The last few days weeks have been incredibly hectic. I feel like I’m being torn in so many different directions and have absurd amounts of work to do. I am of the opinion that a single lab report should not take more than three hours to complete, especially considering it is supposed to be a “mini” report and only involve cleaning up calculations and presenting information (already collected) in a readable manner. NOPE. I spent the entirety of my Sunday on this “mini” report and had to come back to it for a few minutes today. Not to mention the fluid mechanics paper I should be writing, the fluid mechanics presentation I should absolutely be working on, and the plethora of other assignment and to-do list activities that are keeping me good and overwhelmed.
In fact, I have to admit something: the amount of stress I’m dealing with has driven me to cope by listening to Christmas music. There, I said it. It helps me relax and makes my environment a tad more cheerful than sitting in an office surrounded by papers that I need to grade, papers I need to read, and syllabi that I’m a bit behind on. Basically I’ve got to make it to Halloween (hurdle number one) and then Thanksgiving (hurdle number two) and then I’m essentially home free. Until then, though, it’s keeping my head down and my productivity up. This has recently involved a lot of tea and chocolate.
I have been doing a relatively okay job cooking new recipes though, or, testing recipes that other amazing food bloggers have been creating, because right now all of my creativity is being channeled into figuring out how many different ways I can say “density-driven exchange flow” before it gets repetitive. (It’s quite a few times, by the way.) I’m a big fan of Two Peas and Their Pod, a blog that hails from Utah, and which showcases recipes on such a regular basis that I’m incredibly jealous. I am currently using blogging as a study break. But, a week or so ago I made their quinoa and spinach macaroni and cheese casserole recipe and it was amazing—I cut the fat a bit though.
Quinoa Spinach Mac and Cheese (adapted from Tasty Kitchen Blog)
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 ½ cups 1% milk
generous sprinkle of nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese
3 cups quinoa, cooked
1 bag (6 oz.) fresh spinach
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
2-3 tablespoons butter
½ cup garlic flavored panko bread crumbs
Preheat the oven to 350⁰ F. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour until the butter is all absorbed and you are left with a paste. Add the milk and whisk until all the flour clumps are dissolved. Bring the mixture to a boil. Add the nutmeg and salt. Whisk in the shredded cheese in small portions, adding more after the first portion is entirely melted. When the sauce has reached a uniform consistency, remove from heat. In a large (and I mean really large!) bow, add the cheese sauce to the cooked quinoa. Add the entire bag of spinach and stir to evenly distribute the ingredients. The spinach will start to wilt and this will become more manageable. Pour into an 8” x 8” glass baking pan. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Melt the remaining butter and mix with the panko breadcrumbs. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the top of the macaroni and cheese. Bake for 20 minutes.
I have to admit, I was really dubious about this recipe at first, because the last time I tried to use quinoa instead of a different grain, it did not work out to my benefit. However, this time the quinoa is slathered in cheese and garlic breadcrumbs and butter, so how bad could it turn out? It ended up being MUCH better than I could possibly have imagined. I raved on the phone about this to both my parents and my friend Tom (though they all sounded about as dubious as I was at the beginning). It gave me about six meals (hello leftovers!) and tasted amazing each time. It’d definitely something that I’ll make again in the future.