On the menu: microwave macaroni cheese, unhealthy sugar free pineapple cake and much healthier moussaka

Monday

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I’ve been wanting to try one of those microwave macaroni cheese recipes from Pinterest for ages, so I tried this one. On the face of it, it’s quite simple, just microwave some pasta, then melt some cheese in with it. However I thought the volumes were a bit off with this recipe, it calls for a 1/3 cup of pasta, is that a 1/3 cup as in those American measuring cups or is it enough pasta to fill a third of whatever cup you’re using to make the macaroni in? Same with the water volume. I thought a 1/3 of an American measuring cup worth of pasta was really small (or maybe that’s just why I have trouble fitting into my clothes), so I went for about a third of my mug. The pasta and water then boiled over several times in the microwave and it took longer than the 6 minutes the recipe said it would probably take (but the author of the recipe did say it would require some experimenting). However once I’d finished flooding my microwave and the pasta was finally cooked and the cheese melted (I didn’t add any milk, as the recipe suggests, as the resulting sauce was already quite watery, probably because there was a little too much water left after cooking the pasta), the resulting dish was quite nice, if not that particularly attractive looking.

I think the whole thing took me just under ten minutes to make and I couldn’t help but think that using a pan and hob and a simple cheese sauce probably wouldn’t take that much longer and if you had a bit of extra time and a bit more extra cheese or some breadcrumbs (or both) and whacked it under the grill, you could make the macaroni all crisp on top as well, which really is the best bit about macaroni after all. So anyway, it satisfied my curiosity, I will probably not make it again, but it is a recipe I would recommend maybe to students or lazy teenagers, as the result is definitely not bad.

Tuesday

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I’ve been craving a decent pineapple upside down cake for ages and I liked the look of the sugar free pineapple upside down cake that was made early on in this year’s Great British Bake Off and the accompanying book, which happens to be in my collection, happened to have the recipe. Now I’m not totally naive, I can look at a recipe before I make it and judge whether it’s healthy or not and the 300g of butter in this was a pretty big giveaway that it wasn’t but I was still shocked after making this and working out the calories in myfitnesspal, that each portion of cake was a whopping 533 calories! And because I had made a mistake reading the recipe, I hadn’t put all the agave syrup in (and I had worked out the calorie content with the reduced amount of agave syrup, heavens know what it would have been if I had put the full amount in!). As it was, even with under half the amount of agave syrup there should have been in the recipe, it was still pretty, possibly overpoweringly sweet. Although the blurb for the recipe in no way used the word ‘healthy’, I think there’s always the assumption that if a recipe says ‘sugar free’ it is, well it isn’t. And anyway agave syrup still has sugar in it, so it’s not exactly sugar free. I have a real pet hate of recipes that bill themselves as healthy alternatives when really they aren’t. If I’m going to consume 533 calories worth of cake, you know what, I’d rather go all out and have something with chocolate and icing, the works. As it was, the cake was quite nice, if a bit anemic looking (despite it being fully cooked). I won’t be making it again though.

PS I’ve just worked out how many calories are in the pineapple upside down cake in the newest Primrose Bakery book (it had been a toss up between the two recipes, when I was deciding what to make). The Primrose Bakery recipe has honest to god sugar in and everything and is still only 198 calories a portion! I know what recipe I’m making next time!

Thursday

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I read The Bone Clocks recently and there was a scene where one of the characters orders a vegetarian lentil moussaka from a cafe and the description made my mouth water, so I had to have a go at making one myself. I found this recipe on the BBC Food site and it fit the bill perfectly. It was really fun (and easy) to make and the result was delicious! I don’t like normal moussaka as I can’t stand lamb, bleurgh, bleurgh, bleurgh, far too sweet, but this was perfect and you know, I think even confirmed meat eaters would like this one too, as it tastes very ‘meaty’ and for the lentil haters, it’s not overwhelmingly lentil-y either. I made the full four portions but split it between an individual dish for my lunch and a larger dish to stick in the freezer (I hope it’ll freeze okay), I’m now trying to work out if I can get my kids to eat this, I’d love it if they did, but I have a feeling they may turn their noses up at it. And for the record, according to myfitnesspal, it’s 233 calories a portion (I did use a lot less oil and less parmesan than the recipe suggested), it’s warm, comforting and most importantly, filling and so much more satisfying than that pineapple cake!

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