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I had a head of cauliflower that was languishing in my vegetable drawer, but I wasn’t in the mood for roasting it like I usually do. Then I remembered this recipe for mac & cheese — it looked easy, and I had all the ingredients.

I made  a few changes to the recipe to accommodate what was on hand:

  • I had 5 oz of Swiss cheese, 8 oz of sharp cheddar, and 3 oz of Gruyere.
  • I wanted to make it more “casserole” like, so I added 1/2 a pound of cooked Italian sausage. My husband suggested trying chorizo the next we make it.
  • I didn’t have any fresh parsley ( and it was too cold to go out to the store),  so I omitted that, but added some dried parsley to the bread crumbs ( I had panko).

With some steamed broccoli, this made a tasty meal.

Difficulty (1-5): 2  Nothing too complicated here, but a fair number of steps
Result (1-5): 4  Tasty, healthier than normal mac & cheese, and a complete meal w/the addition of a protein.

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For some reason, whenever I need to bring a dessert (or pretty much any food item) to an event, I feel like it has to be extra special.  The plain simply will not do.  That’s where these brownies come in.

Yes, your standard, out-of-a-box brownie is tasty on a Tuesday night when you just want to eat the whole pan instead of going to the gym.  But when you’re bringing a dessert to an event where everyone is going to be dressed to the nines, you want to make something that fits the occasion.

The pin I originally followed was to here: http://www.loveandlemons.com/2012/04/19/raspberry-goat-cheese-swirl-brownies/ , but I wasn’t going for “healthy” brownies, so I followed her link to this post:  http://www.thekitchn.com/sweet-recipe-raspberry-goat-cheese-brownies-165612, and that is what I was looking for.

I opted to use frozen raspberries (organic), and used Cointreau, because that was the only liqueur I had on hand (I know, it is a travesty that I’m from Wisconsin and don’t own any brandy).

I also chose to melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave.  Who has time for a double boiler?
Difficulty 1-5: 2

Results 1-5:  4.5 (even my picky mother-in law enjoyed them)

I LOVE caramel corn. However, it can be really annoying when the hulls get stuck in your teeth. The solution? Use puffcorn! I’ve made this recipe twice now and it’s been a hit. It’s pretty easy to do, but a little time consuming.

Tips:
-Turn off the burner before adding the baking soda
-Make sure you stir thoroughly at 10-15 min intervals, and do the entire 40-45 minutes.
– Use two large cookie sheets with lips instead of a roasting pan
-For clean up, just add a little water to the pans and let soak. The caramel will then come off quite easily

Original source: http://tastykitchen.com/recipes/appetizers-and-snacks/puffcorn-caramel-corn/
(The recipe was also on the back of the puffcorn packages that I bought)

Difficulty 1-5: 2
Results 1-5: 5

This recipe caught my eye this spring when I was looking for a make-ahead baked good that was somewhat healthy. I was attending a weekend-long event where you end up eating crap all.day.long (and all night, too). Unlike Florence Dusty, I’m not known for my muffin, but I do usually make breakfast for the group one day.

Here are some procedural changes I made to the recipe.

  • Used a mini-muffin tin, and baked them for about 15 minutes
  • Used a microplane to remove the zest from the lemon, and then just whisked it into the sugar
  • Mixed in the wet ingredients  with the sugar by hand in a bowl

For the one day before I wanted to serve them, I stored them in an airtight container on the counter. Any leftovers (only a few, as I’d made a double batch) after that went in the fridge, and a few seconds in the microwave before eating was perfect.

Original source: http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/recipes/recipecomdetail.jsp?recipeId=25124371
Difficulty (1-5):  2 (need special tool(s), but nothing out of the ordinary otherwise)
Result (1-5):  5  could they be healthier?  Yep.  But they taste good and still more nutritional than a donut

~ CO-M