Thursday, February 3, 2011

Four Cheese Baked Penne

Welcome to this week's Craving Ellie In My Belly Recipe!  I'm excited to host for the first time.  As a people-pleaser/new host, I tried to play it safe with the recipe choice--of course I wanted to do something exciting or dessert-like (mmm, cake) but since we're still pretty early into the New Year, I wanted to respect those of you who may be trying to stay away from sweet treats.  I admire your willpower.

When we plan meals in our house, it looks something like this: I pick out a variety of recipes that sound good, and my husband picks his top 3 for the week.  I don't know why I even try this anymore--without a doubt, my husband will choose anything that resembles a burger or pizza.  I spent an embarrassing amount of time going through the CEIMB archives, trying to find something that hadn't already been done...and at the end of my search, had 4 choices I was fairly confident in.  I was slightly disappointed when the husband picked this one--seriously, why was I surprised--but oh well, here we go!

As I've previously mentioned before on this blog, I'm not a huge fan of pasta.  I like noodles and everything, but I just worry too much about calories, portions, etc.  This is largely due to the fact that I do not love marinara sauce.  Sigh.  I know, it's the low calorie/good for you option...but I just can't make my taste buds like it.  Having "four cheese" in the title definitely made me a little more optimistic about this recipe. :)

Cheesy goodness

So here's the rundown on the recipe.  Ellie says it takes an hour to prepare from start to finish (it took me about 10 minutes longer. I'm apparently slower in the kitchen than a professional chef. I suppose this shouldn't be surprising).  This is a little longer than I was hoping, since a lot of us don't have an hour between when we get home from work and when we want to sit down to eat...but the good news is, I think you could prepare the dish the night before, and just pop it in the oven for 30 minutes.

Ready to go in the oven!

The verdict: the husband loved it, and I really liked it, too.  I think this is as excited as I will get about a basic baked pasta recipe--so for those of you who are skeptical, go ahead and give it a shot.  I think it would be really easy to tweak--you could certainly add meat or veggies (we talked about adding spinach next time) to increase the protein/nutritional profile.

How much my husband ate. I think he liked it.


*Pros: Easy to find ingredients, relatively inexpensive, minimal mess, reheats well, could be prepared ahead, kid friendly (I think--what kid doesn't like noodles, sauce, and cheese?)

*Cons: Not a quick meal for weeknights, not exciting/company worthy

Will I make it again? Definitely.  We have several pregnant friends, and I think this would be a perfect "welcome baby!" meal to take.

Thanks for joining me this week--here's the recipe!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Craving Ellie in my Belly: White Chili

Christmas. Family. Food. California.  These are all things I love, and have been able to enjoy for the past 8 days. The husband and I enjoyed a wonderful week in California.  Playing with the niece and nephew, gorgeous Lake Tahoe, and catching up with friends and family were just what we needed after 5 lonely months in Texas. 


The family before Christmas Eve service

** I'm in my PJs for the next 2 pictures.  I'm kind of embarrassed to admit that I put them on Christmas Eve (we get a new pair every year!) and didn't take them off until we went skiing on the 26th.**
Helping Braden build his first Lego truck (note his bed hair--so cute!)

Playing in the snow with Hailey--yes, my jammies are under my fleece

 However, vacation is over and we're now back to reality. Sigh.

I'd planned to try out Ellie Krieger's "White Turkey Chili" while I visiting my family, but we had so many leftovers that we never got around to it.  Now that I'm home and the husband and I need to get back to our healthy eating, this was the perfect recipe for the first dinner back "home."  Thanks to Leslie of Lethally Delicious for picking this recipe--it forced me to try it out--and learn that hominy is something I should embrace, not fear. :)
    
While this recipe wasn't quick, it was certainly easy!



I forgot to get cilantro (oops) and I don't like greek yogurt (a sin in the foodie world, I know)--so we just ate our chili plain.  The husband topped his with some extra sharp cheddar--it was good, but unnecessary.


I was pleasantly surprised by this recipe.  I have a 50/50 chance with Ellie's food--sometimes I really like it, and other times it's bland.  I used heaping spoons when measuring out the spices (and added an extra poblano) but otherwise followed the recipe perfectly.

Will I make it again?  Absolutely.  Serve it up with Cooking Light's cornmeal biscuits and you have an enjoyable dinner!