Healthier Pumpkin Mac and Beer and Cheese

12 Sep
The jackets come out of storage, the scarves get wrapped around necks, and the windows which once let in a warm summer breeze are now shut tight. Yep,it’s fall. And I’m pretty happy about that. Baking, cute coats, boots, sweaters, hot tea, and….PUMPKIN! All things pumpkin.C’mon, jump on board the gourd train and join in the obsession. At least it’s a healthier one!

Healthier Pumpkin Mac and Beer and Cheese | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Yep, it really is that orange in color!

This dish screams Wisconsin. The beer and cheeses used are all made in my home state, so you know it’s going to be good. We do cheese (and beer) right.

Warm up your house, hearts, and stomachs with this amazing pumpkin mac & cheese. Beer replaces some of the milk, real Wisconsin cheeses make this decadent, whole wheat pasta ups the fiber content, and Greek yogurt adds a nice dose of lean protein. Pair it with a salad and you’re good to go.

Healthier Pumpkin Mac and Beer and Cheese | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Too bad you can’t smell this – it was amazing!

It’s comfort food taken to the extreme – you’ll definitely want seconds!

Healthy Pumpkin Mac & Beer & Cheese, adapted from The Lemon Bowl

Serves 6

  • 14 oz whole wheat pasta
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 tbsp whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 C nondairy or skim milk
  • 1 C (8oz) beer (I used a summer ale – drink the rest!)
  • 1.5 C shredded cheese (I used a blend of cheddar and edam – both Wisconsin-made)
  • 1 C pumpkin puree
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 small garlic clove, grated
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp fresh black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/3 C nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 C grated parmesan cheese (freshly grated is best)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 and spray a medium-sized casserole dish (8×8″) with olive oil PAM.

In a large pot, cook pasta to al dente. Drain, return to pot, and set aside.

While the pasta cooks, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a medium sauce pot and saute diced onion until transparent. Add the milk, beer and flour and continuously whisk over medium heat until it begins to thicken, about 5-7 minutes.

Tip: use your food processor to speed up the cheese shredding. Cut your cheese off the block in 1″ cube chunks, and pulse until you reach a consistency that will melt into the sauce. Do the same for the parmesan that goes on top!

Stir in shredded cheeses, pumpkin, mustard, grated garlic, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Whisk mixture until cheese is melted and sauce thickens even further, about 5 more minutes.

Pour pumpkin cheese sauce over the pasta in the pot and mix until pasta is evenly coated. Taste and make sure you like it. Stir in yogurt, then pour entire mixture into prepared baking dish.

In a small bowl, mix together the bread crumbs and parmesan with olive oil until evenly coated. Sprinkle on top of the pasta. Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes until the cheese bubbles and a crust forms on top. Serve and eat hot. Enjoy!

Healthier Pumpkin Mac and Beer and Cheese | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Look at the crispy noodles; the melty cheese, the browned panko. YUM.

Not sure what to do with your leftover pumpkin puree? Transfer to an airtight container and keep it in the fridge until morning, when you can make a homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte!

Corn Pasta Sauce with Marinated Fresh Veggies

3 Sep

Summer might be “over” with September here, but gardens and markets still have much to offer in the way of summer produce! And this dish is perfect for using up some of your collection.

Corn Pasta Sauce with Marinated Fresh Veggies | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

A vegan pasta sauce made from corn and dairy free soy milk, delicately coats whole wheat spaghetti, and acts as a tasty bed for a medley of marinated fresh vegetables. This meal is packed with protein, fiber, and vitamins…and flavor! You’ll have your family gobbling it down in no time. And it’s super easy to prepare. Embrace the end of summer and get to it!

Corn Pasta Sauce with Marinated Fresh Veggies | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Corn Pasta Sauce with Marinated Fresh Veggies, adapted from Scaling Back

Serves 6

Corn Pasta Sauce

  • 3 ears fresh corn, shaved off
  • 1.5 C plain soymilk
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp each of sea salt and black pepper

Marinated Veggies

  • 1 C cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds removed and diced (or use half, if spicy isn’t for you)
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 C fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp each of sea salt and black pepper

Pasta Dish

  • 10 oz whole wheat spaghetti (or use a GF variety)
  • 1 C corn pasta sauce
  • 1/2 C pasta water
  • 1 ear fresh corn, shaved off

Begin by making the corn pasta sauce. Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Set aside.

Chop veggies and combine all of the marinade ingredients with the veggies into a bowl. Set aside.

Bring pasta to a boil in a large pot. Cook to al dente.

Before draining the cooked pasta, reserve a half cup of the pasta water. Let the rest drain.

Heat a large pan over medium-high. Pour in one cup of the corn pasta sauce, the extra shaved corn, and the cooked pasta. Mix together and heat through. Add pasta water as needed to loosen the sauce.

Keep remaining corn pasta sauce in a container in the fridge for later use – perhaps to blend with mashed potatoes?

Serve pasta into bowls. Top with the marinated veggies. Enjoy with a nice cold beer :)

Molasses Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

2 Sep

Hi, I’m Christina and I’m a Gooner. For those who don’t know, that means I’m a fan of Arsenal Football Club – a London football (soccer) team in the Premier League. The season started a few weeks ago, and now we’re in full swing with weekly games! And it’s SO MUCH FUN. There are a few “soccer” bars in my city, and my boyfriend and I have chosen The Highbury Pub as our go-to. And this past weekend, we got to meet a bunch of Gooners from all over the Midwest!

We had a meet-up at a local Milwaukee brew-pub, got to know each other, then watched the Arsenal game the next morning at the pub. And yes,  I do mean morning – the game began at 10am! Well, 10am our time. So that of course meant bringing snacks to munch on as we cheered, chanted, screamed and all-out shouted. Not one to miss an opportunity to feed new friends, I woke up extra early to bake a huge pan of cookie bars. They were still warm when we arrived at the pub! Which meant melty chocolate, and who doesn’t love that?

Sadly, I forgot to snap photos of the cookies, but for your viewing pleasure, enjoy some of the photos of us in our Arsenal gear!

#SanchezShorts – it’s a thing.

Next time you want to feed a crowd, make these cookies – they’re sweet, and have a slight twist on the classic chocolate chip cookie. But warning: unlike most of my posted recipes, these are NOT healthy! Nor should they be…I mean, I was drinking at 9:30am. So who cares :)

Molasses Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars, adapted from The Lemon Bowl

Makes 60 1″ squares

  • 4 C all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 C brown sugar, packed
  • 1 C butter, softened (not melted!)
  • 2/3 C molasses
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 C mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a standard-sized cookie sheet and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, powder, soda and salt.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, add brown sugar and butter and cream together at medium speed. Add in the molasses and eggs and mix well. You’ll have to scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times.

Reduce the speed and slowly add in the flour mixture. Continue until all flour is incorporated. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and fold in the chocolate chips.

Spread the cookie dough onto your greased cookie sheet. Use a flat spatula to spread the dough evenly onto the sheet, reaching the edges and corners.

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting into bars – I got about 60 bars total. If you’re under a time crunch, throw the warm sheet into your freezer, with an oven pad underneath it. Worked really well!

TARDIS Blue Velvet Cupcakes

27 Aug TARDIS Blue Cupcakes | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Doctor Who is back!!!!! Are you as excited about this as I am? You should be. Because from what I can tell, Peter Capaldi is going to be an amazing 12th Doctor. To celebrate the start of Season 8, I whipped up some TARDIS cupcakes – they have blue velvet cake base, frosted with blueberry cream cheese buttercream, and topped off with the light on that old time machine, in the form of a white chocolate chip.

TARDIS Blue Cupcakes | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

It’s sweeter on the inside!

Chris and I went to watch the season premier at 42 Lounge, a nerd bar in downtown Milwaukee, and of course we had to dress up! Though, it’s a little weird for a TARDIS to be eating a TARDIS….

Doctor and TARDIS

Photo courtesy of Steven Greenwood

Me and my friend & photographer, Steven.

Me and my friend & photographer, Steven.

He could be Tennant's twin! Photo Courtesy of Steven Greenwood

He could be Tennant’s twin! Photo Courtesy of Steven Greenwood

I brought these fun cupcakes with us, and immediately made friends with every other Whovian in the bar. Helps that we enjoyed some Sonic Screwdrivers and Companion shots along the way.

Sonic Screwdriver

Sonic Screwdriver Cocktail. Photo courtesy of Steven Greenwood

Whether you watch the next episode at home with friends, or out with some fellow nerds, bring these cupcakes, and maybe even some Jammie Dodgers with you! You’re sure to impress – after all, there’s about 2,000 years of Time Lord to celebrate!

TARDIS Blue Cupcakes | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Photo courtesy of Steven Greenwood

TARDIS Blue Cupcakes with Blueberry Cream Cheese Buttercream

Makes 24 cupcakes

  • 1 box Duncan Hines Blue Velvet Cake Mix
  • 1/3 C vegetable oil
  • 3/4 C water
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 stick (1/2C) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 package (8oz) reduced fat cream cheese
  • 1/2 C fresh blueberries, mashed
  • 3-5 C powdered sugar
  • 5 drops blue food coloring
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 24 white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325. Line 2 cupcake tins with plain white or blue liners. Set aside.

Mix together cake mix, oil, water and eggs until thoroughly combined. I chose the “alternative” instructions so as to reduce the fat content.

Spoon or scoop batter into lined cupcake tins. Bake at 325 for 18 minutes. Remove and let cool for a few minutes in the tins. Pop them out and let cool completely on a cooling rack.

TARDIS Blue Cupcakes | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

In the meantime, make your buttercream. Using a stand or hand mixer, cream butter and cream cheese together. Add mashed blueberries and almond extract, and combine. Add powdered sugar, one half cup at a time, and continue mixing until desired flavor is reached. Add the blue food coloring – may need to add more to achieve the right color blue.

Store buttercream in the fridge until you’re ready to frost the cupcakes – this will help set the buttercream and make it easier to use.

Pipe or spread the buttercream onto cupcakes once they are completely cooled. Garnish with a white chocolate chip on top – that’s the light on top of the TARDIS! Keep cupcakes stored in the fridge until you’re ready to serve, especially if it’s warm out.

TARDIS Blue Cupcakes | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

The Dalek has the TARDIS!

Fruity Oaty Bars – Firefly Dinner Party, Part II

22 Aug Fruity Oaty Bars | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Yesterday, I posted about the Firefly dinner party my friends and I enjoyed, complete with themed foods and drinks! Here’s the continuation of that: Kaylee and River’s foods!

This post is also in conjunction with the August challenge of Recipe Redux: bars and bites for brown bags. These fruity oaty bars are the perfect snack bar for school lunches, after school snacks, mid-day nibbles at the office, or even before/after a workout!

Fruity Oaty Bars | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Fruity Oat Bars |xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Kaylee, being the girly grease monkey she is, deserved something sweet, bright, a little healthy, and a whole lotta shiny. So, we created Kaylee’s Shiny Smoothies: plain nonfat yogurt, fresh strawberries, fresh basil, and a little bit of honey – blend it together, and enjoy!

Kaylee's Shiny Smoothies |xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Kaylee's Shiny Smoothie |xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Fruity Oat Bars |xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Kaylee & River were such fun together! Just like these bars & smoothies.

Fruity oaty bars
Make a man out of a mouse
Fruity oaty bars
Make you bust out of your blouse
Eat them all the time
Let them blow your mind
Wǒ hěn jiāo nián diūliǎn wǒ méiyǒu chī Fruity Oaty Bar!ˆ
Fruity oaty bars
Fruity oaty bars

The choice for River was an obvious one: Fruity Oaty Bars. This version contains no subliminal messages, but is instead packed with protein, fiber, and healthy fats. I chose to use raisins as the “fruity” part, and peanut butter holds together the oats. Instant nonfat powdered milk lends a great dose of protein. These are easy to make, require no baking, but won’t make you bust out of your blouse :P

Fruity Oaty Bars, adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie

Makes 12 bars

  • 1.5 C old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2/3 C instant nonfat powdered milk
  • 1/2 C peanut butter
  • 1/2 C honey
  • 1/2 C raisins (or dried fruit of choice)

Line a 8×8″ baking pan with parchment or wax paper – set aside.

Mix dry ingredients together first in a medium bowl. Add in peanut butter, honey and raisins. Mix well until completely combined – you want nothing to remain “dry!”

Press the mixture into the prepared pan and spread it out to the edges & corners. Use another sheet of parchment or wax paper on top to press down the mixture so it’s even in the pan. Freeze until hard – at least an hour or two, then cut into bars.

Fruity Oat Bars |xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Keep chilled in the fridge, or store in an air-tight container in the freezer to last even longer as if these won’t be eaten in 24 hours!)

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