I grew up eating my grandmother’s mac and cheese - pretty good, but BLAND as all get out - I think she used Velveeta and Cheddar for most of it, and almost no salt or spices. Finding myself in need of a kid-friendly, but adult-palatable meal last week, I stumbled upon this beautiful recipe. Using a bit of gorgonzola gives it a bite without too much punch, and the ground mustard and leeks just makes it magical. With the exception of my eight-year-old neice (who seemed crestfallen that it wasn’t Kraft), all 7 people in my house that night devoured this. It’s not low-fat by any stretch of the imagination, so make this on a cold night when you have a lot of people to feed. It keeps pretty well, too - but I don’t recommend freezing it.
To make it:
- 1 pound of pasta (preferably a medium-sized shell shape - I don’t like elbows much)
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 leeks, sliced in half lengthwise and cut into thin half-moon shapes
- 3 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped roughly (you want largish pieces)
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1 tsp paprika (regular)
- 1 tbsp ground mustard (I grind my own in a mortar and pestle)
- a couple of pinches herbs de provence
- 2 cups 2% milk
- 1 cup grated colby
- 3/4 cup grated extra-sharp cheddar
- 1/4 cup gorgonzola crumbles
- 1/2 grated parmesan or asiago
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup of bread crumbs, unseasoned
Preheat oven to 400. Cook pasta until it’s about 3/4 done - you want it to still have a lot of bite to it, but be a bit softer. Drain and spread out into a 13*9 casserole dish or Bar pan.
To make the sauce, melt butter in a large saucepan and sauté leeks and garlic until they soften. Add flour, paprika, mustard, salt, pepper and herbs and sauté for a bit longer until the flour gets pasty and a bit brown. Add milk and whisk to incorporate anything. Heat on medium, whisking constantly until everything is well incorporated and milk is heated through. Add colby, gorgonzola and sharp cheddar along with about 1/4 cup of the grated parmesan or asiago. Keep whisking on medium until cheese melts and incorporates into the mixture and it starts getting thicker. It might not get super-thick; don’t worry about it. A lot of the liquid soaks into the pasta while it bakes.
When the sauce is good and done (taste a bit of it to be sure it tastes right), pour the whole thing over the pasta and stir to coat in the pan. Top the whole thing with the rest of the grated parmesan or asiago and the breadcrumbs. Bake for about 20-30 minutes or until the breadcrumbs start to get brown. Serve hot with some sautéed ginger carrots (just sauté them with a bit of butter and ginger ale until they’re tender - thanks Alton Brown!) and a salad.
This was my take on a really amazing cabbage curry I had at a Bengali restaurant I frequent with my boyfriend Nick. This version is lighter, fresher and has just a hint of sweetness to it. It was amazing over potato/cheddar pierogies, but you can also have it over basmati or brown rice. The key is to get a fairly small, young cabbage - it has much more tender leaves that get a bit sweet when you cook them.
To make it:
- 1 small head of cabbage, sliced very thin
- 6 medium-sized plum tomatoes, diced
- 1 red pepper, sliced thinly
- 1 onion, cut in half and sliced thinly into half-moon shapes
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped roughly
- 2 tbsp ghee (clarified butter) - you can also use butter, peanut oil or mustard oil (mustard oil is nice in this)
- 1 1/2 tbsp Penzey’s Maharishi Curry Powder (or another curry powder you like)
- 1 tbsp brown mustard seeds, crushed
- salt to taste
Melt ghee in a shallowish stockpot and add spices. Cook until they start to crackle and you get that great smell like curry is happening in your house. Add onions and garlic and sauté on medium-high for about 5-10 minutes until onions are soft. Add the rest of the veggies and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until veggies (especially cabbage) are soft and wilty. Serve over potato and onion pierogies or over basmati rice.
This is the absolute best and only acceptable way to cook brown rice. This makes a good amount, but you can use it for just about anything. It will store for about a week in the refrigerator.
To make it:
- 1-1/2 cup brown rice
2-2/4 cup boiling water
1 tsp olive oil or butter
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lay out rice and butter or oil in an 8″ square glass baking dish. Add boiling water and stir to make sure all the rice is submerged. Cover with a double-layer (this is important!) of aluminum foil. Bake at 375 for one hour, until all liquid is absorbed. When it’s done, take it out of the oven, remove the foil (carefully, because it will have plenty of steam), and cover the pan with a clean towel for 5 minutes. Remove towel and fluff with a fork.
So, this weekend for St. Patty’s Day, I decided to have a huge feast at the homestead, mostly based around the fact that corned beef and cabbage is a yearly tradition for me, but there’s no way I can eat more than one piece. So, along with about 13 of my closest friends, I made a ton of food, all of which disappeared very quickly. The following used some stuff I had lying around, and it made the absolute best artichoke-spinach dip I’ve ever had. Served with Pita Chips, it was a bit smoky, a bit spicy, and very creamy (although not in that insane heavy way that artichoke-spinach dip tends to be)
To make it:
- 1 bunch spinach, cleaned thoroughly
- 1 jar of artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, chopped roughly
- 1/2 tsp smoked hot paprika
- 6 oz reduced-fat cream cheese
- 8oz grated monterey/cheddar blend (or just use cheddar)
- about 1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
- about 2 tblsp Worcestire sauce
- fresh-ground pepper to taste
Preheat oven to about 425 Farenheit (or, use a toaster oven, which I did). In a large pot, boil or steam spinach until wilted. Drain in colander and press with a spoon to remove as much water as possible. Chop roughly and Put aside. Add cream cheese, Worcestire sauce, paprika, garlic and yogurt together in a large bowl and blend thorougly until incorporated. Add the rest of the ingredients except for about 2 ounces of the monterey/cheddar blend. Spread mixture into a small casserole dish, sprinkle with the rest of the cheese. Bake at 425 degrees Farenheit for about 25 minutes until the cheese on top is brown and bubbly. Serve warm with pita chips.
So, recently I got into this mode where I can no longer eat dessert in any traditional fashion - be it cookie, cake, ice cream or marshmallows, any form of dessert (alas!) makes me incredibly tired about ten minutes later. But I still have a sweet tooth - go fig.
This recipe, only slightly modified from one I got in a Yoga Journal e-newsletter I still get, is the perfect answer to my sweet tooth. The figs and candied ginger give it a nice sweetness, while the pistachios and almond milk give it a nice, crunchy, hint-of-vanilla flavor that was completely perfect, but didn’t make me pass out. I highly recommend it - plus, you don’t need a ton of it. Just a small helping of the fruit/nut combo with about 1/2 a cup of almond milk was the perfect serving. This recipe will serve 3.
To make it:
- 2 handfuls of raw pistachios (unsalted)
- 4 dried Calmyra figs, stems removed and halves
- 3 small pieces of candied ginger
- 1 handful of raisins
- 1 cup almond milk, plain or vanilla
Combine pistachios, figs and ginger in a small chopper or food processor and pulse until chopped roughly. Divide mixture into 3 small bowls. Top each with a few raisins and some almond milk to cover. Serve immediately. I think you could also let this sit for a while, but the almond milk will most likely rehydrate the fruit, which I don’t particularly like.