Sunny Strategies: Recipes for a better day


Art by You Young Chun

Claire Paschke, Entertainment Editor

I never imagined I would start my own blog. Honestly, I didn’t think I was qualified to give advice to others, especially about lifestyle. But as I look back on my high school career, all the pop quizzes, group projects and late-night mental breakdowns I’ve had over my GPA, I think they must count for something. All these struggles gave me new insight and tips that I want to pass on.

Even though I’m still a stressed-out mess most of the time, high school has taught me a lot about pep talks and helping my friends survive the curve balls life throws their way. It has also taught me how cooking great recipes with great people can turn around even the worst of days. I want this blog to be a place where people can come when they feel overwhelmed and overworked, a place where even if they don’t find solace in my words then maybe the recipe I attach can still brighten their day.

Senior year is supposed to be this iconic point in your life when you finally figure things out and start piecing together the person you want to become. I’m the youngest in my family and I’ve seen my siblings struggle through this final phase of high school first hand. It’s finally my turn and I’m curious as to where this year takes me. Is it going to be hard,and will the Common App make me cry? Probably. But together we can try new things and recipes and keep that positive mind set going. Let’s figure this out together.

September: Lots of Cheese

Today we’re going to get a little cheesy. I’ll try to reign it in but my two leading ladies are Oprah and Leslie Knope so you’ll understand why this topic is near and dear to my heart. “Being yourself” is something that has been drilled into our heads for years. But, how many times have you stopped and thought about what other people would think if you tried out this certain thing? What would they think if you wore this new outfit or got this haircut? I have seen people long to fit in and obsess over how others perceive them. I’ve been there myself.

High school culture is something I’ve tried to understand for a long time but the one thing that I’ve learned is that most people do not care. They don’t care if you love comics or bad rom-coms. They don’t care if you want to wear neon stripes to school or shave off your eyebrows. People care about how you treat them and the energy you radiate, not how you look or the things you’re passionate about. Embrace the things that make you weird because that’s how you attract the kind of people who make you smile and laugh unconditionally.

Want to know a secret? Deep down everyone is afraid of being judged or rejected, but imagine the freedom that can come with embracing all your dreams and quirks without a care in the world about what other people will think.

That’s a goal I have for myself this year and one I want you to keep in mind as well. Stop letting other people decide how you want to live your life. If you want to try out for a Theatre Central mainstage? Do it. If you’ve always dreamed about running cross country? Do it. Go out there and try something new. Be that protagonist from every teen movie cliche who sheds their insecurities and starts kicking booty.

My advice for you as another school year starts up? Make some mac and cheese and stop making excuses as to why you can’t be yourself. Feeling crazy? Add some sriracha to that mac! Sprinkle on some breadcrumbs for an extra crunch. Try something different and you might just discover something new that you love!


The Best Mac You’re Ever Gonna Eat

Recipe adapted from

1 1/2 cups dry elbow macaroni shells or cavatappi (you can even try whole grain pasta)

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons all purpose flour

2 cups milk

1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper

Dash of cayenne or sriracha if you’re feeling spicy

2 cups of shredded cheese (Try sharp cheddar and swiss!)

Optional Panko Breadcrumbs on top for extra crunch!


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Bring a pot of water to a boil; add a generous sprinkling of salt to the pasta.

While the pasta cooks, melt the butter in a skillet or pot large enough to hold the pasta when it’s done.

Add the flour and stir over medium heat until the mixture is lightly browned; 1-2 minutes.

Add the milk and whisk to remove any lumps and add the salt and pepper.

Cook over medium-high heat until the sauce starts to bubble. About 6 minutes.

Stir in the cheese and whisk until smooth and melted. Turn off the heat.

When the pasta is almost done but still firm, drain it and add to the sauce.

Stir the pasta into the sauce and bake in a greased 2 quart dish (or an 8×8 pan works pretty well) 20-25 minutes until browned and bubbly. You can also skip baking it if you want it super creamy and just put it under the broiler to brown the top (keep an eye on it) and then serve.