Creamy Macaroni & Cheese (and more)

My menu plan this week is simple: a whole chicken in the crockpot with a broccoli/rice casserole, the leftover baked penne I made a month ago (just pulled out from the freezer), spinach egg wraps with bacon and frozen pizza (that I made last week).  As my freezer and pantry was starting to fill up, I realized it was time to take a little step back from trying out new recipes and use up what I already have.  I won’t post much this week, but I would like to wrap up the few things I made last week and over the weekend.  My daughter absolutely loved it too…which was actually kind of frustrating when we ate leftovers for lunch the next day because I didn’t get to eat near as much as I wanted to…  🙂

Dinner: Mac & Cheese, edamame, & grapes

*Note: No…I don’t usually cut my own grapes in half to eat, however, I also don’t usually buy grapes with seeds in them.  Ugh.  I didn’t realize until I got home and I had to cut each one in half to get the seeds out before we ate them.  Does anyone prefer grapes with seeds???  Oh well…life moves on.  At least our dinner was colorful!

Creamy Macaroni & Cheese

(Recipe adapted from: www.100daysofrealfood.com)

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups whole wheat pasta (I used shells)
  • 3 Tbsp organic butter
  • 2/3 cup organic heavy whipping cream
  • 2 1/2 cups freshly shredded cheese (I used Colby jack, a little mozzarella and some parmesan)
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Boil noodles in a large pot, according to directions.  Drain.  In same pot, melt butter over medium-low heat and then add 2/3 cup of whipping cream.  Stir to combine.  Turn the heat down to low and add salt, noodles, and cheese.  Stir until cheese melts and serve immediately.

Below is a dinner that I’ve hesitated to post.  It was good, but for some reason I got sick of it really quickly.  My husband and I both liked it the first night and then by lunch the next day neither of us wanted it again.  He ended up finishing it because I couldn’t eat it anymore…but I have no idea why.  It was actually pretty good the first time around.  Anyway, here it is, but since I can’t give it a good review, I’m not going to share the recipe.

Bacon Avocado Tomato Pasta Salad w/ Avocado Ranch Dressing
(Plus a slice of bread w/ butter)

I was very excited about my first attempt making cupcakes (as you may have noticed by my photo on Facebook).  I’ve always used a box mix AND a can of frosting to make cupcakes in the past, but there are a ton of unnecessary ingredients, so that no longer works.  Overall, it was just a few steps more work than using the box and even though I need to re-work my recipes a bit, I was very pleased with the end result.  This gives me the confidence to try them again for birthday parties, etc.  Of course, that means I’ll have to perfect my recipes before that point…  Oh darn, I have to make more cupcakes…   😉

I bought the Wilton cupcake decorating set that includes the tips and disposable tips.  Seriously, this is the way to frost cupcakes!  Never again will I use a knife to spread my icing.  This method was much faster and definitely looks more impressive when finished.  My only concern is how to color the frosting.  I think there are natural dyes out there, so I will have to look into those…but I’m definitely going to be staying away from the dyes with red #40, yellow #5 & 6, etc!  I’m also anxious to try adding a bit of peppermint extract to the icing, but my daughter wanted to stick with regular vanilla this time.  I just used two recipes from my Betty Crocker bridal edition cookbook: chocolate cake and vanilla buttercream.  I think the icing recipe used WAY too much powdered sugar and even for someone who LOVES frosting, it was too rich.

First attempt!

Over the weekend, we decided to have sandwiches for lunch since I had bought some deli turkey (Hormel Natural Choice – no nitrates added).  It’s not perfect, but when I can’t get to Indy(!) for lunch meat, this has to do.  I’m slowly starting to back off lunch meats and our consumption of meat, in general, but I haven’t come up with enough replacement meal ideas yet.  It’s a process and we’re working on it one month at a time.  Anyway, that wasn’t the point of this paragraph….  I’m so excited that we had something to eat out of our garden already!  I was able to go out back and cut off a few leaves of spinach and lettuce to add to our sandwiches.  It was fun and my daughter was very excited about eating the lettuce on her sandwich.  I’m excited that I won’t have to buy those two items from the grocery store for hopefully another month or two, at least!  I’ve been staggering my planting, so hopefully I’ll have enough to get us through the summer months.  The garden has been fun so far.  After the initial fear (and the following buyer’s remorse due to the initial setup costs), I’m happy to say I’m finally enjoying it again.  Everything I’ve planted seems to be doing really well so far.  I’m not sure how much we’ll actually get out of it this year, but I already know this is my learning season so I’m not expecting much.  I’m surprised how easy it’s all been so far.  I just water the plants almost every day (here and there I skip a day) and I pull out the weeds as I see them growing, and that’s been about it.  So far, so good!  Can’t wait until this picture below also includes tomatoes that we grew ourselves!!  I planted carrots too, but I’m not expecting much from those…

Sandwich with organic baby spinach from our garden!

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