I would be untruthful if I said that going all organic and homemade was easy but I sure do feel better and my skin is looking great. I am slimmer than before without working out or dieting and my kids are way better behaved. This was never more noticeable than the day my oldest got his braces off. I caved and bought them some candy. After eating the candy they were awful! Fighting and hitting each other and being really loud and uncontrollable. Now don’t go blaming sugar folks because the cantaloupe cake, which I will give a recipe for, has a lot of sugar in it and they didn’t behave that way after eating it. Nope, has to be all the other things in that candy. Never again. Not sure what I will do about trick or treating this year. Need to think about that one. I know it seems like I have all the time in the world but really I am just an overachiever so to make things easier I premake a lot of things and freeze them. Our freezers are my saving grace. I make biscuits in a smaller than normal size in quadruple batches and then freeze them after baking. Thirty seconds in the microwave and I have an easy breakfast. When I make waffles I do a double batch and then freeze those too. Toasted in the toaster and they are way better than commercial brands and cheaper too. I baked a bunch of carrot cupcakes and mini chocolate chip muffins and froze them for the boys’ school lunches and I premade some mini turkey burgers for them too. My mom taught me to always make a weekly menu to save money at the grocery store and I always preplan the boys’ lunches also to make it easier so I am not scrambling in the morning to figure out what to feed them. I sort of despaired today when I had such a short list of items to buy and getting everything was $92. Then I looked up how much the government says that feeding a family of five generally costs and it is $182 so I guess $92, I didn’t include the cat food in this, on all organic food to get us through the week is not so bad. I love that our Kroger is putting out more of their store brand organic products every week. I like that I don’t have to make an hour long trip to go to Whole Foods just to shop for organics. Plus the store brand is much cheaper than most of what I would get at Whole Foods although I really do love shopping there. Anyhow, back to how I am making this work for the kids. To appease the four-year-old and his macaroni and cheese addiction I had to come up with a way to easily make it without having to make a sauce and pasta at a moment’s notice. I know that they make organic boxes of it but it tastes bad so I scoured the internet for ideas on freezing it and this is what I came up with. This is going to make a huge amount but you are going to freeze it in muffin tins and then you get about 40 individual, small, servings! Just warm them up and you have a meal to please any preschooler or adult!
You will need:
As many muffin tins as you have
Some nonstick spray (Kroger sells an organic store brand of this!)
2 packages (16 oz) of elbow pasta
½ cup of butter
½ cup of flour
Pinch of turmeric (if you don’t have it don’t worry it imparts slight flavor and I use it mainly for the color)
Pinch of paprika
Pinch of salt
Pinch of garlic powder
2 cups of milk (warmed to at least room temp you don’t want it really cold. Microwave it if you have to)
6 cups of shredded cheese (any variety is fine you can even slice up cheese slices and throw them in)
1 15 oz jar of alfredo sauce (I could not find an organic variety at the store so I just picked one with the least number of ingredients and no odd chemicals. You do not want homemade I will explain why later)
Get two big pans and boil some water for the pasta in one and melt the butter in another. Once the butter is melted add in the seasonings and let cook just a minute then add in the flour. Stir and toast for a minute or two until it doesn’t smell so much like flour then add in your milk a little at a time. If you warmed up the milk you shouldn’t get any lumps. This is going to look really runny but trust me it will be fine. Now start adding in your cheese a cup at a time and making sure it is melted in before you add more. Once all the cheese is in add the alfredo sauce. When I read all the tips online for freezing it said that the finished product was dry when reheated so the addition of Alfredo sauce which is commercially made to stay liquid will help it to not be so dry when you reheat it. You should now have a very creamy cheese sauce. Follow package directions for the pasta and cook it just until it is tender but not falling apart then drain it and stir it into the cheese sauce. Spray your muffin cups and start spooning in and pressing down the Mac n cheese. If you need to you can store the rest in the refrigerator until the first batch is frozen. I had to do this since I only had two muffin tins.
Once it is frozen pop the Mac n cheese “muffins” out of the tins and put them into a bag or a container and store them in the freezer until you need them. If it should seem too dry you can add a teaspoon or two of milk to the “muffin” when reheating. It will probably take a few of these to satisfy an adult but they are just right for my little guy. Hope this is helpful!
Now for that cantaloupe cake recipe I promised. I don’t have any pictures because this cake never last more than 2 days around here. I found the recipe on somebody else’s blog and she got it from All Recipes website but she made it as bread. I make it as a Bundt cake and it is awesome. We had at least 16 cantaloupes this year and I cut up and froze most of them so I can just pull some out and puree it for this recipe but I made the first one with a fresh melon so either way works fine. If you don’t care of cantaloupe don’t worry because it does not really have the flavor of cantaloupe it is just really moist.
You Will Need:
Greased and floured Bundt pan
1 cup of oil
2 cups of sugar
3 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 tablespoon of vanilla
2 cups of pureed cantaloupe
¾ teaspoon of baking powder
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
½ teaspoon of ginger
Heat oven to 325°. Sift the dry ingredients together. Okay I have to admit here that I NEVER do this I just stir the baking powder and baking soda into the wet before adding the flour to make sure it is in there evenly and it works every time but you do what you want here. Mix sugar, oil, vanilla, eggs, and cantaloupe together then stir in the dry. Do not over mix this! Bake for about 55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. I let mine cool then mix together powdered sugar and some lemon juice to make a glaze but it is really good plain too.