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Mac and Cheese Bites

I made these for the Super Bowl yesterday and they were both delicious and a huge hit with my two year old! I adapted this recipe from Annie’s Eats (LOVE her blog, by the way—you must visit). I made several changes to make these babies a little healthier, so go ahead—pop a few more. Hope you enjoy!

Mac and Cheese Bites
Yield: 48 mini bites

12 oz vegetable macaroni (like Safeway’s Eating Right Veggie Pasta)
1 ½ cups Reduced Fat Ritz Cracker crumbs
2 ½ cups shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese
6 tbsp butter, melted
7 wedges Laughing Cow Light Garlic and Herb cheese
2 tbsp butter
2 large eggs
¾ cup skim milk
¼ cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Spray mini muffin pans lightly with cooking spray. In a large pot, bring water to a boil and cook pasta according to the directions on the box.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the cracker crumbs, ½ cup of the cheddar cheese, and the 6 tbsp of melted butter. Spoon a bit of the crumb mixture into the bottom of each muffin cup, and press down with your fingers to form the bottom crust.

3. Once the pasta is cooked and drained, add it to a large mixing bowl along with the rest of the cheddar cheese, butter, and Laughing Cow wedges.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and yogurt, and then stir it into the pasta.

5. Add salt and pepper to the pasta mixture and stir well to combine all of the ingredients.

6. Spoon the pasta mixture evenly into the muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes or until light golden brown. Allow the mac and cheese bites to cool for 10 minutes before removing them from the pan.


Supermarket Shortcuts and Speedy Desserts from Cooking Light

I’ve been getting Cooking Light magazine for years, and I always find great recipes, healthy eating tips and inspiration in its pages. The April 2012 issue, however, seemed almost as if it were written just for me. The focus this month was on fast and easy meals, shortcuts and quick desserts. I always fold down the corner of the page when I find a recipe I want to try, but this time nearly all of the corners were tabbed!

The article “Supermarket Shortcut Solutions” recommended using fresh or canned pizza dough, fresh pasta, hummus, precooked brown rice, and rotisserie chicken to get dinner on the table in a flash, and there are 20 different recipes using these ingredients. With the exception of the fresh pasta (I usually just use the wheat pasta in the box), I am an old pro at using these shortcuts. I also love using jarred roasted red peppers, frozen veggies, Tyson® Grilled & Ready Chicken Strips, fish sticks for fish tacos (don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it), frozen shrimp, and whole grain couscous (throw in some rotisserie chicken and steam-in-the-bag veggies and you have a full meal in less than 10 minutes)!

Photo: Nigel Cox; Styling: Tiziana Agnello

But what caught my eye more than any other recipe was the one for the Limoncello Freeze. My husband and I were introduced to limoncello during a trip to Italy several years ago, and I’ve loved it ever since. My mom has even perfected a limoncello cheesecake (which, come to think of it, I’ll have to share here later). This Limoncello Freeze sounds so quick and easy, I will definitely be giving it a try as soon as I am over this stinking sinus infection and can taste food properly again!

Limoncello Freeze
From Cooking Light, April 2012
Makes four

1/4 cup lemon curd

2 1/2 tbsp limoncello

2 cups vanilla low-fat ice cream

12 mini vanilla meringue cookies

Combine the curd and limoncello in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk to blend. Add ice cream to curd mixture; stir gently to swirl. Spoon 1/2 cup ice cream mixture into each of 4 bowls; top each with 3 meringue cookies.

Now tell me that doesn’t look like it would hit the spot on a hot summer day?!


Quick Bites: Fish Tacos

Fish tacos are a quick and easy go-to  meal in our house. We can make the entire meal in about 15 minutes, which makes it great for busy weeknights. Plus, we almost always keep tortillas and fish sticks on hand. Yes, I said fish sticks. I know they get a bad rep, but you only use a few fish sticks per taco, so it’s really not bad. Plus, they really do make for a decent taco- at least give them a try!

18 fish sticks

6 small tortillas

1 small can of mandarin oranges, drained

1 avocado, sliced

2 tbsp sour cream

2 tbsp salsa (we use salsa verde and it works great)

Cilantro Slaw (recipe below)

1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 lime

2 tbsp honey

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tsp cumin

2 cups shredded coleslaw mix

Cook the fish sticks according to the directions. While they cook, drain the oranges, slice the avocado and make the slaw. For the cilantro slaw, whisk together the lime juice, honey, vegetable oil and cumin. Pour the mixture over the coleslaw mix and top with the cilantro. Toss to mix the slaw well and set aside. Mix together the sour cream and the salsa, and heat up the tortillas in the microwave in a damp paper towel for 20 seconds. Once your fish sticks are done, spread a spoonful of the sour cream/salsa mixture onto each tortilla and then top with 3 fish sticks, a couple slices of avocado, 4 or 5 orange slices and a spoonful of cilantro slaw.

Not a fan of this style of taco? You can just top your fish sticks with the usual suspects instead- sour cream, salsa, shredded lettuce, cheese, etc.

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Finger Foods for Your Next Fête

I can’t get enough of all the adorable mini foods I am seeing on Pinterest these days. Not only are they cute as a button, but two-bite finger foods are less mess at parties.

I’m starting to think about Olivia’s 3rd birthday party, and I’m kind of bummed that I will be ordering food this year instead of making it all (I will be 8 months pregnant, and I am not a glutton for punishment!). So maybe I’ll have to keep some of these in mind for next year … or maybe for the holidays. Here are a few of my favs:

Mini Tomato and Mozzarella Tarts from Life as a Lofthouse

Mini Chicken and Waffles from Southern Living

Lemon Meringue Pie Shooters from HonestCooking.com

Mini Pancake Bites Four Ways from Prudentbaby.com

Baked Spinach Dip Mini Bread Bowls from Picky-Palate.com

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Coffee Cake Bites from SpoonForkBacon.com

Mac and Cheese Bites by Yours Truly