Tag Archives: Cooking

Caro: “The Ultimate Macaroni and Cheese” (Panera at Home)

***I’m catching up on old posts! This was my intended contribution to mac and cheese week.***

Omgomgomg. YOU GUYS.

Have you ever made mac and cheese at home from scratch? Does the same thing happen to you that happens to me where no matter how much cheese I add in, it always kind of just tastes like pasta in a vaguely cheese-flavored cream sauce that is wholly unsatisfying? Is that something that only happens to this girl? I don’t know… I don’t know.

I’ve only made plain mac and cheese from scratch a couple of times, but I’ve never found a recipe worth repeating. I did hit a jackpot of sorts when I made that jazzed up pumpkin mac and cheese in the fall, but I’ve never triumphed with a straight cheese and pasta recipe devoid of other ingredients to punch up the flavor. I always end up disappointed by the lack of that perfectly sharp cheesy flavor that makes me crave my favorite restaurant mac and cheeses by the bucketful. Womp, womp.

(For the record, my favorite mac and cheese of all time comes from Mr. Moes in Coconut Grove. The service sucks, and the tables and floors are always kind of sticky, but I keep going back, because HOLY GOODNESS have they nailed mac and cheese at its very best. A bowl of half-melty, half-stringy cheese with a handful of noodles swimming in it. It’s super rich and tastes cheesy beyond belief and is absolutely perfect, and I’m always fully satisfied after a helping. Dang, now I want some…)

Aaanyway. So this is how my mac and cheese creation attempts usually go. I’ll desperately crave mac and cheese, get all ambitious and excited, and try a new recipe, and then I’ll be like, “Why did I do that? That was a waste of time and cheese that I very well could have eaten straight.” After lamenting the poor use of perfectly yummy cheese, I’ll think of where I can go to get my mac and cheese fix as quick as possible (a.k.a. not from a sit-down restaurant), since you can’t leave a mac and cheese craving unsatisfied. When I was in St. Louis, I’d go to Noodles & Co. cause it was super close to campus, but since we don’t have those around here, I usually end up at Panera, which is cool cause I LOVE Panera.

Their mac and cheese is about as simple as it gets… no bread crumbs, no baking for crispy corners, no extra cheese on top. Noodles and sauce. But you know what? It’s still one of my favorites ever! I mean, really, when I crave comfort food, that’s all I want. Cheese and carbs and warmth, no frills.

SO. Imagine how excited I was when I thought I should look up copycat recipes for Panera’s masterpiece for mac and cheese week, and I found their recipe… on their website… from their head chef! It doesn’t get more legit than that, so I had a feeling I was on my way to my first truly successful (in other words, worth making again) at-home pared-down mac and cheese.

Guess what. I was right!!!

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Ok, so maybe this doesn’t taste exactly like the mac and cheese you get at Panera. But that’s because restaurants use crack or something in their dishes to make them addictive enough for you to keep spending your cash monies on them. This is as close as you’ll ever get to Panera at home… and it is le awesome. Why? 1. It actually tastes like CHEESE! Glorious. 2. It reheats better than any mac and cheese I’ve ever made. 3. It’s so easy… no oven or fancy garnishes or anything complicated. One saucepan (two if you wanna get fancy and make the cheese sauce while you boil the pasta), one bowl, one cheese grater, one measuring cup. Minimum effort, maximum payoff.

Success! Mac and cheese at home that is simple, hits the spot, and is worth making again, and again, and again. At last!

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Get. On. This.

Click here for the recipe!

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Caro: Chocolate Raspberry Truffles

***Sigh. I disappeared again 😦 …

I don’t want it to be this way. But something about working 11-hour days at the office and trying to make the most of Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays with people I will only be with for a few more weeks robs me of both my time and my motivation to cook/bake, clean up, photograph, write… but I’m trying, really. The kind of funny part is that I’ve kept up with the creating and “photographing” (with Camera+ on my iPhone, as I may or may not have misplaced my parents’ fancy D-SLR…) for every single week, but then I realize I have yet to edit the pictures (for whatever that’s worth) and I have yet to write the post, and, well, it just doesn’t feel like there’s enough time. I know, I know, people juggle a lot more than what I have on my plate… but I’ve never been known for my time management skills, and somehow the hours escape me. “I’ll do it tonight” becomes “I’ll do it tomorrow” becomes “I’ll have more time for this over the weekend” becomes a fridge full of food that has yet to be shared with the world via our little corner of the internet.

But anyway. All that rambling to let you know that I’m still alive, and I’m still cooking and baking, and hopefully there’ll be a lot more of me around here as my Tampa adventures wind down.

And, if it helps make up for my absence at all, today I bring you chocolate. (Yay!)***

Are you a fan of the combination of chocolate and raspberry? Truth be told, I used to hate it. HATED every raspberry-flavored thing I tried for years and years, so I eventually stopped trying raspberry-flavored things. Raspberry and I spent years apart before we were fatefully reunited one day…

(*Cue flashback initiation sequence*)

Lauren and I were lucky enough to go to pretty much a “foodie” university. Our dining halls had Indian, Mexican, Chinese, comfort, etc. food stations, and all the food was way awesome. But despite all this variety, my favorite part of the Wash. U. dining experience was the dessert case in the cafe (no surprise there!) that came as part of the new construction that went down while we were students. I would walk by it every single day just to see if there was anything I needed to try. Lauren and I spent so many nights with three desserts spread across a table, taking bites of and judging each one.

And one day, I spotted this slice of a chocolate pound-cake/loaf kind of deal that I HAD to have. It looked impossibly moist and just totally irresistible. So I bought a slice, duh, (maybe two…), and ventured home, nestled into bed, took a bite.

Well, it was so super amazing, obviously. I kept thinking it was chocolate and something else, and I couldn’t even pin down what the other flavor was… until my fork hit a little pocket of jam. I tried the jam alone, and that’s when it hit me. Raspberry! And chocolate! Chocolate raspberry, and I loved it. Converted!!!

And so, when I was thinking of what to make for Valentine’s week, chocolate raspberry something was a no-brainer. I settled on truffles pretty quickly, since I’ve always wanted to make them and spending $10/mall visit on Godiva truffles was really putting a dent in my budget, considering how often I go to the mall.

chocolate raspberry truffles

Ok. Here’s the thing. These were AWESOME. So, so awesome. So very wonderful, in fact, that my friend would not believe me when I told him I made them. (As if the fact that I offered them to him in a Tupperware container wasn’t enough of a hint…) So, they’re probably almost as good as the best truffles you’ve ever had unless you live in Belgium or something. Maybe.

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BUT… they are a LOT of work. At least they were for me. First they were too soft to roll into little truffle-y shapes, so I refrigerated the chocolate blob for an extra hour… which led it to harden to a rock-like consistency, which made it impossible to scoop any shapes out at all. So I ended up microwaving that blob until it was manageable… and then I used a knife to, in ruthless caveman-like fashion, carve out chunks of chocolate, which I then had to let sit and soften until they could be rolled into truffles, which I then had to freeze. AHH! So much temperature particularity to make these handle-able! It was a little too much for me.

So as good as they were, I probably won’t be making them again soon. The value of a recipe like this, though, is that you can adapt it any of nine billion ways… so next time some crazy chocolate combo pops into my head, I might whip up a batch of these just to say I made my own peanut butter potato chip truffles or white chocolate strawberry basil truffles or something. You know? Yep.

Anyway. Try these if you need a kitchen project to keep you busy! Maybe you’ll have more luck than I did at making the whole process manageable… but in any case, you’ll end up with perfect truffles, or goofy-looking little chocolate blobs, or a bowl of raspberry-infused dark chocolate goodness. Win, win, win!

Click here for the recipe!

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Lauren: Almond Butter Cup Smoothie

smoothieSometimes you want to spend an hour washing kale leaves for a salad and other times you just want to throw a bunch of stuff in a blender and press liquify. Almonds as this week’s pick allow me this opportunity to rest on my laurels.

You should know that in addition to my temporary sloth, I’m a little odd. I’m one of those people who actually prefers cold things to hot—even in sub-zero conditions. Soup for your cold? Nah, I’ll take ice cream. Oh, it’s -4 outside? Let’s make sno-cones. And for post-workout mid-blizzard munchies? An almond smoothie. It might feel like a brick in your stomach but it’s the best kind of brick. It actually solves the winter “I-can’t-stay-full” predicament and that is reason enough for a prize.

This smoothie, originally from Daniel Sage at Juice Press in New York, has been a fixture in my repertoire for the past few weeks and it is finally time to debut it to you, our lovely readers. While it may not be the prettiest smoothie ever, it sure is tasty, and did I mention it has no added sugar? Yep. None. It’s absolutely bursting with protein and the warming cinnamon thrown in doesn’t hurt either, especially during this latest round of snowstorms. Almonds are the shining stars of this recipe and appear in two forms—butter and milk. I have an odd fascination with grinding my own almond butter at The Fresh Market, but any kind will do. That plus unsweetened cocoa powder (this one is fantastic) and a banana and you’re golden. The recipe suggests adding agave nectar but I don’t see a point.

Now I’m going to go back to wearing my comforter around like that’s a thing. Cheers.

Recipe here. And if you have leftover almond butter lying around, may I recommend The Unrefined Kitchen’s almond butter dark chocolate chip cookies? Haven’t tried them but they look lovely.

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Caro: Chickpea (!!!) Fritters

Sigh.

Every time I think I’m done being stressed and I’ll have a couple of weeks of relative ease, something somewhere picks up and things go crazy all over again. So obviously, I’ve been trying to spend a fair amount of my free time with and around stuff that makes me happy. If you’d seen the enthusiasm I responded with when Lauren suggested chickpea week (which has passed, I know, I’m sorry 😦 ) for the blog, you’d know that chickpeas make me very, very happy.

In the interest of keeping this post positive and sharing some of my joy with all of you, here are a bunch of other things that make me happy:

  1. Falling asleep during a thunderstorm
  2. (Often irreverent yet amusing) Cyanide and Happiness comic strips
  3. Leaving the office for lunch on long days (and getting to eat at fun, new-to-me restaurants!)
  4. Splitting an almond right down the middle (It’s the little things!)
  5. Some of my most-loved R&B jams from the 90s
  6. My favorite music video, ever, of all time
  7. Sangría and champagne (not necessarily at the same time, though I don’t see how that could hurt)
  8. My favorite commercial from Superbowl XLVII (and my second favorite, too!)

Alright, now that some smiles have been smiled, let’s get back to chickpeas.

My love affair with the little legumes began with my stumbling upon this post by Molly Wizenberg on her blog Orangette (also known as my favorite [food] blog of all time). Molly can make anything sound beyond lovely, and while a meal of only chickpeas, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and cheese would in any other context have gone completely unnoticed by me, Molly’s writing sold me on it. I made it the day after reading the post, and now it is one of my top 3 lunch options on any given day. It’s perfect, especially when you take the time to find the best ingredients you can afford. It’s simple turned special 🙂 .

But it’s not what I made for chickpea week. I just wanted to tell you about it, in case you need a new favorite lunch. I went for something totally different, reminding myself that Cooking with Copy is supposed to be about trying new things and whatnot. I was worried I might be disappointed by my choice, fearing nothing could live up to my beloved five-ingredient chickpea salad… but I was WRONG! I made chickpea fritters, and they were AMAZING.

chickpea fritters

Amazing, like, I would call them the most delicious savory things to ever come out of my kitchen if it weren’t for that pumpkin mac and apple-smoked cheese I made and shamelessly devoured in November. So we’ll just have to call them the second-most-delicious. OMG, I don’t even know where to start with these. They’re like these adorable little chickpea patties, lightened up with the brightness of lemons and scallions, made even more flavorful by the addition of garlic and parsley (though the original recipe calls for rosemary). Oh, sorry, was all that not enough for you? Well, they’re also FRIED. So there. Try and say no to them now.

chickpea fritters

Haha, you can’t! And really, you shouldn’t. They’re a cinch to make, since you just have to roughly chop everything and toss it into a food processor, then form and fry the patties for a couple minutes. They end up all crispy and beautiful, and they manage to be light and filling at the same damn time, and they taste bright and fresh, and they’re just great. So really… get to it. Have them for dinner with some grilled chicken or steamed veggies, or eat them alone out of the pan while suffering mild burns from the hot oil, like I did… whatever. SO good!

Click here for the recipe!

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Lauren: Quinoa, Spinach (no-Mac), and Cheese

quinoa and spinach macaroni and cheeseGuys. GUYS! I MADE A ROUX! Tonight I made a roux. It was pretty exciting. I stirred and stirred the butter and flour mixture, added the milk, kept stirring and then ALL OF A SUDDEN—IT WAS A SAUCE! All of this in honor of this week’s ingredient: spinach. Betcha didn’t see that one coming did ya?

When Caro and I were discussing this month’s ingredients a few weeks ago, we were sort of on a vegetable kick. Well, actually, never mind, you’ll see that dream die in about a week. Anyway, we were talking and came up with spinach. That was all well and good, I thought I’d make a salad or maybe the spinach-quinoa patties (like those for example) I keep seeing everywhere. Then. I saw. This.

Caro’s really into the blog Two Peas and their Pod. Remember her easy, customizable, no-bake granola bars from a few weeks ago? Those magical bars that can be modified to fit just about ANY taste? Mmmhmm, those are from Two Peas. When I saw her bars I had to check out the site and while I was there found this magical spinach creation and knew—it was happening.

Tonight it did. There isn’t much to say about this recipe except:

  • Don’t curdle the milk. Just don’t do it. Keep whisking.
  • It helps to have some already-cooked quinoa around. I assumed that a little under two cups of dry quinoa would yield the three cups of cooked quinoa the recipe called for. Um yeah, so I ended up with quinoa for eight. At least. Pre-cook some quinoa and measure out three cups of it while hydrated to avoid this problem.
  • I’m guessing my quinoa proliferation was the reason why once in the oven, the dish didn’t bubble in the recommended amount of time, apart from a few stray bubbles around the edges.
  • Don’t over bake the dish which FOR ONCE I didn’t do, because dry quinoa and cheese is a sad, sad thing.
  • This is not healthy. Just because it’s not pasta does not make it healthy. There is enough whole milk, cheese, and butter to kill at least five people. But I did throw in a bunch of spinach so let’s just pretend.

Now invite everyone over for this quinoa, spinach (no-mac), and cheese (which received rave reviews from my dining mates by the way) and prepare to be the most popular of all your friends.

And let’s be honest; using a cast iron skillet is half the fun.

Recipe here!

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Caro: Easy, Customizable, No-Bake Granola Bars

Oats! I know to most this will probably seem like the single most boring ingredient we could have chosen to get people excited about a new year of food blogging, but I love oats, and I was totally super pumped when we picked them for our 2013 debut.

I’m pretty sure this is because, while my body is 22 years old, my self is actually grandma-aged. I have lots to back this up with.

For instance. Friday, I was out for happy hour with some friends, when some guy turned around and said he thought he’d spilled something on my shirt, which prompted my buddy from work to turn around and say, “What, you mean on that shirt my grandma also owns?” Uhh, mean. I defended my shirt, all like, “I think it’s cute, and it makes me look put-together for work, and I bought it at a hip young-people-clothes store, blah blah blah,” until some other guy backed me up (I think) by saying, “Yeah! It’s stylish in a practical and minimalist way,” which I didn’t completely understand but took as a compliment anyway.

I held on to that compliment as an odd form of assurance that my style is cool and age-appropriate, which was working out just fine for me until I got to work the next day and realized my 50- or 60-something-year-old manager and I were wearing the same. exact. pair of shoes. What?! Old lady. It’s who I am.

Stuff like this happens to me all the time. I dress like a grandma (or so I hear from people I’m pretty sure are at least 70% wrong). I love, love, LOVE soup. Especially split pea. I watch TV Land shows… on DVD (as in, I pay for them). Yep.

So anyway, now you know all this stuff about my old soul or whatever, all in my attempt to justify my love for oats. I love em. Oats week is exciting.

It’s funny that Lauren mentioned Joy the Baker, ’cause the first thing I thought to make as I penned oats week onto my calendar was my favorite riff on her baked oatmeal. I take her recipe, dial up the cinnamon, and trade the dried cranberries, fresh raspberries, and pistachios for fresh strawberries and cacao nibs. It’s seriously delicious. It’s the kind of breakfast I dream dreamy dreams about. But my oven decided it was not going to turn on on my designated baking day.

So no-bake it had to be… and suitable for breakfast, since I wanted to actually be able to eat what I made (instead of ending up with 47 oatmeal chocolate-chip cookies to force-feed my coworkers). Granola bars were the perfect back-up plan.

peanut-butter-pretzel-chocolate-chip granola bars

When your camera’s been broken for months, you have nothing to offer people but subpar artsy iPhone pictures. Better than nothing!

Two Peas and Their Pod was the source of the recipe that won my no-bake granola bar search. I usually mess with recipes to suit my tastes, but I pretty much went with this one to the letter, except that I tossed in some cacao nibs. (I’m obsessed with them.) Like a lot of other recipes, this one’s expensive the first time around if you don’t have the right ingredients on hand… but the good news is that once you buy the ingredients, you can make a whole buncha batches without having to buy anything else. So I won’t be one of those people who tries to tell you making your own granola bars is cheaper than investing in a $2.50 box of Nature Valleys at the grocery store, but I will tell you that over time the cost pretty much evens out, and if you make your own bars at home, you have the added benefit of putting whatever you want in them!!!

And, on that note, the beauty of this recipe is its customizability. Allergic to peanut butter? Almond butter, Biscoff spread, Nutella. Don’t like pretzels? Corn flakes, nut of choice, potato chips. Chocolate chips too boring? Cinnamon chips, toffee bits, sprinkles?! Ok, fine, sprinkles in a granola bar may be weird. But you get my point. Make this the granola bar of your dreams!

By the way, these are much better than any store-bought granola bar I’ve had. I could just be biased… but I have my parents on my side, and they dislike most of what I make, so I’m going to guess it’s just that these are actually super yummy. And they’re easy, quick, and customizable, so there’s not much of an excuse for settling for the boxed variety. I’d much rather take the time to make my own & adapt ’em to whatever I’m in the mood for in a given week. In other words, these’ll be a repeat creation in my kitchen. I hope you try them and feel the same way!

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Three cheers for granola bars. The breakfast of champions.

Click here for the recipe!

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Lauren: Kale and Pomegranate Salad

WHO’S READY FOR THE HOLIDAYS?! Well you can’t be; not until you’ve tried this kale and pomegranate salad. You get an aril! And you get an aril! See how excited I am about this bowl o’ red and green? And it’s for good reason! Pomegranates are delicious and beautiful fruits. They are also the namesake of the picturesque Spanish town in which my brother studied abroad (and yes, he chose it because he liked the fruit), see Granada. Anyway, back to business.

The edible parts of a pomegranate are its jewel-like seeds called arils. The outside of each seed is juicy and rigidly holds its form unlike another juicy fruit like say, an orange, which will squirt you in the eye at every opportunity. Once you’ve bitten through the juice, you hit the hard seed but fear not, because it will break into bits upon chewing. Arils are completely addictive and after de-seeding my first pom of the season I proceeded to eat the entire fruit’s worth of seeds in one standing just because they’re so fun to chomp. So given how fresh this fruit is, I wanted to make either a fruit or regular salad to highlight and compliment its freshness, not diminish it or dry it out by baking into cookies or something.

Enter: daily waffle’s Kale, Asian Pear, and Pomegranate Salad. It is awesome. You know what was not awesome? My Asian pear. It was watery, had zero flavor, and was so hard it was difficult to chew. Thus, immediately after trying a piece I chucked that sucker into the trash and decided to move forward with the recipe anyway, despite how wonderful the addition of pear to a kale salad sounded. If you’re up for it, buy a bosc, comice, or other ripe pear and cut that up to use in place of the Asian pear. Unless of course your Asian-pear-picking skills are fabulous, then by all means make the recipe as it is written.

Ok, so the dressing is really easy, just whisk all the ingredients together and you’re good to go. I found the early step of massaging salt into the dry leaves completely pointless as it just falls to the bottom so just forget that. And as usual, I used curly instead of lacinato kale again due to my bug aversion. Last week I found a tiny, very-much-alive slug on the back of one of my lacinato leaves and that was the end of that. My substitution involves somewhat OCD washing* of the curly leaves, followed by roughly ripping them into smaller pieces and drying them. After the leaves are ready and the dressing is mixed, do as you did with the last kale salad and get in there with your hands to massage the dressing into the leaves and ensure an even coating. When you’re ready to serve, pretend it’s New Years Eve and liberally cover the salad greens in aril-confetti.

The salad is dressed for the season, tastes quite unique among kale salads thanks to the rice wine vinegar and ginger, lasts about two days after being dressed so it can be made ahead of the holiday madness, and provides a truly healthy and fresh counterpoint to all the heavy, baked food being shoved in your face this time of year. Now go out, buy some kale and pomegranate, and prepare for an onslaught of compliments on your tasty and holiday-color-appropriate salad-making skills.

Recipe!

*I like to wash each individual leaf, rip them off the stems/away from the tough inner-vein, then swish the leaves around in a water-filled bowl, and finish by drying the leaves in a salad spinner.

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Caro: Pumpkin Mac and Apple-Smoked Cheese

Oh. My. GOODNESS. You guys.

This is SERIOUS.

This post today… it is about my new second-favorite pasta dish… ever.

(My favorite pasta dish currently is, and I’m pretty darn sure will forever be, the gnocchi in tomato sauce at Charlie Gitto’s on the Hill in St. Louis, MO. Oddly enough, it does not appear on their online menu… I just said seven prayers hoping that this does not mean they have stopped making it. That gnocchi makes up at least 58% of the reason I am dying to go back to STL. But anyway…)

Do you have any idea how much I looove pasta? (Very, very much.)
Do you have any idea how much pasta I eat? (A lot. A lot of pasta.)
Do you have any idea how many truly amazing pasta meals I have devoured in my lifetime? (Quite a few… lucky me!)
Now. Do you understand how much love I have to have for this pumpkin mac and cheese to place it on a pedestal above almost all the pasta I have eaten in my life?! I mean… whoa. It must be good, right?!

It’s so. SO. good.

pumpkin mac and apple-smoked cheese

Please note how I have made no attempts to cover up the real-life state of my kitchen. The only difference between this photo and my current kitchen is that the bananas are gone.

Can I still call this mac and cheese if I actually used orecchiette? I think so. “Orecchiette and cheese” just does not roll off the tongue as nicely.

Lest you think I’m trying to glorify my cooking abilities and going all “I utilized my culinary expertise to craft the most delectable pasta experience imaginable” on you, let me tell you that the deliciousness of this mac and cheese is attributable not at all to me but rather entirely to the types and amounts of cheese I used.

I was at Walmart when I decided I was going to make pumpkin mac and cheese for pumpkin week—thank you, iPhone, for allowing me to Google “creative pumpkin recipes” when my computer is nowhere near me!—and so I figured I’d buy ingredients there. Naturally, I hit up the cheese section first. The original recipe uses fontina, so I was on the lookout for that… no dice. I did, however, find the absolute makers of this mac and cheese… Red Apple Cheese’s Apple Smoked cheeses!

I had never seen or tried these before, ever. They caught my eye, though, and I ended up picking up apple smoked cheddar and apple smoked Gruyère to replace the elusive fontina. I had a feeling the smokey apple flavor of the cheese would blend well with the pumpkin in the mac and cheese… and boy, was I right. The flavors were incredible together.

pumpkin mac and apple-smoked cheese

There is one thing y’all may object to about this recipe… after everything, it really doesn’t turn out like much of a mac and cheese at all. It ends up more as a dish of pasta covered in an incredibly rich, thick, cheesy, and totally spoon-able sauce (like a spiffed-up alfredo, if you will). I promise, you will not miss the traditional feel of mac and cheese once you take a bite of this pasta. I ate the entire dish in two sittings… I’m pretty sure that was actually eight servings. Whatever. No regrets. I mean… YOLO, right?!

(If you’re one of those people who is super tired of hearing everyone say YOLO every five seconds, you probably shouldn’t hang around me much. I’m totally not over it.)

pumpkin mac and apple-smoked cheese

Ok. This recipe has: pumpkin (seasonal!), cheese (amazing!), whipping cream (decadent!), sage (fancy!), pasta (carb-o-licious!)… I don’t really have any selling words left. If you’re not already running to make this ASAP, who are you?

Continue reading

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Lauren: Blackberry and lemon gin and tonic

Not sure if you’ve heard, but it’s election night. There really isn’t a better way to handle the anxiety of the next few hours than with a cocktail. My family ordered pizza and salad and ate it in front of the T.V. (GASP!), something we otherwise scorn, but which was totally necessary tonight. Of course though, we needed something to go with it, enter: alcohol.

I don’t care who you are or which side you’re on, but there needs to be more teamwork in Washington. The chasm between the two main parties continues to grow and that’s just not helpful. To bridge the gap I decided to make what looked (here) like a purple cocktail. Because how do you get purple? Mix blue (democrat) and red (republican). Oh you knew that? Good, that means you took kindergarten art. Don’t even get me started on the issue of parties staking claim to colors. I for one don’t want my favorite color to automatically signify allegiance to a political party, but that’s a rant for another time.

Now back to the beverage at hand. I chose a purple cocktail since the mixture of red and blue was the most diplomatic, but in the execution my cocktail only furthered the political disparity—the red and blue hardly integrated. Never fear, it can be enjoyed equally by republicans and democrats (and Green party-ers, Tea Party-ers, etc…) alike anyway.

To keep your drink purple I recommend muddling with less vigor. I kind of smashed the crap out of the blackberries despite Martha Stewart’s most fervent warnings. Alas, Ms. Stewart was correct. Err on the side of less muddled. Muddle muddle muddle. Kinda sounds like puddle. Ok sorry, I’ll stop now. Anyway, the recipe (here) is pretty straight forward, so break out the gin and highball glasses and get to drinking.

Cheers!

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Lauren: Kale Salad


We’re back with week two of “Lauren’s Affair with Parmesan.”

Kale, Parmesan, lemon, olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper. Bam. Kale salad. Read on for this awesome, easy recipe.

For week 9 of CWC we’re going a little wild. We’re theme-less. Or rather, the theme is similar to a choose-your-own-adventure book for us, it’s a freebie, a wildcard, it’s writer’s-choice. My choice? Kale.

Feeling my risk of developing diabetes increase by the day, I couldn’t be more excited about vegetables lately, deep green kale in particular.

Kale is SO AMAZING that given free rein, it was necessary to finally discuss the recipe I’ve been harassing Caro about since June.

As discussed in an earlier post, I lived in an extended-stay hotel over the summer. Ironically I’m sitting in a room of the very same hotel as I write this. Little did I know before my summer move-in that the place doesn’t supply its guest rooms with ovens. Cue a minor freak out.

I moved to St. Louis at summer’s start with an arsenal of recipes for proteins and salads (oh come on, and baked goods, I’m not that saintly), which could, in theory, be made quickly and easily for dinner and then taken to work the next day for lunch. The thing was, they were gathered with the kitchen of my apartment in mind which did have an oven. So after moving into the hotel I went on weekly recipe-finding missions to find things that could be made 1. without an oven, and 2. the night before and stay tasty until noon the next day.

Then up popped Marin Mamma’s recipe and the angels started singing.

This recipe solved all of my food-induced woes. Not only was it said to be incredibly easy, but it involved cheese (score!) AND was said to only get better with age. Plus it was packed with fiber and all the other goods present in dark leafy greens. I made the salad at least once a week and recommended it to my friend Matt, a fellow intern and foodie, who also enjoyed it.

I shake up the recipe a little bit from its original version. While I tried to remain loyal to the lacinato kale type (non-curly, each piece is just a single long flat leaf) which Marin Mamma suggests, every time I’ve purchased it, there have been bugs on the backs of the leaves, so, grossed out, I always return to curly kale and it’s equally good. In addition, I find 3 tablespoons of olive oil a little excessive. That’s like 300 calories and a boatload of fat (yes, yes, I know it’s the good kind but too much of a good thing is still bad) for a salad, and that’s before even counting the cheese. My fix is to add only 2 tablespoons of olive oil and just over 1 cup of cheese, or enough to pretty evenly cover the kale leaves. Make sure to massage the dressing concoction into the salad with your hands to ensure an even coating. With my adjustments, the lemon in the dressing makes much more of an impact, so add salt and add oil to taste if sour isn’t your thing. I also tend to add in around half a tablespoon of red pepper flakes because I like things spicy and regularly double the amount of minced garlic (to ward off vampires, duh) because I’m a garlic fiend.


Assuage your Halloween-induced guilt with kale in one of its best forms. If you have any other kale recipe suggestions I’d love to hear them in the comments below. Peace, love, and kale leaves.

Recipe here.

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