Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Give Me a Fruit Bar!

March 25, 2009

I love eating breakfast.  I’ve definitely taken the advice that you should eat breakfast every single morning and if I skip it one day, I usually end up feeling very sluggish.  I tend to be a creature of habit with certain things and my breakfast is one of them.  On weekdays I alternate between plain oatmeal sweetened with honey, greek yogurt sweetened with honey, Cheerios, or waffles, always a piece of fruit on the side.

I wanted to mix up my routine a little bit while sticking to its roots, so I pulled out an old recipe that I snagged from US Weekly probably over a year ago.

I added a few variations to the recipe, as I tend to do . . . I doubled the recipe so I could feed myself, my mom, and my dad.  Instead of strawberries, I cooked up an apple with some honey and cinnamon until it softened and then I added it to the mixture.  I also used agave syrup instead of artifical sweeter (my dad claims he can always taste artifical sweetener in food and will not eat anything if it’s cooked with it, I am also trying to steer clear of artifical sweetners and start using natural sweetners, like honey and agave syrup).  I wanted my bars to be more dry, like granola bars, so I added an extra cup of oats. 

For a little more sweetness, sprinkle cinnamon throughout the mixture.  Also, before you pop them in for the second and final bake, drizzle a little honey and sprinkle some cinnamon overtop.  The bars can be bland if you don’t try to add a little something extra to sweeten them up!

All in all, I thought they turned out great and I am excited to eat them tomorrow morning as an accompaniment to my greek yogurt and sliced apple!

Strawberry-Oat Energy Bars With Yogurt

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Serves 2
1 cup strawberries
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup egg whites
3 tsp Splenda
1 cup low-fat plain yogurt

 

Preheat oven to 350. Combine sliced strawberries, oats, egg whites and 1 teaspoon of Splenda. Coat a shallow baking dish with cooking spray, and pour the strawberry mixture into the dish. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Increase oven temperature to 425. Slice into bars, and remove from baking dish. Recoat dish with cooking spray. Place bars back in dish in the oven for 5 minutes until golden brown. Mix remaining sugar into yogurt, and serve as a dipping sauce
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Top O’ Your Cabbage

March 17, 2009

I’m somewhat inclined to post a recipe for corned beef and cabbage, but as an Irish-American, I am well aware that corned beef cabbage can either be really really delicious or really really terrible.  I don’t want to advise anything and be the one to drag your meal down.  I don’t roll like that . . .

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What I will dig up a recipe for is for something that you can top your corned beef and cabbage with!  It’s much simplier and something I am willing to take responsibility for.

Last year, my friend KW and I trekked through New York, looking for an Irish place that wasn’t insanely packed with drunk people who had been at the parade earlier in the day so we could get our traditional St. Patrick’s Day meal.  It took over an hour and lots of walking, but we ended up somewhere that fit our requirements.

The meal was decent, corned beef was salty and the cabbage was soft but not mushy.  The ultimate highlight for both of us was the Guinness Mustard that was served to top the meal.  I think KW and I could have drank the mustard, it was sooo good. 

So, here’s a recipe for it that I found, hopefully it’s the same and hopefully it brings you some St. Patrick’s Day joy!

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup coarse-grained Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons regular Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons Guinness stout or other stout or porter
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 teaspoon golden brown sugar

Preparation

  • Whisk all ingredients in small bowl to blend. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.

HAVE A HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY!!!

Swimming in Risotto

March 12, 2009

When I lived in New York, one of my favorite local places to visit was Brick Cafe.  It was a little french restaurant that helped me to appreciate the pleasure of olive tampanade and risotto.  Seriously, the risotto at Brick Cafe was the best risotto I’ve ever had.  You could never go wrong ordering the dish at that place!

Because of Brick, I now get a hankering for risotto from time to time.  I’ve hesitant to get it from somewhere or make it myself because I know I can never meet the quality and richness of flavor that I would be served at Brick. 

Wednesday night was my weekday date night with Capt. and we decided that we would try a risotto recipe from foodfit.com, one of our favorite cooking websites.  I actually decided to test myself and see if I could make something even comparable to that found at Brick.

The recipe is only for one serving, so we quadrupled it so I could have leftovers for upcoming lunch and dinners. 

The risotto ended up being pretty good.  I love using peas when I cook and blanching is one of my simple pleasures, both of which are involved in this recipe.  It was simple, yet a bit time consumming, but ended up being fulfilling. 

After this dish, we’ve decided that we’ll try our hand at cooking risotto again, but maybe with richer flavors like mushroom.  All in all, it wasn’t spectacular, but it was a great intro to cooking risotto recipe!

And since Capt. likes a little meat with his meals, we cooked up some apple chicken sausage to compliment the meal.  Definitely a good choice.  The sweetness of the apples really went with the sweetness and freshness that went with the peas.

Oh and the peas are green, so it fits into my St. Patrick’s Day posting bonanza!

Risotto with Fresh Peas
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INGREDIENTS
about 3/4 cup Basic Chicken Stock (see recipe), or low-sodium canned
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons diced onion
1/4 cup Arborio rice
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons freshly shelled peas

1. Heat the stock in a saucepan and keep hot over low heat.

2. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a separate medium-sized pot. Add the onion and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the onion turns translucent.

3. Add the rice to the onion mixture and stir.

4. Turn the heat to low, add about 1/4 cup of the hot stock to the rice mixture, and stir slowly until the stock is absorbed.

5. Continue to add the stock 1/4 cup at a time, stirring slowly, letting the rice absorb the stock before adding more.

6. While the risotto is cooking, blanch the peas in boiling salted water for 30 seconds. Drain.

7. The risotto is cooked when it is creamy on the outside and slightly firm (al dente) in the center. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and half of the peas. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If the risotto is too thick, add a little more stock until it becomes creamy.

8. Divide the risotto into serving dishes and sprinkle with the remaining peas.

 

Serving Size: about 1/2 cup

“This is Mad Good”

March 4, 2009

That’s what Capt. said about the dinner we made on Saturday night.

I was blog surfing at work the other day, and found Stinkerpants Blog.  Stinkerpants is written by Sara, a graphic designer, who primarily does wedding suites.  Her graphic design work is absolutely adorable and half the pleasure of looking at her blog is seeeing what she comes up with to suit the personality of each couple that she designs for.  She also writes about her life, her two chickens, and her membership to the CSA.  Which brings me to Saturday night’s meal.  I took the recipe straight from Stinkerpants Blog and Sara took the recipe from here.

The outcome?  Well, Capt. and I remarked about how good it was back and forth about 5 or 6 times.  It was mad good!

The recipe advises that you use collard greens, which Capt. isn’t a huge fan of, so instead we used spinach.  I think we could have gotten a touch creative and mixed up a number of greens to add some additional flavor to the meal.  Capt. said that the interesting thing is that you could taste every single ingredient in the dish – the garlic, the onion, the mozzerella, the spinach, the parmesan.  There is no star in the dish, every has the spotlight without over powering the other.  It’s like an ensemble cast where everyone is the lead and everyone gives an Oscar winning performance.  Yum, yum, yum!

I could lay in bed on a rainy day with a stupidly funny movie and be the happiest girl alive.  Plain and simple.

So, here ya go!

Baked Rigatoni with Ricotta and Collard Greens

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For a lighter version, omit flour and substitute 1 1/4 cups chicken broth for milk. You can also substitute spinach or kale. Prep: 10 minutes, Cook: 30 minutes, Bake: 15 minutes.

Yield

Makes 8 to 10 servings

Ingredients

  • 1  (16-ounce) package rigatoni or penne pasta
  • 1/4  cup  butter
  • 1  medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 3  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1  pound  collard greens, washed, drained, and chopped
  • 1/4  cup  all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2  cups  milk
  • 1  cup  shredded mozzarella
  • 1  cup  ricotta cheese
  • 2  teaspoons  sugar
  • 2  teaspoons  salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1  teaspoon  red pepper flakes
  • 1/2  cup  grated Parmesan cheese

Preparation

1. Prepare pasta according to directions. Drain and set aside. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease a 13- x 9-inch baking dish.

2. Heat butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat; sauté onion 5 minutes or until just brown. Add garlic, and cook about 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium-low, and add greens; cover and cook 15 to 20 minutes or until greens are tender, stirring occasionally.

3. Sprinkle greens with flour. Cook uncovered, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Gradually add milk, stirring well. Cook 5 minutes, stirring often, until thickened and smooth. Remove from heat; stir in cooked pasta, mozzarella, and next 5 ingredients. Place into prepared dish, and sprinkle evenly with Parmesan.

4. Bake at 350° for 15 to 20 minutes.

Sara Foster & Scott Howell, Cottage Living, JANUARY 2006
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ENJOY!

A Date Night with Jamie

February 28, 2009

Capt. and I decided to make Friday night a stay-at-home date night and I excitedly decided that I would crack open my new cookbook and make one of his recipes for winter.  The cookbook is based solely on Jamie Oliver’s home garden, and is split up with seasonal recipes.  Although Maryland’s seasons are quite different than the seasons that Jamie experiences in England, some of the items do match up.  As it’s so cold in Maryland right now, nothing is really in season.

The great thing about cooking from Jamie Oliver’s recipes, is that everything is generally healthy.  Jamie has a great passion for healthy eating and spreads the word by being a very vocal advocate against the use of processed foods in school lunches and other school meals.

I decided that we would make a roasted white fish and leek recipe, mainly because I know Capt. prefers white and milder tasting fish (I’ll eat any kind, I love seafood!) and because I’ve never had leeks and wanted to try something new.

Some parts of the recipe gives exact measurements and some did not.  I ended up putting way too my olive oil in the marinade and on the pan, which made the meal as a whole very oily.  I would definitely use less next time and not drizzle any leftover over the the food before sticking it into the oven.  Also, we couldn’t find baby leeks in the grocery store, so we grabbed the smallest leak we could find.  It ended up being not enough and was fairly skimpy.  I would advise getting a decent amount since the leeks do get shrink up a bit as they cook.  If your Capt. has a big appetite, I would roast some potatoes up with the meal too.

Overall, I found the meal to be very tasty, the leeks were delicious, and the fish was nice and moist.

Roasted White Fish and Leeks
Jamie at Home

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Serves 4

16 baby leeks washed and trimmed
4x200gm fillets of white fish *
1 large lemon cut into 8 thin wedges
4 sprigs of rosemary
8 rashers of smoked streaky bacon

for the marinade
a couple of sprigs each of rosemary thyme and bay leaves.
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
olive oil
juice of 1/2 a lemon

Preheat the oven to 200.c/400.f/gas6 and place a baking tray in the oven to warm up

To make the marinade bash up the thyme rosemary and bay leaves with the salt in a pestle and mortar until the salt has turned green. Pour in two glugs of olive oil, a pinch of pepper and the lemon juice and give it a stir.
Parboil** the leeks in salted water for about three minutes. Drain in a colander and let them steam dry.

Put the fish, lemon, rosemary sprigs and leeks into a bowl. Pour in the marinade and toss to cover everything.
Place the fish into the preheated tray.

Scoop the lemon rosemary leeks and marinade out of the bowl and place over and around the fish and roast in the oven for approx. 15 -20mins until the fish is just cooked and the bacon is crisp.

Pile up on a plate and serve.

* Capt. and I used Chilean Sea Bass.  If you want to eat seasonally, Baltimore Sun recently had an article about how Rockfish is in season in the winter time.

** For those of you who, like us, don’t know what parboiling is, it’s blanching.  Blanching is a great technique to use when cooking veggies, since it helps to maintain the vegetable’s color and crispness.  Leeks turn a beautiful bright green when cooked.

A Very Late Valentine

February 26, 2009

My friend, JF, LOVES to bake.  As you all know, I hate baking but love sweets, which makes her a very good friend to have.

She once worked to indulge my smore fiaxtion by baking me smore cupcakes, and she frequently has baked goods lying around her apartment.  For the sake of my waistline, I try to avoid her apartment but sometimes you just can’t!

For those of you who are slightly jealous of me having a baker for a friend, you can pretend to be her friend too by visiting her blog.  She baked great Valentine’s Day cupcakes and cookies, of which I didn’t get until this past Friday, which might not make her that great of a friend after all . . .

Here’s the recipe to one of the treats I got to enjoy, you can see the other ones on her blog.  I very much enjoy raspberry – which I am not sure that she knows, but it was a very lucky guess – so these were particularly up my alley.

White Chocolate Raspberry Cookies

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Ingredients:12 oz. white chocolate chips
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
seedless raspberry jam
1/2 tsp. shortening1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet. Set aside. In a heavy small saucepan melt 4 ounces of the white chocolate chips over low heat, stirring constantly. Cool.

 

Directions:

 

2. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer about 30 seconds or until softened. Add the sugar, baking soda, and salt. Beat until combined. Beat in eggs and melted white chocolate chips until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour with a wooden spoon. Stir in the 4 more ounces of white chocolate chips.

3. Drop dough from a rounded teaspoon 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 7 to 9 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned around edges. Cool on cookie sheet for 1 minute. Transfer cookies to wire racks. Cool completely.

4. Melt the raspberry jam in a small saucepan over low heat. Spoon about 1/2 teaspoon of jam atop each cookie. In a heavy, small saucepan combine the 3 ounces white baking bar and shortening. Melt over low heat, stirring constantly. Drizzle each cookie with some of the melted mixture. If necessary, refrigerate cookies about 15 minutes or until chocolate mixture is firm.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.
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Eat a Pancake!

February 25, 2009

Many people at my new office are getting excited for Mardi Gras.  There are a lot of Mardi Gras traditions I didn’t know about, like the King Cake (I did NOT win the baby), that are positively delightful.

My favorite new tradition for today was introduced to me by my dear friend, DC, who isn’t even from New Orleans (they’re not the only people who celebrate the days leading up Ash Wednesday).  It’s called Shrove Tuesday, AKA Pancake Tuesday!  My friends and I have interpreted this as being a day where you eat pancakes and drink beer . . . a bit more wholesome than showing your boobies for beads, but just as fun!

I have fond memories of Pancake Tuesday last year.  My friends and I skipped out of work to watch the New York Giants Super Bowl parade and visited a local diner afterwards to indulge.

Much to my surprise, a number of place in the Baltimore area promote today, whether it’s celebrated as Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Tuesday doesn’t really matter.  So much so, that the Baltimore Sun even wrote an article and published a recipe to go along with the celebration!

Here’s the recipe, enjoy!

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Blue Moon Pancakes

(Makes 4 to 6 five-inch pancakes or 12 to 14 silver-dollar pancakes)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

2 eggs

2 to 3 tablespoons vanilla

1 1/2 cups milk

3 tablespoons melted butter

3 tablespoons sugar

Combine all ingredients and stir until lumps are gone. Ladle onto a hot (350 degrees) griddle coated with vegetable oil or clarified butter.

If you would like to add extra ingredients, such as chocolate chips or berries, sprinkle them on the wet side of the pancake now, while the underside cooks.

Look for bubbles on the wet surface (a sign that the air is cooking out of the pancakes), or use a spatula to peek underneath, making sure the pancake is golden brown. Flip and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.

Serve with syrup, whipped cream and more berries or chocolate chips.

Courtesy of Sarah Simington, chef/proprietor of the Blue Moon Cafe in Fells Point

PER PANCAKE (BASED ON 6 LARGE PANCAKES): 255 calories, 7 grams protein, 9 grams fat, 5 grams saturated fat, 34 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 91 milligrams cholesterol, 232 milligrams sodium

PS – I sooo planned on eating pancakes for dinner tonight, but I ended up playing racquetball instead and was not hungry at all afterwards.  I am making up for it by drinking beer.

PPS – Sorry for the light posting this week.  I’m a bit overwhelmed and disoriented, in a good way, from starting a new job.  I’ll be back in the game next week!

Eat like Barack on President’s Day!

February 16, 2009

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Check it Out:
Recipes from 2009 Inaugural Luncheon

Eat your bouquet

February 13, 2009

Capt. and I went to Pazo to celebrate our 2 year anniversary.  We had a really delicious meal full of calamari, lamb chops, scallops, and much more!  It’s a tapas restaurant, so we are permitted to eat a large variety of food!  Honestly though, the part that stuck out to me the most was Capt.’s dessert, which was fall fruit served with lavendar ice cream.  I was so skeptical of the lavendar ice cream, but ended up enjoying it the most!  I’ve told a lot of people about this, only to be looked at a little crazy and asked what it tasted like.  I can’t really explain the flavor, except to say that it really tastes exactly how you would imagine lavendar tasting.  I know, that doesn’t really help.  But really, I enjoyed it so much that I decided that one day I will get my own ice cream maker and pump out lavendar ice cream for all the skeptics!  Yum Yum Yum!

The funny thing is, there are so many edible flowers out there that I’ve never really thought about eating.  And I personally think you could make a lovely bouquet of flowers out of all of them.  And then you can eat it!  I sure do love things that serve multiple purposes!

Apple Blossoms Apple Blossoms have a delicate floral flavor and aroma. They are a nice accompaniment to fruit dishes and can easily be candied to use as a garnish. NOTE: Eat in moderation as the flowers may contain cyanide precursors. The seeds of the apple fruit and their wild relations are poisonous

Carnations Steep in wine, candy, or use as cake decoration. To use the surprisingly sweet petals in desserts, cut them away from the bitter white base of the flower. Dianthus are the miniature member of the carnation family with light clove-like or nutmeg scent. Petals add color to salads or aspics. Carnation petals are one of secret ingredients that has been used to make Chartreuse, a French liqueur, since the 17th century.

Chrysanthemums Tangy, slightly bitter, ranging in colors from red, white, yellow and orange. They range in taste from faint peppery to mild cauliflower. They sould be blanched first and then scatter the petals on a salad. The leaves can also be used to flavor vinegar. Always remove the bitter flower base and use petals only. Young leaves and stems of the Crown Daisy, also known as Chop Suey Greens or Shingiku in Japan, are widely used in oriental stir-fries and as salad seasoning.

Day Lilies – Slightly sweet with a mild vegetable flavor, like sweet lettuce or melon. Their flavor is a combination of asparagus and zucchini. Chewable consistency. Some people think that different colored blossoms have different flavors. To use the surprisingly sweet petals in desserts, cut them away from the bitter white base of the flower. Also great to stuff like squash blossoms. Flowers look beautiful on composed salad platters or crowning a frosted cake. Sprinkle the large petals in a spring salad. In the spring, gather shoots two or three inches tall and use as a substitute for asparagus. NOTE: Many Lilies contain alkaloids and are NOT edible. Day Lilies may act as a diuretic or laxative; eat in moderation

Fuchsia – Blooms have a slightly acidic flavor. Explosive colors and graceful shape make it ideal as garnish. The berries are also edible.

Hibiscus – Cranberry-like flavor with citrus overtones. Use slightly acidic petals sparingly in salads or as garnish.

Honeysuckle – Sweet honey flavor. Only the flowers are edible. Berries are highly poisonous – Do not eat them!

Peony – In China the fallen petals are parboiled and sweetened as a tea-time delicacy.  Peony water was used for drinking in the middle ages. Add peony petals to your summer salad or try floating in punches and lemonades.

Roses – Flavors depend on type, color, and soil conditions. Flavor reminiscent of strawberries and green apples. Sweet, with subtle undertones ranging from fruit to mint to spice. All roses are edible, with the flavor being more pronounced in the darker varieties. In miniature varieties can garnish ice cream and desserts, or larger petals can be sprinkled on desserts or salads. Freeze them in ice cubes and float them in punches also. Petals used in syrups, jellies, perfumed butters and sweet spreads. NOTE: Be sure to remove the bitter white portion of the petals

Scented GeraniumsThe flower flavor generally corresponds to the variety. For example, a lemon-scented geranium would have lemon-scented flowers. They come in fragrances from citrus and spice to fruits and flowers, and usually in colors of pinks and pastels. Sprinkle them over desserts and in refreshing drinks or freeze in ice cubes.

Tulip Petals Flavor varies from tulip to tulip, but generally the petals taste like sweet lettuce,  fresh baby peas, or a cucumber-like texture and flavor. NOTE: Some people have had strong allergic reactions to them. If touching them causes a rash, numbness etc. Don’t eat them! Don’t eat the bulbs ever.

And for those of you like me, who have always dreamed of making their own lavendar ice cream to share with the world, here’s a recipe!

Fresh Lavender Ice Cream
Adapted from happyvalleylavender.com

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1 1/4 C. whole milk (1% worked well for me too)
1/2 C. fresh lavender florets, washed and dried
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/4 C. vanilla sugar (regular granulated sugar is fine too)
1/4 C. Splenda or other sugar substitute
pinch of salt
2 C. heavy cream

Gently heat milk, lavender and the vanilla bean until warm, but not boiling.  Using a fine mesh strainer, strain the milk into a bowl and stire in the salt, sugar and Splenda while still warm.  Stir in the cream and chill the  mixture for at least 2 hours until cold.

Churn chilled mixture in an ice cream maker, following the manufacturer’s directions (usually about 20-30 minutes).  Just before the ice cream finishes churning, toss in a few fresh lavender buds.

(makes about 1 quart)

Edible flower information found here.

Heart Attack-Free Comfort Foods

February 3, 2009

On the Food Network’s “Next Food Network Star,” they always ask for the contestants to give their culinary point of view.  For me, that is always what brings me to watch a show.  If they are making meals that are relevant to how I like to eat, I am more likely to watch.

During the process of these shows, I usually imagine to myself what my culinary point of view would be if I were competing and how I would incorporate that point of view if I were ever to compete.  Of course, since I am not actually a chef and not actually competing, it’s pretty easy to imagine how much butt I would kick!

So, what would my point of view be?  Hearty comfort foods gone healthy!  I’d show people how to make delicious juicy burgers, meatloaf, mac and cheese, shepherd’s pie with less fat than usual.  And, I would also try to offer them alternatives that are inspired by those dishes.

So, imagine my surprise this morning when I started playing around on Real Simple’s website and found a list of 9 recipes titled “Classic Comfort Foods Made Healthy.”  How dare they steal my point of view?!?

I’m thinking about trying the mac and cheese recipe the next time Mike and I are craving something not quite so healthy!  If you want to get a little more adventurous with your mac and cheese, check out Heidi Swanson’s recipe for Baked Spelt Macaroni with Cashew Cheddar Cheese.  Or, just go to her website and look at all her beautiful food pictures!

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Heidi Swanson, 101 Cookbooks