Sunday, November 28, 2010

Mac & Cheese

How was everyone's Thanksgiving? Both of mine were delicious. We first ate with Jesse's family and then came to my parents house for round two. Both meals were so different (mashed potatoes & green bean casserole at his house, homemade noodles and desserts from scratch at mine), we were utterly stuffed when we were finally finished.
 Awesome montage of mac & cheese box mixes from here

Continuing my comfort foods made healthy theme, I made macaroni and cheese, one of my absolute favorite meals ever, a bit healthier this time (from Right at Home). I was nervous about the broccoli in this dish, but it was surprisingly good and didn't take away from my mac & cheese! Homemade macaroni and cheese is so much better than the Blue Box--honestly, if you've never made if from scratch, do it! It's worth it.

8 ounces multigrain elbow macaroni (about 2 cups)
4 Tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
4 Tablespoons butter
1 cup skim milk
1 cup fat-free half-and-half
2 cups shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
2 cups broccoli, chopped into small pieces
2 plum tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/4 cup whole-wheat bread crumbs (my family makes bread crumbs from scratch)

Get Cookin'

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, lightly grease a 9-by-12-inch baking dish

Cook the macaroni and drain.

Mix the flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder in a small bowl. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the seasoned flour whisk constantly until the mixture is thick and smooth, about 2 minutes.

Increase the heat to medium-high. Whisking constantly, gradually add the milk and half-and-half until the mixture is smooth. Bring to a gentle boil and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture is very thick and smooth, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Reduce the heat to medium. Add the cheese, half a cup at a time, stirring thoroughly each time until the cheese is melted. Remove from the heat. Add the cooked macaroni, stir to combine.

Layer the bottom of a baking dish with the broccoli and tomatoes. Spoon the macaroni and cheese over the vegetables. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and bake in the oven for 30 minutes, until the top is crisped and lightly browned.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Tuna Casserole

I'm so excited it's finally getting chilly in PHX! Right now it's 59 degrees and everybody around campus is walking around bundled up in ASU sweatshirts and sweatpants with a cup of hot coffee in their hand (like Starbuck's Christmas Blend, my favorite!).

Anyways, winter weather means delicious comfort food, like tuna casserole. While I may not eat the tuna casserole served at the dining hall downstairs, I'll never pass up a homemade one. This recipe is from Eat Better America, which "healthifies" traditional comfort food. So, don't feel too guilty about eating this for dinner tonight!
 photo from here

2 1/2 cups uncooked multigrain pasta (your favorite shape!)
2 teaspoons EVOO
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped 
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped 
1 medium onion, chopped 
1 package (8 oz) fresh mushrooms, chopped
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
1 can (10 3/4 oz) cream of mushroom soup (buy the 45% less sodium, condensed 98% fat-free kind)
1 container (8 oz) sour cream (reduced-fat )
2 oz cream cheese, softened (1/3-less-fat kind is best)
1/2 cup fat-free milk
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cans (6 oz each) solid white albacore tuna in water, drained
1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese 
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
12 stone-ground wheat crackers, coarsely crushed (about 1/2 cup) 
Frozen peas (I added this to the original recipe, maybe 1/2 of a frozen package?)

Get Cookin'

1  Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 13x9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Cook pasta as directed on package; drain.         
2  In a nonstick skillet, heat EVOO over medium-high heat. Saute bell peppers, onion, mushrooms and garlic until vegetables are tender.               
3  Stir in soup, sour cream, cream cheese, milk and pepper until well blended. Stir in tuna, pasta and Cheddar cheese. Spoon into baking dish; spread evenly. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and crushed crackers.
4  Bake uncovered 35 to 40 minutes or top is golden brown and mixture is bubbly.   
I think this could be converted to a crockpot, I'm going to experiment with that next time I make this!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Spanish White Beans with Spinach

I read a depressing statistic a few days ago: The average American adult gains 10 pounds between Halloween and New Years. Eek. That's a whole jean size. Yuck!

So, I'll be focusing on giving you some healthy alternatives over the next month to help keep us all fitting into our jeans! Today: Spanish white beans with spinach, originally from Gourmet (November 2009 issue).


  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped

  • 1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped

  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

  • 4 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika 

  • 2 (19-ounces cans) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

  • 1 cup water

  • 2 (10-ounces) bags spinach, tough stems removed

  • Get Cookin'

    The original recipe wasn't made for a slow cooker, but I converted it into one to fit into my week. If you don't want to use a crockpot, just sautee the recipe in a pan on the stove--quick and easy, too.

    Throw everything into the crockpot for 4-5 hours on low (you're really just letting the onions cook down and allowing the flavors to come together). About an hour before you're ready to eat, add the spinach to the slow cooker.

    Monday, November 8, 2010

    Salsa Chicken & Black Bean Soup

    This is a favorite around my dorm! It's easy, cheap and pretty healthy. Thanks to 365 Days of Crockpotting for this recipe! 

    --1 pound chicken (can still be frozen)
    --1 cans black beans (drained and rinsed)
    --4 cups chicken broth
    --1 cup sliced mushrooms ( I used canned ones)
    --1 cup frozen corn
    --1 jar prepared salsa (16 oz)
    --1 1/2 tsp cumin
    --1/2 cup sour cream (to stir in at the end)
    -- avocado slices, cilantro (all optional)

    Get cookin'

    Throw everything except the sour cream, avocado and cilantro into the crockpot and cook on low for 8 hours. If you'd like to thicken the broth use an immersible blender to blend a bit of the beans and chicken. If you don't have one, scoop out 2 cups of the soup and carefully blend in your traditional blender. Stir the mixture back into the crockpot.

    Stir in the 1/2 cup of sour cream before serving, and garnish with cilantro and avocado slices.