White Truffle Mac & Cheese

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I was a weird kid. I was never into traditional kid foods like Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwiches, or Kraft Mac & Cheese.

I was really into spinach, asparagus, and pineapple deep dish. (If you haven’t tried Spinach Pineapple Pizza, I encourage you. It will blow your mind.)

It wasn’t until recently that I rediscovered homemade mac & cheese and fell in love. Crispy topping, perfectly cooked noodles, crazy amounts of cheese. What’s a girl not to love?

Mac & Cheese and bikini season normally don’t mix but I came across Candice Kumai’s ¬†recipe and felt that it could totally be modified to one of my favorite treats. She uses almond milk which adds a great flavor but less calories (vs heavy cream). I tweaked her recipe a bit and wah-lah, a less bad for you Truffle Mac & Cheese. You can thank me later ūüėČ

Truffle Mac & Cheese
(Adapted From: Candice Kumai’s Platinum Mac & Cheese)

3 cups Macaroni (uncooked)
1 tbsp unsalted butter
t tbsp all purpose flour (you can totally use gluten free here)
1 tsp garlic powder
2 1/2 cups Almond Milk
1/4 cup Gruyere Cheese, grated
1/4 cup Truffle Cheese
2 tbsp White Truffle Oil
Sea Salt (to taste)

Garnish:
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 tbsp italian seasoning
1/8 cup Truffle Cheese

1) Cook the noodles according to the directions on the box. Strain and toss with the Truffle Oil. Set aside.
2) Melt the butter in a large sauce pan on medium low heat, at the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until a paste like texture forms.
3)Add the garlic powder and almond milk. reduce head and allow to thicken for aprox 20 minutes.
4) When the sauce coats the back of a spoon add the noodles and cheeses.
5) Transfer to a over proof skillet and garnish with Italian Seasoning, salt, and extra cheese. Broil for 2-3 minutes.

Enjoy.

Guacamole Skins

Avocados are my favorite fruit. Yes, that is right, they’re a fruit (at least biologically). On summery days, or just days ending in “y” I like enjoying some avocado in its many forms.

For this post I was inspired by summer entertaining and how to dress up some guacamole, especially when some people have different tast preferences. By serving it in the peel you can either a) make it party-for-one style or b) you can make different spice levels at a party and put some chips out and your guests can just take a “guacamole skin” spiced to their liking and add some chips, hoorah!

Guacamole Skins
serves 2

1 medium avocado
1 lime (cut in half)
2 tbsp cilantro
2 tbsp onion (diced)
2 tbsp tomatos (diced
– for individual I used cherry tomatoes)
salt & pepper to taste (aprox 1/8 of tsp)

To add spice dice a jalapeno (as much as your tastebuds can handle!)

1. Cut an avocado in half, then take one half and slice it, turn and slice the other direction so that you have it’d cubed in the peel. Spoon it out into a bowl.

2. Add the cilantro, onion, tomato, salt, pepper, and jalapeno(optional). Mash together with a fork. Taste, add more salt and pepper if needed. (Same for jalapeno.)

3. Spoon the fresh guac back into the skin. Serve with chips. I love blue corn chips! 

If you’re going to make different spice variations for a a party you can top them with a little slice of jalapeno for medium and maybe a chili pepper for hot.

Enjoy!

Homage to Britain: Bubble and Squeak

So awhile ago I was introduced to a fun new leftovers dish. My boyfriend, who’s Australian, had whipped up this dish called “Bubble and Squeak”. I, peering into the bowl, was slightly skeptical but seeing that it was comprised of potatoes, veggies, and bacon was more than willing to give it a go. Boy, I’m glad I did!

This dish traditionally is made from leftovers from a big Sunday lunch. I don’t usually have big Sunday lunches, so both times I’ve had it, it’s been made it from scratch. It’s more of a “what’s in the fridge?” kinda moment. Still leftovers inspired though I’d say.

I’m sure if you’re like me when you read the name you wonder where it comes from. Maybe you’re super smart, or from a country that serves this and know already.¬† The name is referring to the noise it makes when you’re cooking it. Kinda cool right?

Bubble and Squeak

2 russet potatoes
1-2 cups of veggies (Whatever you have on hand, I used a mixed veggie mix I had in the freezer)
3 tbsp of butter
3 strips of bacon
2 tbsp of heavy cream

1. Boil the potatoes until you can stick them with a fork easily. Remove them and mash them with either a fork, masher, etc. Add in the butter and heavy cream.

2. While you’re boiling the potatoes you can also cook up the veggies and bacon that you have, so that you can just mix them in once you’ve made your mash.

3. Garnish with some shredded cheddar. I used white cheddar.

Enjoy!

Farfalle with a Brown Butter Sauce

I love pasta. If you read my post List-a-licious¬†you’ll note that it’s number one on my list of things to learn to make. I’m still working on that, but I wanted to share a quick easy “dressing” with you guys who share my love of pasta.

For some reason, Farfalle seems fancy to me. Maybe it’s because they could be little bow-ties. For such a fancy pasta, it needs a fancy topping. When I’m in a hurry and want something easy but super tasty I make brown butter. If you haven’t heard of this phenomenon, brace yourself.

It’s really simple, for about a cup of pasta, take 1-2tbsp butter and cook it on med-high heat in a saucepan. You can also use any other pan you like, but preferably not one with a dark bottom because it makes it harder to see the brown flecks. You want to cook it, stirring often, until it goes clear and then the beautiful brown flecks will appear. You’ll know it’s ready by the smell. The aroma floats through the air and just makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.

For this dish I also added some steamed spinach, which you can do if you have a steam basket, on top of your pasta as it cooks. Two birds, one stone. You’ll have to lift it every so often, so that the water doesn’t boil over.

Just cook some pasta, according to the instructions given, add some greens, a bit of tomato. Maybe even some chicken if you have it handy.¬†I like to top it with a bit of¬†parmesan cheese. Then eat. It’s quick and easy way to make a tasty lunch or dinner. The best part is you can just make enough for you, or however many your serving. (In case you eat, party for one, style like me sometimes.)

Enjoy!

San Fran Adventure

This weekend I traveled up to San Francisco with my fellow to check out the sights. I feel like there always has to be something when traveling that becomes noteworthy enough to share with everyone. For me this was the fact that our initial departure time from LAX of 6:40pm was actually ended up being about 11pm. I guess there was a storm, then some sort of fly block, and finally we took off.

Upon arriving the original prospects of dinner had diminished. Especially given it was about 1am when we checked into the hotel We stayed at the Omni, it’s a great hotel and walking distance to lots of the sites. The next morning proved hopeful however. A friend had recommended¬†that we mosey over to Dotties True Blue Cafe for breakfast. This place was super charming.

The wait was probably about 20-30 minutes and was complete with some interesting characters that were shouting about some randomness. I found this to be quite¬†humorous, not sure I was in good company though. Upon entering I started coveting their beautiful marble/dark wood counter-top. I’ve always loved that style. Additionally it featured exposed brick walls that were adorned with glamour portraits of celebs that began as strippers. Gotta love it.

Following an over indulging breakfast with some really tasty pancakes (Dottie’s Famous Pancakes, she adds ginger, it’s amazing.) We decided to walk it off across the Golden Gate Bridge. I’d been to San Fran several times over the last couple of years but I had yet to make it over to the bridge which was quite exciting.

Later that eve we decided Chinese was on the menu for dinner. I’d been looking forward to this since we booked the tickets for the trip. I love Chinese,¬†preferably¬†as left-overs out of those lovely paper boxes. Somehow it’s just tastes better that way. I have yet to find a place in LA that still gives these endangered boxes it would seem. We went to a place in Chinatown called Z & Y.

After dinner I’d did a bit of research before we left and found this dessert bar called Candybar that I wanted to try. When we got there, there was a bit of a line (lines in SF = LA traffic) and it looked like we weren’t going to get in. Fortunately our determination and the¬†announcement¬†from the host saying that he didn’t think anyone was going to get in meant that we outlasted most of the people waiting, and when two seats opened up we were on it. Note to self: get to places earlier.

It was a bit too dark for photos, and I was too excited for my dessert to wait anyway. I got their Apple Pie which was an amazing almond crust with a cream cheese filling, topped with some gingerbread ice cream. It was a party for my taste buds. I’d gladly come back here any/every day of the week! They also serve fun cocktails and other non-alcoholic beverages.

The next morning we were all excited to go to another place that my friend suggested we try, called Mamas, but that was quickly ruled out when we saw a line that would’ve easily taken an hour to get through, and at the point they would’ve been closed. Next trip! We ended up wandering back of the street to a cute pastry shop called Stella’s.

I had a yummy eclair for breakfast. Although it was a bit of a hard choice due to the nice selection of treats. I was craving the eclair otherwise I think I would’ve gone the Cannoli route due to it being located in Little Italy.

For our last day we grabbed some breakfast at a placed called Honey Honey Crepes. I had my standard Banana Nutella, served with a scoop of ice cream. While the ice cream didn’t really leave me wanting more, you can’t go wrong with nutella!

We closed out our trip at San Fran Botanical Gardens. I always take some warming up time when I visit gardens, but they always surprise me.

It did start me thinking about which flowers that you can cook with besides roses. I found this list of ones that you can. Although I didn’t get to the kitchen this weekend I think I might try and get some floral inspiration for my next recipe. Maybe Marigolds?

[ I apologize for the quality of the photos, camera phones aren’t always known for their stellar quality. ]

Enjoy!

Picnic + Beach = Paradise

If you live in the Los Angeles area you might have been able to sneak away from your responsibilities and soak up a little of this January sunshine that we’ve had this past weekend. Sadly I was too busy to really take full advantage of it… but the weathers supposed to be wonderful next weekend and feeling inspired I’m totally going to rope some friends in for an afternoon at the beach, complete with a picnic!

Picnic cuisine is one that takes a bit of preparation, especially if you’re traveling to your destination. That doesn’t mean that you can’t just throw down a fun blanket and host one in the comfort of your own home! I always imagine them including those cheesy fireplace videos for pure novelty’s sake.

There’s a variety of styles that you can go with for your picnic-pleasure, my favorite is sandwiches but finger foods are also high on my list. I think getting a little funky with sandwiches can be easily achieved by trying a replacement for breads (think pita, lettuce, tortillas) or adding some fun veggies (lately I’ve been lovin’ some grilled zucchini).

Some fun sandwich ideas

BL(A)T W/ Cheese
Bacon, Lettuce, Avocado, & Tomato
Try this with: pita bread and a lite flavored mayo (I like chipotle)

Roasted Veggie Wrap
Choose some of your favorite veggies; for example zucchini, asparagus, thinly sliced carrots (length wise), sprouts.
Grill/heat them up in a pan (I use a panini press) and let them cool. Spread some hummus on a spinach tortilla and
add in your cooled veggies and roll the tortilla, be sure to fold in the edges first. Cut in half, enjoy.

Shredded BBQ Chicken Sandwich
Season (to your liking) and boil a chicken breast 10 minutes on high, lower and let simmer for aprox 30 min. covered with a slight crack so some heat can escape. Most of the liquid should be gone at this point, if not just check back every few minutes. You want the chicken to be tender so that it’s almost falling apart when you poke it. Remove the chicken and shred with a fork. Add some BBQ sauce to the chicken and toss gently. Add the chicken to your carb of choice, I find that hamburger buns work well. Garnish with cheese.

No picnic is complete without some tasty beverages to quench your thirst. Lately I’ve been getting into flavored lemonades. I prefer do more of a lemon-lime-ade with Meyer lemons and Persian limes.

Lemon/Lime-ade Base
4-Persian Limes
5 -Meyer Lemons
3 Cups of sugar

Juice the lemons and limes and pour into a 2-qt pitcher. Fill leaving 2 inches from the top with water. Add sugar cup by cup, tasting as you go to get your desired sweetness.

Flavors: Pomegranate & Blackberry
Simply juice a 1/4 cup of either fruit and add the juice to a 8oz glass of your base.

Also try mixing half sparkling 1/4 sparkling water to 3/4 base mix to get a sparkling lemonade.

A fun way to serve these is in mason jars, garnish with some lemon wedges
(or mint when just using the base, think virgin mojito).

Enjoy!