Jane of all Trades: New Recipe Edition

I thought I'd go all Martha Stewart on y'all and add a recipe aspect to my blog. I already post about home, crafts and plants, why not add cooking to the mix and make this a real domestic-diva situation.

To set this up, I have been a vegetarian for 10 years and subsequently developed a love of cooking. I make up a lot of my own recipes and devise all kinds of meatless and healthier versions of traditional comfort foods. For this post, I will share with you my newest creation: Healthier Mac n Cheese with Garlic-Parmesan Breadcrumb Topping and Roasted Tomatoes. 

My secret weapon to make this classic dish a little lighter (it's still actually quite rich) is pureed cauliflower. It of course adds a little veggie action (good if you have picky kids), and it eliminates the need for milk/cream or a roux as it creates a thick, creamy base. Yay cauliflower!

1 package elbow macaroni
3 tablespoons butter
3 cups cauliflower florettes, cooked until very tender and pureed in food processor until smooth
1 1/2 cups mild cheddar cheese
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried mustard
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper

For the breadcrumb topping, pulse 3 slices good-quality white bread in the food processor until fine. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in skillet and add breadcrumbs. Toast over medium heat until lightly golden. Finely chop or Microplane a clove of garlic and add to breadcrumbs along with some dried or fresh parsley and 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Toast another minute and set aside.

Cook the macaroni in salted boiling water until just under al-dente. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water before draining.

In a large saucepan, melt the 3 tablespoons butter and add the pureed cauliflower, salt and pepper. When heated through, add the cheeses and spices. Stir until well combined, then add to cooked pasta along with a little of the pasta cooking water to further moisten.

Lightly butter a baking dish and evenly distribute the mac n cheese. Sprinkle on breadcrumb topping and bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until the top is golden.

A nice side to my mac n cheese is some roasted tomatoes. To make them, slice 1 pint of cherry tomatoes in half and toss with a teaspoon of sugar, pinch of salt, and a splash of balsamic vinegar and drizzle of olive oil. Bake at 400 degrees until tender and juicy.



Not Spring, but Happy Anyway

Well, I thought putting up a spring wreath outside (see last post) would somehow remind mother nature that we need some frickin' sunshine and warmth, but it didn't work. Regardless, I'm continuing to think positive and did a doodle on my kitchen chalkboard.

Thinking positive also means buying new plants. Last weekend we stopped at Lowe's and I picked up a couple beauties.
 This may be an Adenium?
 Rhipsalis "Mousetail" hanging basket. I have a beaded macrame hanger that will be perfect for this guy.

 An absolutely perfect pairing. If this doesn't bring spring, nothing will.