Three Ingredient Mac and Cheese

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If it's not yet clear from the seven other posts about mac and cheese on this site, I love Mac and Cheese. My current favorite recipe is my Cheddar Cheese Sauce, which is quickly built from a standard béchamel (milk sauce). But though practice makes perfect, and the skills needed to make the sauce are transferable to dozens or hundreds of applications, I'm always on the look-out for new recipes to try.

So, a few weeks ago, Serious Eats The Food Lab posted this recipe for 3-ingredient, stove-top Mac and Cheese. The three ingredients are: Macaroni elbow noodles, evaporated milk, cheese. It takes around 10 minutes. It's incredibly simple. It's wonderfully delicious. While this may not end up as my go-to recipe, it's certainly one of the best recipes I've tried.

After a taste test as-is, I decided to add some bacon and chipotle peppers to spice things up a bit. The smokey, chili goodness of real peppers is so much better than the chipotle spice I got from Penzie's (not knocking Penzie's, their spice is still amazing, but it can't compare to the smooth richness of the real deal).

3-ingredient mac and cheese in a bowl on a counter Mac and cheese with bacon and chipotle peppers

French Toast

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I had a craving for some french toast, so I adapted Alton Brown's French Toast recipe a bit to make a quick(ish) morning meal for one: I halved the recipe, left the bread out in the air for about an hour, let it soak up the custard for about a minute, and cooked on the stove over low heat for about 5 minutes. The result was 3 pieces of dense, creamy goodness that I can't wait to try again!

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/french-toast-recipe.html

French toast on a plate with butter and syrup

Bean and Rice Burritos

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Another one from the dawn of my culinary bachelor past. This dish is easy, cheap, nutritious, and delicious. It's so easy, I've lost the recipe, I haven't made it in 5 or more years, and still I was able to figure it back out from scratch.

This is a classic easy weeknight meal. Make some rice (20 minutes), build the burritos (5 minutes), and bake for 20 minutes, and you're done. The main ingredients, rice and beans, are pantry staples. The most expensive ingredient is the cheese, but it's good to keep some cheese around for cheese emergencies (though, in my opinion, the only emergency is not having cheese).

Get the recipe for Bean and Rice Burritos

bean and rice burritos on
a plate

Lentil Marinara

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I'd never tried lentils before, which is a shame because they're great. Easy to make and nutritious, lentils are a good staple to have in your pantry. They're like dried beans, without the lengthy overnight soaking before use.

Since I also had a bunch of tomato sauce makings about, I decided to see if they could be combined. I had previously made a red bean and tomato sauce recipe, but beans are large and chewy, and the end result was unappetizing at best.

However, adding 1 cup of red lentils and 2 cups of water to my tomato sauce recipe turned out wonderfully. I just added the lentils and water immediately after everything else, and let the whole thing simmer for 25 minutes until the lentils were tender. The lentils added some flavor and a bunch of protein, so it's a good option for vegetarians (the parmesan cheese I added stopped it from being vegan). Added together with some roasted broccoli and I had a nice, healthy meal.

Tomato sauce with red lentils and roasted broccoli

Creamy Sausage and Mushroom Rigatoni

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Is it still considered Hamburger Helper if it's made with Italian sausage? If it's not made with powders from bags that come in a box? I'm not sure if the difference is that distinct...

This recipe for Creamy Sausage and Mushroom Rigatoni from The Girl Who Ate Everything is uncannily similar to the Spicy Penne and Sausage I've made once in a while. They could be twins. Feel free to add parmesan to this, or basil to that. Peas could go well with this, or maybe some bacon.

In the end, it was easy, inexpensive, and good, which is exactly what a busy weeknight needs. It's adaptable to what's in the kitchen, provided you've got some cream or half-and-half on-hand (have I convinced you yet of their overwhelming utility?).

Creamy Sausage and Mushroom Rigatoni in a bowl with
parmesan