Triple Smoky Mac ‘n’ Cheese and More Football Food!

Well, it’s football season folks! As a vegetarian, it’s a lot of fun to get crafty in order to entertain your man-friend and a couple of his buddies. Nick wanted to entertain a group of his friends for the UofA game that was on Saturday night. I went to ASU myself, so I had to put my “big girl” pants on and buck up and cheer on the Wildcats while flipping back and forth to the Sun Devil game. Both teams won, thankfully – but I don’t think I‘ll be able to stay so neutral for the ASU vs. Arizona game come November. Get your claws out, Jorgenson…

We decided on grilling some burgers, and preparing mac n’ cheese and a salad for side dishes. I left Nick to grill while I prepared the side dishes. The boys has savory beef patties and Nick grilled up a nice Gardein burger for me J.

I felt the urge to impress Nick’s friends since one of them had just come back from Mongolia (figured he wanted some traditional cheesy and yummy tailgating food), and I was in a room full of UofA boys. I’m sure most people are aware of the rivalry between ASU and UofA… so the chances of a roast were very high. I couldn’t just make typical mac n’ cheese, so I opted for what I like to call Triple Smoky Mac n’ Cheese. As for the salad – I went with Alicia Silverstone’s Sexy Inspired Salad.

I want to give a big shout-out to Dave for chopping an avocado like a champ. I’m serious – dude’s got mad skills.

I’m hoping the yum-factor of the side dishes wiped their memory clear of the fact that I am a Sun Devil (and proud of it)!

Triple Smoky Mac ‘n’ Cheese

The Ingredients:

  • 1 pound elbow macaroni (I used shells because thats what I had on hand)
  • 6 tablespoons (3⁄4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1⁄4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • Half an onion, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves, minced
  • 1 canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce, minced, or
  • 1⁄4 cup Frontera brand chipotle salsa
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon nutmeg (preferably freshly grated)
  • 8 ounces smoked cheddar, grated, or substitute regular cheddar if you can’t find smoked cheddar
  • 8 ounces smoked mozzarella, grated
  • Kosher salt
  • 1⁄2 cups Homemade Bread Crumbs made with 2 cloves minced garlic added. Recipe in the book.

The Method:

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil pasta according to package directions, draining when it is just becoming al dente. This will bake more in the oven, so don’t overcook it. Drain, transfer it to a bowl, and toss with 2 tablespoons of the butter.

2. Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.

3. Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk pretty constantly for 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk. Add the onion, smoked paprika, rosemary, chipotle, oregano, and nutmeg. Bring to a gentle simmer and keep cooking, whisking occasionally, until the sauce begins to thicken, about 5 minutes.

4. Reduce the heat to low. Whisk in the grated cheeses, a handful at a time, stirring each addition of cheese until melted. It is important to do this gradually, to avoid graininess.

5. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning to your preference. It will probably need just a little salt, depending on the cheeses. Add more chipotle if you’d like it hotter. Remember that the sauce should be pretty intense, because it needs to flavor a full pound of pasta.

6. Stir the macaroni into the sauce. Pour the pasta into the baking dish. Scatter the bread crumbs evenly over the top.

7. Bake until you can see bubbling around the sides and the bread crumbs are nicely browned, about 30 minutes. Let the dish rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Alicia’s Sexy Inspired Salad

The Ingredients:

  • Fresh salad greens such as red leaf, butter lettuce, or romaine (I used Romaine)
  • 1 small handful of arugula
  • 1/2 avocado, peeled and diced
  • 1/2-1 heirloom tomato (optional but nice)
  • 1/2-1/4 medium cucumber, chopped into bite size pieces (peel only if the cucumber is not organic)
  • 4 dandelion greens (optional, but good for you)
  • 1/2 carrot, shaved with a vegetable peeler
  • 3-4 chopped fresh basil sprigs
  • 4-5 chopped fresh cilantro sprigs
  • 1 teaspoon hemp seeds (optional)

Dressing

  • 2.5 tablespoons truffle-infused olive or extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1.5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • juice 1/2 lemon
  • juice 1/2 orange
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated vegan Parmesan cheese

The Method:

  1. Add all the dressing ingredients together and whisk together.
  2. Get a big salad bowl that makes you happy with a lot of room to toss and play. Wash, tear and throw in the lettuce. Add the arugula, avocado, tomato and cucumber. Top with the dandelion greens, carrot shavings, and herbs. Toss with dressing and sprinkle with the hemp and sunflower seeds.

Wally’s Pub – An Unbeatable Veggie Burger Experience

 

I think it’s safe to say that every vegetarian enjoys a good veggie burger. But have you ever had one that you CONSTANTLY think about and know that you’ll never ever find another veggie burger that romances your taste buds the same way? I have.

For those of you who don’t live in Arizona, I’m sorry that you don’t have access to this veggie burger:

 

It’s crafted by one of my favorite restaurants here in Arcadia, Wally’s American Pub n’ Grille. Not only is this a great place to grab a beer with friends, the menu boasts favorites with an extremely high success rate. I can vouch that I’ve never taken somebody here that didn’t want to go back the next day. Simply put: This place is fabulous.

I’m always trying to impress my grandparents with my choices about where we lunch. My grandfather, who we affectionately call “Pop”, LOVES his hamburgers. Among some other favorites like meat loaf, pot roast and Fish n’ Chips, Wally’s is known for their awesome hamburgers.  Served with a confetti of sweet potato and regular fries, a beer-bettered onion ring and a dill pickle spear, Wally’s burgers are no joke. And it was most definitely “Pop Approved.” And the same can be said about the veggie burger.

This house-made black bean and rice patty is slathered in an Asian glaze, topped with melted swiss, a large helping of crisp iceberg lettuce, tomato, red onion, avocado, roasted red peppers and a black olive aioli. All of this sandwiched between a toasted asiago bun. YUM.

Needless to say, I was in a food coma for the rest of the day. What a blissful state to be in. 😉

Green Goddess Grilled Cheese

 

I had a late start getting to the gym yesterday, so I needed something quick – and delicious, of course. I opted to make the Green Goddess Grilled Cheese to satisfy my taste buds. If you have ten minutes, then you have time to make this yummy gourmet-esque sandwich.

With a hearty helping of avocado and cheddar, this recipe was exactly what I needed after my run. I hadn’t been to the gym in over a week due to our Mexico vacation so the treadmill was definitely my worst enemy. The lesson I learned: When training for a 5K, NEVER go longer than three days without running or you will face a brutal attack that will possibly trigger tears to run down your face. In public.

Okay, enough of the sob story and back to the food. I highly recommend this recipe whether you’re crunched for time or not. I was very short on time and used store-bought pesto, but you should try making your own if time allows. Enjoy!

Green Goddess Grilled Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices bread (I used 12-grain, but sourdough would be delish)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons pesto
  • 2 slices cheddar cheese
  • handful fresh baby spinach
  • 1/4 avocado, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

The Method:

  1. Spread about 1 tablespoon of pesto onto each slice of bread.
  2. On one slice of bread, add 1 slice of cheese, sliced avocado, parm, spinach, second slice of cheese, then top it with second slice of bread. Press together gently.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a frying pan over medium low heat. Add the sandwich to the oil and cook until bread is golden brown. (I like mine extra crispy so I left it on a tad longer than usual)

Avocado Quesadillas

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I love meals that can be made in under 10 minutes. I also love any meal that incorporates cheese and avocado – can you blame me? Since I’m trying to get myself back into shape for the simply sweltering summer that is a brewing, so my time in the kitchen has been replaced with the gym. Not only do I refuse to ruin my workout with a drive-thru dinner, but I’m also not going to throw a bunch of lettuce on a plate and call it a day.

So, over the weekend I found a cornucopia of yummy recipes that are quick to prepare AND won’t make caloric intake go through the roof.

Enter the Avocado Quesadilla…

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice (I used lemon)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tortilla
  • 1/4 cup grated white cheddar

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the broiler.
  2. Mash the avocado with the lemon or lime juice and the salt.
  3. Cover a cookie sheet with foil. Lay the tortilla down, spread the avocado mixture, sprinkle the cheddar across the surface and pop it into the broiler for 4-5 minutes – or until the cheese is melted and the tortilla takes on a golden hue.
  4. Cut into wedges and serve immediately. I served mine with a Kale and Spinach salad dressed in EVOO, lemon juice and salt & pepper. Enjoy!

Cucumber, Tomato and Avocado Salad

This recipe is a great starter or side-dish. The flavors are light and crisp, and the fact that you can prepare this dish in about 5 minutes makes it even more lovable. You see that post below this one for the Baked Fontina and Smoked Mozzarella? Yeah, I served this bad boy alongside that sizzling and savory dish. Can you say perfection? 🙂

Recipe:

2 cucumbers
1 cup diced tomato or cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup thinly diagonally sliced green onion or thinly sliced sweet onion (or more)
1 avocado (ripe)
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice (optional, for tossing with avocado)
about 1 T good-quality balsamic vinegar
about 1 T good-quality olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Chop up your cucumbers, tomatoes, onion and avocado and toss them in a salad bowl. Squeeze the lemon juice on top of your veggie mixer to prevent the avocado from browning – and who doesn’t like a little lemon flavor? I know I do! Next, drizzle your mixture with the vinegar and olive, season with salt and pepper. Enjoy!