faux foodie

Mark’s Famous Mac
December 11, 2016, 11:16 pm
Filed under: Company, favorites, main course, pasta

Serves 3-42/3 pound elbow macaroni (yield: 4 cups cooked)

1 1/4 cups whole milk 

1 1/4 tablespoons all-purpose flour 

1 1/4 tablespoons unsalted butter       

3 ounces Muenster, shredded 

3 ounces sharp yellow cheddar cheese, shredded 

2 ounces Gruyere, shredded 

1 ounce Pecorino, shredded 

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Olive oil

3/4 cup sharp yellow cheddar cheese, shredded

1/4 cup breadcrumbs



1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat and cook the pasta until al dente (8–10 minutes). Drain the pasta

and rinse with cold water. Place in a large mixing bowl. Add a touch of olive oil and toss lightly.

3. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the milk to a boil. Remove from heat.

4. In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Reduce the heat to low and

whisk in the flour, cooking for 3-4 minutes. Be careful not to brown the mixture. Slowly add the hot milk, whisking

constantly (this will ensure that there are no lumps).

5. Add all four cheeses. Stir frequently, until the cheese is melted and the sauce is slightly thickened. Taste and

season with salt and pepper.

6. Remove from the heat, stir, pour the mixture over the pasta, and mix thoroughly. Transfer to a baking dish.

7. Combine the shredded cheddar and breadcrumbs. Sprinkle the mixture on top of the macaroni.

8. Bake for approximately 10–15 minutes at 400 degrees.

Herb Cubes
July 1, 2014, 3:25 am
Filed under: appetizer, chicken, Company, favorites, Health, main course, pasta, weeknight

We are going out of town tomorrow but had so many herbs in our garden dying to be eaten. We decided to pick them all– including basil, mint, chives, and parsley– and throw them in a food processor with parmesan, olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic cloves. I didn’t measure any of the ingredients but instead just tasted a few times. Then I froze into ice cubes. I plan to use them for quick dinners with pasta, fish, or chicken. Any other ideas for these little flavor gems?


Pasta al Pomodoro
June 18, 2014, 2:43 am
Filed under: Company, favorites, main course, pasta, Sunday, weeknight

From Bon Appetit. Delightful!

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 28 oz. can peeled tomatoes, puréed in a food processor
Kosher salt
3 large fresh basil sprigs
12 oz. bucatini or spaghetti
2 Tbsp. cubed unsalted butter
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan

Heat extra-virgin olive oil in a 12″ skillet over medium-low heat. Add minced onion and cook, stirring, until soft, about 12 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 2-4 minutes. Add crushed red pepper flakes; cook for 1 minute more. Increase heat to medium, add puréed tomatoes and season lightly with kosher salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens slightly and the flavors meld, about 20 minutes. Remove pan from heat, stir in basil sprigs, and set aside.
Meanwhile, bring water to a boil in a 5-qt. pot. Season with salt; add spaghetti or bucatini and cook, stirring occasionally, until about 2 minutes before tender. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking water.
Discard basil and heat skillet over high heat. Stir in reserved pasta water to loosen sauce; bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook, stirring, until sauce coats pasta and pasta is al dente, about 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat; add butter and cheese; toss until cheese melts. Transfer to warm bowls; serve with more cheese, if desired.

Chicken, Spinach, Mushroom Lasagna
February 5, 2014, 1:55 am
Filed under: chicken, Company, main course, Make'n'freeze, pasta, Sunday

Adapted from an Emeril recipe. Tasty!


  • 1 lb button mushrooms (thinly sliced)
  • 1  yellow onion (finely chopped)
  • 3 tbsps minced garlic
  • 2 zucchini
  • 2 jars alfredo sauce (I used Paul Newman)
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 lb spinach (stemmed washed blanched and roughly chopped, or frozen)
  • 1 cup parmesan (grated)
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 lb lasagna noodles
  • seasonings to taste


    • Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring often until the mushrooms are browned and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the onions and garlic to the pan and saute until soft and translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add spinach and zucchini. Saute and set aside.
    • Set a large, 12-inch saute pan over medium heat and add the olive oil. Season and sear the chicken, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool and set aside. When cool, cut into bite size pieces.
    • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
    • Mix alfredo with white wine.
    • Coat a 9 by 13 by 3-inch casserole with olive oil, and spread about 1/2 cup of the alfredo sauce on the bottom of the dish. Lay 3 sheets of pasta across the bottom of the dish and spread 3/4 cup of the  sauce over the pasta. Sprinkle 1/2 of the chicken over the  sauce, then sprinkle with 1/2 of the veggie mix, and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan. Lay another 3 sheets of pasta over the chicken. Repeat with the remaining sauce, chicken, Parmesan, veggies, and pasta, ending with a layer of pasta covered with alfredo sauce. Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan over the sauce. Place the casserole on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake, uncovered, until bubbly and well browned, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.

Creme Fraiche Fast Pasta
January 14, 2014, 10:02 pm
Filed under: Company, favorites, main course, pasta, Sunday, weeknight

We made this for the Golden Globes and both loved it. DELISH!


  • 1 lb pasta
  • 1 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
  • 3 lemons, juiced and zested
  • 10 oz spinach
  • 2 containers mushrooms
  • parmesan cheese to taste


Stir fry mushrooms in a bit of oil and wine or vinegar until cooked fully. Set aside. Cook pasta until al dente. Meanwhile, stir in lemon juice and zest into creme fraiche (sour cream would work) and set aside. When pasta is done, reserve 1/2 cup cooking liquid and drain. Return pasta to pot. Add lemon mixture, spinach, parmesan, and mushrooms. Combine, whisking in reserved liquid if necessary. Season with salt and pepper to taste, top with parmesan.

Cheesy Orzo with Garden Veggies
September 25, 2013, 3:17 am
Filed under: Company, favorites, Health, main course, pasta, side dish, weeknight


  • 6 Tbs. butter, divided
  • 2 large shallot, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 small zucchinis, diced
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 3 cups uncooked orzo
  • 2 (14.5 oz) cans Muir Glen fire roasted diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 cup shredded gruyere or other hard cheese (parmesan/romano/etc)
  • 5 Tbs. freshly chopped chives / basil / other fresh herbs
  • 1 pinch coarse salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. Heat 3 Tbs. butter in a medium skillet. Once the foaming starts to subside, add the minced shallots and sauté 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté another minute.
  2. Add the zucchini to the pan, along with a pinch of salt and pepper and continue to sauté until it starts to brown on both sides, 6 minutes.
  3. Add the cherry tomatoes to the pan and sauté another minute.
  4. In the meantime in another pan, cook the orzo until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water and drain the rest. Add orzo to the sautéed veggies.
  5. Add the cheese, canned tomatoes and remaining butter. Toss to combine. Taste and salt accordingly. Add a little bit of the pasta water to create a thin sauce if you like.
  6. Serve  with chives or other herbs (we added some basil).


Clean White Veggie Lasagna
August 8, 2013, 2:39 am
Filed under: Company, favorites, Health, main course, pasta, Sunday

We really enjoyed the flavors of this meal. It felt much healthier than a usual lasagna.

1/2 tsp olive oil
6 oz no bake lasagna noodles
10 oz spinach
4 large carrots, cut into 2-inch lengths and thinly sliced lengthwise (I used bagged carrot chips)
1 large zucchini, cut into 2-inch lengths and thinly sliced lengthwise
4 radishes, halved and thinly sliced
1 tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp dried basil
Any fresh herbs you have (we used basil and chives)
32 oz ricotta cheese
8 oz cottage cheese

Preheat oven to 375F. Brush bottom and sides of an lasagna baking dish with oil.
In a large, shallow pot, add spinach and 1/4 cup water. Heat on medium and cook, stirring, until wilted, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain and squeeze out excess liquid.

To pot, add carrots and 1/2 cup water. Cover and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. Add zucchini and radishes, cover and cook until tender, 3 to 4 more minutes; add additional water as needed. Drain and wipe out pot.
To pot, add butter and heat on medium-low until melted. Stir in garlic and herbs until smooth, about 30 seconds. Gradually stir in cheese. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring, for 5 more minutes.
Spread a thin layer of cheese mixture in bottom of dish. Arrange a layer of noodles and half of carrots, zucchini, and radishes over top. Spread half of remaining sauce over top. Repeat with a layer of noodles, remaining carrot, zucchini, radishes and spinach. Top with a layer of noodles and remaining sauce.
Bake until top begins to brown, about 35 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes.


Cauliflower Alfredo
July 21, 2013, 9:45 pm
Filed under: Company, favorites, Health, main course, pasta, Sunday, weeknight

We ate this over fresh pasta and LOVED it. It really has the feel of an alfredo sauce, but full of cauliflower instead of cream. Highly recommend.  

Adapted from Pinch of Yum: http://pinchofyum.com/creamy-cauliflower-sauce. I omitted the garlic to make the sauce simpler (and to cut down on the number of pans needed!) 

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 6-7 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • ½ teaspoon pepper 
  • 1 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • ½ cup milk or cream 
  1. Cauliflower: Bring vegetable broth to boil in a large pot. Add  cauliflower and cook, covered, for 10 minutes or until cauliflower is fork tender. Do not drain.
  2. Puree: Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cauliflower pieces to the blender. Add 1 cup vegetable broth or cooking liquid, butter, salt, pepper, seasoning, and milk. Blend or puree for several minutes until the sauce is very smooth, adding more broth or milk depending on how thick you want the sauce. You may have to do this in batches. Serve hot! If the sauce looks dry, add a few drops of water, milk, or olive oil.

Simple Pasta with veggies
July 8, 2013, 1:21 am
Filed under: favorites, Health, main course, pasta, Sunday, weeknight



To make this pasta, I stir-fried mushrooms in white wine, then threw in some grape tomatoes, spinach, fresh mozzarella cheese, and garden herbs (mint, basil, and chives tonight!) Then, I tossed in some fresh pasta and topped with sea salt. We really enjoyed this fresh mix of veggies we needed to use up. I snuck a little pad of butter on mine; Joe opted for some parmesan on top. Fast, easy, and using up nearly bad spinach–what’s better than that?!

Italian Wonderpot
June 3, 2013, 1:35 am
Filed under: favorites, Health, main course, pasta, Sunday, weeknight

Adapted from Budget Bytes, who adapted from Martha Stewart. Joe and I really enjoyed this. It is easy to cook, requires only 1 dirty pot, and it is inexpensive! 

  • 4-5 cups vegetable broth 
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil 
  • 12 oz. fettuccine (we used Tinkyada gluten free fettuccine to great results)
  •  spinach 
  • 1 (28 oz.) canned diced tomatoes 
  • 1 medium onion (I subbed onion powder because I didn’t have one on hand)
  • 4 cloves garlic (I used minced garlic that I keep in the fridge)
  • ½ Tbsp dried basil or fresh to taste (I had fresh from the garden and it really added)
  • ½ Tbsp dried oregano or italian seasoning
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes 
  • 2-3 cans white beans
  • Cheese to taste (we used parmesan we had on hand)  
  1. Add vegetable broth to a large pot. Break the fettuccine in half to make stirring easier later, and then add it to the pot. Also add the tomatoes (undrained), olive oil, beans, onion, garlic, basil, oregano, and red pepper.
  2. Make sure the ingredients are submerged under the liquid, place a lid on top of the pot, and then turn the heat on to high. Allow the pot to come up to a full, rolling boil then turn the heat down to medium.
  3. Allow the pot to continue to boil over medium heat, without a lid, for 10-15 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Stir the pot every few minutes as it cooks to prevent the pasta from sticking to the bottom, but avoid over stirring which can cause the pasta to become sticky and mushy. The pot must be boiling the entire time.
  4. When the liquid is nearly absorbed, add spinach and cover with lid to steam it.
  5. Crumble cheese and fresh herbs over top and serve.