Tag Archives: pasta

Michelle Obama’s Cauliflower Mac + Cheese

I had a half of a head of cauliflower to use and I was really craving mac + cheese. I knew it was time to Google and a Michelle Obama recipe popped up. I guess since it’s political season, this recipe of was appropriate I suppose.

Cauliflower Mac + Cheese (adapted from The First Lady/Yum Sugar)


1/2 pound penne pasta (half a box–use whole wheat. just do it!)
1 cup milk
8oz shredded cheddar cheese (or a mixture of your favorite melting cheeses)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1.5 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 tablespoon melted butter or margarine
1/2 cup bread crumbs


1. Preheat the oven to 350º. Bring salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente.
2. Steam the cauliflower until soft, about 10 minutes. Immersion blend the cauliflower(or transfer to a blender) along with a few tablespoons of the steaming liquid into a puree the cauliflower. Add more steaming liquid to thin the puree if necessary.
3. In a medium size casserole dish, combine the pasta and hot cauliflower puree. Add the milk, both cheeses, parsley, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. In a small bowl, mix the melted butter and breadcrumbs with your fingers until it resembles damp sand. Sprinkle across the top of the pasta mixture, then place the dish in the oven for about 20-30 minutes until the top is crispy and the sauce is bubbling.

I was really skeptical about this dish considering I usually make mac + cheese with a delicious cheese sauce. But, It was really good, very quick and easy and I’d make it again.

For the cheeses I used low-fat sharp cheddar and Trader Joe’s Unexpected Cheddar which you MUST RUN TO TRADER JOE’S NOW and get. It is a cross between sharp cheddar and parmesan. Good luck not eating the whole brick!

Back to the dish… the cauliflower taste was there, but it was subtle. Perfect for any vegetable-phobic in your life. Or if you want to trick yourself into eating more vegetables… I don’t think Michelle Obama would be mad.


Primavera Pasta.

Spring! One day, I’ll quit talking about how excited I am that it isn’t winter anymore. But not today!

This dish is one my Mom and I saw on Rachael Ray’s 30 minute meals TV show. I used to claim to not be able to stand her perky personality and meals that seemed to be thrown together, but I’m okay with her now. In fact, I actually really like her magazine–you should give it a try.

Most recipes my family or I see on TV/in a magazine/in a cookbook/online etc that we decide to make tend to get modifed in some way.  My Mom modified this recipe to make it more fresh and less creamy, and also vegetarian! Pro Tip: read recipe reviews/comments to get tips and tricks. Or just keep coming back here and I’ll dole them out!

The Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • 1 or 2 zucchinis, chopped
  • 1 cup shredded carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cups cooked tiny pasta (I used Ditalini)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, a handful
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • Salt and pepper


1.Heat a medium skillet over medium high heat and add the olive oil.

2. Add garlic and onions and cook for about 1 minute.

2. Add green pepper, zucchini and carrots. Saute 5 minutes, or until veggies are cooked.

3. Add in your favorite tiny pasta (orzo is the best, but whatever you have works!) Stir in parmesan cheese, parsley and peas. Season with salt and pepper, to your taste. Add some garlic salt if needed. 

The picture barely does this recipe justice. Add a salad or a piece of baguette to this meal and enjoy. Maybe even take it and eat outside!


Come on, who doesn’t love cheese sauce!? If you don’t, you just haven’t made this recipe yet.

I love vegetables now, but as a kid I’m sure I wasn’t their #1 fan. I think my Mom made this cheese sauce as a way to get us to eat an excess of veggies. I don’t need to be tricked into eating vegetables anymore, but I still love this cheese sauce. We always had it served with noodles too and it makes an amazing mac + cheese. It’s super rich, and not the healthiest so we didn’t get to eat it very often. A good rule, even today.

The cheese sauce is a little tricky if you’ve never made a roux or a white sauce before, or if you’re me, but it’s awesome. And worth it.

Cheese Sauce w/ Broccoli, Cauliflower // Mac + Cheese

The Ingredient List:

  • 1 large head cauliflower
  • 1-2 broccoli crowns
  • 2 servings of cooked elbow noodles
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt + pepper
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups skim milk-warmed
  • 2+ cups shredded 2% sharp cheddar cheese
1. Cook the elbow noodles according to the box, and set aside.
2. Wash and cut the broccoli and cauliflower into medium-sized florets. Use a vegetable steamer and in a large saucepan, bring 1 in. of water, broccoli and cauliflower to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and cook for 5-15 minutes or until veggies are crisp-tender.
2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt butter; stir in flour until blended and a little brown.
3. Gradually add milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Reduce heat; add cheese, stirring until melted. 
4. Drain veggies and noodles, pour cheese sauce over top… and dig in!

Mmm. Mac + Cheese! Veggies + Cheese sauce! So versatile!  You can serve this cheese sauce with any vegetable or type of noodle you like. You can even double the cheese sauce recipe and pour it over noodles + throw it in the oven for a traditional mac and cheese.
What would you put this cheese sauce on?

So. Much. Pasta.

This weekend, Brent’s family was in town. They are in town a lot considering Brent’s sister Megan is going to give birth sometime within the next two weeks. We were called to come on over!

We got up to Megan + Sam’s house and after a rousing time including someone (read: me) breaking a dining room chair (if someone tells you the chair is about to break, do not taunt the chair owner by jumping on it… it will break.)… we went into the kitchen to start cooking.

I had no clue that we’d be cooking, so this was kind of surprise blogpurtunity (blog opportunity, new word). Excuse the camera-phone pics.

Anyhoo, Brent’s family is a meat and food-loving crew. His Mom knows I don’t eat meat so she talked to her friend with a vegetarian daughter and got some recipes from her. Nice, right?

First up we started making Spinach Manicotti.

The Ingredient List:

  • 1 carton (15 ounces) part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 jars (28 ounces each) Spaghetti Sauce
  • 1 package (8 ounces) manicotti shells


1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Cook manicotti noodles according to directions on the package, drain and allow to cool. (You could put these in a bowl of ice water for a few seconds to cool them quickly, or just run them under cold water.)

3. In a large bowl, combine ricotta, spinach, onion and egg. Season with parsley, pepper and garlic powder. Mix in 1 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup Parmesan.

4. Spread 1 cup sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Stuff manicotti shells with ricotta mixture, and arrange in a single layer in the dish. Cover with remaining sauce. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan.


single file manicotti line.

4. Bake uncovered in preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until heated through and cheese is melted.

cook until it looks like this.

This was good, but needed some more flavor. I’d recommend using fresh garlic in place of garlic powder (a clove or so) and a more flavorful cheese inside in addition to the mozzarella, maybe an Italian cheese blend. I also am all for making your own spaghetti sauce when there is time for it. It always tastes better. The recipe also calls for one egg to bind the ricotta mixture together, but I find that to be unnecessary so I’d leave it out.

Next… it was time to make some more pasta! Brent’s mom decided to double the recipe below.

Cheese Tortellini + Vegetable Primavera

The Ingredient List

  • 1  (13-ounce) package Cheese Tortellini (we used Butoni mixed cheese)
  • 1/2  bunch (8 ounces) asparagus
  • 1  zucchini, diced
  • 3  tablespoons  extra virgin olive oil
  • 2  tomatoes, diced
  • small amount of olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2  cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


1. Snap off and discard tough ends of asparagus. Cut tips from asparagus, and place in a bowl. Cut remaining asparagus into 1/4-inch pieces; add to bowl. Dice tomato and zucchini.

Brent getting in on the chopping fun.

2. Sauté asparagus, green onions, and zucchini in hot olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat 8 minutes. Add tomatoes, and cook 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Stir pasta into asparagus mixture, and sprinkle with cheese. Serve immediately.

dinner all together

The tortellini primavera was pretty good, but, it was missing garlic. I’ll repurpose the 2 HUGE tubs of leftovers with some pesto to give it a little more of a kick. I might also cook it up with some parsley, red pepper flakes, garlic + parmesan. (Anyone want to come over for leftovers?)

Brent’s mom added salad and some garlic bread and we were ready to go. The dinner (shown all together above) left five meat eaters and myself satisfied.

What do you make to feed a large group of hungry people?

Pasta Please.

I used to be anti-pasta. I think I overdosed on it especially during my undergraduate days- thanks mostly to my BFF turned roommate Jamie who enjoyed a giant bowl of pasta every night around midnight. Pasta began to bore me so I just quit buying it and seeking it out. Two years ago, another pal, Kate, wanted to make some post-yoga healthy food and printed out the most popular vegetarian recipe from Allrecipes.com.

This recipe renewed my faith in pasta. It also made me like mushrooms. It is very easy to make and really quite healthy. It is awesome. I recommend you drop everything you are doing and try this recipe right now. Or call me and I’ll make it for you. I’m serious.

Suki’s Spinach + Feta Pasta (adapted from Allrecipes.com)

The Ingredient List:

  • 8 oz package pasta (1/2 a box, any kind works but I like rotini, penne, butterfly or capatavi)
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 1 8oz package sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 4-5 cups fresh spinach leaves, packed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 T red pepper flakes
  • 8 -10 oz feta cheese, crumbled


1. Chop garlic, onion, tomatoes and mushrooms. This recipe makes about 6 pretty big portions so invite a sous-chef over or have your live-in-dummy chop for you since he has Fridays off. (Thanks Brent!) Also- my friend Kate has used 2 cans of diced tomatoes in place of fresh and said that works, but that fresh tomatoes taste better. I recommend fresh- but to save time/money you can for sure use canned.

so artsy!

2.Heat 1T olive oil in a large skillet (we used our electric wok- normal!) over medium-high heat; add onion and garlic, and cook until golden brown.

Garlic + Onion= not for Maebys.

2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta in boiling water until al dente- I do one minute less than whatever the directions on the box says. I also only use whole grain, whole wheat or pasta plus these days. These pastas actually have some taste to them, and I prefer them now. Bonus: they are healthier. After your past is done cooking, drain it and set it aside.

3. Mix in tomatoes, mushrooms, and spinach. The original recipe calls for only 2 cups of spinach, but spinach is a superfood and we (even Maeby) can’t get enough of it. Season with a pinch of salt + pepper. Cook 5-7 minutes or until tomatoes are heated through and spinach is wilted.

spinach before

spinach after- probably should have added MORE!

4. Reduce heat to medium, stir in pasta, feta cheese, 1T red pepper flakes. I start with adding an 8 oz package of feta cheese and see if that coats the pasta enough. I will often add another once or two if it looks a little dry.

5. Cook for about 5 or until heated through/feta and veggies create a sauce.

You can add a full box of pasta if you want to stretch this recipe out, but I like vegetables a lot better than I like pasta, even after my pasta rebirth.

We ate and watched some DVR’d 30 Rock…which I also highly recommend. And, this might come as a shock, but we ate this with a salad. And I plan on eating any leftovers with one too. What would you eat this with?