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Monday, January 26, 2015

In the kitchen, this past weekend: onions, garlic, mac and cheese, and cocoa

you'd never guess that this is a low-cheese Mac & Cheese casserole

Wintry days find me in the kitchen, a lot.

I'm back to  streamlining some of my cooking prep. I now use my food processor to slice several onions at a time, then store in the fridge for the week. And with the garlic, I've been chopping an entire head or two, at once, to store in the freezer. (I blogged about this here, a loooong time ago). So, on Saturday, I pulled out a couple of heads of garlic, minced them fine, and now have them tucked away in the freezer for easier meal prep.

After a week of soup for dinner, Friday night we had made-from-scratch, macaroni and cheese. As usual, I was low on the cheese part. When someone is requesting mac and cheese, but I don't have much cheese left, this is what I do. I make a low-cheese cheese sauce. It's quite good, better for us (less fat, less dairy for me), and seeing as how cheese is sooooo expensive these days, this version is economical.

low-cheese cheese sauce

For how to make a low-cheese cheese sauce, see this post.
(I was out of carrots, this week, so I used 3 tablespoons of canned pumpkin puree in this particular pot of cheese sauce.)

Don't marshmallows simply belong in a cup of cocoa. I found a few marshmallows in the pantry the other day. They're leftover from making s'mores this past summer.

I don't buy those little packets or larger canisters to make cocoa by the cup. I make mine in the microwave, one cup at a time.

In a microwaveable mug, I heat about 1/8th cup of milk for 20 seconds. Then I stir in 1 & 1/2 tablespoons of cocoa powder plus 2 tablespoons sugar, until it's a nice paste. Next, I stir in more milk, till the mug is about full, and microwave for an additional minute. Finally, I add the extras, such as vanilla extract, almond extract, flavored coffee syrup, a mini candy cane, a sprinkling of cinnamon, or a couple of marshmallows. And for me, being mostly dairy-free, I just use soy milk for my cup.

This particular cup of cocoa has hazelnut coffee syrup, found at the back of the cabinet, needing to be used up. Topped with a couple of marshmallows, and I'm a happy camper, enjoying a cozy winter afternoon.

How did you spend your weekend? Any mugs of cocoa? Building snowmen? A cozy chair and favorite book?


  1. I make proper cocoa too, only this weekend I found a nearly empty bottle of peppermint schnapps in the back of the cupboard to make it special - SCORE! I also made, with my 8 year old daughter, 20+ baking soda/cornstarch pink clay hearts as valentine's day cards for her class and Olaf earrings for a "Frozen" day on Friday. I used left over "shrinkie dink" plastic for the earrings and they turned out perfectly. Free (the shrinkie dink was a present years ago) and no-one else is going to have Olaf earrings. It was a lovely crafty weekend.

    1. Jess, how wonderful! Those clay hearts sound cute, and those Olaf earrings, well, you're right, those will be the hit with you daughter's friends! So very creative!!!
      Great find on the schnapps!

  2. No hot cocoa in our weekend, though I am happy you shared your way of making it. I want to get away from the little packets, though they are so convenient when camping. It has been gorgeous here, upper 60's to low 70's, though we are to get more normal January weather again later this week. Saturday was spent running errands and starting seedlings for the garden (to put out in 8-12 weeks, not soon).

    1. Hi Cat,
      oh, lucky you! What fabulous weather. Take what you can, when you can, if more wintry stuff is on it's way later this week.

      You can make your own little packets or larger canisters of "instant" cocoa, too. For packets, simply package up in those snack-size baggies, using instant powdered milk, sugar, cocoa powder. If you want to add a hint of vanilla, make some vanilla sugar to use in place of granulated sugar.

  3. Sounds yummy. I'm coming over.

    While the guys were ice fishing yesterday, my daughter and I had "tea" in antique china teacups. To make it more palatable for a 9-year-old, I used an instant hot cider packet left over from our camping days last summer.

    The sun is out today! I think I'll go for a (chilly) hike and soak in some Vitamin D.

    1. Hi Kris,
      What a fun time you and your daughter had yesterday! Those are the kind of moments that make precious memories.
      Enjoy the hike! A bit of Vitamin D would be useful here, as well.

  4. No snowmen here :) My cocoa recipe is very similar to yours (and so is my chocolate milk recipe), so easy and better for you than the packets :)

    1. Hi Liz,
      No, I wouldn't think you'd be building snowmen there in AU! Ha, ha!

      One thing I have noticed about the premade mixes and packets is how sweet the cocoa turns out, and how un-chocolatey it seems to taste. Homemade really does give you a better product with cocoa. Better taste, cheaper, and so easy -- can't beat that!

      You must be back to blogging. I'll pop over in just a bit!

  5. I love to make homemade cocoa. I actually make mine on the stove top because I am usually making 4 or more cups at a time.

    1. Hi Shara,
      Doesn't the kitchen smell wonderful when making cocoa?!

      When I'm making cocoa for the whole family, then I cook it on the stove. But most of the time, it's just one or two of us who wants some. :-)


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