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

Made-from-scratch Gnocchi

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As I talk about it quite often, one of my all time favorite things to eat is gnocchi.  Those soft, pillowy goodness are such an amazing dish to make.  Easy, fast, and delicious!  What more could you ask for?  I’ve been experimenting with different recipes on making gnocchi from scratch.  There is the more complex way which I’m sure all Italian grandmothers are ninjas at.  There is also the “cheater” route, in which we use instant potatoes.  I can have fresh gnocchi from scratch to table in less than 30 minutes.  I would not disregard the store-bought packaged gnocchi, as they are so convenient and yummy.  But this recipe will definitely be for when I’m feeling a bit more fancy and want to put in a little elbow grease in cooking.  Hope you enjoy!

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time:
 5 minutes
Servings
: 4

Ingredients:
– 1 cup instant potatoes
– 1 cup boiling water
– 1 egg, beaten
– 1 tsp salt
– 1/2 tsp black pepper
– 1/2 tsp basil
– 1/2 tsp italian seasoning
– 1  1/2 cup all-purpose flour

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Method:
1. Boil 2 quarts water in a large pot.  In a medium bowl, mix the instant potatoes and water until well blended.
2. Mix in egg, salt, pepper, basil, and italian seasoning.  Lastly stir in the flour.
3. Turn the dough out on a well-floured working surface.  Knead the dough until well incorporated.
4. Divide the dough into 4 rounds.  Roll each part into a thin tube (~1 inch in thickness).  Cut the dough into small bite-size pieces.
5. Place gnocchi in the boiling water.  When the gnocchi rise to the top, it is ready.  Using a slotted spoon, spoon out the cooked gnocchi.  Serve with your favorite sauce.

Food & Drink

Pan-Fried Gnocchi with Pesto and Veggies

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Gnocchi:  soft, pillowy heavenly goodness.  The traditional way of cooking gnocchi is with a pot of boiling water, and the gnocchi will float to the top when it is done.  Recently, I’ve been cooking gnocchi a different way, through pan-frying them!  It’s way faster (no need to wait for water to boil), and the result is a crispy outer while still maintaining the soft inside.

I have so many awesome recipes for pan-fried gnocchi.  But one of my favorites is tossing it with a simple creamy pesto and veggies.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Ready in: 15 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
– 2 tbs olive oil
– 2 tbs butter
– 1  16oz package potato gnocchi
– 1/3 cup onions, chopped
– 1/4 cup frozen corn
– 1/2 cup broccoli florets, coarsely chopped
– 1/2 cup homemade pesto
– 2 tbs half & half
– salt and pepper, to taste

Method:
1. In a medium frying pan, heat the olive oil.  Spread the gnocchi into a even layer.  Let it cook for 3-4 minutes, and flip the gnocchi and cook the other side until golden brown.  Remove from heat.
2. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter.  Cook the onions until translucent, add the corn, broccoli florets, and season with salt and pepper.  Cook for 3-4 minutes.
3. In a small bowl, combine the pesto with the half and half.  Pour the creamy pesto sauce into the veggie medley.
4. Stir in the gnocchi.  Serve hot.

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