When you’ve got a mean craving for Mac and Cheese, sometimes it’s too much trouble to whip up a batch from scratch (and the powdered mix versions can leave a lot to be desired, too). That’s how I came up with this super quickie, no bake mac ‘n cheese recipe when I was pregnant with baby #3. I think I ate Mac and Cheese almost every day for the entire first trimester! With butter as the magic ingredient, it’s surprisingly satisfying and also happens to be a great non-processed version of mac and cheese for the kids. You can mix it up with a blend of cheeses—white cheddar, orange cheddar, Queso, etc.
Noodles, butter, and Cheddar is all you need for this quickie Mac and Cheese.
Lazy Woman’s Mac and Cheese
2 cups cooked elbow noodles
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 generous pat of butter
While the noodles are still hot, mix all the ingredients in a medium sized bowl. If needed, microwave for 30 seconds to melt cheese.
One of my cooking tricks is to try and do half of a meal homemade, even if the other half is born in a box (or freezer bag). When it comes to pasta nights, I have an easy tomato sauce I make to go along with, say, store-bought fresh ravioli, to make the meal a bit more special. I call it the “bathtime” sauce because I can get all the ingredients going in the pot before we start the kids’ bath/bedtime routine—and it simmers down just in time for dinner with the hubby. The key ingredients are a can of San Marzano tomatoes (available at most grocery stores; this variety has the most flavor), and a shredded carrot, which adds a nice sweetness. As with many sauces, you can make it your own with a dash more of this or a handful more of that—and I change it up a little myself virtually every time I make this. But here’s the tried and true version.
San Marzano tomatoes make homemade tomato sauce a snap.
Homemade Tomato Sauce
2+ Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
½ cup onion chopped
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 large carrot, shredded
1 28-oz can San Marzano whole tomatoes
1 ½ cups water
Generous splash of leftover red wine
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
Heat a tablespoon oil over medium low heat. Saute mushrooms, garlic and onion until light brown. Add can of tomatoes, water and carrot. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer uncovered to reduce sauce. After about 10 minutes, add a smidge more olive oil, wine, sugar and cheese. Continue reducing another 15 minutes, until sauce thickens. Season with salt and pepper.
In search of the perfect summer pasta salad? You’re looking at it right here—and it’s kid-friendly to boot. This week I’m joined by my friend, comedian Jamie Bendall, who co-owns The Punchline comedy club in Atlanta and happens to be a lawyer by day. He’s also a married dad of three daughters and often finds himself in need of a quick for after the kids’ softball games (full disclosure, this recipe is a staple of his lovely wife Kelly’s that Jamie has appropriated to share on Deb’s Kitchen). All you need is some mixed veggies, a box of fun pasta and store-bought salad dressing. Oh, and some tasty feta. The trick to making kids eat this up is you chop of the veggies really small in a food processor, so little ones can hardly detect they’re eating something healthy; it kind of blends right into the pasta. My favorite aspect about this pasta salad is that you can store it in the fridge and it tastes even better on day two or three; just freshen it with an extra splash of dressing or crumble of cheese. Give it a try for your next summer barbecue or picnic.
Light and Tangy Pasta Salad
Using a tri-color noodle for this pasta salad is extra fun.
One 16 oz. box of fun pasta noodles, like bowtie or rotini
2-3 cups total of fresh (or frozen veggies thawed) such as
- Sweet corn
- Green beans
4-6 Tablespoons Italian dressing (I like Newman’s Own Lite Italian)
4 Tablespoons Feta cheese crumbled
Cook pasta according to package instructions. Let stand to cool. Meanwhile, toss the veggies into a mini processor and pulse until veggies are chopped into very small pieces and blended. Add to pasta, along with dressing and feta cheese. Toss well, chill and serve. That’s it!
My top: Michael Stars Shine Short Sleeve Scoop Neck Tee
Photo: Kofi Oliver
Pesto is one of my weekly staples. Basically all you need is a food processor or “mini-prep;” you toss the ingredients in and blend and you’ve got a fresh sauce. Sometimes I’ll pair this with store-bought tortellini or ravioli, instead of spaghetti– and if your kids don’t go for the pesto flavor, you can always serve them the noodles with a smidge of butter/olive oil and fresh mozzarella. You can also change up the basil for arugula (or do a mix of both) for more variety.
Pesto & Whole Wheat Spaghetti
Adding fresh tomatoes to pesto spaghetti makes a one-bowl meal.
2 cups Basil
¼ cup Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Pine nuts
1 clove Garlic
½ teaspoon Kosher Salt
½ c Parmesan cheese
8 oz Whole wheat spaghetti
1 cup Grape Tomatoes, cut into quarters
- Place the first four ingredients (basil through garlic) into the mini-processor. Chop or grind until a paste forms, stopping down to push basil and other ingredients back down.
- Add salt and Parmesan cheese. Blend until smooth. Allow pesto to rest 10 minutes before serving, for flavors to meld.
- Divide whole wheat spaghetti into bowls. Place 2 heaping Tablespoons of pesto on each serving.
- Garnish with cut tomatoes, and dollops of fresh mozzarella. Enjoy!
Photo: Lauren Hunter