Food & Drink

Instant Pot Mac & Cheese

HELLLLLOOOOO triumphant return! Typing this is so surreal. I guess I should rewind and take you back to the beginning. Blogging, especially blogging about food, is not new to me. I started blogging in 2014 as a stress relief when I was in grad school. It was my way of channeling my creative energy in a non-academic way. I kept at it off-and-on after I graduated, and in 2017, I stopped. I went back to school and did another graduate program at the University of Pennsylvania. Guess what? They make you earn that Ivy League diploma. I basically had no time to do anything creative. Did it drive me insane? Absolutely. Now, I’m on the cusp of starting my career, so I thought this is the perfect time to start over. Thanks for joining me :) Now let’s get to the good stuff.

If I got $1 for every time I tell someone to buy an Instant Pot, I wouldn’t need to rely on the lottery to win big. I love my Instant Pot so much (almost as much as my husband and my dog, combined). This past summer, it got insanely hot here in Philadelphia, so I cooked the majority of our meals in the Instant Pot. (I’m sorry, but I just can’t eat cold salads all day every day).

Now that fall is officially here and it’s sweater weather, I thought it is high time to reintroduce the mac and cheese, Instant Pot edition.

Since I’m “adulting”, I really shouldn’t rely on Kraft Mac & Cheese when I want a warm bowl of gooey cheesy goodness (although if you made some for me, I’d eat the whole thing). I really love this recipe because there’s nothing I hate more than standing over a hot boiling pot of pasta. The Instant Pot can perfectly cook my pasta. When it is done, mix in cheese and milk, tada! Dinner is served (or breakfast, lunch, and dessert. It’s that good).

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Instant Pot Mac & Cheese

  • Servings: 6-8
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb pasta (I used small elbow macaroni, but you can use whatever you have!)
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 8 oz mild cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 oz cream cheese
  • 2 oz parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 1/2 cup milk (or half & half)

Method

  1. Turn IP on to ‘Sauté’ function. Melt butter and sauté garlic until fragrant, about 1 minute. Turn off IP.
  2. Add water and salt. Make sure the water just covers the pasta. If it doesn’t, add more water until all the pasta is covered. Set IP to Manuel (high) for 4 minutes. (Do 5 minutes if you are using a larger pasta, like penne).
  3. Do a quick release when pasta is finished cooking. Drain if there is excess water. Stir in cheese and milk until pasta is thick and creamy.

Food & Drink

Stuffed Shells

DSC_3693This is my all-time favorite potluck dish.  You can do the majority of the prep ahead of time if you wish.  It is such a crowd pleaser.  I’ve yet to bring this to an event and come home with leftovers.  This recipe will yield two 13×9 dishes.  Make this for your next potluck, and I guarantee you will receive so many compliments and recipe requests.

You can use your favorite pasta sauce, or reach for the jar pasta sauce in your pantry.  Just make sure it is a sauce that you absolutely love, since the ricotta-stuffed shells have a mild flavor and will take on the majority of the flavor from your pasta sauce.

A 12oz package of jumbo shells will have anywhere between 40-45 jumbo shells.  I’ve accounted 3-5 for casualties during the stuffing or boiling process.  I usually will eat 3 shells with a side salad, and I’m happy as a clam.

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Servings: 10-12

Ingredients
– 12oz package jumbo shells
– 6 cups marinara sauce
– 2 (15oz) container of ricotta (or homemade)
– 2 eggs
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
– 3 tbsp parsley flakes

Method
– Bring 4 quarts of water to a rolling boil.  Cook jumbo shells at half the time as stated on the directions.  Drain and let cool.
– In a large bowl, whisk eggs with a fork.  Mix in ricotta until well-combined.  Add salt, mozzarella cheese, and 2 tbsp of the parsley flakes.  Mix until well combined.
– In the two 13×9 casserole dish, spread 1 cup of marinara sauce on the bottom of each casserole dish.  Take each cooled jumbo shell, spoon the ricotta mixture into the shell.  Place the shells filling-side up in the casserole dish.  Repeat until you used up all your shells and your casserole dishes are filled.
– Spoon the remaining marinara sauce over the shells.  Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of parsley flakes over the sauce.  Cover the casserole dish with foil.
– Preheat the oven to 350F.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Uncover and bake for another 15 minutes.

Food & Drink

Slow Cooker BBQ Turkey Meatballs

I don’t really like handling meat, so on the rare occasion that I do make a meat dish, I try to make it as easy as possible.  When I was perusing on Pinterest, I saw a slew of meatball recipes for beef or pork.  But I typically only cook poultry at home, so I thought of developing a recipe for turkey meatballs that can be made in a slow cooker.

I love BBQ sauce in general, so I thought of cooking the meatballs in a BBQ sauce instead of the traditional marinara.  This pairs beautifully with vegetables and potatoes.  Using garlic and ginger is so important in this recipe.  I have found that turkey and chicken usually need garlic and ginger to counter the “smell”.

Servings: 4-6

Ingredients
Meatballs
– 1 lb ground turkey
– 1 egg
– 1 small onion, finely diced
– 1 clove garlic, minced
– 1 small piece of ginger, minced
– 1/3 cup bread crumbs
– Salt & pepper, to taste

BBQ Sauce
– 1 cup BBQ sauce
– 1 tsp paprika
– 1/2 tsp salt

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Method
1. Mix all the meatball ingredients in a large bowl.  Shape into meatballs.  Heat 1 tsp of oil in a frying pan over medium heat.  Brown the meatballs on all sides.
2. In a small bowl, mix together the BBQ sauce ingredients.  Place BBQ sauce and meatballs into the slow cooker.  Cook on low for 4-6 hours, until meatballs are cooked through.  Stir halfway through.  You can use additional BBQ sauce as a glaze when serving.  Garnish with your favorite herbs, if desired.

*Note:  I use a homemade BBQ sauce, so I added paprika and salt for extra flavor.  If you are using a store-bought sauce, you do not need to add paprika/salt unless you want a bolder flavor.  When you are browning the meatballs, they don’t have to be fully-cooked.  They will cook the rest of the way in the slow cooker.  Just make sure you get a nice color on them so they don’t stick together in the slow cooker.

Food & Drink

Crockpot Pasta Sauce

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My sister-in-law is a fan of food blogs.  Her favorite food blog is by this Taiwanese-American woman who lives in the Bay Area (like herself).  She is a mom and housewife who manages to cook up delicious meals while adorning designer labels.  #Goals.  Today, I’m going to attempt that by showing you a recipe that tastes so good, and I barely had to lift a finger.

This pasta sauce recipe takes advantage of seasonal produce.  I personally shop for produce that is on sale during the week.  So when I managed to get 15 Roma tomatoes for under $2, I knew it was time to make pasta sauce.  You can use any tomatoes of your choice, but I think Roma makes the best sauce because it’s flavorful and juicy.  It freezes really well without loss to flavor or texture, so you can definitely make a big batch of it and eat it throughout the week.  This recipe is nut-free, vegan and gluten-free friendly.  The recipe fills two 24oz old pasta jars perfectly.

Servings: 8

Ingredients
– 15 Roma tomatoes
– 2 tbs olive oil
– 1 onion
– 1 green bell pepper
– 1 tbs granulated sugar
– 1 tbs Italian seasoning
– 1 tsp dried rosemary
– 1 tsp salt
– 1/2 tsp black pepper

Method
1. Chop the onion and green bell pepper and place on the bottom of the crock pot and drizzle olive oil over it.  Mix with a wooden spoon.
2. Place tomatoes into the crockpot.  In a small bowl, mix together sugar, Italian seasoning, rosemary, salt, and pepper.  Sprinkle over the tomatoes.
3. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours.  The tomatoes should be partially broken down.
4.  Using an immersion blender, puree the sauce until desired consistency.

*Note:  if you don’t have an immersion blender, no worries!  Just chop the tomatoes before putting them in the crockpot instead of putting in whole tomatoes.  Also, if you feel like the sauce is too thin for you, you can add a spoonful of tomato paste when you are pureeing the sauce to thicken it.

Food & Drink

Mac n’ Cheese Waffle

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After a near 2 months hiatus, I’m back!  What have I been up to in the past 2 months?  Well, I graduated!  Now I’m spending the summer teaching at a camp here in Urbana and moving back home in August.  Summertime is definitely a time for tasty food experimentations.  So y’all will be getting some bizarre things coming your way!

Yesterday, I tried making Mac n’ Cheese Waffles with my boyfriend after seeing a Buzzfeed post about unusual things you can make in a waffle iron.  The result?  Amazing.  The mac and cheese flavor is definitely still there, but subtle.  But the waffle iron crisps the batter and it gives it a definitive texture.

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Ready in: 30 minutes
Servings: 2-3

Ingredients:
– 3 cups cooked, cooled, mac and cheese (you can use the store-bought boxed kinds or make your own)
– 1/4 cup shredded cheese of your choice (monterey jack, cheddar, etc.)
– 2 eggs
– 1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
– pepper to taste

Optional:
– Green onions, chopped
– Cooked bacon, chopped

Method:
1.  Preheat the waffle iron and lightly coat with cooking spray.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs.
3. Stir in mac & cheese, breadcrumbs, and pepper into the egg mixture.
4. Add in any optional ingredients
5. Scoop the mixture into the waffle iron, 1 cup at a time.  The waffle should be done in 2-3 minutes.  Repeat with the rest of the batter.

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