Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Simply...Macaroni and Cheese

I make home made macaroni and cheese quite often, either as a main dish or a side.  Probably every other week.  At least. To me, it's a very simple process that doesn't require a lot of pots or pans, dishes, or even work.  I found this recipe and have adapted it to meet my needs.  By meeting my needs, I mean changing it up based on which cheese(s) I have in the house at the moment.

One Pot Mac n Cheese

I'm such a bad blogger that I rarely remember to take pictures when I cook.  I'm such a bad blogger I rarely remember to blog.  Or I take pictures then never blog about them.  But I'm trying to do better.  I promise.

So why is this recipe so easy?  Doesn't mac n cheese require a cheese sauce, made separately then added once the pasta is cooked?  NOT THIS ONE.  The pasta cooks in milk, which turns into the sauce once you add a slurry and cheese.  Can you get any easier??

The original poster has a beautiful picture on the recipe page, so I won't try to copy that.  But I DID manage to snap a few while making it last week.

Step 1: Melt butter in dutch oven, add in spices. Add milk, bring to boil.
Step 2: Add pasta, then a few minutes later add in broccoli.

Here is the pasta and the broccoli (added a few minutes into cooking) boiling away in the milk.

Step 3: While step 2 is happening, grate cheese and make slurry.  I use the mason jar the recipe author suggests, but a small bowl works too.  Preheat oven.

Here is the slurry, before mixing and after.

Step 4: When pasta is cooked, stir in grated cheese, then slurry.  Sprinkle with extra cheese, then pop in oven till brown and bubbly.  My final picture does NOT do it justice.

I usually had a huge block of cheddar cheese in the house, but have been known to pretty much use ANY cheese I have in the house.  I also vary the pepper added in Step 1, based again on what I am in the mood for.  I have never owned the chipotle chili pepper called for in the recipe, so I will use a different red pepper.  Make sure you know your pepper though, as you may not need the same amount, depending on the hotness of it.  You can also vary the veggie added, again based on what you have in the house!

Love this simple recipe.  And all I have to wash is the dutch oven, the cheese grater, and the jar from the slurry.  Which usually goes in the dishwasher...

Happy Eating!

Sunday, June 28, 2015


OMG I am so bad.  I got up before everyone this morning, made my coffee and tuned into Food Network.

Little secret about me: one of my weekend rituals is to watch cooking shows every Saturday and/or Sunday morning for my dinnertime inspirations for the upcoming week.  First, I tune to my local news station to catch the seven day forecast.  That's important this time of year, as summer afternoons can be filled with quick rain showers and thunderstorms.  My husband doesn't mind standing next to the grill in the rain, but I do. So once I get an idea of the weather for the week, I'm ready to sit like a lump on the couch and plan my meals.

So why am I so bad?  Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond wasn't on for 5 minutes and I was up making one of her recipes.  It happened so fast I didn't take pictures!  My husband came down as I was putting the cobbler in the oven, I told him how simple this recipe was, and it hit me.  This was the perfect recipe for the blog!!

I've got a finished shot for you, but since Ree does such a good job with her photographs and documenting her recipes, I figured I didn't really need to recreate that here.  A link to her loveliness will do just fine, with a finished shot of my cobbler.

Cobblers can be scary, especially if you use a more difficult base.  Ree points out in the episode that she makes the cobbler that it can be a lot of work should you choose to lay a pie crust over fruit, or if you use biscuit dough (we don't buy the less work, boxed mix of course!) so her recipe is super simple.  The hardest part?  Waiting an hour for it to bake,

So here it is:

1 cup flour
1 cup sugar (I use turbinado for the extra flavor)
1 cup milk (she used whole, I used 3/4 skim 1/4 half and half)
1/2 stick melted butter

Mix, pour in greased baking dish.  Scatter over top your fruit (she used blackberries but I had blueberries in the house so I went with that, as it was an emergency and I had to get this in the oven immediately.)

She sprinkles 1/4 additional sugar on top (I found that to be too much, so I used less) and into a 350 degree oven it goes for about an hour.  Done!

Not only is is a simple dessert recipe for a busy evening (pop it in the oven while you are eating) but it's a quick dish to make when you have unexpected company coming; 5 minutes of prep and it bakes while you are getting ready.

Love it!  My township is having Fourth of July fireworks tonight, so a blueberry dessert is just the thing to get the holiday week going.  If I had strawberries to add too....yummm.  May need to hit the farm market later today and make another one.  I am so bad.

Here is the link to view the recipe from it's original source, the lovely Ree Drummond:
Ree Drummond's Blackberry Cobbler Recipe

My lovely cobbler, fresh from the oven:

Happy eating!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Sharing the simple

I love Pinterest.   It leads me to so many places I may never have found without it.

Right now I am sitting on my deck, watching the leaves blow in the wind, got my tunes playing, and the laptop on my lap planning my meals for the week.  I came across this yummy, simple, clean dinner and wanted to share it with you.

~Disclaimer~ I have not tried this recipe yet; and even if you don't use the exact ingredients the poster did, it shows you how simple a meal can be.  A tiny bit of prep, a clock nearby, and you can sit outside near your grill, enjoy a cold beverage of choice, and maybe even watch or play with your kids in the backyard while dinner cooks.

Dinner on the Grill tonight!

Taylor, the original poster, made a simple. dinner all on the grill. Meat, potatoes, salad (yes, I said salad.)

If you try her recipe, leave a comment and let me know.  My main purpose for sharing is to show you the simplicity of it.  Her pictures show a fabulous meal, my teen boys would happily eat it (minus the grilled romaine - we'll have to test that out and see, but we love kale chips, so maybe) and I could sit with my glass of wine while it all cooks on the grill.  I could even prep it before leaving for work in the morning, then plop everything on when I get home.

Dinner, so simple!

Happy Eating!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Dinner tonight, super simple roast beef

Dinner tonight was simple.  So simple there is no way anyone could possibly mess it up.

Beef Roast

I have never had a more delicious, tender, moist roast.

The recipe calls for a 3 pound roast, mine was 2.5 pounds.  The only modification I made was shortening the amount of time it sits in the oven.

This recipe is so simple.  Wait, did I say that already?  Well, it is.  How simple you ask?

Step 1: preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
Step 2: rub the roast with salt, pepper, and I add smoked paprika
Step 3: when oven is preheated, put roast in (uncovered) and reduce heat to 475 degrees
Step 4: bake for 7 minutes per pound
Step 5: turn oven off, set timer for a couple hours, and walk away. DO NOT OPEN OVEN DURING THAT TIME.
Step 6: timer rings, take out meat and slice. Dinner is ready!!

See, you can't get any easier.  Best part about it, is that you made it with simple ingredients.  ALl my spices are organic, and my roast is as well, but yours doesn't have to be.  The point is that you did not buy one that was pre-seasoned at the grocery store; you have no idea what they are putting on those meats.

I like to make this when I have to pick my kids up from school close to dinner time.  The oven is on well before dinnertime, and off for a couple hours before, so I can comfortably leave the house and not worry about a hot oven.

Side dish was some frozen organic mixed veggies.

This is a next day picture, of what is leftover from last night.  I didn't reheat it, just staged it on a plate.  Taken with my phone, not the greatest picture, but you can tell how yummy it is.  Now, I'm off to have a couple of those slices for lunch!

Happy Eating!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Header change!!

My regular readers may have already noticed, but I changed the heading for the blog.  Last week I had a few extra minutes (I KNOW, it can happen!) while sitting waiting for my tires to be rotated to clean up my laptop.  I stopped in to have it done on my way to work, so with my laptop on my lap, I figured it was a good time to clean up my hard drive.

One of the things I noticed was all the recipes I had downloaded, saved, bookmarked, filed into folders, yadayadayada that I never looked at again.  Found some really great ones that I will definitely try; but then found some real doozies with ingredients that were never to be found in my pantry.

One example: liquid aminos.  Liquid aminos??  How that is unprocessed I just don't know.  But ingredients like these got me thinking.  Again.  Yes, I do think a lot.  For those of you who read my blog often, many of my posts are because I was "thinking."

The last time I sat here thinking, it was about a conversation with a co-worker and defining clean eating and it led me to take a quick check on my eating habits.

Which is a good thing.  It meant I wasn't thinking about cookies.

So this latest "thinking" has made me realize that clean eating doesn't have to be nuts, with all sorts of strange ingredients.  It doesn't.  It just needs to be simple, using real food ingredients to make some delicious meals.

I've participated in October Unprocessed the last few years, and each year I see all these people making their own cheese, almond milk, even grinding their own flour.  At the end of each month, the number of people who post about slipping, falling off their wagons, and can't keep that up is not surprising.  People go from one extreme (eating mostly processed) to the other (living off the grid) in one month will never stick with it.  It's too overwhelming.  I'm not here to encourage those choices.

I'm here to show the average person, most likely you are a mom, who wants to raise their kids in a healthy way without all the additives that are not good for us.

So if you are new here, welcome.  If you are a regular reader, you are going to see this blog switch to more of a recipe place.  I want to show how easy it is to just use whole ingredients to make fabulous food for your family.

Happy Eating!!

P.S. If you want that cookie recipe, leave a comment and I'll post it for you.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

What IS clean eating? NOW...

I am sitting here eating a piece of pineapple carrot cake I purchased at a farm market over the weekend.  OMG so NOT clean.  How ironic that I am eating this, while blogging about eating clean.

Why do I have this round tin of badness?  We went out last weekend with my sister-in-law for a wine tasting, and the tasting room was in a small farmers market.  Part of the tasting was a coupon for $5 off at the farm market, if you spent $25 or more.  Well, it's so easy for me to spend $25 on fruits and vegetables normally.  In March in New Jersey, not so much.  We're still awaiting all the now to melt.  There was a very limited selection, and if the coupon didn't expire in April we would've considered taking the hour drive back to use it at a later date.  So around the market I went, picking up apples, lettuce, cucumbers...knowing that none was grown here (well, maybe the lettuce in a greenhouse) but still happy to be coming home with fresh yummies and happily avoiding a shopping trip once I got home.  I was a little short with what they had that I wanted...so I came home with a pineapple carrot cake.  I was pleased with the ingredient list; nothing but recognizable ingredients, no preservatives, so home it came.

I think I have been doing this more than I realize.

Let's look back at the post from November 17, 2102.

My Clean Eating Rules

Here was my rule:

My "rule" is this: is it in it's natural form?  
Yes? I can eat it.
No? Why not? How has it been modified? (I am not grinding my own wheat into flour...) How many ingredients are on the label and more importantly WHAT ARE THEY? If I don't know what it is, I WILL NOT EAT IT.  With the exceptions above. :) But even in my exceptions, I read labels closely.  Minimal ingredients are key for me.  

I am still following my rule.  But I think those exceptions are growing more and more.  I still only purchase pasta, cereal, graham crackers, yogurt, macaroni & cheese (see yesterday's post,) will pick up a loaf of bread every now & then if I don't have time to make a loaf for sandwiches, but haven't added anything else back into my pantry that isn't a one ingredient item.

The exceptions are when we are out.  I admit I've brought home donuts a few times more than I want to.  I'm starting to get lazy and not wanting to put in the effort to bake everything.  I loved making donuts in the beginning; it was fun, I was proud; now it's a chore.  Am I getting old and grumpy?  Not sure.  Am I tired from work?  Not sure. The thought of the dishes afterwards gets overwhelming, after cooking and cleaning up from dinner.  I find that if I bake in the afternoons, on my day off, it's a bit more fun.  But overall, I am feeling lazy.  I still refuse to bring home a box of cake mix - we won't have cake before that happens - but if we are out instead of going hungry when I don't like choices (like I used to,) I will get that hot dog on the run, or grab a sandwich from Starbucks.  I used to plan my shopping trips and errands around eating, and I don't do that anymore.  Now it's all about how much can I get in one day in one trip from store to store to store.  

Life is moving too fast.  I think it's time to slow it down.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

What IS clean eating? THEN...

Had a conversation yesterday with someone about "clean eating."  Was trying to explain exactly what it is, and found that I was having some problems getting her to understand exactly what it was.  Why?  Cause I was having problems explaining exactly what it was.

There are so many different definitions, from the die hard "I only eat what I grow" to "I only buy one ingredient foods."  Does it have to be organic to be clean?  Or is non-GMO enough?  Why can't I just buy apples, cook them awhile, throw in sugar & have applesauce instead of buying it - isn't that eating clean?  Well, if I could make it myself, it's clean; but just because I can make it doesn't mean I have to - I can buy it.  Right?  Maybe I'll just stop buying stuff in a box.  Okay, I eat clean.

This makes me think a lot about the title of this blog.  CLEAN EATING - MY WAY.  Clean eaters all seem to have their own way of interpreting what they consider clean, so how do newbies find their way around this mess?

If you are a newbie to clean eating, and you stumbled upon my little piece of the internet today, welcome!

I thought I would take some time and think about what "clean eating" means to me now, and how it's evolved over the years.

Here is my first post about my clean eating "rules" My Clean Eating Rules Post #2  This is the second post on this blog, dating all the way back to November 17, 2012.  Wow have time flown!

How has our clean eating grown over the last 2.5 years?  Let's see.

I still don't have a pasta maker.  We now eat gluten free pasta primarily, as wheat products really bother my hubby's acid reflux.

I do own and love a bread maker.  Love it.  Some recipes don't come out perfect in it, but love it.

Yogurt.  My glucose levels have been going up, and my Chobani intake has gone down.  I eat them periodically but not on a daily basis anymore.

I make my own graham crackers as much as possible.  They aren't the same, but still good.  SO disappointed to find the blogger who posted the recipe has taken down her site.  I highly recommend you ALWAYS print out recipes when you find one you like.  You never know when a beloved recipe will go bye bye.

Pretzels.  Never took up the challenge of trying to make again, but we rarely seem to eat them.  If I buy, I look for an organic brand or one with as few ingredients as possible,

Breakfast cereals.  Hugely fighting this battle with my kids.  The battle was easier before I had a teenage driver in the house.  Now if he wants something I am not willing to buy, he drives himself there, and buys it.  With his own money.  All I can hope is that he my teachings will stick somewhere, and come back out when he's a real adult.  I know that once he goes off to college that his choices will be limited, so this battle with him is about over.  My 15 year old, still complains a bit, but knows he's stuck eating what I buy and gives in much easier.

Macaroni & Cheese. Still buying organic brands (not the Kraft one though) as the boys need that something to make after school/clubs/gym when I am not home.  While my 17 year old is a great cook, I can't expect him to whip up a cheese sauce between school & the gym.  LOL

So that's where I was when this blog started, and where I am now with each category.  My ramblings has made this a very long post.  I'm going to end this here today; tomorrow I am going to come back with an in-depth look of my pantry, where I have started slipping, and where I have gotten better.

For now...
Happy eating!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Fun new cooking show

I've gotten myself addicted to a new cooking show on the Food Network, called Daphne Dishes.  Daphne is quite funny, being a stand-up comedian and all; is married to a professional chef, and is a personal friend of a friend of mine.  Because of that last statement, I tuned into her first episode.  And well, I liked her.  She seems real, and I like that.

So today as I watched one of her new episodes (noon EST on Sundays) I fell madly in love with her pound cake with strawberries.  My boys won't eat the balsamic strawberries that she made, so mine were plain, and instead of vanilla ice cream I made home made whipped cream, but her pound cake I made as advertised. OMG so good!  With five eggs and 1 and 3/4 sticks butter, it's got to be good, right?  Yeah...it was.  I definitely plan on making this again and again.

Here is a link to her recipe:


Here is a pic of mine; pretty awesome, huh?

Yeah, I thought you would think so.  Tomorrow, should there be any leftovers, I will try toasting it like Daphne does.  In the meantime...

Happy Eating!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Pots and Pans


I'm siting here watching Ree, the Pioneer Woman, cook up some very yummy chicken based dishes today.  I love watching cooking shows, if not for the recipes, but for the tools they use in the kitchen.  I get lots of great ideas for things to add to my already packed drawers and cabinets.

Speaking of a packed kitchen, is anyone decluttering?  My kitchen is already organized, so I am currently cleaning each item as it come up on the challenge; taking out all the pots and & pans and scrubbing down the inside & outside of the cabinet before putting everything back where it came from.  I'm not a big "stuff" person, so my kitchen is pretty streamlined.  We'll see what happens when next month we leave the kitchen and head into other rooms.

But I digress.  As usual.  But not really...since I was talking about the cabinet with my pots and pans, and that's the title of this post, right?  Right.

I love the tools they use on cooking shows; and I find myself wanting each and every one of them.  I've been married almost 25 years, and some of my pots and pans have been around that long, but they were high quality when we purchased/were gifted them so they have lasted.  And lasted.  And lasted!  I really want some new ones, but can't justify the expense when I an work with what I have. Sigh.

So here is my wish list:

a pasta pot - the kind that you pull up the strainer and the water stays in the pan

a dutch oven - the kind that you start the meal on the stovetop, then put the whole pot in the oven

That's it.  For now.  I'm not asking for a lot, right??  Just a couple items... :)

Happy cooking!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

It's Cold. It's Freakin' COLD!

Brrr.....that's all I got today. Brrrrrrrrr....

Lucky for me I don't have to go outside until much later, but unlucky for me it'll be dark then, so it'll be colder than it is right now with the sun shining.

Thought I would share my morning snack with you today.  I've decided to take up yoga again, in an effort to  get myself to a better place physically.  Over a year ago I bought a yoga DVD set; came with a book showing you how to do each pose, 2 foam blocks, a strap, and a DVD.  This time last year I went through the introductory part of the DVD that showed you how to do the combination of poses that they use a lot in the DVD. Things got busy, and well, all excuses aside I didn't look at it again until this past Tuesday.  I did the "transitions" part of the DVD, which shows you how they transition from one pose sequence to another.  Went a bit fast but...whatever.  Then I hit PLAY.  Eighteen minutes if way too fast-paced yoga that I gave up after twelve minutes.  It was horrible.  Same sets of moves over and over, and NOT at all for beginners.

I really wish I had tried this DVD more completely last year, when I could've possibly returned it,  Now I'm stuck with it; may try again one day, but in the meantime I know own two foam blocks and a strap.  haha.

Back to the food...after all, that's what this blog was supposed to be about, right?  It's branched off as time has gone on, turning more and more into a lifestyle blog.  And I'm good with that.  I think that's what I want it to be.

Small handful of mixed nuts, a wedge of monterey jack cheese, and a couple of strawberries.  Yum! Perfect combo to give me energy for some yoga.

A friend recommended a series on YouTube...so will play one while eating my snack.  Then hopefully give it a try!

I'd love to hear any recommendations you have!

Happy Eating!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Happy 2015!

Well 2015 is here and time for everyone to make resolutions they won't keep.

For 2014, my resolution was to spend more time with friends, so something fun each month, and to continue my food journey by seeking out healthier places to eat out.  I was pretty successful in the first two; the second was much harder.  Luckily I live in an area that is growing in natural foods,

So for 2015 I am going to continue with 2014 resolutions, but have added one more; decluttering the crap that has accumulated over the years.  I found this great site that helps you organize this process by giving you one small task each day.

Wanna try?

2015 Organized Home

It's simple; sign up via e-mail or visit their website daily; you can download a calendar that you can print out each month for your daily task.  How much easier can they make it??

Good luck; let me know how you are doing!!