this was my first time making shells and they have already surpassed lasagne in my book of delicious italian food. for lasagne to be good i feel like it takes loads of cheese and sauce and plates with different toppings to layer and, man, those noodles are so hard to get not to stick together and you end up with so many dishes. now don’t get me wrong.. i love lasagne. making shells was just such a wonderfully easy experience that i want to impart this to you.
while at the store getting ingredients for this i originally planned on defying my digestive system incapable of breaking down lactose and making this recipe with real ricotta but it is so expensive! i went ahead and used my mom’s ricotta substitute of tofu and i couldn’t tell the difference. without actually trying, i made this a pretty healthy meal complete with protein and not much fat at all. look at me! Continue reading
i am in an end of summer food rut. this is supposed to be the time where you have so much bountiful produce you don’t know what to do with it but make a million new and delicious recipes. instead i find myself craving mac and cheese or tacos, depending how warm it is in the evening.
it wasn’t until today that i realized i’m really not a summer cook. i have a few summer staple meals i like but don’t really explore much beyond them. project for next year i suppose. for right now i’m looking forward to winter squash, weather conducive to eating soup, and getting back to eating apples. i already have at least 10 fall staples that i can’t wait to make but it just doesn’t feel right yet even though saturday marks the official beginning of fall. i don’t care. last week in portland we had weather in the 90s and this week is 70 all the way through. not fall. ok?
so here is the beginning of me coping with the paradox of wanting hearty fall food but not being ready to give up on summer and nectarines and peaches and berries and corn and delicious tomatoes… mac and cheese seems like a good start away from summer food.
this mac takes about 20 minutes to make because you skip the baking step that makes the top so crispy and wonderful, but it also skips the 30 minutes plus waiting for it to bake. (i have a secret for you, to have baked mac and cheese you basically make the sauce, toss it with the noodles, add some more cheese in the middle and on top and throw it in the oven.) i know it’s easy to get lazy and pull out a box of annie’s mac and cheese (or whatever kraft crap you put in your body) but this is worth it.
remember how last week i said it was back to work and the kitchen was a mess? well i didn’t think it could get any worse but then boyfriend went back to work, the dishes continued to pile up, we continued to eat quesadillas all week, and (full disclosure) it took a couple days for us to replace the garbage bag in the kitchen after taking it out for trash day. that bad.
so friday after work we got down to business and the kitchen surfaces are clean once again, there is a trash bag in the garbage can, and the fruit flies have left for someone else’s messy kitchen. let’s never let that happen again.
saturday was the first excuse to cook something real because it was a friend’s birthday potluck. i have been craving childhood food all summer, whether that be sourdough pancakes (coming soon!), salmon dip, or this macaroni salad. this salad is just the way my mom made it when i was a kid with a few exceptions. she used straight up ranch for dressing and i think that is gross (so is 3/4 cups of mayonnaise, but whatever). i also couldn’t find the cute little eden organic alphabet noodles which according to their website…don’t exist anymore! i made do and it was pretty delicious.
i feel like i’m saying this all the time, and it may be a reflection of how i cook (especially in the summer), but this is so easy! and delicious! you don’t even have to throw things in the food processor for a dressing, or the skillet or oven for roasting. oh no, this is a one pot plus cutting board meal. just to really drive in how easy this pasta is to make, i made it with a broken collarbone, i.e. one functioning left arm when i’m right-handed, when i could barely make toast.
the idea comes from smitten kitchen and deb’s amazing asparagus, goat cheese, and lemon pasta. i’ve made her version and mixed it up by adding or substituting herbs, tomato, roasted garlic, and green beans. like most pasta salads i’ve encountered, this is good warm or cold.
pastaworks in portland makes the most delicious pasta but unfortunately i can only justify spending money on it when it goes on sale right before it expires. tuesday was my lucky day when i picked up some mushroom cheese ravioli for half price.
i wanted to eat this with a pesto with a more mild flavor as sage, oregano, and basil can be overpowering. the parsley gives the dish a fresh summery flavor and the roasted shallot in the pesto brings a faint sweetness.