Culinary Chic

There’s nothing quite like a homemade lunch, but sometimes I’m just too lazy to prepare lunch in advance. Even though I like to take the easy way out more often than not, it’s important for me to have easily accessible lunches that aren’t too expensive. Sure, I would love to go out to eat every single day, but it just isn’t realistic for my wallet or my waistline. I tend to gravitate towards the frozen food section for the obvious reasons – cost and convenience. Unfortunately in most cases this means some type of sacrifice on taste. Recently Lean Cuisine launched a Culinary Collection line of frozen meals, so when DailyBuzz Food offered the opportunity for me to try them out, I immediately signed up.

One thing I appreciate is vegetarian options, which are harder to come by than you’d think; it seems as though the majority of frozen meals available have chicken in them. One thing that always blows my mind is soup – they have so many veggie friendly options (lentil, black bean, pasta and veggies), but so many of them aren’t actually vegetarian! Of course being only 6 months in I sometimes forget to check the label since I assume things that don’t include meat on the initial package mean it won’t include animal products on the ingredient’s list. Thankfully I’m getting better at it. So I was initially nervous that there wouldn’t be many options for me to choose from within the Culinary Collection, but I was pleasantly surprised! After much debate, I decided on their Mushroom Mezzaluna Ravioli entree, and couldn’t wait to dig in at lunch.


It’s always a pat on the back when you’re heating something up in the work kitchen and someone makes a comment that it smells good… which is exactly what happened when I was heating up my lunch! You never want to be the person that stinks up the entire room (cough, fish re-heaters, cough). So with the smell already getting a thumbs up from me and my co-workers, it was time to eat. Verdict? YUM! As with all frozen meals, though, I found myself wanting more when I was done. Of course that’s a good thing because it means I enjoyed it, but it was just shy of being enough for this runner girl.


While the picture doesn’t do it justice, this dish has a lot of flavor. It’s half-mooned ravioli filled with portabello and button mushrooms, romano and ricotta cheeses, in a creamy marsala wine sauce with spinach and red peppers. I definitely tasted all of those ingredients, which was impressive. It’s nutritional values are pretty solid, too, with 14g of protein 3g of fiber, and a total of 290 calories. Paired with some fruit, yogurt, or other healthy options makes for a well-rounded, quick, and easy lunch. I’m definitely looking forward to trying their other varieties!

Have you tried any of the Lean Cuisine “Culinary Chic” dinners?
What do you usually have for lunch?

Disclaimer: I have partnered with Lean Cuisine through DailyBuzz Food to help promote their new line of Chef’s Pick products. I have been compensated for my time commitment to work with this product. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments. Thank you Lean Cuisine!

Meatless Monday: Fajita Mac ‘n Cheese

As I’ve been trying to incorporate a more veggie friendly diet, I’ve found quite a few delicious and wallet friendly meals along the way. This past Monday, in honor of “Meatless Monday,” I whipped up Fajita Mac ‘n Cheese from Naturally Ella‘s blog. I actually found the recipe from a cart I was following on KartMe, and as soon as I saw the word fajita combined with macaroni and cheese, I knew it had to be good.

Quite a few months ago I made a Buffalo Chicken Mac ‘n Cheese which was absolutely amazing. The only thing was that it was pretty time consuming, so I haven’t made it since. Since this recipe was meatless and had quite a few less ingredients, I figured it would be an acceptable Monday night dinner, especially since we had the luxury of not running (hello rest day!).

The recipe calls for fresno peppers, but I grabbed two jalapenos instead. It also notes queso fresco, but I used just a regular Mexican blend of cheese, and that worked well. The only other modification I made was adding some spices while sautéing the onions and peppers. It didn’t call for anything, so I added my usual arsenal of spices; chili powder, chipotle flavored taco seasoning, and spicy adobo. I also didn’t sauté the jalapenos with the onions and peppers, to try and keep some of the heat. I’m finally getting the hang of making roux-like sauces, and this cheese sauce had a perfect consistency! Slicing up some fresh avocado added a nice extra creamy touch as well.

As usual there was enough for lunch for both my fiancé and I, and we definitely made our co-workers jealous with our yummy re-heats. I’ll take that over a Lean Cuisine or Smart Ones any day!

Fajita Mac ‘n Cheese
– Serves 4 –

1 medium onion
1 green pepper
2 fresno peppers (or any other hot pepper you like)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup cilantro
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups queso fresco
1 cup cheddar cheese
8 ounces pasta
1 avocado and cilantro for topping

1. Pre-heat oven to 375˚.
2. Prepare pasta according to box and drain In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Cook peppers and onions until they begin to soften. Stir in cilantro and cook for 1-2 more minutes. Set aside.
3. In a small sauce pan, melt butter over medium low heat (be careful not to walk away- you don’t want browned butter.) Whisk in flour and salt/pepper- create what looks like a paste. Finally, whisk in milk and turn the heat up to medium. Continue to whisk, making sure you get the edges of the pan, until the mixture begins to thicken. The sauce should look slightly creamy. Remove from heat and stir in the queso fresco.
4. Mix pasta and veggies together in a 9 x 11 baking dish(or feel free to use whatever baking dish you have around.) Stir in cheese sauce and sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Bake for 20-25 minutes until cheese is bubbly. Remove from oven and top with avocado/cilantro.