Tag Archives: health

Easy potluck pasta bake

Today was my first day of physical therapy after my knee surgery, and man was it harder than I thought it would be! I knew that working on getting my bend back would be hard, but I didn’t think trying to straighten my leg all the way would be as painful as it was. I spent over two weeks in this lovely thing…

…so my knee couldn’t bend, but it wasn’t totally straight either. So it’s kind of in this weird limbo spot where I can’t straighten it or bend it all the way! It’s a little sore since I worked the muscles in that leg more today than I have in a month, but I’m just glad that it’s slowly on the mend. I can handle some pain now if it will get me back to doing yoga! And I can’t wait to try yoga for the first time without having the knee pain that the tumor was causing. I’m hoping within the month I’ll be able to go!

Anyway, I wanted to post the recipe for the pasta bake that I mentioned yesterday. It’s really easy and completely customizable to whatever you have on hand or want to throw in it!

Potluck Pasta Bake
Adapted from Italian Food Forever 

Start by cooking your choice of short pasta. I went with just over a half box of whole grain rotini.

Then, choose what you want to put in the casserole. We used the 1 1/2 cups of diced ham suggested in the recipe. For veggies, we had a bag of frozen broccoli and a bag of frozen chopped spinach that were both almost empty, so we thawed those…

…and my sous chef chopped everything up!

While he was chopping, I sauteed 1/2 cup of onions and 2 garlic cloves in 3 Tbs of butter. Then I whisked in 3 Tbs flour and 3 cups of 1% milk until the mixture was smooth. Next, add your choice of cheese. We chose 8 oz. of shredded cheddar. Add salt, pepper, and 1/2 tsp. of oregano. Put the pasta back in the pot and all your chopped components.

So colorful!

Pour cheese sauce into pot and mix everything together. Transfer to a baking dish and top with  1 1/2 cups bread crumbs (I used panko) and 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese. Cover baking dish with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Then remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes, or until the top is nice and brown and crispy.

We love brown crunchy edges in this house!

This was a great dish – and I think it was even better reheated the next day! I always think that casserole type things, including baked mac and cheese, are better reheated – why is that?!?!

Things I will change next time I make this:
– Add more veggies.
– Use either a combo of different cheeses or try something other than cheddar. The cheddar was great, just not super flavorful. I think maybe some gruyere or fontina would’ve been awesome in this.
– Use less breadcrumbs. I followed the amount in the recipe, but it didn’t evenly brown on top because I think I piled the crumbs too high in some spots.
– more garlic! Because the more garlic the better. 🙂

Overall, very easy, was able to use things we had on hand, and totally customizable!

After eating this for dinner the other night, I promptly pulled this out of the freezer.

Yep. That’s leftover cookie dough from these bad boys. The coconut lime were the boyfriend’s favorite so I made a mini batch for us. They were just as good the second time around! You’d think I’d be trying to lay off the sugar after the holidays. But no. I don’t believe in deprivation. If I want sugar and don’t have it, I get grumpy. 🙂

Do you make casserole-type dishes often? Do you have a favorite or do you just throw in what you have in the kitchen? 

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Filed under About Me, Food

Kitchen/blogging hiatus

Sooo, I haven’t really posted since Thanksgiving. Maybe you thought I was one of those people who started a blog and then gave up on it shortly after starting it. But I swear, I want to keep blogging. I’ve missed it! And I’ve thought of writing every day.

But here’s the thing. Two weeks before Thanksgiving, I had a health scare. I’ve had knee pain for years and just ignored it, because it wasn’t that bad. But earlier this year, I started doing yoga. And I LOVED yoga. But my knee pain was a hindrance, so I finally went to the doctor. After a normal x-ray and six weeks of physical therapy with no improvement, I went to get an MRI.

They found a BIG tumor in my knee, right at the joint where my knee bends. And then we had to wait a week to see an orthopedic oncologist, not knowing anything else. We basically spent a week thinking I might have cancer. It was the slowest, weirdest, scariest week I think I’ve ever had.

But the specialist knew right away from looking at the MRI that it was benign. It was a rare type of tumor that starts in the joint lining. They don’t know what causes it. And mine, because it was so large, had probably been there for years. It had actually started eating away at my bone.

So two weeks ago today, I had surgery to remove the tumor and get a bone graft for the section that had been invaded. It’s been a slow recovery. I’ve literally left my apartment twice since the surgery. It is really hard to get around. I’m in a full leg immobilizing brace. I can hobble around on it a little, but leaving the apartment means involving the crutches which are cumbersome and exhausting to use.

Anyway, sorry for the long story. Basically, I really can’t be on my feet for more than 10 minutes or so at a time. So I can’t cook. I could have done a few fluffy blog posts but it’s kind of been a roller-coaster past few weeks and I just haven’t felt like writing something sub-par. It’s just one of those times where real life gets in the way. 🙂 But more importantly than missing a few weeks of blogging, I’m healthy, healing, and tumorless, and couldn’t be more grateful for that.

The weekend before my surgery, I tried out some recipes that I plan on baking and using as Christmas gifts. The boyfriend and I leave for Boston on Thursday to be with our families for Christmas, and I’m hoping my mom will be my helper in the kitchen so I can get these done. So get ready for posts on…

these…

these…

and these.

I’m guessing I won’t post while I’m back East. There is just too much to fit in for the few days we’re there. But I will definitely be back at it after the holidays. I just wanted to write something to say this isn’t an abandoned blog!

I hope everyone has a happy, healthy, relaxing holiday!

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Filed under About Me, Food