Bacon Carbonara

Bacon Carbonara | @VeggieConverter glutenfree

My husband, Mr. Meaty, makes a mean Bacon Carbonara. It’s one of the first things he made me for dinner when we were dating. And it is delicious. Bacon has always been my meat weakness. And now that I’m a chicken-and-baconatarian, I am enjoying the flexibility of bacon. Since I’m unfortunately gluten-free as well, we had to come up with a noodles option for me. We went with flat rice noodles and it worked fabulously. The rest of the family has theirs with spaghetti noodles.

The crispy bacon, combined with the salty Parmesan and eggs really make this dish delicious. Enjoy! [Read more...]

Best Ever Whole Food Kids’ Mac and Cheese

REAL food Kids' Mac & Cheese | @VeggieConverter

OK, we’ve tried A LOT of macaroni and cheese recipes in this family since improving our food choices and going without the blue box. I mean A LOT of recipes, check out all our Macaroni Recipes for a few examples. Before now, our family favorite was this Easy Cheese Sauce poured over macaroni. Obviously unbaked macaroni and cheese is a totally different category than baked (on the baked front, we like Fancy Homemade Macaroni and Cheese with Tomatoes).

But I do believe, after our unplanned family vacation, we’ve discovered the biggest mac and cheese hit for kids and adults yet. My 2-year-old niece (who is a super picky eater) actually drank the remains of her sauce from her bowl and asked for seconds. Her 4-year-old sister ate a second bowl and then asked that we save the rest for tomorrow so she could eat it again. My girls absolutely love this version, too. And, bonus: all the adults love it as well. It’s especially awesome since Goose (our almost 3-year-old) has developed the family curse: tomato allergy. I’m sure you can imagine how tough that is with a whole foodie vegetarian mommy. Ugh. But I digress.

This version is stupid simple to throw together in about 10 minutes and all you need is butter, cream cheese, milk, a bit of flour and shredded cheese. We use Mexican blend cheese because that’s what we keep around, but it’d be great with mild cheddar, too.

You should try this recipe today, your kids will thank you!

Note: I like to keep the sauce and macaroni separate at the end so the mac doesn’t get soggy when you store leftovers. If you like, you can mix it all together instead. We simply pour our desired amount of sauce on top of our macs and mix it up in the bowl.

You can also use this cheese sauce on other stuff, like broccoli and cauliflower. Yum!

Whole Food Kids’ Mac and Cheese


1 pound macaroni noodles, cooked (we use rice noodles)
2 Tablespoons butter
1 teaspoons minced garlic (optional)
1 Tablespoon flour (we use gluten-free)
4 ounces cream cheese, cubed
1 cup milk
1 heaping cup shredded cheese
Kosher salt, to taste (optional)


If you haven’t boiled your noodles, start those first.

Meanwhile, melt butter and add garlic to a medium saucepan. Saute for about 1 minute at medium heat.
Stir in flour to make a roux. Note: If you’re not good at making a roux, no problem! Just whisk in the flour after the next step instead. I’ve done it both ways (some days Mommy just isn’t feeling the roux) and both work great.

Add cream cheese and milk.

Raise heat to medium high and cook, stirring frequently, until cream cheese is melted, about 7 minutes.
Add shredded cheese and whisk until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Salt to taste, if desired.
Pour sauce over macaroni noodles. (Keep the sauce separate and pour over individual servings if you’re expecting to store leftovers.)

REAL food Kids' Mac & Cheese | @VeggieConverter glutenfree vegetarian


Rainbow Carrots and Cream Cheese Dip


We’ve been getting some beautiful rainbow carrots in our CSA box lately (ours are purple, yellow, orange and some are a bit chartreuse). So the kids and I have been enjoying julienned carrots dipped in yogurt a lot. We decided to make an extra special dip last week from our fun book, The Outrageously Big Activity, Play and Project Book.

The recipe says the kids can do it all by themselves. But we found it much easier to have a parent help hold an immersion blender to blend up the cream cheese and milk in the first step. Having a kid smash it together with a wooden spoon is probably an effective activity if you’re wanting your kids to focus on something, but we wanted our dip NOW!

So, we stick-blended it instead of smashing. What you do in your house is, of course, your choice. I’ll try to keep myself from staring over your shoulder with a stick blender. :) The kids had a ton of fun mixing up the dip and they absolutely devoured the dip and carrots once it was all ready. I definitely recommend this dip for a snack or even a pre-meal distraction technique while you’re fixing dinner. It’s a great way to keep the kids snacking on something healthy if you can’t handle them “helping” with dinner. I don’t know about you, but some days I have the patience for it and others I don’t.


Rainbow Carrots and Cream Cheese Dip



1 bunch rainbow carrots
8 ounces cream cheese (full fat)
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 green onion, chopped (or chives)


Julienne all but one carrot, shred the remaining carrot. Mix all but carrots and a bit of the green onion.
Top with shredded carrot and remaining green onion. Serve with julienned carrots.

Fancy Homemade Mac and Cheese with Tomatoes


Mac and Cheese is a vegetarian potluck favorite. But it doesn’t always have the prettiest presentation. The simple, yet somehow I’ve never tried it before solution? Place slices of tomato on top prior to baking for color contrast and bonus nutrients!

I found this little gem of a suggestion in one of my thrift store cookbook finds, the 1965 edition of the Better Homes and Gardens New CookBook. You probably know the one. It has a red and white picnic tablecoth-esque cover and is sprial-bound. Notably, this is also where I came across the notion of Everyday Cupcakes! What? Cupcakes every day! (Recipe to come.) But I digress.

Mac and cheese is, unsurprisingly, one of our family favorites, but we love to try new recipes since our toddlers’  tastebuds are always changing. This one is pretty simple, but the tomato slices add that extra flourish for potlucks or company’s-coming-over nights.

The kids and adults all loved it. Though Bug, our 4-year-old, refused to eat the tomatoes once they were cooked. She helped with the cooking and ate the extra tomato slices raw, and agreed the mac and cheese looked especially fancy. But when it came time to eat the cooked tomatoes, she politely asked her little sister if she would like to eat hers for her.

Goose, 2, ate double tomatoes without complaint and Bug ate nearly her own weight in macaroni.

Fancy Homemade Mac and Cheese with Tomatoes

1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni
3 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons flour (we use whole wheat white)
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons dried minced onion
2 cups shredded cheese (we use Mexican blend)
1 Roma tomato, sliced and sprinkled with salt (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F.
Cook macaroni in boiling water.
Melt butter. Blend in flour, mix in milk, salt, onion, and whisk in cheese. Pour sauce over macaroni in a baking dish. Top with tomato slices and bake 35 minutes.

Kid-Constructed Funny Face Mini Pizzas Recipe


We found this crazy book at a garage sale a couple of years ago, called The Outrageously Big Activity, Play and Project Book. It’s a British import so there are a lot of craft and recipe ideas that I haven’t come across in American books. The kids love the book and ask to make something out of it frequently. We decided to make the funny face pizzas from the book recently and had so much fun putting them together as a family.

As it turned out, the kids wanted to eat the ears and bow-ties (made of kiwi and grapes) continuously and weren’t all that interested in the actual pizzas. I think they may be fruititarians. But the memory of making them together was the best part. And I think they turned out super cute.

You can really use whatever toppings you like for the ears, nose and mouth. The book suggests flower-cut slices of mozzarella cheese for eyes, a mushroom slice for the nose and a green pepper strip for the mouth. The book also adds “a carton of mustard and cress” for hair. We thought about adding alfalfa sprouts, but decided to go with bald funny faces instead so we didn’t have to head to the store. We used black olive slices for eyes and leftover purple hashbrowns for the mouths. The kids had fun making a crazy face that they named “Pete,” after the pseudo bad guy on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. He had a lot of eyes, a melted off mouth, plenty of noses and was awarded no ears or bow-ties. Hilarious.

I think the most important part of the recipe is the kiwi ears and the cute little kiwi bow-tie. It’s so simple, but brilliant. For this recipe, we made six mini pizzas, so I sliced 12 slices of kiwi (about 1 1/2 kiwis…Bug obliged me my throwing herself on the extra kiwi half). Then you cut those slices in half. Slice the ear halves lengthwise and the bow-tie halves across the shorter width for the most accurate ears and ties. Then you top the center of each bow-tie with a grape for the knot! We left ours whole, but I suppose you could cut your grapes in half so they’d lay flat if you want it to be perfect.

Kid-Constructed Funny Face Mini Pizzas Recipe


Homemade Whole Wheat Garlic Cheese Sticks Recipe and Superbowl Snacks Round-Up

I used to be a bit of a Papa John’s Cheese Sticks junkie. And the garlic butter sauce? Uh, yum! But, once I started eating more whole foods and cooking most of our food at home, we didn’t order cheese sticks or pizza much. One day last year, we were congratulating ourselves for a big cleaning and organization day, so we ordered some cheese sticks and pizza for dinner. It turns out, my memory of the store-bought variety was so much better than reality. I liked my own homemade pizza better! I was disappointed and overjoyed at the same time.

Since then, I’ve been making plain cheese, garlic and olive oil sauce pizzas (the kids favorite) pretty regularly. And I think with the new pizza dough recipe I’ve achieved simple perfection! These are incredible. And they don’t even need a dipping sauce.

And, also super cool, my daughters were able to help me make these cheese sticks. And Bug, our nearly 4-year-old, even took a couple of pictures, including the one below. She’s always saying she’s going to be grow up to be an artist, just like me. :) Cutie.



Homemade Whole Wheat Garlic Cheese Sticks


1 pizza dough
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I usually use a blend of Italian cheeses)


Preheat oven and pizza stone to 450.
Smear olive oil and garlic on dough and top with cheese.
Bake for 5-7 minutes.


And, check out these great other Superbowl Snacks:



Better than Basil Rainbow Chard Pesto

I love pesto. It’s delicious, healthy and relatively easy to make. I’ve made a Spinach Pesto and a Vegan Kale Pesto on top of the “usual” basil pesto. I, by far, like the greens pestos more than basil pesto. So, when I got a bunch of rainbow chard in my CSA box recently, I knew I could make a better than basil pesto. Plus, it’ll be pretty because of those lovely magenta stalks.

I’d also just received my beautiful KitchenAid Hand Blender in the mail, so that made it an easy choice. (Don’t forget to enter to win your own!)


Better than Basil Rainbow Chard Pesto


2 cloves garlic
1/2 onion
8 ounces rainbow chard
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups walnuts
1 1/2 cups Parmesan


Place all ingredients in a blender or blender with a stick blender. Heat and serve.


The Results

This might just be my favorite pesto so far. It’s definitely better than basil. I love pestos made with greens and it was so stupid simple to make it in the KitchenAid hand blender. I love that thing. It’s definitely worth the $130 to buy it since it’s like a portable food processor. Perfect for small kitchens, too.

This post shared at Gallery of Favorites, Fresh Bites Friday, Friday Favorites, Frugal Fridays and I’m Lovin’ It.

Easy Baked Jalapeno Poppers


As you may recall, my neighbor’s mom has a farm and gave us several big bags of jalapenos. I made some yummytastic Jalapeno Poppers right before VeganMoFo started and haven’t had the chance to share them yet as they’re filled with cheeses!

These are an easy version because, instead of breading and frying them, I wrapped them in egg roll wrappers and baked them in the oven. Much simpler, and probably a lot healthier, than the breaded and fried version. It’s super fast and easy. And, if you use homemade egg roll wrappers, it’s pretty darn frugal, too!

The Results

Mmm…yummy. Not quite as rich as the fried version, but pretty darn tasty. I think I’ll make some jalapeno jam to dip them in next time.

This post shared at Gallery of Favorites, Fresh Bites Friday, Friday Favorites, Frugal Fridays and I’m Lovin’ It.

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Cheesecake


I’ve been making slow cooker cheesecake (usually plain, sometimes key lime flavor) since coming across Stephanie O’Dea’s fabulously easy recipe for CrockPot Cheesecake a few years ago. But, she didn’t have such great luck with her pumpkin version. So, it struck me recently that I could drizzle in some of my pumpkin spice syrup and make Pumpkin-flavored CrockPot Cheesecake without throwing of the perfect cheesecake formula. Awesome. I <3 pumpkin and cheesecake so I’m super excited to try this simple recipe that lets me have both at once!

In addition to pumpkinizing, I removed the usual graham cracker crust from this one because I oh so rarely have graham crackers anymore. I thought about making my own, but opted for a layer of crushed walnuts instead. And, yum! Delicious and simple.

The Results

Yummy! Perfect taste and texture in the first one. One of them (yes, I made two, shush) turned out a little gloopy because I didn’t hear the timer and it switched over to warm before it was all the way cooked, but was still delicious.

This post is shared with Real Food Wednesday, Whole Food Wednesdays, What’s Cooking Wednesday, Works for me Wednesday, These Chicks Cooked and Bake with Bizzy, Hearth and Soul Hop.