Sometimes, it’s best to just throw a bunch of pasta and veggies in a baking dish and call it a night. This is one of those dishes that allows you to do just that, but with a slightly more organized approach. This pasta bake involves swiss chard, which is one of the most nutrient-rich greens that you can eat (just like kale) and packs it into a light pasta mixture, only assisted by some cheeses and panko crumbs. Despite the original recipe calling for chicken, this dish didn’t seem to be missing anything and tasted like it was filled with nutrients from the powerfully green swiss chard (besides, you know, the cheese factor). The pasta bake also worked really well for leftovers, to be heated up for lunch or dinner the next day/couple of days. As I described it to myself in my blog notes: It’s cheesy, baked happiness.

Now, this recipe was easy to decide to make because we already had the butternut squash on hand from our Roasted Pork with Butternut Squash and Kale that we had made a few days prior. Plus, we love anything with the words lentil and curry in it, so we knew this would be no exception. It was extremely simple to throw together and didn’t take more than about 30 minutes to make, so much less complicated than other things we have tried recently! Definitely an easy filling meal, with a nice flavor palette, compliments of the butternut squash. A good, simple meal to throw on the table on a night where you don’t feel like cooking anything intricate!

As much as I hate to say it, this was another one of those recipes that made the kitchen (and whole townhouse) smoke! I came home from rehearsal to find all the windows open and Will fanning out the kitchen. Apparently, I missed a doozy of a good time, but I got to experience the aftermath, which was our wonderful dinner. Despite getting stressed because of the whole smoke situation, Will managed to get dinner on the table and we both enjoyed this perfect-portion-sized meal. We realized it had been a long time since we had eaten the standard meat-veggie-starch type of dinner, so this was kind of a nice change of pace for us. It was definitely reminiscent of dinners from my own childhood, which was comforting.

Well, if you can’t tell from the picture, this lunch was delectable. I think what is most impressive about the whole thing is that Will made every part of it, including the dough! I am so spoiled to have a fiance who not only loves to cook, but loves to make extremely healthy and experimental things. How many of you come home from a rehearsal to see these things being produced in your kitchen? Well, probably not all of you come home from rehearsals ever, but you get my point. I am so fortunate to have someone who loves to cook for/with me!

We have been having a lot of fun playing with our new ice cream maker! We’ve made several batches of Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream, but decided that it was time to branch out from that (even though it is way better than store-bought). So our first experiment for ice cream beyond the safety of MCC was a butterscotch gingerbread cookie ice cream. The reason is because we had made half a batch of our Butterscotch Gingerbread Cookies over the weekend, but they didn’t turn out very well (I melted the butter on accident). So because they were super crumbly, we realized they would be the perfect cookie to throw into our next batch of ice cream! We were so completely right. Will also had some caramel sauce on hand, which he decided to add in as a bonus “swirl” flavor, which only enhanced the final product. Clearly, we are now officially ice cream pros!

I don’t like oranges. It’s a fact. I’ve never liked them; not as a kid and not really as an adult. I occasionally indulge someone I’m eating with and eat them if they’re in a mixture, but they are certainly not my first choice. I recall many soccer games where oranges were brought as the snack and all my happy teammates smushed them up into their mouths to make orange smiles. Me? I just hoped somebody had a spare Kudos bar on hand, since I couldn’t stand the drippy juice and stringy consistency of oranges. They were just so messy and I really didn’t want anymore stickiness on my body considering I was already sweaty from playing soccer. I guess they were refreshing to others-to me, they were repulsive.

I think we really like our new cookbook, Extending the Table that Will got me for Christmas. I had eyed it for awhile at Ten Thousand Villages, because it looked like our other favorite cookbook Simply in Season, but with a more worldly variety of recipes. It covers foods from all over the world, with a focus on street foods that are simpler to cook. Thus, why we like it because that also helps keep costs down! Plus, it’s always fun to make international foods, which we particularly enjoy.

If there ever was a meal that we cooked that tasted so significantly better the second day, this is it. The first night we made this, I was in a rush, so I inhaled mine before it should have even been done simmering for the full 20 minutes. I knew it wasn’t going to be at its prime but it was enough to feed me before running off to a rehearsal, but I knew when we had leftovers the next night, it would be better. The thing is, I didn’t realize how much better it would be. I can’t even do justice to this dish trying to explain it. The coconut milk absorbs all the spices, which causes the clove and turmeric to pop out in a fulfilling food experience. And the sweetness of coconut milk always makes any dish its in taste better. This would be a great recipe to use for dinner (like we did), but I think it would also make a fantastic lunch dish because I would imagine its pretty good chilled as well. The sauce is so thick and creamy that it douses the chickpeas and rice in a crazy amount of flavor.

My mom has still been sending us belated Christmas gifts and one of our last packages arrived this past Friday. We knew it was heavy and we had no idea what was in there. So much to our surprise, when we opened the package and unwrapped the box, we discovered she had sent us an ice cream maker! An ice cream maker. What an absurdly unnecessary novelty kitchen item. But how fun! Of course if you get an ice cream maker, you have to start trying recipes immediately, if not sooner. She also included a homemade ice cream book to help us jump start our newest DIY kitchen item, so we went for one of the simplest yet satisfying ice creams you can make: mint chocolate chip. So we stocked up on the ingredients (all organic of course…just to make it “healthier”) and put our ice cream bowl in the freezer Saturday afternoon. By Sunday evening, it was plenty chilled and we made our first “basic” recipe, as our book refers to them as. After letting that chill in the fridge for a couple hours, it was time to turn our new toy on and give it a go…

As Will says: “if you had told me five years ago that I would enjoy a recipe that involved mushrooms and bok choy, I wouldn’t have believed you” (I’m not too far off from this analysis myself). Well, we had the opportunity to try those particular ingredients with another recipe that came from Buzzfeed, one of Will’s favorite sites to peruse. This recipe actually came from the same article where we found our other bok choy recipe, Brown Rice Bowl with Ginger-Lime Chicken and Bok Choy. Thus, it made sense to buy the bok choy and try it all in the same week-that way if we didn’t like it, we would only have to deal with it for two dinners. Now obviously, we ended up enjoying it as I mentioned in the other bok choy post, and we had similar success with this recipe.