Tried & True: Crab Mac & Cheese

Some people cook on a whim, using the tools their parents taught them or what they’ve managed to come up with for themselves. I, for one, like to follow recipes. It’s what I find comfort in as a baker, so as a novice chef I stick to what I know.

A friend and I recently decided to put our skills to the test (his by far already better than mine considering I didn’t even know how to cut an onion properly) after binge watching some Netflix cooking shows. After some searches, we settled on attempting to make crab mac and cheese. We have Rachael Ray to thanks for our endeavors, as her video and recipe had our jaws dropping at just the site of her finished dish. Let’s just say the results were worth sharing, so here are my thoughts!

What’s Good about this recipe:

  • The veggies: Catch me using this recipe in 10 years to sneak veggies to my kids because the celery and onions in here are just the perfect addition to make me feel a little less guilty for my third bowl.
  • The Panko/Parsley/Hot Sauce combo on top: I grew up hating crumb toppings on mac and cheese, but now I can’t imagine mac without it. I snuck in a bit more hot sauce than called for (I used my trusty Chulula), and it was definitely the right move.
  • How much it makes: In just the first night we scarfed down about 6 helpings worth, and there was easily another 10 to devour. Although the ingredients added up price wise (even with a few things already on hand, it cost us $55 for the rest), we got out money worth.

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What To Change:

  • More Cheese! We just about doubled all of the recommended cheese amount and for the better.
  • More milk! Use a bit more milk than called for, and whole milk at that, for the creaminess everyone dreams of.
  • The crab! Either be very thorough with how you stir it, or add less. I had a few bowls that were just way too crab heavy. You could even do without the grab all together if it isn’t your thing.
  • Although the veggies made me feel healthy, I am curious how this would turn out with healthy alternatives—meaning skim milk and whole wheat pasta. This mac is meant to pig out on, but it’s always a good thing to consider.

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Overall Verdict: It’s a keeper

According to my instagram followers, this mac looked professional when all was said and done. The many ingredients were worth the price because it was just about as intricate in flavor as mac can get. I was proud of myself for kicking butt in the kitchen —even if I had help. Here’s hoping I get to cooking more because I really missed creating (edible) things that I’m proud of!

But really who knows when I’ll post again,

Casey

 

 

 

 

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I’m Going to London! Setting Intentions for my Spring Abroad

2018 is about to be quite a year for me. Last year I set specific goals, but now I am just going into 2018 as mindfull, eager to learn, and adventurous as possible! I am excited to have some people reading along, so plan to hear more from me as we go!

In what I can only imagine will be a quick 2 and a half weeks, I will be in London. Years of yes, no, and maybe so’s about studying abroad will be exchanged for a whole new set of thoughts as I navigate a new city and try to make it my home in just four months.

Everyone keeps asking me what I plan on doing when I am abroad. Have I got an extensive London bucket list? What am I most excited about? As I get closer, I definitely find myself thinking more specifically about my trip. Even the trips within the trip, considering I have all of Europe at my finger tips. For me, it all boils down to having an overall open mind set without being set on exactly what I will do and how it will go. I know there are some certainties that come with my trip, but the rest is waiting for me once I get there.

What I Know

I will visit five European countries besides England this Spring, but I am open to what countries those are. I have been saving to make sure that I can see the views that until recently seemed so unattainable to see. Greece beaches and Swiss mountains are what I envision, but I don’t want to get set on places that I may not find a companion to go with. I have my base number and I will be grateful to see whatever beautiful destinations I make it to.

There is a whole lot of food in Europe, and I plan to eat as much of it as I can. I will get self conscious about my body here and there, but every food baby should come down to being a sign that I am doing something right. It’s time to eat everything comforting, indulgent, sweet, spicy, and new. The food can be all or one of those things.

I know that my camera will be my best friend because just as it is important to live in the moment, it’s important to follow my passions and remember the entire experience.

What I Intend to Find Out

I may be in an English speaking country but that doesn’t save me from culture shock. I’ll see how they live across the pond, creating an adjustment period that is sure to leave me missing my friends and boyfriend back home. A long distance relationship is something I never imagined myself having to deal with, but on top of that I have to adjust to my life there and focus on myself. It’ll be a bit of a balancing act and a whole lot of learning on my part.

Going abroad for a month in Spain brought me a new sense of independence and confidence that has been dwindling since my return. I can only hope to learn about myself as I am forced to live for myself and make all of my own decision as I adjust and move forward.

Intentions and unknowns aside, I could not be more excited for what is to come. There is no denying that there are going to be tough times, but I know all of the tough times will be met with equally as amazing times. I plan on capturing as much of my trip as possible and sharing it with whatever readers stumble this way.

Here’s to an adventurous Spring 2018!

Casey

 

The Five Ingredients to My Perfect Summer

I love summer. My allergies have finally adjusted to the beautiful flowers, my birthday is plopped right in the middle of Labor Day and Memorial Day, and everything is just more relaxing. What makes this summer special is that I am living on my own for a good part of it, and I am prepared to make it as great as I can. It’s one thing to be off of school, but it’s another to make the most of your time.

I was going to write up my five goals for summer, but I realized I didn’t want to pressure myself or hold myself to a to-do list like I do during the school year. This list is more of a reminder to myself, and others, for what summer is all about.

1.  Time to be CreativeIMG_7743.jpg

School does not leave a lot of time for writing for fun. It only really left time for my Spoon Articles, but summer gives me time to tackle both SpoonUD and my blog. More than that summer means summer cooking, baking, and photographing.

2. Beach Bumming it

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Ten years ago, I never would’ve imagined how much I love the beach after I used to leave it burnt, dirty, and tired. Now I hope to spend as much skin-healthy time at the beach as I can. Game are fun, but the real beauty is in just lying there. Just me and the waves–The savage seagulls I could do without.

3. Work Work Work

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Now I can’t actually spend every day at the beach. A lot of my time is going to be spent at working at a coffee/ice cream shop, and I am extremely excited about it. The lessons learned will last a lifetime while the money I earn in the summer buys me more fun for the rest of the year. I find working empowering, especially when it’s better than doing nothing compared to having an internship.

4. Keeping it Simple

A Simple Summer is a summer I like, and not just for the alliteration. Things seem to move slower, giving me time to sort through all of my things and thoughts in order to get rid of what I don’t need. I’ve realized how much I hate clutter, so summer is the perfect time to get rid of annoyances like that.

5. Adventures

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Nothing says summer quiet like adventures. I am not very familiar with my new Jersey shore home, but I plan on getting comfortable with my surroundings. It might be tough to drag yourself out of bed, but getting up early is so worth a day of exploring a new place.

I could not be happier to be back in the blogging game now that it’s time for summer. Same drill as before–I’m still growing up and figuring out what I want to write about.

Hope you’re all still interested in joining me.

Still sharing my conscience,

Casey

Starved Rock State Park

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Every week approaching summer seems to get longer as we have to stare at beautiful days from inside buildings. One thing that I didn’t think I would miss about warm weather is being out in it. I never used to be an outdoorsy person, and I don’t think I would put that in personal description about myself now, but cabin fever has me dreaming of fresh air and long walks. Now the beloved beach is a different story, but the woods are a new thing for me. It leaves me reminiscent of my day trip to Starved Rock State Park in Olgesby, Illinois this past summer. The midwest is not known for much other than strange metal beans and pizza, but I will give it some credit for maintaining our nation’s natural beauty at a few more hidden gems.

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  • That moment you step out of the car, whether your from one or 10 hours away, is going to be a great feeling. Before the heat hits you, but after the air conditioning has been giving you goosebumps, is pure bliss–and you don’t quiet know what is ahead.
  • The views are amazing from the top of the highest mountain or the deepest part of a valley.
  • Horseback riding and boat tours are apparently offered and I am sad I missed them but you shouldn’t.
  • You can’t get a better workout than running from a giant spider or searching for that one hidden trail.

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Specifics:

  • Waterfalls: I never thought I would see a waterfall in a place so close to my everyday suburbs. I believe my friends and I made it to the biggest one, and while it was still not huge it was still breathtaking.
  • Lodge: Starved rock isn’t just a bunch of trees, but an occasional wedding destination or lunch outing. Taking cover for an hour or two in the lodge is perfect for getting reenergized for the next trail, especially when they have a great menu.
  • The River: Some of the trails go right along the water. It’s no ocean, but the breeze coming off the water and openness comes as a nice second.

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I can imagine my experience would have been even better if it hadn’t been the hottest day of the summer when I trekked through the woods. Now you definitely won’t see me camping anytime soon, but I am ready to hit some East Coast hiking trails soon! Being around actual mountains is a real treat that I could get used to.

Have any of you ever been? How about East Coast destinations? 

Constantly Curious,

Casey

 

Falling for Fall: My Night at an Apple Orchard

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New places means new opportunities. One of many for me this fall was taking a trip to Milburn Apple Orchard with a club that I have gotten involved in at school.

One of the main things people think of when they think of fall is apple picking or caramel apples or a cornfield. As soon as the leaves started to fall my Instagram feed filled with cute pumpkin patch pics and apple cider cups. Although technically in Maryland, Milburn Orchard is just a quick 10 minute drive from my campus (the fact that we’re 10 minutes from another state still blows my mind). It is apparently a tradition for this club to go every year to bond. We did not go for the amazing looking fruit, but instead we went at night to take advantage of the Orchard’s offer of a hayride and bonfire. I don’t know how much they paid for it, but it was free for me which was a plus.

I had been looking forward to going to the orchard all week, so that may have clouded my judgement. My fellow freshman friends and I felt pretty cool carpooling with the senior executive board members. I was prepared to bond with these cool people who are where I hope to be in a couple years.

There was a point in the hayride, after we had all stumbled our way on and gotten going, that I got emotional. Not from the actual situation, but because the sky was so beautiful. I had never realized how much clearer I can see the stars here compared to at home near Chicago. The beauty struck me. I wished I had a better camera to capture the beauty, but I was also glad to have the chance to take it all in first hand as we slowly made our way to the middle of nowhere to a giant cone of fire between the woods and fields.

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It was at this point that I realized I am really meant to be in this club. Everyone was ready to eat and take cute Instagram-worthy pictures as soon as we had our feet on the ground. Very similar priorities to me.  A lot of the older people still kept to their old group, which at the time was not expected, but I can understand it now when I think about how awkward I am with people. I still made friends and talked to new people as I chugged the amazing apple cider so it’s all good.
IMG_7447I could not tell you the last time I ate s’mores prior to that night, so I completely downed two as soon as I got the chance. On top of that I had three amazing apple cider donuts. Just that alone made it a great night.

Between mouth-fulls of food I finally had a chance to talk to people I actually had things in common with. No peas in the pod, but it was refreshing. We were there for a few hours, but it really flew by fast. We all got a group picture, which I still have not seen.

Eventually we all hauled back on the hayride, then did our same carpooling routine. I rode with all upperclassman on the way back, who were nice and cool. I feeling like I’m slowing becoming part of the family of the club, one day at a time, and this bonfire was big step. I want to do it again. Soon.

If you’re ever in Maryland in the fall, take the time to go to Millburn. Just go to any orchard or bonfire you can find this fall. Enjoy it before it gets even colder!

Casey

Casey. KC. Case. Casey-bean. Casey-dilla.

A rose by any other name would small as sweet… or something like that, right? Whatever floats your boat my way.

Hello one and all! Nice to have you here.

A lot of things are changing in my life right now, but here are a few things that will never change:  I love to bake. Music is a big part of my life. I have pretty curly hair.

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I’ll always be a Chicago Suburb-ean at heart, but I’m moving to Newark, Delaware this summer (28 days!!) to attend the University of Delaware. How I ended up there is a story of it’s own. What I’m hoping to do with my life is also a story. Typical Communications major.

My heart has grown fonder for writing as I have not actually written a non-school assignment in awhile. I’m gonna try to kick this blog off right by writing about anything and everything that I want to! I hope that my blog will grow and change with me as I go through college.

You’ll get to know me in the coming weeks as I hope to get to know any of my readers, if I ever have any!

Please enjoy this photo of some delicious donuts and have a great day

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Shout Out to Fracture Prune in OCNJ

xoxo Casey Girl

xo Casey