Friday = Macaroni & Cheese!

Given that we still observe the meatless Fridays, this recipe is a go-to one especially when the day is going faster than I can catch up with it and dinner time appears out of no where! I never cared for Macaroni and Cheese when I was growing up until I discovered the major difference in using ‘real’ cheddar cheese and not the processed stuff! If you want to sneak in some vegetables, steam and puree a cup or so of cauliflower and mix it in the cheese sauce! A small can of diced chilis (mild or hot) makes an interesting change of pace. In fact, you can substitute the bread/panko topping with crushed tortilla or corn chips.

Macaroni & Cheese

2 cups grated, sharp cheddar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon dried mustard
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon salt
1 pound macaroni, just cooked. It should be a tiny bit underdone as it will finish in the oven.
1 cup milk. You might need a bit more
1/4 cup butter
Panko or bread crumbs

Toss the cheese with the dry ingredients.

Gently heat the milk and butter until very warm. Add the cheese mixture and keep stirring until it is melted and well combined. If the sauce seems too thick, add spoonfuls of milk until it reaches the consistency you want.

Pour the sauce into the prepared macaroni and mix well. Top with either the Panko crumbs or bread crumbs. Instead of drizzling melted butter or margarine on the topping, I just spray it with vegetable spray. It cuts the calories and helps it brown.

Put into a preheated 350 degree oven for approximately 20 minutes or until bubbly and hot through.

For variety, I like to mix in a can of drained, diced tomatoes into the dish.

Calories Are Always Loath to Leave!

It’s Lent so I can provide this information without too many repercussions from people who did NOT want to know this. Hey, aren’t we all supposed to be cutting back on the ‘fun’ food for Lent?

How many times have we heard someone say, “I’ll have that slice of pizza for lunch and then walk back to the office to burn off the extra calories. Uh, going to take more than a saunter back to sitting in a chair for the rest of the work day.

One slice of pizza is generally around 300 calories give or take a few depending on how many toppings you order. So, how hard can it be to burn off a good portion of that meal? You will be glad to know you have options here. You can do somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,400 sit-ups. A quick run around the block when you get home will do it . . . if the distance around your block is three miles. Prefer to do some in-home exercises? Get off easy with 285 push-ups.

How about a nice big iced cinnamon roll with coffee for a quick start to your day. ONE of those delicious, short-term energy providers checks in at over 890 calories. Will you have time to do 4,300 sit-ups before work? At what point would one need to notify the paramedics if you attempt to do this? Your morning run, should you chose that avenue, would have to be eight miles plus. No mercy if you chose push-ups as you would have to log in over 870 of those.

Don’t even consider drinking a quick breakfast with a stop by the local coffee shop as one of those milky, whipped cream topped treats can add up to and probably go 500 calories so you can guess by now where the numbers stand for running, sit-ups, or push-up.

Cheer up, however, as I’m pretty sure raw vegetables (without dip!) would be considered freebies. And, I’m going to assume that whining will burn some of the calories off, too.

April Fool’s Cake Recipe

April’s Fool cake

One should think ahead and be prepared for April’s Fool Day. This recipe should provide that. Your family will probably love this cake even after they find out what mystery ingredient it contains!

April Fool’s Day Cake
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons butter, softened
One can tomato soup
1 cup raisins
½  cup chopped walnuts
grated rind of one lemon and juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 11 3/4 x 7 ½ inch baking pan.

In a small bowl, stir together the dry ingredients. In a larger bowl, combine the sugar and butter, beating until blended. Beat in tomato soup until smooth. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and the dry ingredients. Spoon batter into pan, smoothing the top. Bake about 30 minutes until top springs back when lightly touched. Cool in pan. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Three Days to Prepare – One Hour to Eat!

Cooking dinner for Thanksgiving is a gift of love from the cook to the family and guests at the dinner table. . . and I wouldn’t change the process one, little bit.

Preparing for a Thanksgiving meal isn’t hard but it takes time, planning, and about three days to pull it all together. Today, was day one. And, yes, I’m a great one for making lists for anything I have to do in life. Thanksgiving requires a few more than one list. I need a grocery list, a dinner plan, and a cooking schedule. The background list to all this is what cleaning up around the house and yard need particular attention. Yesterday, was shopping day and, as usual, Tuesday is the beginning of the cooking and shopping to pick up what escaped the list yesterday.


Today was the simpler day. First thing this morning I put a bit pot of water, vegetables and turkey necks to simmer all day. This is my basis for making the gravy and for moistening the dressing. Baking started as one can’t make dressing without bread and we are gluten-free so I make the bread myself to keep everyone healthy. Cranberry/Apple sauce is now chilling in the refrigerator. No canned jelly stuff around here. It has too much sugar and I like to be able to taste the fruit.


Salads always make an appearance at the Thanksgiving table so the beet salad is marinating in a dish in the refrigerator awaiting some last-minute seasoning on Thursday. The apples for the Apple Crisp have been peeled, sliced, and are soaking in sugar, lemon, lime, and cinnamon.


Tomorrow, things heat up a bit as I have three pies to make besides baking the Apple Crisp.

Budget Meal Pasta – Two Ways!

These recipes will work for a gluten-free diet or a regular one. Just make sure that if you are going the gluten-free route, you use a good gluten-free pasta because it makes a difference. My pasta of choice has been Tinkyada. These are both good budget or last-minute meals. While the pasta water is heading for the boiling stage, you can put together a green salad and have dinner ready in less than an hour.

Buttered Poppy Seed Noodles
16 ounces spaghetti
1/2 stick butter (margarine won’t work as well here.)
1 – 1 1/2  tablespoons poppy seeds
Salt & pepper to taste.

Prepare your pasta to taste. Drain thoroughly and place back into warm pot. Melt the butter and add the poppy seeds. Simmer very slightly for a moment or two to blend flavors. Pour over the pasta, toss gently and serve.

Walnut-Garlic Pasta

16 ounces spaghetti
2 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves fresh garlic, diced
½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts
Salt & pepper to taste.

While your pasta is cooking, melt the butter with the olive oil. Throw in the garlic and cook gently until softened. Toss with the chopped walnuts, cooking two or three minutes longer. Be careful not to burn the butter/oil mixture. Pour over now cooked and drained spaghetti, mix together and serve. A crisp, green salad goes well with this. And there is always your fresh bread to consider!