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The ULTIMATE Low Fat Mac & Cheese

As much as I love to cook, there are a few times where I want something easy. And, that’s where the crock pot comes in. Honestly, its name should be “how to impress your guest when you really have no idea what you’re doing machine“. I guess that doesn’t roll off the tongue easily soo, we’ll stick with crock pot. Either way, today I’m sharing my favorite crock pot recipe, and… its low fat! ::drum roll::

Here’s the recipe for my Low Fat Mac & Cheese!

Disclaimer before we begin; I’m not saying this is a “healthy” mac and cheese; it’s just lower fat than normal recipes. Don’t Regina George me and eat this 3 times a day and wonder why you haven’t lost any weight. 

crockpot recipe

 

INGREDIENTS: 

  • 16 oz. whole wheat elbow macaroni
  • 3 cups milk
  • 12 oz of evaporated milk (1 can)
  • 8 oz. low fat cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, cut into chunks
  • 3 cups low-fat shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup of panko bread crumbs

Instructions:

  1. Cook pasta in boiling water for about 6 minutes- you want it to be a little al dente. 
  2. While that’s cookie, cut the cream cheese and butter into little squares. 
  3. Place the cooked pasta, milk, cream cheese, butter and cheddar cheese into a crock pot. Stir and top with Parmesan cheese. Set heat to Low and cook for 2.5 hours. Stir occasionally. You’ll know it’s finished when it’s all melted together around the 2.5 hour mark.
  4. For an extra flair, because I’m extra AF, before serving the Mac n Cheese, top with parmesan cheese, panko bread crumbs a pinch of parsley, put it in the over under “Broil” until brown and then serve. It’s extra amazing that way. 

And, there it is! Hopefully you enjoy it as much as we do! 

On My Biggest Fear

 

Let’s be honest… 2017 was one weird year for all of us. Whether the presidency threw you for a loop, or, you just struggled with personal issues, 2017 definitely wasn’t for the weak. I wrote a lot about how I struggled this year with finding my path. Like anyone, I curate my internet presence to share only the bright & cheery, but, if we’re being honest, life since August has been a pile of garbage that I’m ready to light on fire. I allowed my biggest fears to twist and knot around my goals. 

The part of life that a lot of people forget is that you can have struggles and still choose happiness each day. There’s this lofty idealism that happiness only comes from pursuing passions. That writing only comes from sparks of inspiration. That being a creative is a vessel of constantly fighting “blocks”. The truth is, none of that is true. Happiness is a choice that you make each and everyday. Creativity is a muscle you need to strengthen and the only way to do that is to push through your struggles. 

If we’re being honest, I was the number one subscriber to that idealism. I believed that my stories only came from those maniac moments of inspiration. I lacked discipline, I lacked a plan, and, I blamed all of that on erroneous excuses. 

My wake up call came two months ago after a horrible evening at work. It was in those moments that I realized I used work as an excuse to not do a lot of things I dreamed of. I have wanted a successful blog since I was 24, but, I used my full-time job as an excuse about why I didn’t write consistently. The truth is, fear was/is the reason I didn’t write consistently. Fear that a million blogs are out there. Fear that I would have to put myself out there. Fear that I wouldn’t fit in with the rest of the bloggers. 

Since college, I dreamed of becoming a photographer. I love capturing moments and over the years have developed a distinct style.  Fear has paralyzed that dream too. Fear that I’m not as good as others, fear that I would ruin someones moments, fear, fear, fear. 

Objectively speaking, this all stems from a lack of self-confidence in my skill. Which stems from a lack of knowledge. I only fear things when I don’t have the tools to become the best. However, instead of taking the steps to find those tools, I relied on my income as an excuse to continue to fear the unknown. 

Two months ago, I sat outside of work, crying hysterically. Not because of what transpired, but, because I stalled in achieving my goals. I stayed focused on a job, and did not split my focus on both my job and my goals. It wasn’t the first time I’ve hit rock bottom at work; restaurants are pressure cookers for stress, misunderstandings, and words you wish you never spoke. However, this was the first time I took productive steps to rectifying my path. 

  • I wrote my résumé; not to apply to other jobs, but rather, to show myself that I have acquired the skills I need to succeed.
  • I was accepted into photography school; in order for me to gain confidence, I need to gain knowledge. I want to build a business the right way. Even if that means pushing myself a little harder on days. 
  • I thought hard over if blogging was truly right for me; it is. However, it’s time to streamline what I present to the readers. Quality writing vs. quantity posts. 
  • I wrote a plan; I set goals. I booked family photography sessions, I booked a wedding. I study my camera, I joined groups for bloggers, mapped out ideas, planned my days so I could be more consistent.

If we’re considering my biggest fear, its unrealized potential. With so many pieces of my life falling into place, I’m excited to push myself into a more positive 2018. If happiness is a choice, the choices I’ve made over the last two months will help make that decision easier and easier. 

When Everyone is at “The Next Step”

dandelion

 

Fun fact; I love dandelions. Have you ever noticed that they have three stages of life? They start yellow, bold and bright. Kids pick them and make their parents “bouquets”. In wild fields, their bright yellow disposition adds beauty and light to an otherwise overgrown mess. Soon, they move to the white, fluffy stage. Soft, open, and fun to play with, the dandelion has grown to a mature flower. In the end of their life phase, they spread their seeds so they continue living even when they are long gone. I have always associated their stages with the sun, moon and stars. 

Yellow Sun, White Moon, Stars wide among us. 

Their stages of life are reminiscent of our stages of life as humans. We start young, wild, vibrant and free, soon turn into soft, open, mature people, and eventually, spread our seeds. In the blink of an eye, it felt like everyone was at the “spread our seeds” phase of life, and I can’t keep up. 

My instagram feed has turned into pregnancy announcements, newborn photos, and couples with their kids. All of the blogs I used to follow are now mommy blogs. At one point this morning I thought to myself “is there any blog for the married person who might not want kids?” 

Before we married, Mark and I discussed kids, a lot. To me, it was an important topic that I continually drove home. First and foremost, I knew that even though we were marrying young, I did not even want to think about children until I was at least 31. Even then, it’s just a discussion. I also felt strongly about having only one child, a conversation we joked about often. “Okay baby, we’ll start with one.”  There is also no guarantee that we’ll be able to have children. We tend to have this idyllic mindset that having a baby is a natural occurrence. Knowing many people in my life who had the opposite experience, I have always leaned towards the pessimistic side of this conversation. (And, while there are many “I’s” in this paragraph, please note that this was a “we” topic through and through. I am writing from my perspective.)

“Will you still love me and want me even if I can’t make you a dad?”

“Of course I will. We’ll adopt, we’ll look into other options, or, we’ll get some more dogs.”

As our world progresses, it is more and more clear that women are choosing to take this route. And, guess what? It’s perfectly okay. YES! It’s perfectly OKAY for a woman to choose not to have children. Oh, and a woman is still a woman even if they cannot have children. The truth is, having children is a choice, and, it’s a conversation couples should have, revisit it, and have again and again. 

It’s been wild to see people I went to high school as mom’s. Or, the girl you were crazy with in college suddenly a mom to two adorable children. Watching as the world around me transitions into the next step of their life isn’t the worse thing. I mean, they are producing some wildly adorable children. 

As of last week, we do not know if we are going to have children. Being a teacher, Mark sees the entitlement growing among parents and children. His fear is how we would ever counteract society. “Could we raise a child with our values or would it be influenced by society?” I guess we won’t know unless the time comes. However, for now, we are happy as just us three.