Crockpot Mac and Cheese: The Perfect Thanksgiving Side

If your kitchen is anything like mine on Thanksgiving you literally don’t have an extra burner or an inch of oven space to spare.  chzThat is why this crockpot macaroni and cheese recipe is ideal, easy, and delicious.  The best part is you only need 4 ingredients to make some of the most delicious and creamy mac and cheese your family has ever had!

All You Need:

* 4 1/2 cups elbow macaroni (uncooked)

* 2 cups of grated cheddar cheese

* 1 package of cream cheese (8 oz) cubed

* 4 cups of milk

*salt and pepper to taste

Combine all of the ingredients in the slow cooker and cook on low for 3-4 hours stirring occasionally.

**You can add another 1-2 cups of shredded cheese for a creamier mac!

Getting Our Pumpkin On: Pumpkin Pie In a Glass!

‘Tis the season for pumpkin everything and to be honest I can’t complain.  I love my pumpkin spiced latte, my pumpkin scented candle, and the occasional  pumpkin in glasspumpkin flavored cookie but one thing I look forward to that tops the rest of them bar none is a Pumpkin Pie in a Glass drink! This simple concoction is true to it’s name and is ideal to serve at any Halloween party, Thanksgiving dinner, or even a fun Saturday night! All you need is:

Ingredients:

* 2 parts Kahlua pumpkin spice (although I’ve used regular Kahlua as well)

* 1 part hazlenut liqueur

* 2.5 parts heavy cream

* 1 part pumpkin puree

* 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Directions:

Simply combine all ingredients into a martini shaker with ice and shake.  Pour into a glass and serve!

Using Your Cookout Leftovers~Eliminating Food Waste

This weekend was perfect for a cookout and if you are anything like me you tend to over-buy and over-prepare food to feed your hungry guests.  This year instead of wasting that burger patty, tossing the extra buns, or letting those chicken wings go stale in your fridchili with borderge why not use the leftover ingredients for an entirely new meal!  Also remember that your freezer is your friend.  If you think you may be having another cookout go ahead and freeze the uncooked meats and even the buns for next time.  Here are a few ways to get a second life out of your leftovers.

 

*Already cooked hamburgers, baked beans, and corn on the cob are all traditional cookout food fare.  Instead of just throwing out the extras you have the makings for a delicious pot of chili.  Simply crumble up the beef and cut the corn off of the cob.  Add the beef, tomato juice, diced tomatoes, a packet of chili seasoning, a diced onion, the corn, and the leftover baked beans to a large pot or dutch oven.  Bring to a boil and let simmer!

*Leftover hamburger and hotdog buns: If you are already making the chili these would be perfect to use to make peanut butter sandwiches to go along with the chili.  Another great way that I’ve found to use any leftover bread product is by making homemade croutons for salads or soups.  Simply cube up the leftover bread.  In a separate bowl mix together melted butter, oregano, salt, pepper, and parsley flakes.  Quickly toss in the bread cubes as to not completely soak them.  Spread onto a cookie sheet and bake until crispy.cookies in grinder

* Chicken wings: Since chicken is such a widely used ingredient the list of dishes that you can come up with using leftover chicken is limitless but I thought I would share one of my favorite ways to use the leftover chicken with minimal effort.  Before I even store the chicken in my refrigerator I pull all of the chicken off the bone and shred it.  For dinner the next night I simply put them in a tortilla with cheese and peppers then microwave them for a quick chicken fajita.  Top with any leftover lettuce or tomatoes that you had from the night before!

* Leftover cookies: While it certainly takes a lot of self restraint to not just finish off the remaining cookies there is an alternative.  Use a clean pepper grinder and place any crispy cookies broken up into pieces inside.  This makes for the perfect ice cream topping for the kids!

 

Keeping Your Night-Time Dessert While Sticking to Your Diet: Here’s How

I’ll be the first to admit that I am a full fledge sweet-aholic.  The idea of giving up my beloved desserts nearly brings a tear to my healthysnackspmeye.  I am on the other hand dedicated to working out and hate the idea of undoing all of my hard work at bedtime by binging on icecream and cookies.  So instead of spending the nights dreaming about a yummy dessert I looked up some low calorie sweets and wanted to share with you a couple of my favorite.  I promise these taste just as good (and sometimes even better) than their full calorie counterparts.

The first recipe is for frozen chocolate dipped bananas.  All you need is bananas, semi-sweet chocolate chips, some salted peanuts, and if you prefer a popsicle stick.  Simply melt the chocolate chips and dip half of a banana into the chocolate.  Before the chocolate has completely hardened you can sprinkle on some chopped up peanuts (or even your favorite cereal).  Place the bananas in the freezer.  I love having these on hand and ready for when my sweet tooth strikes.

The next recipe is another simple one for cinnamon baked apples.  The only ingredients that you need for this low calorie sweet is apples, cinnamon, sugar, and a mandolin for slicing very thin slices.  While most grocery store bought apple chips are deep fried these are baked for a much healthier version with the same great taste.  Just follow this recipe for easy and delicious snacks on the go.

My last simple, low calorie dessert favorite is dark chocolate nut clusters.  With just 2 simple ingredients of dark chocolate and whole almonds.  To make these just line a baking sheet with a nonstick baking mat and place a teaspoon of melted chocolate on the mat.  Top these teaspoons with a small handful of almonds and drizzle the top with a tablespoon of the chocolate.  Repeat this process and refrigerate until firm.

A Dinner Recipe Idea to Get Out of That Cooking Rut

If you are anything like me you may find yourself buying the same things at the grocery store to come home and make the same spinachlasagnapmdinners only to do it all again the next week.  Why not spice up your evenings and your dinners by trying this new take on lasagna? These spinach lasagna roll ups have been a big hit in my house and have added at least one new dinner to my normal dinner rotations.  Your grocery list will consist of:

Ingredients for Spinach Lasagna Roll Ups

8 lasagna noodles
2 cups finely chopped baby spinach, from about 3 ounces
1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
2/3 cup shredded cheese, such as mozzarella, Romano, or a blend, divided
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup spaghetti sauce

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9×9-inch baking dish.

Cook the lasagna noodles in plenty of salted boiling water according to package directions. Remove when they are al dente and lay out on a clean towel to dry and cool.

Mix the spinach, cottage cheese, 1/3 cup shredded cheese, Parmesan cheese, garlic, salt, and a generous quantity of black pepper.

Divide the spinach and cheese mixture evenly between the noodles, spreading the mixture over the entire length of each noodle. Roll up the noodles from bottom to top, and place in pan, side by side, touching. Pour the tomato sauce over the rolls, and sprinkle the remaining 1/3 cup shredded cheese over top.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until heated through and the sauce is bubbling.