Sunday, January 31, 2010

HOW TO: amp up the nutritional value of instant mac & cheese

I finally indulged that lingering craving this weekend!

Organic or not, instant mac is still instant mac -- junk food, in a BAD way! (Yum!) I can't leave well enough alone, though, and I felt compelled to slightly improve upon the nutritional value of our lunch today. Dan and I split the box of Rising Moon Organic "Original" mac and cheese I bought yesterday, and I made the following additions:
1. Added about 2 cups of small broccoli florets to the macaroni during the last 2 minutes of boiling
2. Added an extra 1/4 cup of milk to the "cheese sauce" (to "stretch" it a bit)
3. Placed 2/3 cup white beans in the bottom of the colander, before draining the mac and broccoli. The beans warmed nicely this way, before being combined with the cheese sauce.

This lunch made me very, very happy. :)


Other happenings in my kitchen this weekend . . .

Saturday Night Pizza Feast:

I made two pizzas this week, since Dan's friend Mike joined us for dinner. Both pies started with my ususal half-whole wheat Artisan Bread crusts, and were smeared with homemade tomato sauce (using fire-roasted tomatoes this time!) The front pizza was topped with roasted red peppers, (frozen, home-roasted peppers from the FM,) broccoli, mushrooms, diced red onion, and sliced garlic. The back pizza was topped with canned artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, and feta. Mozzarella and parmesan on both, as usual.

I finally got around to continuing the bake-a-long today! I had made up a batch of the "Oatmeal Bread" dough last weekend, but never baked any off. Tragedy! Rectified this afternoon:

Gorgeous, non? Tasty, too! I enjoyed a slice this afternoon, still slightly warm,with a little butter, cinnamon, and sugar, when I got home from my walk to the library. Divine! I can't wait to see how this will perform in our grilled-cheese sandwiches planned for dinner tonight. I'm starting to think this loaf might make it into "everyday bread" rotation!

While I was busy in the kitchen, I worked on a few other cooking projects as well:

Inside that blob of foil is a whole head of roasted garlic, to be pureed into a bean soup later this week. I also cooked up nine cups of (very plump!) chickpeas, and eight cups of kidney beans. My freezer has been looking a little empty as of late, so I felt the need to fill it up with something. :)


Chocolate? Vanilla? Yin? Yang? Well, when I asked Dan if he wanted chocolate, vanilla, or butterscotch pudding this week, he replied, "um, chocolate or vanilla." Why not both? Some in glass cups for enjoying at home, some in to-go containers for packing in lunches! I love pudding, and it's so freakin' easy, why not make a double-batch, right?


So, what would your vote be: chocolate, vanilla, or butterscotch?


Anonymous said...

I'd totally go for the chocolate! How do you cook your chickpeas? They look so good! Mine always come out dry looking and they still have a bite to them. Canned beans are convenient but sooo expensive! Whats the secret?

Catherine Weber said...

Sometimes I soak my chickpeas first, sometimes not. This weekend, I just rinsed a bunch of dried chickpeas, put them in a big pot with a lot of water, brought the chickpeas to a boil, boiled for 2 minutes, and then simmered until they were done -- about 2 hours.

Things I've discovered . . .

1. Cover your cooked beans with water for storage. (Even if you are going to freeze them.) This keeps them fresh-tasting and moist.

2. I buy my beans from my local co-op, which has incredibly high turnover. Hence, dried beans are always VERY fresh, and cook in a very short time. My unsoaked chickpeas took about two hours of simmering yesterday.

3. Home-cooked beans are never quite as soft as canned beans. BUT, they hold up better in curries, stir-fries, soups, etc. and don't fall apart into mush! I think we've just gotten used to a slightly different texture.

Anonymous said...

Vanilla, no question :-)

How do you store your roasted garlic? Do you squeeze it from the head and store it in a container? Or do you just store the whole thing as is and then squeeze it out when you are ready to use it? I LOVE roasted garlic, but I have always made it on an as-needed basis up til now...I love the idea of having it on hand to use when you want!