Microwave Mac & Cheese

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Who doesn’t like mac and cheese?  I love it, but I find that a whole bowl of it can be too much.  This recipe is perfect for a small, but filling snack, and the most you’ll have to wash is a mug and a spoon!  Honestly, that’s the best part.  Easy cooking and easy cleaning.  (Wash as soon as you’re done eating, or soak your mug in hot water to get rid of the cheese and make for easier clean up.)

 

Ingredients:

1/3 cup macaroni/ any small pasta you have on hand

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup milk (whatever kind you have)

1/2 cup shredded cheese (cheddar probably works best, but feel free to mix in your favorites)

Optional: teaspoon of butter/ ground pepper

 

Directions:

1. “Boil” your pasta by combining the pasta and the water in a large mug.  Microwave on high for 2 minutes, then stir.  I recommend doing this on 20 second intervals, so the water doesn’t spill over.  That should be 6, 20 second intervals.

2. Check the pasta.  Repeat until desired firmness.  For me, this usually takes another 2 minutes, but I have a strong microwave.  If you like your pasta softer than al dente, you might want to cook for 4 extra minutes instead of 2.  Stir at every interval.  (All the water should be absorbed.  If the pasta isn’t cooked yet, add another spoonful of water, and cook for another few intervals of 20 seconds.)

3. You’re almost done now!  Remove your mug from the microwave, and stir in the milk and cheese!  (Add the butter and pepper here too if you want.)  Be careful with the hot mug, but everything should eventually melt into gooey goodness as you stir.

4. Enjoy!  You can always make another mug for yourself, or share with a friend!

Credit:

I’ve seen this recipe more than once, and I’ve added butter and pepper to mine, but here’s the most recent one I’ve seen: http://www.babble.com/best-recipes/instant-mug-o-mac-cheese-in-the-microwave/

The picture is also from babble.com

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Halloween Tip #3: Tim Tams and Kit Kats

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Tim Tams and Kit Kats are both chocolate-covered wafers.  They’re good for snacking.  But there’s more than one way to use these Halloween leftovers!

1. As a Drinking Straw

Simply bite off both ends, dip it into a drink of your choice (I’d recommend coffee, milk, or hot chocolate), and voila!  A straw! There’s nothing better than getting a sip of hot chocolate through the wafer. And you can even eat the wafer “straw” afterwards.  Slightly melty, and full of the drink of your choice…  If you haven’t tried it yet, it’s amazing.

2. Stirring Sticks

You could also simply use them as stirring sticks; the chocolate melts perfectly into hot drinks, but I still prefer the straw.

Photo Credit: http://productsfromnz.com/1900+Tim+Tams+Biscuits+(Cookies)

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Halloween Tip #2: Reeses!

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Halloween instantly brings to mind Trick or Treating!  And that means lots of candy.  One of my favorites is Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.  To get into the spirit for Halloween (or to get rid of that mountain of candy you’ve accumulated), here are 3 quick tips on how to further incorporate these bits of chocolate-y, peanut-buttery goodness into your life.

1. Hot Cocoa

Next time you’re settling down for a cup of hot chocolate, add a Reese’s to your cup before you add your cocoa powder mix, marshmallows, and boiling water.  It’s delicious!

2. Waffles/Pancakes

Right after you pour your batter into your waffle-maker, pop a handful of these on too!

If you’re making pancakes, you can use Reese’s Pieces, or chop your Reese’s into smaller bits, and sprinkle them into your batter.  Then make pancakes as normal.

3. Cupcakes/Muffins

Just before you pop your next batch into the oven, press a Reese’s right into the middle of each muffin!  When it’s done, you’ll have a bite of molten chocolate and peanut-butter filling as a surprise for whoever you want to impress!

Idea Credit: Ellen Krantz

Halloween Display Tip #1: Pumpkin Bowl

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It’s October now!  October means the start of Fall, and the coming of Halloween.  If you’d like to add some of that October flavor to your meals, use a pumpkin for a serving bowl!

No, I’m being serious.  What better way to add pumpkin and Fall to your life than hollowing out a pumpkin to use as a serving bowl?  You could also get a couple of smaller pumpkins for a personal touch.

Simply heat up some canned soup if you don’t feel like cooking, hollow out a pumpkin, and that’s it!  (The pumpkin filling with some spices and a pre-made pie crust would make an amazing pumpkin pie.)

Photo credit: http://www.aruba.com/forum/f12/recipes-28166/index2.html

Idea credit: Christina

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pancakes For Halloween!

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What you need:

Whole milk

1 1/4 cup of Pumpkin

2 Teaspoons of Baking powder

1 Teaspoon of Baking Soda

Brown Sugar

What to do with it:

In a large bowl, toss the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and chocolate chips together until combined. Set aside.

I like to mix the wet ingredients in a blender. This guarantees a smoother batter and breaks down the pumpkin. This is especially necessary if you are using fresh pumpkin puree. Add the pumpkin, brown sugar, egg, oil, and whole milk to a blender and blend on high for 45 seconds until combined. Alternatively, you may whisk by hand or use a hand mixer. Blender is best.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk by hand gently to combine the ingredients. The batter is extremely thick. Do not thin it out. Whisk until *just* combined, no more. A few lumps may remain. Taste the batter. If you want to add more spices, go ahead. I usually add more cinnamon.

Heat a griddle or skillet over medium heat. Coat generously with butter. Once hot, drop about 1/4 cup of batter on the griddle. Cook until the edges look dry and bubbles begin to form on the sides, about 1 minute. Flip and cook on the other side until cooked through, about 2 more minutes. Coat griddle/skillet again with butter for each pancake or batch of pancakes.

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Keep pancakes warm in a preheated 200F degree oven until all pancakes are cooked. Serve immediately with your favorite pancake toppings. Pancakes taste best right after they are made. Pancakes freeze well, up to 2 months.

Microwave Mashed Potatoes

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Desserts will always be my favorite, but there’s something to be said for mashed potatoes.  They’re easy, (or at least this recipe is) filling, and flavorful.  Here’s three variations you can make it with a microwave!

Ingredients:

4 approximately 6-ounce potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes (doesn’t have to be perfect!)

1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream (go for normal sour cream if you’re going all out)

1/2 cup 1% low fat milk (2% works too)

2 tablespoons minced fresh chives

1/2 tablespoon salt

1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper

(See below for alterations for the variation of microwaved mashed potatoes you like best)

Instructions:

  1. Put your cubed potato into a big microwave-safe bowl. Stretch some plastic kitchen wrap over the bowl to cover it, then cut a small slit, about an inch is good.
  2.  Microwave on high for about 10 minutes. Let it stand for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the sour cream and all the other ingredients to the bowl.
  4. SMASH!  You can use a fork, or a potato smasher if you have one.

SOUTHWEST VARIATION:

  1.  Leave out the sour cream and chives
  2. Decrease milk to 2 tablespoons and decrease the amount of salt to 1/4 teaspoon
  3. Add 3/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt, 1 tablespoon chopped chipotle chile, canned in adobo sauce, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

ROASTED GARLIC VARIATION:

  1. Leave out the sour cream and chives
  2. Increase the amount of milk to 3/4 cup.
  3. Add 1/4 cup coarsely chopped roasted garlic cloves and 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage.

BACON AND CHEDDAR VARIATION:

  1. Decrease salt to 1/4 teaspoon.
  2. Add 1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded reduced-fat extra-sharp cheddar cheese and 1 slice center-cut bacon (cooked and crumbled, mash to the consistency you like)

Enjoy!  This makes about 4 servings.

Credit: http://www.cookinglight.com/food/recipe-finder/microwave-recipes/microwave-smashed-potatoes

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Nutty Brittle!

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Craving something sweet?  Want something you can easily bring to a group hangout and share?  Not very confident of your cooking ability?  How do you feel about Peanut brittle?

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup light-colored corn syrup

3/4 cup cup coarsely chopped toasted almonds (or a nut of your choice)

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

Instructions:

1. Line a pan with parchment paper.

2. Mix the sugar and syrup in a microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave on high for around 3 minutes, depending on your microwave.  When the mixture is clear and bubbly, remove.

3. Stir in the almonds or nut of your choice.

4. Microwave on high for about another minute.  Stir.  Repeat this three times, or until your mixture is the color of light caramel.

5. Stir in butter, vanilla, and salt.

6. Microwave on high for 90 seconds, or until your brittle mixture looks like chunky peanut butter.  Then add the baking soda, and stir until everything is foamy.

7. Immediately pour the contents of your bowl onto the pan you prepared in step 1.

8. Spread it so it’s about 1/4 inches thick.  Leave it alone for half an hour to cool and harden.  Then break it into pieces.

Now you’re done!  Break your brittle slab into pieces, and if you store it in an airtight container, like a ziploc bag, it should stay yummy for a week.  Enjoy!  And share with friends.  This should make enough for a dozen of your friends.  Or less, if you all eat like I do.

Credit: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/almond-brittle-50400000127539/