Caprese Pasta Salad ~ ElephantEats.com

We’re down at my mother-in-law’s for the long holiday weekend, and her big, bright kitchen inspired me to finally do some cooking.

Making Caprese Pasta Salad ~ ElephantEats.com

I hope that I’m getting this to you with enough notice that you can make it for your big Memorial Day spread tomorrow!

Caprese Pasta Salad 2 ~ ElephantEats.com

Not sure if it’s pregnancy or the weather but I’ve been craving a tangy pasta salad, specifically one with all the flavors of summer. I combined my love of Caprese Salad with pasta into this tasty dish. It’s super easy and quick and can sit out for a decent amount of time, so it’s great for when you have a buffet at your bbq.

Caprese Pasta Salad 3 ~ ElephantEats.com

Also, figured I’d throw in my 23 week pic, although I’m at 25 weeks now ;) Getting bigger every day…

23 weeks ~ ElephantEats.com

23 wks front ~ ElephantEats.com

Happy Memorial Day everyone!

Caprese Pasta Salad
Serves 6
A quick and easy pasta salad, full of the flavors of summer!
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Ingredients
  1. 1 lb farfalle pasta, dried (or any shape you prefer)
  2. 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  3. 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  4. 3-4 cloves garlic, minced plus 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
  5. 5-6 medium tomatoes (this really depends how much tomato you like), diced with half of the juives removed
  6. 2 handfuls fresh basil, chopped
  7. 16 oz. fresh mozzarella, diced
  8. 1 tsp salt (plus more to taste) and pepper
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta according to directions until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water, then put in large bowl. Put empty pot back on stove top.
  2. In a small bowl, mix vinegar and oil plus salt and pepper.
  3. In the empty pot, add a couple Tablespoons of olive oil and add garlic. Saute a min until fragrant and lightly brown. Remove immediately and add to olive oil mixture.
  4. Add chopped tomatoes, basil and mozzarella to bowl of pasta.
  5. Add in oil/vinegar mixture and toss well.
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06. May 2014 · 63 comments · Categories: house, life, pregnancy · Tags:

I know I know, you guys haven’t heard from me in weeks and now you’re expecting a recipe- soon I promise. These last few weeks have been a bit crazy to say the least. 

House News

We moved into our house on April 16th and my parents came up to help. I don’t have many pics but I can share some instagram ones of LC enjoying the new place.

 

Lc in the sink ~ ElephantEats.com

LC finally finding peace in the sink after a rough first day

My parents stayed most of the weekend and then Nate’s mom came into town for Easter. My parents both managed to get sick on their return home…and since pregnant women have weakened immune systems, guess who they got sick? 

Lunch ~ ElephantEats.com

Enjoying a unpacking break in our new living room

I had a really bad cold that kept me home from work the week after our move. It was bearable but I was just paranoid it was going to turn into something that would require medication, which I really hate to take while preggo. I did take some Robitussin DM and tylenol, both of which the doc said was safe. Thankfully after 4-5 days I was feeling much better. 

LC's window ~ ElephantEats.com

LC’s favorite lookout spot- our new mantle!

Nate’s mom and brother came to visit the next weekend, so we still haven’t had time to unpack our house! I will take pics as soon as it’s slightly cleaned up. Or I suppose I could have some “progress” pics before it’s really decorated. 

LC boxes ~ ElephantEats.com

Exploring new heights…

Our kitchen island still hasn’t arrived (hopefully it will get installed next weekend!!!) but I did manage to FINALLY cook a meal on Wednesday. I used our new oven’s convection mode to roast two trays of veggies at once and it worked great :)

Baby News

In other news, the ultrasound doctor at the hospital told me that I’m measuring a week ahead…so i’ve skipped to 22 weeks now! Aaaaaand…

It's a boy! ~ ElephantEats.com

It’s a boy!!!

I think knowing the gender has totally made this more real. Also, I’ve felt some definite kicking, and even Nate felt it the other day! I’ve been wearing more belly-hugging clothing and still find myself surprised that I’m pregnant when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. It’s just very strange. I think my belly just expanded overnight. 

22weeks ~ ElephantEats.com

Sorry about the quality of this photo. I finally remembered to take a pic at dusk so the light stunk. From here on out I’m going to try to take weekly pics tho…and I’ll try to get them in daylight!

I apologize for not being around much but hopefully I’ll get back in the groove soon. Hope you’re all enjoying your spring!

Hello everyone. I’m sorry I’ve been totally MIA (if you’re my blogging buddy, I promise I’ll be to your blog soon to comment!!). Our house has had some delays, and I’ve had to make a billion decisions. We’ve officially booked our move for April 16th although the contractor has told me that he’s barely going to finish by then. UGH.

Anyway, we’ve already started packing, and we’re going to be leaving this apartment with a little more than we came with:

16 weeks pregnant ~ ElephantEats.com 

I wanted to tell you guys SO BADLY. I was waiting til I announced it to my boss, but the secret’s out now…and so is my belly!. Is a belly this big normal for 16 wks?! I’ve only gained 7 lbs so far, so it’s kind of crazy.

Anyway, this baby is a large part of why I haven’t blogged recently. The first trimester I was majorly nauseous and exhausted all the time. I didn’t think you would want to see my “recipes” that I made on a nightly basis (plain pasta).

I’ve finally made it into the second trimester, and I’m feeling so much better. Baby is officially the size of an avocado :)

Now if I just didn’t have the house stuff stressing me out, I might find some time to cook something for you. Soon we’ll be packing up our kitchen so I hope I can find some time between now and then to cook up something tasty. But if I don’t, I promise that I will do lots of cooking in our new kitchen! 

Speaking of the new kitchen, the island has a little issue so we will be island-less for a week or two after moving in :( Not the most convenient thing but at least it will be corrected in the end. 

Here’s a pic of the kitchen partially assembled…but this is with the incorrect, too-big island:

KitchenProgress ~ ElephantEats.com

And now since I’m sure you can’t wait to see, here are some more progess pics of the rest of the house. It’s actually even more done now but I haven’t been out there with a camera lately.

Entryway:

FrontDoortoKitchenBefore

FrontDoortoKitchenProgress

Stair Progress 2 ~ ElephantEats.com

Living Room:

LivingRoomBefore

 

LivingRoomDuring

LivingRoom_Progress2 ~ ElephantEats.com

There is going to be a wood mantle surround and cabinets around the fireplace. They’re in the process of being built. The living room is smaller now because there’s a front hall closet and built-in desk/bookcase on the living room side.  

View from fireplace towards front door:

LivingRoom2Before

LivingRoom2Progress

LivingRoomBookcase_Progress2

and here’s the bookcase/desk being built, plus some trim on the windows/doors:

LivingRoomBookcase_Progress3

Looking towards living room windows from what will now be the hallway:

LivingRoomfromDiningBefore

LivingRoomfromDiningProgress

Living Room Windows Progress2 ~ ElephantEats.com

view from living room windows towards the new hallway to the kitchen/dining rooms:

HallwayProgress

Kitchen:

KitchenBefore

KitchenProgress

Now the “kitchen” is officially a dining room and the window in the back is actually the kitchen:

Dining towards Kitchen Progress2 ~ ElephanteEats.com

Den:

DenBefore

DenProgress

 

What was the den is now the back of the kitchen and the new mudroom/laundry room (through that doorway).

Kitchen to Mudroom Progress2 ~ ElephantEats.com

 Ok, let’s go upstairs.

I don’t think I ever showed a before pic of this, but there used to be a closed door leading up to the attic…and now it’s a nice bright, open stairwell!

Stairs to Attic Progress2 ~ ElephantEats.com

Master Bedroom:

BottomLeftBedroomBefore

BottomLeftBedroomProgress

 

Master Bdrm Progress2 ~ ElephantEats.com

There are still windows on the other wall, they’re just cut off in this pic.

View from new Master bedroom “through” the new walk-in closet to the master bathroom:

MasterSuiteProgress

 MastertoBathroom_Progress2 ~ ELephantEats.com

And here’s a pic from the bathroom back thru the closet hallway into the bedroom:

MasterBathtoBdrm ~ ElephantEats.com

And the rest of these pics don’t have good “before”s unfortunately, so I’ll just give you a new tour:

Nursery (!!!):

Nursery Progress2 ~ ElephantEats.com

Hall Bath:

HallBath Progress2 ~ ElephantEats.com

Bedroom 2:

Bedroom2 Progress2 ~ ElephantEats.com

View towards the closet, which is next to the door to the room:

Bedroom2Closet Progress2 ~ ElephantEats.com

On landing to 3rd floor looking at 3rd floor bedroom door:

3rdFloorLanding ~ ElephantEats.com

3rd Floor Bedroom:

3rdFloorBdrmWindows Progress2 ~ ELephantEats.com

3rd floor bedroom, view from windows to other side of room:3rdFloorBdrm_Progress2 ~ ElephantEats.com

 

3rd Floor Bath:3rdFloorBath_Progress ~ ElephantEats.com

and same view with tiling started:

 

3rdFloorBdrm_Progress2 ~ ElephantEats.com

Hope you enjoyed the updated tour. The next pics will prob be after we move in!!! Prob the next time I post a recipe too…unless I can find one stored somewhere that I haven’t posted…

 

 

Zesty Mac 'n Cheese Casserole ~ ElephantEats.com

Good news! I got back in the kitchen again this week and actually made and photographed a recipe!

Sorry I’ve been so lacking on recipe posts, I guess I’ve just been really lazy since my Christmas break and haven’t been able to get back into the groove.

This has been compounded by the fact that my computer is at death’s door and I dread having to use it because it’s SO SLOW and the battery dies in about 20 min. I’m going to start using Nate’s computer but it’s a Mac and I’m putting it off as long as possible since I’m a PC girl.

Zesty Mac 'n Cheese Casserole ~ ElephantEats.com

But anyway, let’s get to this recipe. I think we all know that homemade mac and cheese doesn’t hold a candle to the stuff in the blue box- although I’m partial to the Velveeta Shells and Cheese variety that comes with the pack of squeeze cheese.

Whenever I make macaroni and cheese from scratch, the cheese sauce looks so smooth, creamy and delicious in the pot, but then after you toss the noodles in it and put it in the oven, it kind of separates and turns to a texture I don’t like at all. It gets kind of dry (which I guess some people like) and just not cheesy at all.

Zesty Mac 'n Cheese Casserole ~ ElephantEats.com

Ever since I was little, I’ve loved Velveeta cheese. In fact I just remembered that for breakfast I used to eat an english muffins toasted with Velveeta melted on it and sprinkled with bacon bits. I don’t know how I came up with this, but MAN was it good….and I kind of want one of those sandwiches right now…

Anyway, I know Velveeta is artificially colored and probably so bad for you, but I’m convinced that in order for mac and cheese to be palatable, it needs to contain some of this delightful cheese product. Well this recipe is the best of both worlds. The cheese sauce is made using my favorite artificial cheese, keeping it smooth and delicious even after it’s baked, but then there’s real cheddar sprinkled on top for even more cheesy deliciousness.

Zesty Mac 'n Cheese Casserole ~ ElephantEats.com

This particular recipe gets a little kick from the tomatoes with green chiles, and I’ve made it extra healthy by adding loads of veggies. I also added tofu since Nate and I don’t love chicken but I wanted some added protein. You could definitely sub chicken if you’d like.

I could not stop myself from eating this!

Zesty Mac 'n Cheese Casserole ~ ElephantEats.com

Zesty Mac 'n Cheese Casserole
Serves 6
A spicy, cheesy pasta casserole chock full of veggies!
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Ingredients
  1. 16-oz. package corkscrew pasta (or whatever shape you like)
  2. 2 tablespoons butter
  3. 1 medium onion, diced
  4. 1 green bell pepper, diced
  5. 8 oz. mushrooms, diced
  6. 1 (10-oz.) can diced tomatoes and green chiles
  7. 10-oz. pasteurized prepared cheese product, cubed (like Velveeta, which comes in a box or shredded)
  8. 10 oz. frozen chopped broccoli, thawed
  9. 8 oz. super firm tofu, cubed and drained- i found a pre-cubed version (you could also sub chicken if you want)
  10. 1 (10 3/4-oz.) can cream of chicken soup
  11. 1/2 cup sour cream
  12. 1 1/2 cups (6 oz.) shredded Cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Cook pasta for slightly less time than package recommends so it's al dente. It will cook more in the oven so you don't want it to be too mushy.
  2. Melt butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and mushrooms and sauté 5-10 minutes or until tender.
  3. Stir in tomatoes and green chiles and prepared cheese product; cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes or until cheese melts. Stir in broccoli, tofu, soup and sour cream and stir well. Mix in hot cooked pasta until blended.
  4. Spoon mixture into a 9x13 baking dish; sprinkle with shredded Cheddar cheese.
  5. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until bubbly.
Adapted from Southern Living
Adapted from Southern Living
http://elephanteats.com/

Chocolate Almond Waffles ~ ElephantEats.com

I’m not always the easiest person to live with.

I know you all probably find that very hard to believe ;)

Chocolate Almond Waffles ~ ElephantEats.com

Although Nate often purposefully annoys me (though he’ll deny it), he also does a lot of sweet things on a regular basis. He’s extremely thoughtful and emotionally expressive. He will randomly buy me little “tasty treats” if he sees a dessert or something that he thinks I might like. He definitely knows the way to my heart!

While I do cook dinner for Nate weekly, I think that it’s not so special anymore since I do it all the time. To mix things up and show him that I appreciate him, I decided to make him a special breakfast. 

Chocolate Almond Waffles ~ ElephantEats.com

These waffles are chocolatey, but they’re not overly sweet. They’re totally appropriate for breakfast as opposed to dessert. The tart and sweet raspberry sauce is the perfect accompaniment and both have a subtle hint of almond flavor. 

This is the perfect breakfast to surprise your special someone with on Valentine’s Day!

Chocolate Almond Waffles ~ ElephantEats.com

In other news, LC and my painting of her made it onto a buzzfeed list (she’s #10)! That sadly is probably the coolest thing that has ever happened, and probably every will happen, to me (and her). 

Buzzfeed 21 Signs You’re A Cat Lady In Training ~ ElephantEats.com

 

Chocolate Almond Waffles with Raspberry Sauce
A not too sweet chocolate waffle with a sweet and tart raspberry sauce that's perfect for a special breakfast!
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Waffles
  1. 1 cup all purpose flour
  2. 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  3. 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  4. 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  5. 1/8 teaspoon salt
  6. 1/4 cup sugar
  7. 1/4 cup almond paste
  8. 2 1/4 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  9. 3 tablespoons butter
  10. 2 large eggs
  11. 1 cup 2% milk
  12. 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Raspberry Sauce
  1. 2 cups frozen raspberries, thawed
  2. 2 Tbsp almond paste
  3. 2-3 Tbsp water.
Waffles
  1. Preheat oven to 300.
  2. Mix first 5 ingredients into large bowl.
  3. In a small food processor or blender, blend sugar and almond paste. Add to flour mixture.
  4. Heat chocolate and butter in a small microwave-safe dish in the microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until completely melted.
  5. Pour chocolate into medium bowl. Whisk in eggs, then milk, and almond extract. Gradually whisk milk mixture into dry ingredients.
  6. Following manufacturer's instructions, make waffles with batter (waffles will be somewhat soft when removed from pan).
  7. Place finished waffles on baking sheet in oven as you make the rest to keep them hot and crispy.
Raspberry Sauce
  1. Blend raspberries and 1 Tbsp water in a food processor. Strain raspberry mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl, running a spoon back and forth over inside of sieve until all that's left in the sieve is seeds. Frequently scrape bottom of sieve, where strained pulp is coming out, into the bowl. Discard seeds.
  2. Add raspberry puree back into food processor. Add almond paste and 1-2 Tbsp water and blend until sauce is to your liking. Serve over waffles.
Adapted from Bon Appetit
http://elephanteats.com/