Kid Friendly, Pasta

Mac N Cheese

mac n cheese labeled.jpgI am not a fan of pasta.  Except for my grandma’s spaghetti salad.  But that’s it.  However, that doesn’t mean that my kids don’t love pasta, especially homemade macaroni and cheese.

This has always been one of my boys favorites and for as long as he’ll let me cook it for him, I will.

I realize that as a food blogger, I should have covered it in buttery bread crumbs and broiled it for that perfect picture, but… that’s not how he likes it.

I’m just being real.  Not everything gets all sorts of pretty and garnished around here. And school lunch doesn’t give us time for pretty garnishes anyways.

So, here it is… all simple and gooey with the cheese that is all creamy and stringy.  It looks good. And it must taste good. B ate 2 whole bowls and K ate almost a full bowl too.


I had myself a turkey sandwich.

Homemade Mac N Cheese


  • 4 cups cooked (2 cups uncooked) shell macaroni
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • splash of Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups shredded cheese of your choice.  I use cheddar.


  1. Cook and drain your pasta as directed on package.
  2. In a deep frying pan or saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour, salt, pepper and Dijon mustard and stir with a whisk until combined. Add Worcestershire. Stir. Stir in milk and cheese and stir constantly until it’s all melted and combined.
  3. Stir cooked & drained pasta into sauce.
  4. I then like to add a handful of shredded cheddar and stir it in.
  5. Serve while warm.

Much love,







Shepherd’s Pie


I’m an Idaho girl.  My husband has lovingly called me “Spud” a time or two at dinnertime.  I guess this means I make more potatoes than he was used to eating before we were married. I use potatoes in my meals quite a bit. When you’re surrounded by potato farms in the summer and fall, it’s a good reminder to stock up on potatoes for the winter months.

Add some meat and veggies and a meal is made…. right?  Well it’s almost that easy.

I keep my freezer, fridge and pantry stocked with staple foods and I just love when I’m able to use these items to make a good healthy and hearty meal without making a trip to the store. And it’s even better when the meal makes it on the top 10 favorite list in our home.

We have had so much snow this winter and it’s been coooolllllllddd.  I, of course, just want to make warm comfort foods and make it all better.  This makes everything all better!

But… my favorite part of this meal is its nickname here in the Hawkes’ household.  It’s ‘Derek’s Pie’. Yes.. we are fans of Grey’s Anatomy.


Shepherd's Pie


  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 large onion, diced (approximately 1 cup)
  • 4 carrots, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 2 fresh cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 3 tsp sea salt, divided
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1/3 cup beef stock
  • 3 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 or 5 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 heavy cream (you could use milk)
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add the potatoes and boil them for 10-15 minutes or until they are tender when you stab them with a fork.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt the butter and add the onions and carrots. Cook them over medium heat until they start to soften.  It should take about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and ground beef, using a spatula to break it up as it cooks.  Add 1 tsp sea salt.
  3. Sprinkle the flour over the top of the beef and stir well. Add the beef stock and Worcestershire sauce.  Let it simmer until the juices thicken.
  4. Drain the potatoes and return them to the pot.  Mash the potatoes to break them up. {**I use a Pampered Chef Mix ‘N Chop to mash my potatoes} Add the butter and heavy cream.  Continue mashing until the potatoes are smooth and the cream and butter are incorporated fully.  Season with the black pepper and 2 tsps. salt.
  5. Add the peas to the meat mixture. Place meat mixture in pie pan or 9×9 pan, whatever you have available.
  6. Top the beef mixture with the mashed potatoes and spread them into an even layer.  Sprinkle the grated cheese over the top of the potatoes.
  7. Turn the oven to broil. Place the pie on a sheet pan and place under the broiler.  Let broil just long enough for the cheese and the potatoes to become golden around the edges.
  8. Remove from oven and serve.

adapted from girl gone gourmet


Much love,





Bagels, Breakfast, Yeast Breads

New York Style Bagels

bagels 10new york bagels.jpgI have never been a huge fan of bagels.  Well…not the store bought kind.  They seem so fake to me for some reason.

I have made bagels several times and for some reason, it’s the pumpkin ones that I made 5 or so years ago that stand out in my mind. Weird, right?!

Today I woke up thinking I really wanted to make bagels. And I think it was the cream cheese I was craving more than the bagel.  So, I got up. Made the hubby’s lunch and sent him off to work. Helped Sis get ready and took her to school. Came home and got dressed and ready for the day.

With yesterday being my birthday, I played lazy after dinner and didn’t do the dishes so I had to clean the kitchen before making another mess. So I did.

Now I am no professional bagel-baker. But I am certainly up for more practice and hope to be able to try many more bagel recipes in the near future.

I mentioned in a previous post that I don’t keep bread flour around. Well, most all bagel recipes call for bread flour. In order to achieve the correct texture and feel of a bagel you need to have a high gluten flour.

bagels 1.jpgBecause I bake a bunch of wheat bread around here, I always have Vital Wheat Gluten in my cupboard.  So I added that to my all-purpose flour to give it the extra gluten necessary for a yummy bagel. I added 1 Tbsp of Vital Wheat Gluten to the 3 1/2 cups flour and it seemed to work well and give them a nice texture.

I love watching yeast work. It’s like magic.


You want to make sure you knead this dough until it’s smooth. This takes approximately 10 minutes. It really helps if you have an electric mixer, but if you don’t…enjoy the workout!

The shaping process takes practice and I still need more practice. The dough is nice to work with.

bagels-6This water was boiling a bit more rapid at first than I intended it to, so I turned it down abit. It’s a bit weird to put raw dough into boiling water, but what a cool process! I boiled them for 1 1/2 minutes on each side. I used the handle of a wooden spoon to turn them and remove them from the water.bagels-7I placed them on a baking mat to bake them.  bagels-8Bake in preheated 425 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.  25 minutes made these a perfect golden brown.bagels-9

After cooling completely, I could not wait to cut into one of these babies!bagels-10So I did…bagels-11

I made some Veggie Cream Cheese spread and slathered it on the yummy bagel, along with a couple slices of shaved turkey. Oh my gosh… Heaven!bagels-12


New York Style Bagels


  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water
  • 3 1/2 cups bread flour, high gluten flour, or add 1 Tbsp Vital Wheat Gluten to all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt


  1. Pour warm water, yeast and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer and let sit for 5 minutes.
  2. Add in flour and salt. You are making a firm dough that’s not at all sticky. Knead the dough using the dough hook for 10 minutes on low speed. When it’s finished, the dough shouldn’t stick to the bowl and should be smooth. If you need to add flour or water during the kneading process, do so.  These amounts worked perfect for me.
  3. Remove the dough hook and cover the bowl for 1 hour to rise.
  4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and put a large pot of water on to boil. You’ll need about 5 inches of water.
  5. Punch down dough and let it rest for 10 minutes.
  6. Divide the dough in half and then each half into fourths. You’ll have 8 dough balls.
  7. On a lightly floured countertop roll each dough into a tight ball. Check this video tutorial for help, if necessary.
  8. With a floured thumb, jab a hole into the middle of each ball and stretch the dough until the  hole is about twice the width of the thickness of the bagel, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Shape all bagels and then add as many as will fit comfortably into your pot of gently boiling water. I just did 2 at a time.  Boil bagels for 1-2 minutes on each side. The longer the boil, the chewier the bagel. Use the handle of a wooden spoon to flip the bagels in the water.
  9. Remove bagels and place on a greased or silicon-lined baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden. Cool completely before slicing, toasting and gobbling up!

recipe adapted from Jellibean Journals

Lots of love,





White Bread 101

I am fascinated with baking bread.


The process of baking bread is easier once you understand the science behind it. So I’ll give you a simple breakdown.

Fermentation occurs when yeast eats all the sugar goodness from starches, like flour, and produces all those carbon dioxide gas bubbles.  Those little bubbles are our friends in bread making.  They are the ‘leavener’ and they give the bread its texture.

Yeast is a LIVING, single-cell plant.  So it needs to grow in order to do its job. No better way to make something grow than feed it, right? Well, yeast eats sugars to grow.  So… let’s think about it for a minute. Flour is a carbohydrate.  Carbohydrates are full of starch molecules.  Starch molecules are made up of oodles and bunches of sugar molecules.  In other words, CARBS=SUGARS!

When you combine the yeast and water, the yeast becomes activated.  Adding a little sugar to the yeast and water will feed the sugar and encourage faster growth. Then you add the flour. At this point, somehow all the flour enzymes break down the carbohydrates into sugar.  The yeast then eats these sugars, which allows it to produce the little carbon dioxide gas bubbles and alcohol.  At this point, you’ll begin to notice that your gassy bubbly mixture becomes stringy. Once you add and knead more flour into the mixture, those ‘stringy’ strands become your elasticity in your bread, also known as gluten strands, or protein.During the baking process, the carbon dioxide gases and alcohol from the fermentation process bake out.

I guess what I’m saying is… don’t be intimidated by the bread making process. It really is quite simple.  And as long as you follow a few simple rules of thumb, your bread should do it’s thing and turn out just fine.

Always make sure you are using good yeast.  I always store my yeast in the fridge in a sealed Tupperware container. It keeps it fresh for a long time. I prefer to buy my yeast in large packages from Sam’s Club. The yeast does not need to be stored in the fridge until it has been opened.

Always use good quality flour.  I don’t use bread flour. I have never tried it.  I just prefer a good All-purpose unbleached flour.

Always place bread in a warm area of your home, free from drafts. You can warm your dishtowel in the dryer to place over the dough to give it a head start in rising.

I have simplified this recipe so whether you are a beginning bread maker or a seasoned one, this recipe will work for you.

White Bread


  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 3 Tbsp yeast
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cube butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 Tbsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • 9+cups flour


In a large mixing bowl, combine warm water, yeast and 1/2 tsp sugar. Let set aside for yeast to activate.

In a medium-size glass bowl, combine milk, butter, salt and 1/3 cup sugar.  Microwave uncovered for 3-4 minutes, until butter is melted.

Add cold water to mixture in glass bowl. Combine with yeast mixture.

Add 9 cups flour to mixture.  It should still be pretty gooey, which is fine.

Spread a couple cups flour on your countertop surface. Using a spatula to get every bit of dough out of the bowl, put dough onto floured surface. Sprinkle a cup of flour over the dough. Now knead. Add flour as needed. You want to knead until it’s nice and elastic but not tough. I prefer it to be just barely not sticky.  It will be a soft dough. Knead for 10 minutes.

Grease the large bowl you mixed it in. You can spray it with a PAM spray to make it easy.  Place dough back in bowl. Grease the top of the dough slightly. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap and a dishtowel.

Place in a warm place and let rise. Once risen to double, punch down and let rise again. Once the dough has doubled again, punch down and put onto floured surface. Pat dough out onto flour surface. With a sharp, non-serrated knife, cut into 4 equal pieces.

Roll each piece into a roll. (Like a cake roll) Pinch ends together and tuck under ends. Place in greased bread pans.

Let rise until doubled in size.

Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.

*  If you like a darker crust, bake at 375 for the first 30 minutes, the reduce heat to 350 and bake for 15 minutes.

Immediately remove bread from pans onto wire rack and butter tops of loaves.


This recipe is by far the tastiest white bread I have ever made. I bake a batch every single Sunday. It’s a great sandwich bread and it makes some seriously delicious toast!

Lots of love,