Tuesday, September 27, 2011

souped-up mac and cheese

Okay this one is more of a method than a recipe, really. I try to eat healthy at home, but I have a weakness for many types of processed foods. One of those is macaroni and cheese from the box. I don't know what it is about it, I love homemade mac and cheese as well, but there's something about those little, slippery, weirdly-colored macaronis from the box that I really enjoy.

BUT they are not very healthy, all carby and processed with questionable chemical ingredients. SO in order to justify eating box mac and cheese once in a while I do one magic thing that makes everything okay: add vegetables! I have added every kind of vegetable and then some to mac and cheese! Also, I try not to think about what's in that cheese packet. Sometimes I even buy the organic kind and tell myself at least I'm eating organic chemical cheese powder.

BUT anyway, here is how I typically soup up the box:

WHEN SUPER RUSHED: I just dump like 1 cup of frozen peas and/or corn in with the macaroni when it's cooking. Proceed as normal with the rest of the mac and cheese.

WHEN I HAVE MORE TIME: In a separate frying pan, while the pasta is boiling, I might saute some onions, fennell, zucchinni, bell pepper -- whatever vegetable I have on hand and think might taste good in there. After the veggies are cooked, I dump them in with the mac and cheese and mix it around.

WHEN I AM FEELING PARTICULARLY GOURMET: I will soup up the cheese sauce as well, I like to add in a small amount of mustard, some spicy sauce, sometimes herbs, salt and pepper, and when I add in a LOT of veggies I find it needs more cheese so I will put either cheddar or parmesan cheese in there and boil it a bit to melt it all down.

This one is what I made today, my first time adding kale and it was pretty good:


-- 1 box mac and cheese (or "kraft dinner" as they call it in my adopted homeland)
-- 3 T. chopped onion
-- 2 cups washed and chopped kale
-- milk
-- olive oil
-- few drops spicy habanero sauce
-- 1 t. mustard
-- salt and pepper
-- 2 T. cheese, broken into small bits

1. Get a pot of water boiling. Once it is boiling, dump in the macaroni and the kale. Time it for about 8 minutes or whatever it says on your box.
2. In a separate frying pan, get some oil heating up. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add in milk, when the milk is boiling sprinkle in cheese powder from box, and whisk until incorporated and vaguely sauce-like. You can add butter here if you want but I never do.
3. Add in the cheese, mustard, and habanero sauce, to the sauce.
4. When the pasta is cooked to your liking, drain the whole thing and dump pasta and kale into your cheese sauce.
5. Mix together, taste, add salt and pepper to taste (I found the kale really needed some extra salt here!)

VOILA you have created a masterpiece of a lunch in just 10 minutes!

Friday, September 16, 2011

White Bean Soup with Kale

YES MORE SOUP. Stop complaining and eat your dinner! No laughing at the dinner table!

Ahem. In the interests of transferring the recipes we use most often to this blog, here is what I daresay is Our Favorite Soup. It is infinitely variable to use up whatever mountain of obscure CSA vegetables you may or may not have on hand, and always delicious no matter what you put in it. I present to you:

White Bean Soup with Kale
adapted from allrecipes.com
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or canola oil
  • 8 large garlic cloves, crushed or minced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/2 large fennel, chopped (optional)
  • 1 or 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 red or green bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 cups chopped raw kale (can use spinach, swiss chard, collards -- any green)
  • 4 cups low-fat, low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans white beans, such as cannellini or navy, undrained (or 1 cup dried white beans, cooked)
  • 4 plum tomatoes, chopped (or 1/2 to 1 large can tomatoes)
  • 2 teaspoons dried Italian herb seasoning (or just whatever herbs in the oregano/basil/marjoram family you feel like eating)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup chopped parsley (I only put this in once in a while)


  1. In a large pot, heat olive oil. Add fennel, garlic and onion; saute until soft. 
  2. Add carrot, bell pepper, saute until soft. 
  3. Add kale and saute, stirring, until soft.
  4. Add broth, tomato, herbs, salt and pepper. Simmer 15 minutes, or until you think greens are cooked through and tender enough. 
  5. Add cooked white beans, simmer 10 minutes, until flavors are melded and that tomato scummy sign of a finished soup rises to the top. 
  6. Sprinkle with chopped parsley, mix it all together.  
  7. Eat! Or wait until the next day, when it gets even better. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Potato Leek soup

Slightly adapted from this Alton Brown recipe to make it a bit healthier and use what we have on hand, this tastes much more decadent then it really is (a splash of heavy cream would also be good here too):


  • 1 pound leeks, cleaned and dark green sections removed, approximately 4 to 5 medium
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • Heavy pinch salt, plus additional for seasoning
  • one pound of potatoes, scrubbed, eyes and brown spots cut out, cut into one inch chunks
  • 1 quart vegetable broth
  • 1 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon snipped chives


1. Chop the leeks into small pieces.
2. In a 6-quart saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the leeks and a heavy pinch of salt and sweat for 5 minutes. Decrease the heat to medium-low and cook until the leeks are tender, approximately 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Add the potatoes and the veggie broth, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and gently simmer until the potatoes are soft, approximately 45 minutes.
4. Turn off the heat and puree the mixture with an immersion blender until smooth. Stir in the buttermilk and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired. Sprinkle with chives and serve immediately, or chill and serve cold.