CrockPot Mac and Cheese

No joke. Mac and cheese in the crock pot, and it was super delicious!!

1 lb package of pasta (whatever work for you, we used something spirally)

8oz cheddar, grated (more or less, if you like lots or a little)

12oz bag of frozen broccoli (I like to rinse it first, so it’s not so watery once it defrosts a bit, but whatevs)

1can condensed milk (creepy, yes, but it works, and make sure it’s not evaporated)

1cup whole milk (would likely work with 2%, but I had whole on hand)

6oz light cream cheese

(I didn’t, but I’m guessing spraying the crockpot with Pam, or a good swiping of olive oil might keep it from sticking a lot)

Precook the pasta in boiling water for 4-5 minutes.* Dump everything but the cream cheese in the crock pot. Cook it for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally. Add the cream cheese when it’s got about 15 minutes left. Stir that in, and voila. No joke. It’s that easy. And yes, it was that good. I suspect the cream cheese has something to do with it. You could probably even add some BACON here at the end, if you want. We added shredded chicken leftover from another dinner. You could also probably add some hot sauce, bread crumbs, chili powder, or something like that to make it a little more grown up. Or just take it for the comfort food it is.

The big kid tolerated it (if it doesn’t come in a blue box, it’s apparently not “real” mac and cheese). The baby gobbled it. And Michael and I quite enjoyed it.

Let me know what you think, and if you have any variations on it!!

**Note: It seems that using FRESH broccoli (and probably NO VEGGIES) requires a bit of precooking, about 4-5 minutes, on the noodles. I did this, and my noodles were total mush, which is why I didn’t say to do it above. But I know that frozen broccoli seems to hold a lot of water, so it could be the reason. I’m going to try this again next week and experiment a bit, probably without veggies, since Ryan said she’d eat it without. Booger.

***Apparently, the precooking is quite important. Please precook your pasta. 😉

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Mediterranean Quinoa

This is so delicious…every time I’ve made it I’ve been asked for the recipe, so I’m posting it online!! It’s from Cynthia Lair’s book, Feeding the Whole Family, but I’ve added a bit to it. I’ve blogged about this book before and it’s simply amazing. I’ve yet to make anything from this book that wasn’t delicious.

Mediterranean Quinoa

1C quinoa

1 ¾ C water

½ t sea salt

¼ toasted pine nuts (we used slivered almonds because Ry’s allergic)

¼ C olive oil

¼ C lemon juice

3 T chopped fresh mint

3 T chopped fresh parsley

2 scallions

1 can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed

¼ C kalamata olives, pitted

¼ C currants

1/3 C crumbled feta

 

Wash, rinse and drain quinoa. Place in a 2 qt pot, add water and salt, bring to a boil, lower heat, and summer with lid on until all water is absorbed (15-20m). Don’t stir the grain while it’s cooking. Test for doneness by tilting the pan to one side, making sure all of the water has been absorbed. Remove lid and let rest 5-10m.

 

Dry-toast pine nuts in skillet or 300*F oven until they begin to change color and give off aroma, about 10 minutes (we didn’t do this with the almonds).

 

Combine olive oil, lemon juice, mint, and parsley in a large bowl. Add scallions, currants, feta cheese, and pine nuts and toss. Add cooked warm quinoa and toss well. Serve at room temp.

 

Weekend Projects

These sweet little felt flowers are totally one of those “why didn’t I think of this” projects. But alas, Rubies and Pearls did, and was so sweet to post a tutorial. I’ll likely put them on a regular barrette, or a headband, because that’s what Ryan’s into these days.

I have a feeling Peanut is going to adore these rose petal drawings. We may try them with some fallen leaves, too!

I’m always interested in seeing how others do their “inspiration” walls. Mine is currently in a notebook, as we’re short on wall space these days, but I like this one a lot. Easy to change out, and looks neat and tidy.

I’m pretty sure that “to die for” might describe these apple-cheddar scones perfectly, and I haven’t even made them yet. I can already smell them. But I have to wait, as my gluten free, dairy free mama is visiting, and that’s just mean.

And I picked up this adorable school desk for Peanut today (woot for craigslist!). I love it, and will love it even more after a little TLC and paint. She adores it though, and had to do a quick drawing on it to “test it out”. What color should I paint it? I’m leaning towards grey, but I recognize that I have a problem and love that color (not-color?) far too much. So I ask you, what color/s should I paint it?

 

Our favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies: lactation style

These cookies are super yummy, and the special “lactation” ingredients won’t hurt anyone else in the family. The oatmeal, brewer’s yeast and flaxseed meal are all galactogogues, which help promote milk production in nursing mothers. And, well, they’re chocolate chip cookies. So that’s awesome.

The other thing I love about this recipe? Ryan found it. She was flipping through a magazine on the counter one day, saw the cookies, and begged to make them. So really, I guess they’re Ryan’s chocolate chip cookies.

Makes 24 (or 48 if you use a smaller scoop)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1 1/2 cups oatmeal (sub 1 1/2 more cups flour instead if you’re not making lacation style)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal (optional)
  • 2-4 tablespoons brewers yeast (sometimes called nutritional yeast, and optional)
  • 1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups milk chocolate chips
  1. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt (and flaxseed meal, brewers yeast and oatmeal, if going lactation style).
  2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium-high until light and fluffy, 6 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low and beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in vanilla. Mix in flour mixture just until incorporated; fold in chocolate chips and chunks.
  3. Using a 1/4-cup ice-cream scoop or a large spoon (1/8 cup scoop for smaller cookies), drop dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet (you should have 24) and refrigerate 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. Arrange 6 unbaked cookies, 3 inches apart, on each of two parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until edges are light golden brown, 17 to 18 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool. Bake remaining dough using new parchment.

Unbaked cookies can be frozen on a baking sheet until firm; store in a resealable plastic bag in the freezer, up to 1 month. Bake from frozen. (Katy’s note: I think they taste better cooked from frozen. And the dough is awesome to eat straight frozen. Not that I’ve done it or anything.)

From Everyday Food, October 2009

Scones

We make these all the time around here, and they’re a HUGE hit. In fact, I just pulled them out of the oven, and Ryan said, “do I smell scones?” A hit, I tell you. And really, not too bad for you. I use mini-chocolate chips instead, so you can use less, but still get good coverage. And if you’re out of hazelnuts, try almond slivers. Also yummy.

angry chicken: Scones and a van..

via Scones.

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

I don’t think I’ve ever seen children eat something good for them (shhh, don’t tell) SO fast. 4 children each had at least 2 of these over the course of a morning. And they were super simple to mix up, too.

(from Cooking Light, August 2010)

1 2/3c oats

2/3c all-purpose flour

1/2c whole-wheat flour

3/4c packed light brown sugar

2t ground cinnamon

1t baking powder

1t baking soda

3/4t salt

1 1/2c low-fat buttermilk (OK, I was out of buttermilk, milk, etc, so I used yogurt that I had on hand. It was fairly runny, so not a whole lot different than the consistency of buttermilk and it worked really well.)

1/4c canola oil

2t grated lemon rind (skipped  this as I was out, but would probably have been yummy)

2 large eggs

2c frozen or fresh blueberries

1. preheat oven to 400*

2. pulse oats in food processor and put them in a large bowl

3. add dry ingredients

4. add wet ingredients; stir until moist

5. add blueberries (if using frozen ones, toss them in 2T flour first, so they don’t mush up and turn the muffins purple) and fold gently

6. spoon into muffin tin (original recipe says it’ll make 16, but mine made more like 22) and bake at 400* for 20m or until the muffins spring back when touched. Remove immediately and let cool on a rack.

OK, as I typed this up, the children each at 2 more. They’re almost gone. They’re that good.

I seek balance

Banana Bread

SERVES 12 -16 , 2 loaves (change servings and units)

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Mash bananas in a bowl.
  2. Add all other ingredients and mix well.
  3. Pour into 2 greased loaf pans (or you can pour it all into one, but it rises enough that you can split it in half). Sprinkle chocolate chips across the top, if desired.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean.

No joke, this is some of the best banana bread I’ve EVER made. And I make a lot of banana bread. We would otherwise waste a lot of bananas!

But, it’s a lower fat recipe, so when you add the chocolate chips, you’re not really doing too much damage. It’s always a balancing act.