Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese

I think that most of us can agree that Macaroni and Cheese is like, one of the best dishes on earth. It's pretty much one of the ultimate comfort foods in life. I make many versions, but I really like this one because of how incredibly easy it is. It, literally, is just a dump-everything-in-the-slow-cooker kind of recipe. Stir it up, plop the lid on, turn the temp to low and walk away for a few hours. That's it. Seriously. {You don't even boil the noodles first.} The pasta ends up perfectly cooked {not mushy at all}, an amazing creamy sauce is created and the flavors are simply spot on.

This takes just a short time to cook {three and a half hours or so}, so I like that this is something I can get going shortly before the kids get out of school and it's ready just in time for dinner around six o'clock. This, also, would be just perfect as a side dish for Sunday dinner after church.

A warning, however ... this is {obviously} not diet food. It has pasta and butter and cheese and milk and eggs and more cheese. So, it definitely doesn't quite register on the "healthy" scale. But, isn't that what we love about Macaroni and Cheese? It's totally supposed to be a little indulgent and a whole lot of yumminess.


Yields 6 servings {as a side dish}

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Retro Cherry Pineapple Crunch Dessert

This is really taking it back retro-style to a dessert that I recall several of my family members making when I was growing up. And, it was something that my best friend's mom made on a regular basis. First, however, a little disclaimer ... this dessert is the furthest thing from healthy. Like, the ingredient list consists of two store-bought canned items, a cake mix, a little coconut and lots of butter. {Yeah, that kind of "furthest thing from healthy."} So, this is maybe something to make like, once a year on the occasion that you're craving it or simply wanting a dessert on the fly with little effort. What it lacks in nutritional value, however, is redeemed in how darn good it is. {Like, try-not-to-eat-half-of-it-all-by-yourself good.}

This is, basically, a dump cake. But, since I absolutely hate that name, I refer to this method of making a quick dessert as a "crunch cake" or "crunch dessert." {And, actually, it's really not a cake, so let's stick with "dessert."}

I combine both pineapple and cherries in this recipe. I am in love with the pink-hued result of the two fruits. I, also, like the contrast of both texture and flavor ... a little zip and tang from the pineapple along with the sweetness of the cherries. And, the coconut on the top is really recommended, so try not to skip it.

Yields 6 servings.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Easy Falafel Salad with Savory Pita Croutons

If you're a lover of falafel sandwiches, wraps or platters like I am, this is a fun take on the traditional way of serving {and eating} those delectable little chickpea fritters. And, with a couple of store-bought shortcuts, this salad is on the table in about fifteen minutes. It's fresh, healthful and light, yet is hearty enough to serve as a casual meal for two.

I'm always looking for fresh and unique salad ideas. I pretty much could live on salads all throughout the summer months. If you have followed me for any amount of time, you know that I have gravitated towards more-frequent and deliberate meal prep with the focus on what I like to call "Intentional Eating." Instead of aimlessly grazing about my fridge and cupboards during the day {nibbling my way from a string cheese to a handful of granola to a spoonful of nut butter}, I have been trying to keep fresh, healthful ingredients on hand that either incorporate quickly into interesting, cravable salads or grain bowls for myself OR they inspire me to take a little time to meal prep a few days worth of quick-to-grab lunches.

Having frozen or fresh store-bought falafel on hand is especially lovely for me. I adore falafel. I do enjoy making from-scratch falafel, but don't always have the time {nor do I always want to take the time} to do so. I like to get bags of frozen falafel from Trader Joe's to keep on hand. But, I have, also, been noticing both refrigerated and frozen varieties more frequently in regular grocery stores, too.

NOTE: When I have made homemade falafel, I always follow Alton Brown's recipe. It never disappoints.

And while I do often make hummus from scratch, there are many really good brands and flavors of store-bought hummus these days. {I prefer the garlic or roasted red pepper versions of hummus for this salad.} I utilize hummus here as the base for the dressing. With just a bit of water to thin the hummus, you've got a quick, flavorful salad dressing that really ties everything together. With both falafel and hummus already in the fridge, whipping up this delicious salad is a total breeze.

Yields 2 servings.