Purple Mac & Cheese? Aww yeah…

Yes, purple.  Well, kind of fuscia purple-ish…but close enough!

Let me start from the beginning – well, at least from yesterday morning.  Patti and I took an early morning drive to Cape Ann via Starbucks for our Misto and Latte. There are some things we can’t live without…

She invited me to run the Twin Lights Half Marathon with her from Gloucester to Rockport and back again this coming May, so we had to check out the course before training begins. Woo Hoo!  Now, first, that’s an honor because its scary to run with other people.  At least for me it is, and she asked me to do it with her. And second, I’m so excited because its going to be a blast!!! We get to do things we’ve both been trying to make a priority (running/a half marathon and spending time with our girlfriends) but have found it really hard to do.

On the way home, we stopped at the Wayland Winter Farmer’s Market at Russell’s and visited one of my favorites – Winter Moon Farm.  The farmer, Michael Doctor, is delightful, and his carrots are seriously the best I have ever tasted. AND – they come in different colors! Did you know there are yellow and purple carrots?!?!?

After some delish spontaneous shopping, we headed to Target and then home. All before 11:30!

So we headed to the girls’ basketball game, then a birthday party for one of Maddy’s friends, and finally home to make dinner. You know, a typical Saturday!

The girls wanted homemade Mac & Cheese. I wanted vegetables. And both girls wanted to try the purple carrots… how was this going to work? I’m a big fan of compromise, so we had both, and darn it – it was awesome. I mean, really, actually awesome!

In honor of the Epiphany, I present to you the Three Kings’ Royal Mac & Cheese ~


The following recipe is for a double batch!


  • 2 packages whole wheat elbow pasta
  • 2 T Olive Oil
  • 2 leeks, rinsed well and sliced thin
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 purple carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 1/2 C skim Milk, divided
  • 6 T Whole Grain Pastry Flour
  • 2 C low-fat (no salt added) cottage cheese
  • 3-4 C shredded cheese (I used Gruyere, Swiss and Fontina)
  • 1 package frozen peas
  • 2-3 T panko bread crumbs
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees and spray a large glass baking dish with olive oil or cooking spray.
  2. Heat olive oil in a saute pan, and add garlic, leeks and carrots.  Cook on med-high heat for 5-6 minutes until leeks are softened.
  3. Puree sauteed mixture in a blender or food processor until combined, and purple! Set aside.
  4. Prepare pasta as directed on package.
  5. Drain pasta and return to pot.
  6. In a medium saucepan, heat 3C of skim milk until steaming. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour and remaining 1/2C milk until smooth.
  7. Pour flour mixture into heated milk, stirring/whisking constantly for 2 minutes, or until thickened. Add pureed carrots and leeks. Remove from heat.
  8. Add cheeses to milk and puree mixture, combine until smooth and a slightly lighter purple. Add salt and pepper to taste (not much!)
  9. Combine with pasta and add to prepared baking dish.  Top with panko crumbs, and bake at 450 for 25-30 minutes. (I like a bit longer so there are lots of crispy noodles!)
  10. Enjoy!!

This makes a TON, even for 6 of us, so it will make its first encore appearance in Maddy’s lunch tomorrow, at her request. Woot woot – that means it was good!!!

What is the strangest looking, yet totally delicious meal you’ve made recently?


Hot & Spicy Italian…

No, seriously. I’m pretty psyched its Friday. I could, however, do without the ridiculous heat and humidity that has my house and my head surrounded in a thick, soupy fog that I can’t even see through!!!

While this week has been a bit crazy, though not unusual, I did manage to sneak in a few good, creative meals with delish fresh ingredients from Springdell Farm in Littleton. Top on my fave list: Hot & Spicy Italian Quinoa.  OK, it needs a better name, but just look at it!

Its pretty easy, you need: quinoa, an onion, garlic, low sodium vegetable or chicken broth, an eggplant, leftover hot Italian sausage, corn, olive oil, curry powder and some shredded cheese to top it all off.

First, I prepped some basic quinoa by putting some olive oil in a short stock pot, then some diced onion, chopped garlic – let it cook down for a few minutes, and then I added the already rinsed quinoa and curry powder.  Follow it up with the stock which I like to dilute with water (1 3/4C broth for every cup of quinoa) and let it boil.  Then cover it, turn it down, and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes. Easy.

Even easier, dice up an eggplant, add it to a saute pan with some olive oil, garlic (of course!), corn, and some chopped up leftover hot Italian sausage…and done!  Put it on top of some cooked quinoa, top with shredded mozzarella or the cheese of your choice, and you’ve got dinner!

>Dinner Dash

>Tonight was proof that I can plan all I want….inevitably, things just get away from you when life gets super busy.  Like dinner, for example.  It wasn’t until I was on my way home from the NH office at 5 in the sleety rain that I remembered there were people that needed to eat back home.  

Luckily, my partner in crime was home already and able to take a quick inventory over the phone.  We had butternut squash already peeled and quartered.  We had pearled barley.  And some leftover chicken breasts we baked on Monday to use this week.  Voila – we had a healthy version of risotto waiting to happen! 
However, while it was cooking I gave Murphy a treat…and I’m not going to lie…they smelled really, REALLY good.  But I actually exhibited some will power.  Something I’m not all that good at usually…
So, tonight’s dinner dash was a “clucking” butternut risotto.  Easy to put together, especially if you have a tag team effort!

Clucking Butternut Barley Risotto
1T olive oil
1 1/2 C pearled barley
4C low sodium organic vegetable broth
1C water
2 shallots, thinly sliced
3 scallions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 butternut squash, peeled, diced, and roasted (spritz lightly with olive oil, bake on a baking sheet at 400 for 35 minutes)
1-2 cooked chicken breasts, cubed (or shredded rotisserie chicken would work too!)
Heat oil in a medium sized pot
Add shallots, garlic and scallions, cook until translucent
Add barley, broth and water
Bring to a boil, then simmer over medium low heat for 25 minutes or until liquid is almost absorbed
Add squash and chicken, cook for 5 more minutes
Turns out creamy and super flavorful without butter or cheese!  And no added salt, other than what is in the broth…so the lower the sodium, the better!
Now, its time to tear the kids away from their post-dinner exercise (Just Dance 2) and get them to bed so I can get to the pool!  My goal is eventually to be able to do 18 laps without stopping.  Right now, I can do 10 pretty quickly with teensy tiny breaks between some of them.  Let’s see how far I can go with barley in the belly!
Help!  Is anyone out there training for an athletic event?  What is it and what’s your plan?