crust – just stretch the dough a little more than extra and put cheese sticks (I like using the Sargento Pepper Jack ones for a bit of a kick) at the edge and fold dough over them. You can put the whole stick or you can cut it up into pieces and spread the goods – either way you and your guests will enjoy the extra cheese surprise.

2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour (If you don’t have on hand you can always use all-purpose flour, you just will loose the whole wheat nutrients)
3/4 tsp garlic salt (if you don’t like garlic or if you don’t have garlic salt, regular salt will work just fine)
1 tbsp. sugar (sugar substitutes like Splenda work fine here too)
1 tbsp. olive oil (again if you don’t have, vegetable oil will work too)
1 cup hot tap water (everyone has this!)
1 packet yeast – fast rising is the easiest
Extra spices – I usually add some or a combination of the following; paprika, cayenne pepper, onion powder, oregano – you can dress up your dough as you see fit for your tastebuds.
Olive Oil for Brushing

Preheat the oven to 425
Mix all of the dry ingredients together – add the hot water, keep mixing up, the dough may be a little sticky – use flour to help control it.
Let it sit for 5 min or up to an hour – it will continue to grow. Then knead/stretch/shape it on a floured surface – mix it up with round, rectangle and square pizzas – I sure do.
Spray your pan if using metal. Pizza stones work too (:
Put your dough on the pan and stretch to make it fit – add the cheese sticks if you are going the route of stuffed crust
Brush the dough with olive oil (not a lot just a glaze – you don’t want pools of oil) and pop into the oven for 3-5 minutes
Take out and add your toppings accordingly!
Put back in the oven and bake a good 7 minutes or longer depending on your cheese melting and how crispy you want you dough
Pull out from the oven and let cool a few minutes, cut and serve!



To Sweet Potato Soup

I think it is fair to say that sometimes sweet potato can be out shined by the other orange fall veggies – butternut squash and pumpkin. But, sweet potato can yield just as awesome of a fall inspiring dish and that is exactly what this soup did!

3 sweet potatoes (washed, peeled and cubed)
1 small onion
celery stalks (chopped, 2-3, optional if you have on hand)
garlic clove(s) – (I think I used two)
2 to 3 cups vegetable stock (depending on preferred thickness)
some other miscellaneous spices (cayenne, paprika, pepper, etc – whatever you are feeing like at the time)
milk or cream (optional)
dash of cinnamon

Saute the onions and the garlic until a nice golden brown
Add the sweet potato and celery, cook for about 5 minutes
Add the vegetable stock and cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
Remove from heat and use a submersion or hand blender to make into a puree form.
Add spices to taste. You can add milk or cream if you want – I added this to one bowl but felt that the flavor was full enough without it!
Top with a dash of cinnamon and serve (this brings out the sweet flavor more)

Gobble up!



To Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal Cookies

These cookies were a day of last minute type of result. In January I am going to California with 13 other Illinois students to volunteer at AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA) so right now my group and I get together once a week to discuss our issue of AIDS, fundraise and get to know each other. Last night we had a meeting and I decided that I wanted to make cookies to share. Sometimes I like to play it safe when baking for a new crowd with either using a classic cookie or using a never fail recipe. The problem was both of the two cookies I thought of (Chocolate Crinkles) and the classic Peanut Butter cookie required refrigeration which I didn’t think I had enough time for. So when my housemate mentioned Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal Cookies it was an automatic sell – my house has plenty of apples, cinnamon and oats – solid. However, once I got home I only had time to prep the dough and not actually bake the cookies because I was meeting some girls on my program for $1 sushi – so delicious by the way! So I ended uprefrigerating my dough for about two hours (pretty much would have been fine with one of my other recipes) out of necessity of my busy schedule. Not sure if this played with the chemistry of the cookie dough, but either way they were delicious. Soft and chewy and little fresh bits of apple in them just made them that much better. Next time I will make a few alternatives to “health them up a bit” and may even try a vegan version of them. Pretty much what I am saying is that these cookies were killer and I definitely recommend them. A perfect fall treat – ohhh how delicious they would be with some apple cider – cold or warm – too many choices in life.

With my cookie scooper it yielded 28-30 cookies

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter , softened (will try 6 tbsp. butter and 2 tbsp. apple sauce next time)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour (I used 1/2 cup all purpose and 1/2 cup whole wheat)
1 1/4 cup oats, old fashioned or quick cooking
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (organic cinnamon – best of the best – yum yum yum)
generous pinch nutmeg (use fresh grated if you have it)
1 medium apple, peeled, diced small (used a honeycrisp apple – fantastic)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Place a rack in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Peel and dice the apple and toss with lemon juice.  Set aside.
Beat the sugar and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment.  Beat until creamy, about 3 to 4 minutes.  Add egg one,  beating for 1 minute..  Add the vanilla extract and beat until blended.
Whisk together the oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt.  Add to the butter and egg mixture slowly beating on low speed until just incorporated.  Stir in the walnuts andapple chunks last.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 to 13 minutes or until they’ve reached your desired doneness.  I like mine a little underdone and cook them for 10 minutes.  Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.  Or you could just eat them warm.  That’s probably the best idea.