Monday, January 18, 2016

meatless monday: cheesy shells and broccoli

do you ever wake up on a saturday feeling totally energized and wanting to be productive? this is usually how we wake up... sometimes more stephen than me, he's been known to fire up the vacuum while I'm trying to enjoy a cup of coffee. last weekend, I woke up intent on preparing for soup swap and making a nice lunch for stephen since he planned to spend all day studying. as I was making broccoli cheese soup for the soup swap and these yummy cheesy shells, I ended up chopping something like nine heads of broccoli first thing on saturday morning. there's nothing like chopping tons of broccoli to really get you motivated for the day! not. after coming down with a slight hand cramp and successfully avoiding any sliced fingers, I made a cup of coffee and sat down to watch a lifetime movie. there's nothing wrong with pacing yourself in the kitchen, people.

we love cheese, pasta, and any combination of the two. we also really like broccoli, so this dish was a no brainer. if it weren't for me, stephen would totally binge on boxed macaroni and cheese especially given how busy he has been with work and CPA studying. luckily, this elevated version cooks in a flash and feels healthier since I know exactly where all the ingredients are coming from and I can swap in soy milk. I knew these cheesy shells would be a hit, stephen even asked me when we could have this dish again. HA. these cheesy shells and broccoli would be the best meal to come home to after a long, cold winter day. think of it as the ultimate comfort food with a healthy addition of broccoli to balance the taste.

I'm also really trying to work on my photography game with my new camera, so I took about a million shots of these cheesy shells. I had a lesson from a talented friend (thank you, jackie!) and am attempting to shoot in manual instead of auto mode, I think I have improved but I still have issues with shadows in my kitchen given the way my lights are set up. anyway, I'm excited to continue to work on this skill in the new year, hopefully you guys notice improvements over time!

does anyone else's mouth water just looking at that block of cheese?


-8 oz. shell pasta
-4 T. butter
-3 large heads of broccoli, chopped (about 3 cups)
-12 oz. shredded (real) cheddar cheese
-1/4 c. flour
-1 c. soy milk (whatever milk substance you prefer)
-1 c. vegetable broth
-1/2 t. garlic powder
-dash of salt and pepper


1. in a medium pot, boil pasta in salted water for about 5-6 minutes. then add chopped broccoli in with the pasta and boil for another 2 minutes. drain in a colander and remove from heat. set aside.

2. in a large soup pot, melt 2 T. of butter and blend in the flour. as the mixture begins to thicken, add the additional butter to ensure the mixture remains liquid rather than too doughy.

3. add in the milk and whisk to ensure a smooth blend with the flour mixture. add in the vegetable broth and whisk again.

4. add in garlic powder, salt, and pepper. cook and stir at medium heat until mixture begins to bubble.

5. remove from heat and add the shredded cheese. whisk and stir until cheese completely melts into liquid and single shreds are no longer visible. if mixture becomes too thick, add a splash of soy milk to thin.

6. add the shells and broccoli and toss to coat thoroughly. enjoy immediately.

recipe adapted from love grows wild

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