Are you ready for the best mac ‘n cheese you’ve ever had? Are you ready for justified hyperboles?

Good!

Last week I was craving some mac ‘n cheese, but wanted to try something different. I’m also in the process of “cleaning” out my Pinterest, which means I’m going back to some of my older pins and making the recipes that have been sitting there for a long time. This recipe I pinned to my board sometime late last year, so I thought I’d give it a go. Thanks to The Comfort of Cooking for the recipe!

It. Made. My. Week.

Well, it would have if this lasted a whole week. I ate this whole thing in just about three days. I’m sorry (not sorry).

Cut VeggiesThe star of this dish, no surprise, is the roasted veggies. I used broccoli, red pepper, and carrots. You could also use squash, zucchini, or different colored peppers if you’re feeling it.

They just get cut up and tossed on a baking sheet to roast at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.

I like to get that out of the way before preparing the cheese sauce.

Roux has always been tricky for me, but this sauce turned out very good. You saute a chopped garlic clove in a little oil, and flour, and gradually add some milk until and mix until smooth. I was a little skeptical that the recipe only called for sharp cheddar cheese, because I’m used to eating mac with two or three or four different cheeses. But this sauce was great! If you don’t use Sargento sharp cheddar, you are doing it wrong and you should stop it right now.

Cheese Sauce

The sauce is seasoned with some red pepper flakes (which is a MUST!), black pepper and salt. I did things a little differently though and only used half of the cheese for the cheese sauce. Read on to find out what I did with the other half…

Mac N Cheese

I mixed in the roasted vegetables with a package of cooked whole grain pasta, and added the cheese sauce.

Yummy, yes?

Cheese on top

I then poured half of the pasta into a baking dish, and sprinkled the other half of the shredded cheese on top. If you want a really cheesy, melty pasta bake, do this!

Parmesan Layer

Then, pour the other half of the pasta on top. I also added about 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of breadcrumbs. Do this!

The best thing about this recipe is that it doesn’t bake in the oven too long – just about 5 minutes will do it. And you’re done!

 

ENJOY!

Hello.

Who doesn’t like cookies? I’ve never met a person who didn’t like cookies, and if there is someone out there who doesn’t like cookies I don’t want to meet them! (ok, it’s not that serious. I’m just kidding…or am I?)

Brown Butter Snickerdoodle

Brown Butter Snickerdoodle

Here are two undeniable facts: cookies make people happy, and butter tastes good. Now, let’s take the latter fact a step further – browned butter tastes really, really good. The simple step of browning butter really makes these cookies. It’s an extra step, but it is so worth it.

I learned of this recipe, of course, on Pinterest. It comes from Tasty Kitchen, and I did everything except add the tablespoon of Greek yogurt simply because I had none. No worries, these cookies still came out great!

Now, to make these cookies you have to come to terms with the fact that you will be, eventually, eating two full sticks of butter. If you have family or friends to share your cookies with (if you are a crazy person who doesn’t keep delicious cookies all to yourself), you don’t have to worry about that. Otherwise, break out the defib because your heart is going to hate you!

(But your mouth will be so happy)

Butter

Butter

This is what my butter looked like after I browned it in a pan…it’s not very brown, is it? But it’s really going to add more flavor than just tossing room temperature butter in the batter. Unlike room temperature butter, the brown butter has a nutty aroma and thicker consistency. You really have to give it a try because you will taste the difference!

After browning the butter, I let it sit on the counter for a few minutes as I prepared the cookie dough. Not-so-secret-secret-time: I love cookie dough. Oh my gosh, I love cookie dough. I think sometimes that cookie dough tastes better than actual cookies. However, I feel obligated to warn you against eating cookie dough because of the raw egg and salmonella risk. Delicious soft, sugary, creamy, cookie dough isn’t worth potentially risking your life over. Creamy, yummy, buttery, cookie dough…it’s so good!

Not that you should eat it.

But I do.

Snickerdoodle Cookie Dough

Snickerdoodle Cookie Dough

PRO TIP: This isn’t really a tip as much as it is a necessity – refrigerate your cookie dough for about an hour, or overnight, before you bake it. Seriously, it makes a difference! Don’t skip this step, don’t!! You owe it to yourself.

After an agonizing 60 cookie-less minutes, roll the cookie dough into small balls. I just baked enough cookies that I could fit onto my cookie sheet, and froze the rest.

Cookie dough

Cookie dough

Now here comes my favorite part: rolling the cookie tough in cinnamon and sugar! I’m like a little kid, it really doesn’t take much to make me happy.

Sugar and Cinnamon

Sugar and Cinnamon

After you roll all of the cookie balls in the cinnamon-sugar mix, they’re ready to bake. Wait another 10-ish minutes, and voila! You’ve got cookies.

Brown Butter Snickerdoodle

Brown Butter Snickerdoodle

Snickerdoodle Cookie closeup

Snickerdoodle Cookie closeup

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Oh. My. Gosh.

Let me tell you something about this pasta.

turkey meatballs

I was craving spaghetti and meatballs like a mad woman for a solid week. I finally got paid, and got around to buying the ingredients earlier this week and I am SO HAPPY I did. Between you and me, I’m not a huge spaghetti person – I like short pasta better because it’s not as messy and easier to eat that spaghetti or linguine that you have to twirl around your fork and twirl into a spoon and worry about getting pasta sauce all over your chin. No, I like the simple life. I like short pasta.

I’m also not huge into red meat, so I decided to use turkey meatballs instead of beef. Crazy, I know! I followed the basics of this Herbed Turkey Meatballs recipe that I found on Pinterest, but mostly improvised the ingredients. I didn’t have oregano so I used basil, and I added a pinch of garlic powder and a chopped garlic clove. It smelled so good! I love garlic so, so much. If you don’t, you’re crazy.

I did add a little something else that the recipe didn’t call for:

Prego: Roasted Garlic Parmesan

Prego: Roasted Garlic Parmesan

This Prego pasta sauce made the meatballs moist, garlicy, and it really harmonized the flavors throughout the dish. I wasn’t measuring, but I would say I added about 1/4 cup of the pasta sauce to the meat, and mushed it up with my hands afterward. But the sauce made the meat really..saucy (surprise). So I had to add a bit more breadcrumbs than originally called for to make it firm enough for me to roll together.

Raw Meatballs

Raw Meatballs

I made aout 15 or 16ish meatballs. The Pinterest recipe said to pop them in the oven at 400 (?) degrees for 15-20 minutes, but I left them in for about 25 minutes mostly because of my phobia of undercooked meat, especially poultry. They came out nice and browned.

While that was in the oven, I boiled up some penne al-dente and mixed it up with about 1/2 of the pasta sauce in the jar.

Pasta

pasta

I could seriously eat my pasta just like this…and in my poor college student days a I have! But I am a fancy working girl now and I can afford to buy a pound of ground turkey.

So I dumped my cooked turkey balls on top of the pasta, and poured the rest of the pasta sauce on top of the meatballs. I added some water to the jar and mixed it around to get out all of the sauce, which my mom taught me to do when I was a kid.

Pasta and Meatballs

Pasta and Meatballs

Finally, I mixed that up and dug in. And it was SO GOOD!

Turkeyballs!

Turkeyballs!

Another good idea to is add some parmesan cheese on top. Get this: I went out and bought parmesan cheese for this very purpose but completely forgot I had it until I was 90% done with my meal, as you can see.

Cheese?

Cheese?

But you know what? It’s never too late to dig in.

Diet apple

Last Monday, I decided that I really, really needed to do something different if I wanted to lose weight.

Now, I’m not fat and I don’t think I’m fat. But I did gain about 10 pounds in the last three months that I would rather not have. I don’t feel comfortable with the extra pounds, and I want to go back to my normal weight. I have tried dieting and exercising, but no matter what my weight wouldn’t budge. It wasn’t working. I would work out 30 minutes a day for four days a week and didn’t notice any difference. I ate only “healthy food”, and I didn’t notice a difference.

The only weight-loss method that has ever really, really worked for me has been low-carb. I tried a “carb-free” diet (nothing made of “wheat” or high in sugar, including fruit) for about two weeks once and I lost a lot of weight in that short period of time. However, when you lose weight quickly it is just as easy to gain it back quickly (not that carb-free dieting is easy. No pizza,  bread, or pasta? NOOOO!). But I wanted to try a new diet that wouldn’t be too restrictive, and I wanted something that I could actually follow for longer than a week. So I looked up  intermittent fasting and decided to try it out.

If you have never heard of intermittent fasting, it is basically a starvation diet (KIDDING). But really, it is an eating pattern where you go through a 16-ish hour period of fasting. The pattern I chose is to eat lunch at noon, and dinner between 5-6 p.m. Two meals a day, that’s it. No snacking. I chose those times because they work with my work schedule. I usually eat lunch at noon anyway, and I can eat again when I get home from work and have time to prepare dinner. This isn’t too crazy. Really all you are doing is eating an “early” dinner and skipping breakfast. Yes, skipping breakfast. The most important meal of the day…serving it up, Gary’s way, OOP!

The word fasting sounds scary at first, at least to me. I am the type of person who hates the thought of being hungry. Honestly, my fear of hunger and inability to pace myself when I eat is probably the reason why I’ve always weighed about 10 pounds more than I would if I had self control like other people. But I want to change that, I’ve always wanted to. If you want to try intermittent fasting, you have to come to terms with the fact that you will be hungry, really, really hungry sometimes. But you won’t die. Even if you feel like you’re going to die, you won’t. I promise. The first day I skipped breakfast, I was so hungry by lunchtime that I thought I would faint. My stomach was grumbling so loudly that I thought everyone could hear it. It was bad, but it got better.

Fasting is easier if you fast for a purpose. When people fast for a period for religious reasons, it is easier for them because they have a reason to fast that they really believe in. For me, I started fasting because I wanted to rid myself of the stubborn extra weight that I didn’t need. It got easier. I knew that even thought I was hungry for a time, I would be okay. When you have food in your stomach, your body uses those calories that are available for energy, and the excess calories are stored as fat. When you have no food in your stomach, your body uses the fat that it has already stored as energy, and that’s a good thing because that’s how you lose fat. That mentality got me through my first long, long day of intermittent fasting.

Over the course of the week, my grumpy body adjusted to the fact that it wasn’t going to get fed first thing in the morning. Even on the second day I noticed that I wasn’t getting hungry at 9 a.m., but I was craving food closer to noon. It got better.

One thing I learned, though, is that I cannot (read: will not) fast longer than 16 or so hours. Last Tuesday, I had a big, late dinner that ended at around 8 p.m., and decided that I should skip both breakfast and lunch the next day to make up for it. By the time I got off work, I actually felt like I was going to faint. I was so hungry and empty that the wind could have knocked me over. I felt horrible, and I won’t ever skip food that long again.

My first week of intermittent fasting, I lost between 2-3 pounds. I am very happy with that, and I hope that by the end of the March I will either meet or surpass my goal. Although my goal is to lose 7 pounds now, I would also like to get back to my pre-college weight, which would be an additional 5 pounds. I can do it!

I got a lot of info about intermittent fasting by reading this article, linked here: The beginner’s guide to intermittent fasting”  Thank  you, Steve!

Intermittent fasting pros and cons:

Pros

*It works

*I can eat whatever I want! (I do prefer healthy food, of course)

*I have more food laying around, which means I go grocery shopping less

*This is an eating pattern I can stick with long-term

Cons

*Hunger makes it hard to concentrate at first

*Stomach growls are distracting

*I want to stuff my face with food 24/7!

*People hear the word “fasting” and think you are anorexic (not the case at all!)