The Beginning of The End Mac and Cheese. Basic Fall Version

Have you ever had one of those days, weeks, months, where it seems like everything that could go wrong will?  Well for those days just know, you can make yourself gooey bubbly mac and cheese in a matter of minutes. Mac and cheese heals all wounds, don’t you worry.

How this mac and cheese got its.. unusual name.  Have you ever been to the grocery store where they sell a bunch of ends of cheese for a super reduced price, like a buck for a huge pack, if not find one that does.  Using that to make the cheese sauce makes many portions for around 3 dollars total.  You will never be able to make this recipe the same way twice, but every time you make it, it will be delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of cheese ends
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 teaspoons flour
  • salt and pepper
  • pinch garlic powder
  • pasta shells (or pasta of your choosing)

For the “basic” version:

  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree per 1 cup cooked pasta
  • 1 pinch nutmeg

How to:

  1. In a sauce pan, melt butter on low heat.  Once the butter is melted add the flour (I used whole wheat) and stir until combined.
  2. Once the flour starts to bubble and thicken, add in the milk and whisk continuously.
  3. Bring to a low boil and let thicken for 5 minutes, after it has thickened a little bit, add the cheese to the pot.
  4. Continue whisking until all the cheese is melted.  Add a salt and pepper and a pinch of garlic.
  5. The best part about the cheese ends, is they are all different. Mine had American white and yellow, provolone, swiss, and pepper jack.  It was delicious.
  6. Cook the pasta to a little short of al dente, it will cook more when you bake it.
  7. Mix the pasta and cheese sauce in a oven safe pan and bake until the top is bubbly and brown.
  8. If you want the basic version, add the pumpkin to the pasta, mix well, then pour in the cheese, mix well.  Add a pinch of nutmeg to the top and pour a bit more cheese sauce on top, bake as well.
  9. Simple as that, took me less than 30 minutes to make it all!

Sorry for the poor pictures, maybe some better ones to come!

 

Pumpkin Cheesecake

So this weekend me and some of my girlfriends decided to have a wine night.  And what goes better with wine than cheese….cheesecake that is.  This pumpkin cheesecake is perfectly light and fluffy with minimal additional sugar.  It also has a low calorie crust so that you can eat several pieces and not feel guilty! It is the perfect addition to your girls night!

Ingredients:

  • 1 package cream cheese (reduced fat optional)
  • 1 16 oz can pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 dash vanilla extract

For the Crust:

  • 1.5 cups oats
  • cinnamon
  • squeeze of honey
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut oil

How to:

  1. Begin by making the crust.  Heat the oven to 375.
  2. In a glass pan add the oats, cinnamon, honey, sugar, and oil.
  3. Mix and press down as best as possible.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes until golden and then set aside to cool.
  5. In a bowl, whip the cream cheese and white sugar until light and fluffy.
  6. Add in the cream and whip for another minute.
  7. Add in the egg, vanilla, and spices and mix again for a few minutes.
  8. Add in the pumpkin and brown sugar and mix for another minute until incorporated.
  9. Spray the crust and pan with pan spray and pour in the cheesecake batter.
  10. Bake for 30-40 minutes until you can insert a knife in the middle and it comes out semi clean. The sides will be golden. Serve as is or with a simple whip cream!

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Charred Asparagus with Lemon, White Wine, and Garlic

As I was cooking my dinner I realized that I needed some greens.  I happened to have a bundle of asparagus just waiting in my fridge, but I also only had 10 minutes until the rest of my dinner was going to be ready.  So making this quick cooked asparagus was a perfect option to go with my fancy risotto!

Ingredients:

  • 1 handful asparagus, ends cut
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 splash white wine
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice and a few pieces of zest
  • pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter (optional)

How to:

  1. Beginning by placing your asparagus in a covered pan with the garlic and a bit of water, steam for 5 minutes until tender.
  2. Add in the wine, lemon, and pepper.
  3. Continue to cook for a few minutes until the liquid is gone.
  4. Once all the liquid is gone, let the asparagus get a little charred on each side, then finish with the butter.
  5. Once the butter is melted and has cooked for 2 minutes, you are ready to eat and enjoy!

Chipotle and Honey Roasted Carrots and Onions

I am not a lover of root veggies.  Parsnips have made no loving impact on me.  But you can only eat carrots with ranch so many times before you are bored.  This is a recipe that shakes that up, but also turns not root veggie lovers into believers.  It is the perfect level of spicy, sweet, and charred.  It is really easy but enhances a simple meal 10 fold!

Ingredients:

  • 3 large carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tablespoon honey (or agave)
  • pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chipotle powder/ seasoning (if it is seasoning be careful if it also contains salt to not over salt!)
  • 1 tablespoon oil

How to:

  1. Slice the carrots into fourths the long way, then in half the short way.
  2. Quarter the onion
  3. In a large bowl mix the onions, carrots, with the spices, oil and honey.  So everything gets nice and coated.
  4. Lay evenly and flat on a baking sheet. Sprinkle generously with sauce.
  5. Roast at 400 for 45 minutes or until everything is golden and tender.
  6. These are great, and so perfect for Fall!

Creamy Barley Risotto

When I was in Las Vegas a month ago, I had the priviledge and delight to eat in Gordon Ramsey’s Pub.  When I was there I got short ribs with barley risotto and roasted root veggies.  It was amazing, I still dream of it.  And I vowed that I was going to recreate this risotto, and I have.  It was my first time ever making risotto so there are still some tweaks I would have made, but honestly, it is delicious!  One great thing is this recipe can be made healthy or a little unhealthy, up to you!

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup Pearl Barley
  • 1/2 cup wine (although I used 3/4 by mistake)
  • 5 gloves garlic
  • 1/2 white onion chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 4 cups chicken stock (or vegetable)
  • 1 tablespoon cream (optional)
  • Pepper
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

How to:

  1. In a deep walled non stick skillet, pour in the oil and set to medium heat.
  2. Once hot cook the onions and garlic slow until translucent and fragrant
  3. Add in the bay leaves, pepper, and thyme, cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add the barley and stir getting the barley glossy with the oil.  Cook for 2 minutes
  5. Add in the wine and lemon juice and let simmer.
  6. Once the wine gets low, begin to add in the chicken stock, 2 ladles at a time.
  7. Once the stock is almost run out, add more, should take around 5-10 minutes.
  8. After 20 minutes of cooking, taste your risotto, the barley will have a bit of a bit, but I ended up having to add a bit more water to get it a little softer.
  9. Once the barley is at a desired tenderness and all the stock is gone, this is when you can add the cream and cook until a thick creamy sauce is formed, or you can skip this step, its delicious either way.
  10. I ate this with roasted onions and carrots that you can find the recipe for here.  I also ate them with charred asparagus you can find here.  And chicken nuggets because I am an adult and they are delicious.