One Pot, Stovetop Mac and Cheese

Who doesn’t love macaroni and cheese?  It’s definitely a favorite of mine and one of my favorite comfort foods.  This stovetop mac and cheese is wonderful.  The macaroni is cooked in milk, which makes it creamy and easy; and the combination of cheese is salty, creamy, melty deliciousness.  I’m getting cravings just writing this!  One pot makes clean-up easy, what more could you ask for from your favorite comfort food?

One Pot, Stovetop Mac and CheeseOne Pot Stovetop Mac and Cheese (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 4

Adapted from White On Rice Couple

  • 2 cups elbow macaroni, uncooked (about 3/4 lb)
  • 2 cups low fat milk, more on hand if needed
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 heaping cup shredded cheese (I recommend a blend of cheddar and swiss and parmesan, although I think a pepper jack would be really fun)

Place pasta in a colander and rinse with water.  In a large saucepan, add pasta, milk, butter, mustard powder, salt, and nutmeg.  Over medium heat, slowly bring the milk to a simmer, stirring frequently.    Once the mixture comes to a simmer, quickly turn the heat down to low.

Let macaroni slowly cook in the milk stirring constantly.  After about 15 minutes, or once the milk has mostly been absorbed and pasta is cooked, add the shredded cheese and mix well.  Turn off the heat, cover with a lid and let sit for about 5 minutes to allow the macaroni to finish absorbing the last of the milk.

Taste, adjust seasoning as needed, and serve immediately.

Turkey, Spinach, and Quinoa Lasagna

Lasagna is a great winter food.  It’s cheesy comfort on a plate.  It’s also a great way to sneak some more vegetables into your diet and served with a side salad, it’s downright nutritious and delicious.

I was intrigued by this recipe since it added quinoa to the mix.  And actually in the final product I didn’t really notice the quinoa.  But I like the idea especially if you make a vegetarian lasagna, it’s a great way to add some extra protein.  I added some zucchini and onion, but you can add whatever vegetables you have on hand, just sauté them up and mix them in with either the tomato sauce or the ricotta.  I went ahead and doubled the recipe below and made two 9×13″ pans of lasagna, it takes a little bit of extra time, but then you’ll have a spare that you can share, freeze or serve for a large crowd.

Turkey Spinach, and Quinoa LasagnaTurkey Spinach and Quinoa Lasagna

Serves 6-8

Adapted from Chasing Some Blue Sky

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 1 jar (24oz) tomato pasta sauce
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 pkg frozen spinach (I used about 10oz, but next time I’d use the whole 16oz bag), thawed and squeezed to remove excess liquid
  • 3 cups low-fat ricotta
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • 8 oz mozzarella (sliced or shredded)
  • 8-12 no-boil lasagna noodles

In a large pan, heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Add diced onion and sauté until it begins to soften, then add zucchini and garlic.  Sauté for a few minutes until veggies begin to brown.  Remove veggies to a plate while you cook the turkey.  In the pan add a little more olive oil if needed and cook the ground turkey, breaking it up into small pieces as you go.  Once the turkey has cooked through, add the vegetables back in and add tomato sauce, balsamic and wine.  Let simmer while you assemble the ricotta mixture.Turkey Spinach and Quinoa Lasagna with Salad

In a large bowl, mix together strained spinach, ricotta, eggs, cooked quinoa, spices, and parmesan.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

To assemble, scoop about 1 cup of the tomato mixture into the bottom of your 9×13″ pan.  Lay noodles in a single layer over the tomato mixture.  Scoop ricotta mixture over noodles, top with tomato mixture, then sprinkle with a thin layer of mozzarella, repeat with noodles, ricotta, tomato and mozzarella, until your pan is full, ending with the layer of mozzarella on top.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until top begins to brown and cheese is melted.

Roasted Garlic and Mushroom Pasta

The enjoyable thing about the School of Christian Living’s vegan challenge is that it forces me to get creative and adapt recipes to work within the limits I have set.  This pasta dish was loosely based off a recipe, but to make it vegan and fit in my price point, I took quite a few liberties so that the final product is quite unlike the original recipe I started with.  And sometimes trying something different works out wonderfully.  I loved the way this dish uses diced tomatoes but doesn’t feel like a spaghetti sauce.  The mushrooms and garlic give it a great earthiness while the tomatoes give it some zing and binds the whole dish together.  While I can’t wait to try the original recipe in its cheesy goodness, this was an excellent dish and I didn’t miss the cheese at all.  Lots of flavor!  And while 4 heads of garlic sounds super intense, the roasted garlic was actually pretty subtle.  If you’re a garlic-lover feel free to add another head.  I made the garlic a day ahead and kept it wrapped in foil until ready to use.

Roasted Garlic and Mushroom PastaRoasted Garlic and Mushroom Pasta

Serves 10

Adapted from The Flour Sack

  • 4 heads garlic, top 1/3 cut off
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 large portobello mushrooms, large chop
  • 1 lb white button or baby bella mushrooms, quartered
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 lbs bow-tie or other small noodle pasta
  • 2 (15oz) cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Drizzle cut garlic heads with olive oil and wrap tightly in foil.  Place in the oven and roast for about 40-50 minutes until golden brown.  While garlic roasts, chop and quarter the mushrooms and place on large baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and salt, mix well and roast in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, until browned but not dry.

Cook pasta according to the instructions, being sure to salt the pasta water really well (at least 1 Tbsp of salt) once it has come to a boil.  When the pasta is done, reserve 1 cup of pasta water and drain the rest.

In a large sauce pan, mix together the diced tomatoes and roasted garlic cloves.   Mix in the rosemary and sugar.  When the mushrooms are done mix in the mushrooms and pasta water to the sauce.  Just before serving, combine the sauce and the pasta in a large bowl, toss well to combine.  Sprinkle with toasted walnuts.

Zucchini and Basil Lasagna

This lasagna was amazing!  The recipe comes from a family from my church who sends a favorite recipe in their Christmas letter each year.  While this recipe is from their 2007 letter, better late than never!  I don’t recommend waiting 5 years before you try it though!  It’s perfect for this time of year where the zucchini and basil are still easy to find, yet the call of comforting warm dishes sounds better and better.

Zucchini and Basil Lasagna

Serves 8-10

  • 2 cups fat-free cottage cheese
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 1 large egg
  • cooking spray
  • 4 cups chopped zucchini (about 2 large zucchini)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cups tomato pasta sauce
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 9-12 oven ready lasagna noodles
  • 2 cups (8oz) shredded mozzarella

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Combine first 3 ingredients in a food processor; process until smooth.

Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat.  Add zucchini and onion; sauté until tender and just beginning to brown.  Stir in sauce and remove from heat.

Spread one third of the zucchini mixture in the bottom of a 9″x13″ baking dish.  Arrange 3 lasagna noodles over the sauce, top with one third of the cottage cheese mixture, one third zucchini mixture, and one third cheese.  Repeat until the pan is full.

Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.  Uncover and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes.

Swiss Chard and White Bean Pasta

So a while ago I made Rosemary and Garlic White Bean Dip and while I was making it I added WAY too much salt.  It was a humbling reminder to taste as you go and not to just blindly follow a recipe.  Fortunately, I had the sense to scoop out most of the dip, add a can of chickpeas which saved part of the dip.  Instead of throwing out the too salty 3/4, I saved it and had a plan to “do something” with it eventually.  Yesterday it was time to figure it out.  In the end I was really happy with how it turned out and would definitely recommend that if you have a failed experiment, or leftover dip that you get creative and try something new!  You never know when you’ll discover a whole new way of eating.

Swiss Chard and White Bean Pasta

Serves about 6

  • 1 large bunch swiss chard
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 1/2 cups white bean dip
  • 1 can (15oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 box whole wheat pasta

Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook your pasta until al dente.  While the water is boiling, chop your swiss chard (or kale would also work) into bite size pieces.  In a large skillet or wok, heat your olive oil over medium high heat.  Add the chopped onion to the skillet and saute until they begin to turn translucent.  Add your garlic to the oil and saute for about 30 seconds before adding the swiss chard stems.  Give the stems a head start and once they have softened, add the chopped chard leaves.  Allow the leaves to wilt a little.  Add in the white bean dip and diced tomatoes.  Mix well.  Add some of the pasta cooking water to help thin the sauce if necessary.  Serve the pasta with sauce and enjoy!

Tomato, Basil, Mozzarella Pasta Salad

After the success of Sandra’s Tomato, Basil, Mozzarella salad during our catering event, I decided to do a similar salad for the Seekers luncheon.  I wanted to have a pasta salad, so to bulk up the traditional TBM I added whole wheat rotini and pesto.  These flavors are just great for the summer, it’s a super refreshing combination.

Tomato, Basil, Mozzarella Pasta Salad

Serves 45-50

Adapted from Alexandra’s Kitchen

  • 2 (13oz) boxes whole wheat rotini (or other small pasta)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup basil pesto
  • 2 lbs mozzarella, diced
  • 3 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 bunch of basil, leaves torn

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add about 1 Tbsp of salt and add the pasta.  Cook the pasta until al dente, about 9-10 minutes.  Drain and then toss with the pesto.  Allow pasta to cool and just before serving toss with the mozzarella, tomatoes and basil.

Spaghetti and Veggieballs

Woke up (too early for a Saturday) thinking about my grocery shopping list for the day.  I’m catering for my 8-year old cousin’s birthday party tomorrow, and don’t want to forget a thing.  It’s going to be quite the event.  More on that later.

First, let’s talk about my first catering gig.  On Tuesday nights I cater for my church’s adult education class called the School of Christian Living.  It’s a six week course and they offer various topics (this term there’s a class on prayer and a class on being a welcoming community).  So I have a very small budget and cook for about 22 people.

Week one I decided to serve Spaghetti and “Not Meatballs,” Salad, Garlic Rolls and Orangies & Orange Ricotta Cookies.

I found a recipe for spaghetti and vegetarian meatballs on Budget Bytes.  It’s a wonderful site that breaks down the cost of meals (which was great for trying to plan on my tight budget).  I was also able to find great deals on produce and a HUGE can of chickpeas (6 lbs 14oz) for about $5 at the local Asian market, H-Mart.

These veggieballs are really delicious on their own or with marinara sauce.  They’ll get soggy quickly, so only sauce what you’ll eat immediately.

I love spaghetti sauce with stuff in it, so I added spinach and mushrooms.  Extra texture, vitamins and deliciousness!

Here’s the recipe with the changes I made:


Serves 25

Adapted from Budget Bytes

  • 6lbs 14oz can chickpeas (about 8 15oz cans)
  • 4 small onions, roughly chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 bunches flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp salt
  • pepper (probably close to a tsp)
  • 4 large eggs

Drain and rinse the chickpeas.  Then (in batches) combine chickpeas, onion, garlic, parsley and parmesan in a food processor.  The mixture should be in small bits, close to paste.  Whisk the cayenne pepper, salt, pepper and eggs together.  Mix the eggs into the bean mixture.  Preheat oven to 350°F.  Begin rolling mixture into balls.  I used a cookie scoop to keep the sizes similar.  Bake for about 15 minutes until browned on the bottom, rotate and bake for an additional 10 minutes.


Spaghetti Sauce

Adapted from Budget Bytes

  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 (28oz) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 2 (6oz) cans tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 4 dried bay leaves
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 large bag frozen spinach, thawed
  • 24 oz. mushrooms, sliced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 Tbsp fresh basil

In a large pot, heat olive oil on medium high heat and add diced onion, minced garlic and sliced mushrooms.  Cook until very soft and beginning to brown.  Add tomatoes, paste, oregano, bay leaves and brown sugar.  Let simmer on medium/low heat for a half hour (partially covered to allow steam release but still protect from splatters).  Add the thawed and drained spinach to the sauce.  Taste sauce and adjust seasoning.  Simmer for an additional half hour and then serve over pasta and top with fresh basil.