DDD Ep. #22 – 10-Ingredient Vegan Eggplant Parmesan Mac & Cheese

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2017

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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I am reposting this recipe because there is now a DDD video to accompany it.  Please click through & subscribe to my channel.

Honest to God – this might be the most fucking delicious vegan meal I have ever made!  Seriously!  And to think it only came together because I had a fridge full of random leftovers & ingredients that I needed to be done with.  I had a package of Tofutti American cheese, several slices of their mozzarella cheese (both of which I totally shit-talked in my vegan cheese review) & some leftover pasta.  Oh – and two Chinese eggplants.

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I actually had this selection of vegan cheeses – seen above.  I opted to use the individual slices first because 1) they were getting old and 2) I thought this dish would make better use of (read: mask) their less than fabulous flavor.  Ultimately – I did use some of the other two cheeses, as well.  The result is AMAZING!  You can use whatever vegan cheeses you prefer but you are going to need about a pound of various cheeses – before all is said & done.

I used Chinese eggplant & I recommend them because they are less bitter & carry less moisture than regular eggplant.

I used nutritional yeast but a vegan Parmesan would also work.  Or use neither.

This takes a few steps but all are simple & the result is a decadent feast that nobody would ever guess was vegan – at least with this particular combination of cheeses.  I find some vegan cheeses taste more fake than others – so – the brands you use will matter – but I am certain lots of other brands would be just as yummy – especially the Field Roast Chao cheeses – my favorite of the vegan cheeses I have tried.

Whatever you do – get it together to make this – at least once.  It really is killer!

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10-Ingredient Vegan Eggplant Parmesan Mac & Cheese

Feeds 4-6 depending on appetites

INGREDIENTS

4+ cups or so of cooked pasta

2 Chinese eggplant (or other variety) – sliced 1/2″ thick

1 cup bread crumbs

1/4 cup nutritional yeast (or vegan Parmesan)

1 TBS dry parsley

8 oz (or 12 individual slices) vegan American or cheddar cheese (or a mix) – PLUS SOME  EXTRA – just in case

4 oz (or 6 individual slices) vegan mozzarella – PLUS SOME  EXTRA – just in case

(Extra grated vegan cheese to top the casserole – one that melts would be prettiest)

2 – 3 cups unsweetened vegan milk

1 1/2 – 2 cups pasta sauce (I used Rao’s Arrabbiata)

Basil or parsley (or both) – chopped for garnish

Olive oil

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Mix the bread crumbs, nutritional yeast & dry parsley in a bowl.  Put about 1/2 cup milk in another bowl.  Heat some olive oil in a frying pan.  Dunk the eggplant rounds in the milk & then through the breadcrumbs and drop into the hot oil.  They should brown pretty quickly.  Flip & brown the other side.  Put on a cooking sheet & into the oven while you repeat the process until all the eggplant is cooked.  You will likely need to wipe out the burnt breadcrumbs & add more oil with each batch.

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In a stock pot, melt the American and/or cheddar cheese.   Add vegan milk in small increments until it becomes creamy.   Stir in the pasta.  At this point – I decided it needed more cheese so I added two slices of this cheese (below) and a bit more milk & cooked it until it looked wet & yummy & creamy.   I am not giving exact directions as to the cheese-milk-pasta ratio because different cheeses might have more or less moisture – and everyone has a different idea of how wet mac & cheese should be.    I would suggest going a little wet – as the pasta & eggplant will absorb it & you won’t have a dry dish.

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Look at that up there!!!!  Doesn’t that look just ridiculous?!  It was all I could do not to just start shoving it in my face.  But I used considerable will power & continued with the recipe.

So – when you get your pasta-cheese-milk ratio to where it looks creamy but still a bit wet (so it won’t dry out in cooking) – take it off the flame.

Grease a casserole pan & layer half the eggplant on the bottom.

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Add another layer of eggplant with the rest of the slices & top with pasta sauce.

In the same pan you melted the cheese in – melt the mozzarella & pour it over your casserole & pop the pan into the oven.

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At this point – I took my dogs for a walk – COMPLETELY forgetting I had this in the oven.  I think it needed 30-45 minutes in the 375 oven – but it got way more than that.  Don’t burn yours.  I kinda did.   Look – not so pretty.

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So – in an effort to make it pretty again – I grated some of that cheese above onto it & popped it back into the oven for about ten minutes.  As you can see – it did little to make it prettier (that cheese did not want to melt) – but when I scooped it onto plates – it looked & SMELLED amazing!

So – maybe do not burn yours & it will be prettier but nobody needs to see it before it hits the plate, anyway.

So – scoop some onto plates & garnish with parsley and/or basil.  I swear – this will fool people out of suspecting it is vegan.  So yummy & comforting!

Waste no time & devour it!

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Easy Vegan Butternut Mac & Cheese with Kale for the Stove Top

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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This is a very easy dish & it is really yummy.  I wanted to make a vegan mac & cheese without cashews & without nutritional yeast – because cashews are calorie dense & because nutritional yeast just isn’t for everybody.   The flavor of this dish is dominated by the butternut squash – but it is a really mild flavor.  Squash is kinda sweet, though, so I thought this needed more salt than I would typically use – to balance that sweetness.  I also used boatloads of Crystal hot sauce (my favorite brand).  Because the bulk of the “cheese” is really squash – this is a much lighter dish than a regular mac & cheese would be – so you can really go fucking nuts shoving it into your face – in an effort to, at least temporarily, fill the gaping hole in your heart.   And then you can pat yourself on the back for eating the (mysteriously trendy) kale that the recipe calls for.  Or – you could give the finger to leafy-green-eating hipsters & blow off the kale – or use spinach or peas or fried sage.  After all – emotional eating is different for all of us & your aching soul wants what it wants.  It is the holidays.  Give in.  Use this creamy carb porn to suppress things that would probably go away if you faced them but who needs that shit?  Facing things?  Leave that to the hipsters, too, while you eat this pasta out of the pan with a serving spoon and think hurtful things about man buns, full beards & whimsical mustaches.  Might as well bust out the liquor, too.   Then, do what I do, and nurse a bottle of champagne while watching doc after doc about people who have it worse than I do.  Human rights violations & Jonestown & international women cruelly subjugated.  The Holocaust.  Rare or incurable diseases.  And then think about how good you actually have it & bust open a second bottle of bubbly to celebrate.    Works for me.

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Easy Vegan Butternut Mac & Cheese with Kale for the Stove Top

Serves 4-6 (or one really depressed person)

INGREDIENTS

1 lb macaroni (or other pasta) – cooked according to directions

1 medium butternut squash – peeled, seeded & cubed

2 TBS vegan butter

2 TBS flour

1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or other vegan milk)

1/2 cup vegan cream cheese

1 vegetable bouillon cube (optional)

2 tsp mustard powder

1 TBS onion powder

1 TBS garlic powder

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 head kale – ribs removed & chopped (optional)

S&P

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DIRECTIONS

Cook your pasta.

Boil some water & cook the squash until it is very soft – maybe 15 minutes.  Drain.

Melt the butter in a stock pot & whisk in the flour.  Add the bouillon cube & then add the milk in small increments, melting the bouillon cube but also not adding more milk until the roux is thick & bubbly.

When you have used the full cup of milk, blend the roux with the squash and cream cheese.  I had to add a little more almond milk to get it to blend – but be careful it doesn’t get too thin.  Add the spices (I added mine later (as the photos show) but that was because I was winging it.  If you add them in the blender – they will blend in better.  Season with S&P.  Blend until very smooth.

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When the pasta is done, drain it & return to the pan.  Stir in SOME of the butternut sauce.  I say some because there might be too much – depending on how wet you like your mac & cheese.  Save a little – to pour on top of the mac & cheese when you serve it.  Stir in the kale until it wilts.  You can heat this on the stove – if things have cooled to much – but be careful not to burn it.  Season again with S&P & serve with a few tablespoons of butternut sauce on top.  Voila!

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Baked Spinach Mac & Cheese

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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So – digging around in my fridge, I found a huge bag of real cheese.  I have been tapering myself into a nearly vegan diet – especially when I am eating at home – and I don’t even remember buying this cheese but there it was.  Right there – on the day after I made a valiant attempt to drink all the Prosecco & red wine on Earth.  I watched the so-hilarious 90210 Lifetime movie with a friend and – between us – went through a shocking amount of alcohol.  Shocking – I tell you.  What was less shocking was how I felt yesterday.  I definitely earned every bit of how hideous I felt but I was very grateful 1) to be alive and 2) to find a huge bag in my fridge of what I could melt all over pasta.  Oh – I also made roasted potatoes – below.

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Carbohydrates & grease.  I desperately needed both.  So – I indulged in both.  The mac & cheese is pretty straightforward & does not really require baking – unless (like me) you want that crispy crust on top.  Look at that crust!  Mmmmm!  There is nothing more I can say about mac & cheese that you don’t already know.  So – make some of this shit & shove it in the hole in your heart – like I did.  It actually kinda helped.  For a few minutes, anyway.

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Baked Spinach Mac & Cheese

Serves 4 very well

INGREDIENTS

4 TBS butter (I used vegan butter)

4 TBS flour

2 1/2 cups milk (I used almond milk)

1 lb grated cheese (I used real sharp cheddar)

1 LB fresh spinach

2 TBS Dijon mustard

1 TBS onion powder

1 TBS garlic powder

1 TBS (or less) cayenne

1-2 cups panko or other bread crumbs

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cook the pasta for about 1 minute less than the package suggests, drain & set aside.

Melt the butter over med-high heat.  Whisk in the flour & then add the milk in small increments – allowing it to thicken each time.  Add the Dijon & spices.  Whisk to incorporate & then add the cheese – reserving 1/2 cup or more to sprinkle on top later.

Fold in the pasta & spinach.

Grease a casserole pan & put the mac & cheese in there.  Top with remaining cheese & panko.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly & he bread crumbs are browning.

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Fast and Easy Stove Top Vegan Mac and Cheese

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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I have never had a vegan mac & cheese that I liked.  In fairness, I think the only one I have tried was the mock Kraft at Doomie’s here in Hollywood.  Their vegan Big Mac (above) is a revelation but the mac & cheese is underwhelming to the extreme.

There are lots of ways to make vegan mac & cheese.  Some use raw cashews, soaked overnight & pureed.  Others use sweet potatoes.  This one uses carrots, potatoes & nutritional yeast.  Nutritional yeast has many health benefits and can be purchased in bulk at health food stores & places like Whole Foods.  It is a yellowy, flaky powder & has a nutty cheesy flavor and – it seems – is one of those things you either love or hate.  This mac & cheese tastes primarily of nutritional yeast so, if you are a hater, you won’t like this.  Lots of blogs recommend easing into using nutritional yeast slowly & developing a palate for it.  I liked it right away and so did my friend, Rose, so you might fall into that category, too.  You can dip your finger in some & taste it to see where it falls for you on the flavor appeal scale.

I could not find raw cashews so I used roasted ones & just boiled them along with the vegetables.  It worked fine.

This is a very creamy dish & seems pretty healthy – as mac & cheese goes.  I just need to impress upon vegan newbies that this does not taste like Kraft or cheddar.  It is a very reasonable substitute – like Diet Coke for Coke or Garden burgers for real burgers.  These things do not trick anyone into believing they are the real thing but they are great substitutes.  I will admit – I used a boatload of Crystal hot sauce on mine & it helped a lot.  That isn’t really a cheat because I use hot sauce on all mac & cheese.  So – if there are things you like on your regular mac & cheeses – use those things on this one, too.

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Fast and Easy Stove Top Vegan Mac and Cheese

Serves 2-3 depending on appetite

INGREDIENTS

12 oz dry pasta

1 cup raw potato (I used fingerling but any white potato will do)

2 carrots

1/3 cup cashews (raw or roasted)

1/2 cup vegan butter

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

1 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp cayenne

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

3 TBS coconut milk

Pepper to taste

Smoked paprika

Parsley – chopped

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DIRECTIONS

Cook the pasta according to directions.

Meanwhile – boil the carrots, potato & cashews until the veggies are very soft.  Puree them in a blender (adding a small amount of water, if necessary) with all the remaining ingredients (except smoked paprika & parsley).   Puree until it is very creamy.

Drain the pasta & toss with the sauce.  It is just that easy!

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4-Ingredient Easy Enchilada Mac and Cheese (Slow Cooker or Baked)

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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I made this using 8 ingredients but 4 of them are actually optional – so I will list them that way below.

This is the easiest thing ever – if you make it with a slow cooker.  My only issue was that I left it in my slow cooker for too long & it dried out a bit but adding more milk and some vegetable stock thinned it back out.

This is pretty dairy heavy so it would be tough to make it vegan – though if you can find high quality vegan alternatives for the dairy ingredients – then give it a shot.

This recipe is for a fuckton of mac & cheese.  I made it for Easter dinner & I had 12 people over & everybody left with mac & cheese.  So – cut it in half if you are not feeding a large party.

I like to mix up the noodles I use – and I used these here – but any pasta will do.

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Easy Enchilada Mac and Cheese (Slow Cooker or Baked)

Serves a shitload

INGREDIENTS

2 lbs pasta – cooked al dente

32 oz grated cheese (I used 1/2 pepper jack & 1/2 Mexican blend but sharp cheddar would be good, too)

32 oz red enchilada sauce ( actually used 48 oz because of the length of time my pasta sat in the cooker)

2 cups milk (I used unsweetened almond milk) – plus more – in the event your mac & cheese gets too dry

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OPTIONAL ingredients: (I used all of them)

6 garlic cloves – minced 

8 oz cream cheese 

1 cup sour cream 

12 oz can evaporated milk

Garnish – avocado, diced tomato, cilantro, sour cream, hot sauce, jalapeno peppers

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DIRECTIONS

Slow cooker:

Put everything in there & heat on high (stirring occasionally) for 2-3 hours or until everything is melted & well-combined.  If it gets too thick – add more milk.

Baked:

Heat the oven to 350.   Make the pasta & then combine it in a large bowl with the other ingredients.  Transfer into casserole dish(es) – treated with cooking spray.  Bake for 30-45 minutes or until the cheese is melted & bubbling at the sides.

Garnish at will.

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Easy Cauliflower and Broccoli and Turmeric Mac and Cheese

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2014

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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It’s still ON! The Christmas special!

Buy a signed and LETTERED (hence – limited to 26 copies) copy of my book FROM THE LINK BELOW, and get copy of the short on DVD & 3 signed bookplates so you can give three people signed copies as gifts. The cost will be $25 which will include DOMESTIC shipping.

First come – first serve. When the 26 are gone – that is it. Buy ASAP if you want to be sure to get the templates for your gift giving this season!

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I took those two outdoor images this weekend on my Hollywood sign hikes.  Living in LA does NOT suck.  Don’t believe the hype.

You know what else doesn’t suck?  Pretty much any variety of mac & cheese.  But being a big fat ass does suck – so I added a huge head of cauliflower & two small heads of broccoli to this so it is about 50% veggies & 50% pasta.  Easy & delicious.  I skipped the whole roux business so this is a very quick dish to put together.

I used turmeric because it adds that vibrant yellow color but I also added it because it is really good for you.  Google “turmeric benefits” or look HERE & see some of the amazing good it can do for you.

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Easy Cauliflower and Broccoli and Turmeric Mac and Cheese

Feeds 6 easily

INGREDIENTS

1 lb dry pasta

1 large head cauliflower – cut into bite-size florets

2 medium heads broccoli – cut into bit-sized florets

1 cup sour cream

1/2 pint heavy cream

3 cups pepper jack cheese – grated

2 cups cheddar cheese – grated

1 TBS turmeric

1 tsp salt

1 TBS ground pepper

A few squirts of hot sauce – I used Crystal (optional)

1-2 cups panko or other bread crumbs

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 350 & grease a large casserole pan or a bunch of ramekins.  The quantity I ended up with filled my largest casserole pan plus two ramekins.  Your results may vary depending on the quantity of vegetables you use & the sort of pasta.

Put the cauliflower florets in a large pot of water (large enough to hold all the pasta & veggies).  Heat it to boil & add the pasta.  Cook as long as the package says – but add the broccoli in the final three minutes.

Toss with all the other ingredients (except the breadcrumbs) and top with the panko.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly & the breadcrumbs are beginning to brown.

Devour.

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Fresh Mint and Zucchini Mac and Cheese

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2014

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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This mac & cheese is the easiest of the three I posted this week.  I already posted Smoked Gouda & Truffle Oil Mac and Cheese with Crispy Panko and Chipotle Gouda and Guinness (Stout) Mac and Cheese with Vegan Pulled Chicken (or Pork) in Homemade Chipotle Apricot BBQ Sauce – seen above, respectively.

I have also posted another version of mint & zucchini pasta in one of my earliest recipes in the first week or so of my food porn blogging adventure – Zucchini & Mint Pasta with Parmesan – seen below in a rather underwhelming photo.

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That recipe was stolen from my friend Naomi but this mac & cheese is all mine.  Mint & zucchini might sound odd but they add a light & refreshing taste to pasta – which is sort of the opposite of what you think of when you think pasta.

This mac & cheese was easiest because I did not bother with a roux.  This can come together very quickly  – like – the time it takes to cook the pasta – and then sit waiting on your counter (or fridge) until you are thirty minutes away from serving dinner.

Alas – my photos of THIS mint & zucchini dish are also underwhelming because 1) I didn’t photograph the leftovers until the next day (as these three mac & cheeses were made for a birthday dinner) and more importantly 2) I tripped over a dog gate as I carried the ramekins to a nicely lit spot & I took quite a fall.  I broke a little table:

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and hot mac & cheese flew all over a nutmeg leather & brocade love seat & all over the floor, too.  My self-pity knew no bounds & the photo session was over.  So – I had to settle for what I had taken so far.  But – trust me – this dish is far yummier than the photos suggest & it really is easy.

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Fresh Mint and Zucchini Mac and Cheese

INGREDIENTS

1/2 to 3/4  lb macaroni (or pasta of your choice)

6 very large zucchini or 12 regular ones

1 bunch fresh mint

6 garlic cloves

2 TBS olive oil

2 cups pepper jack – grated

2 cup mozzarella – grated

1 cup Parmesan

4 oz cream cheese

S&P

Extra Parmesan for garnish

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cook the pasta.

Meanwhile, using a cheese grater or a food processor – grate all but one large (or 2 small) zucchinis.  Slice the remaining ones into 1/4 inch thick rounds to be used to top the pasta – like you see on the one on the far right.

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Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan.  Drop in the garlic cloves.  I left mine whole because they were small but you can chop yours first – if the idea of biting into a whole clove later bums you out.

Add the zucchini & saute until soft.  Season with S&P.

Chop the mint.  Reserve some for garnish later & toss the rest into the zucchini pan.  Stir to combine.

When the pasta is done, drain it & toss it with the zucchini mixture.  Reserve 1 cup of mozzarella & the cup of grated Parmesan & mix the pepper jack, cream cheese & remaining one cup of mozzarella with the pasta.

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Treat a casserole pan (or ramekins) with cooking spray & put the pasta mix in.  Top with zucchini rounds & then with the 1 cup each of mozzarella & Parmesan.

Heat for about 30 minutes or until the cheese is all melted & bubbling & beginning to turn golden.

Let it rest 5-10 minutes, serve & garnish with more mint (and Parmesan) and lots of freshly ground pepper & then dig in.

Delicious, no?    Told ya so!

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