Bison Puffs

27 Feb

I needed a heavy hors d’oeuvre for a neighborhood gathering and I wanted to create something more heavy than hors d’oeuvre, if you get my drift. Enter the Bison Puff. Lean, delicious meat wrapped in the buttery goodness of puff pastry and baked. I backed off the hot spices to allow for the gentler pallets of my neighbors. Personally, I would double the Tabasco and maybe shake in some crushed red pepper for a good time. As is, this recipe is flavorful without too much kick. Yields 32 pieces.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil, or just enough to coat the bottom of the pan
4 scallions, sliced (include some of the greens)
1 celery stalk, diced
2 garlic cloves, diced
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, diced
1 lb ground bison
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 sheets of puff pastry
1 egg and 1/2 teaspoon water, beaten
1/4 cup flour Continue reading

Advertisements

Macaroni and Cheese: A Potluck Staple

20 Feb

Macaroni & cheese is my ultimate comfort food and thanks to my Wisconsin-bred mother I learned from an early age how to make it from scratch. There was always a pie tin of mac & cheese in the freezer for emergencies and if there was a potluck at church or at the pool, she whipped up a double batch to take and there were never any leftovers! Like my mother, macaroni and cheese is my “go to” food when I need a dish for a potluck or for a friend in need. It’s always just as good bubbling hot out of the oven as it is when you sneak a forkful out of the fridge!

The next time you have to bring a dish to a potluck, try this simple recipe. But make a double batch so you have one to keep for yourself. You’ll be glad you did!

The ingredients are basic: elbow macaroni or any small pasta shape with nooks & crannies to hold the sauce. I used Marella Molloni pasta from Williams-Sonoma. It’s expensive, but I love the quality and the more sophisticated shape. I get 2.5 batches from one bag so I splurge occasionally. You’ll also need 10 – 12 ounces of cheese, butter, flour, salt, pepper, and milk.

Start by cooking your pasta according to the package directions. I omit the salt when cooking the pasta as the sauce is plenty salty. If you’re not ready to take that step, use half the salt called for on the package.

While your pasta is cooking cube your cheese. I recommend 8 to 10 ounces of sharp cheddar or a blend of your favorite cheeses. I used 9.5 ounces for this batch, about 7 ounces of sharp white cheddar and 2.5 ounces of gruyere. If your potluck will have kids you may want to stick with 8 ounces of a mild cheddar; it will be plenty cheesy. Don’t forget you’ll also need about 1 – 2 ounces to grate for the top!

Roux - Getting Started

Now for the sauce! First you must make the roux which is the base of any bechamel — or white sauce. A roux is very simple; it’s equal parts butter and flour. Melt the butter in a heavy sauce pan and add the flour, stirring constantly. I keep things simple, I use the same pan I just cooked the pasta in. As crazy as my schedule is no need to dirty a second pan! If you prefer, you can make your sauce while the pasta cooks and they’ll be done almost at the same time. Yes — it’s quick and easy and no, there’s absolutely no excuse to make macaroni and cheese from a box! Would you believe I didn’t have macaroni and cheese from a box until I was a junior in college?

The Roux is Ready!

Back to the roux! Cook the flour and butter, stirring constantly for 2 – 3 minutes making sure they’re well blended. Keep stirring! Once the roux is ready add the milk VERY slowly. I pour it in using a measuring cup in a slow, but steady stream. Stir constantly, making sure the milk is incorporated so you don’t get lumps! Once all the milk is incorporated, add the salt and pepper.

Once the sauce has thickened a bit you’re ready to add the cheese…

Carefully drop the cheese into the hot sauce. Stir constantly scrapping the bottoms and sides of the pan until all the cheese has melted, about 3 – 5 minutes.

The finished sauce will be think and creamy!

Pour the sauce over the cooked pasta. Stir gently using your spoon, ensuring the sauce is evenly distributed.

Sprinkle the top with grated cheese which will give the macaroni and cheese a nice brown top. Place it in an oven that has been preheated to 350 degrees.

Cook for 30 – 40 minutes or until bubbly and the top is browned. All that’s left is to find a fork and dig in!

Ingredients

8 ounces elbow macaroni or small pasta of choice, cooked al dente
2 TBS butter
2 TBS flour
¼ tsp salt
⅛ tsp pepper
2 cups milk
8 – 10 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, cubed
1 – 2 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated

1. Pre-heat oven to 350. Cook pasta according to package directions and drain. Place in a 1.5 quart, oven-proof dish.
2. In a heavy saucepan, melt the butter and add the flour. Cook over medium heat for 2 -3 minutes until the flour is well incorporated. Add the milk in a slow steady stream, stirring constantly. Add salt and pepper. Stir.
3. When sauce is hot and has thickened slightly, add cubed cheese. Stir constantly, scraping bottom and sides of pan as necessary. Once all the cheese has melted remove from the heat and pour sauce over the cooked pasta. Sprinkle grated cheese over the top.
4. Place casserole into pre-heated oven and cook for 30- 40 minutes until bubbly and browned on top. Remove. Serve.

Mixed Greens with Miso Tahini Dressing

15 Feb

Ok, at the risk of being predictable, I am sharing with you another salad recipe.  But before you move on, I encourage you to try this very easy, raw salad that can be one of your daily meals – it’s that filling and savory.  This has become a regular staple in my house.  So, this weekend, try something new and delicious that is healthy, too! 

Ingredients:

Image

  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons raw sesame tahini (found at middle eastern markets and amazon.com)
  • 2 tablespoons miso paste (fermented soybeans –  can be light or dark; found in most grocery stores)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 ½ tablespoons raw agave nectar (found in organic food markets and amazon.com)
  • 4 cups mixed mesclun salad greens

Put the first 8 ingredients in a food processor or blender and mix until creamy.  If the mixture becomes too thick, add one tablespoon of water at a time until desired consistency is reached (careful not to make it too runny!).

Image

Add dressing to mixed greens, toss and serve.  Yum.

Image

Black Bean & Hearts of Palm Salad

12 Feb

I love this salad because it is refreshing, can be made in advance, and mostly contains staples of my pantry and veggie bin of the refrigerator.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 2 cans black beans, rinsed
  • Olive oil to taste
  • 2 small bags frozen corn, thawed
  • 2 medium green bell pepper, chopped
  • Juice from 4 limes
  • 2 jars hearts of palm, sliced
  • 6 small Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 2 bunches cilantro, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons (max) coriander
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

Combine and gently stir the first 7  ingredients in a large bowl. Add the tomatoes, coriander and cilantro, and gently stir again. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature, or up to 4 hours in the refrigerator to let the flavors combine.

My Notes:

I must emphasize the need to gently stir the ingredients because too much agitation of the black beans will cause them to break down and decrease the visual vibrancy of the salad. Also, the measurements for the cilantro and coriander are just guidelines. Please adjust the ingredients to your taste.

Strawberry Jello Salad

10 Feb

When I need a dish for a potluck, buffet, or picnic that can be made ahead, is easy, and will please a variety of palettes from the very young to the very old I turn to an old favorite — Jello! What can I say — I grew up in the 60’s and moms everywhere were trading Jello salad recipes like kids traded baseball cards. This is a slightly updated version of our family’s favorite.

The good thing about Jello salad is that it’s very easy to make and you may even have the ingredients on hand.  The basic recipe calls for  adding frozen strawberries, a grated apple, a can of crushed pineapple, and lemon juice to strawberry Jello.  I used frozen, sliced strawberries with no sugar added and a red delicious apple.

You simply add a cup of boiling and a cup of hot water to your Jello, stir in your fruits and lemon juice, and you’re done.

As I was finishing up I remembered I had some fresh blueberries so I quickly washed and dried them and added them to the mix. I figured the more fruit the better. That’s the beauty of a Jello salad, you can be creative with what you have on hand, you just need to make sure you have the right balance of liquid so the Jello will set-up.

Pour it in a serving dish, pop in the frig for a few hours and you’re ready for your potluck! Just be careful when you pour – splashes of red Jello are easy to wipe up off the counter, but not so easy to get out of your clothes!

Recipe

2 small boxes or 1 large box of strawberry Jello

1 cup boiling water

1 cup hot water

1 pkg frozen strawberries, approx. 10 ounces

1 apple, grated

1 can crushed pineapple, approx. 14 ounces, undrained

Juice of 1 lemon

Directions

In a mixing bowl add the boiling and hot water to the Jello and stir until completely dissolved. Add the fruit and lemon juice. Stir gently to blend. Pour into a serving dish. Chill until set. Serve.

Do you have a favorite Jello salad? Do Jello salads conjure up a specific memory for you? Share your Jello recipes and stories, I’d love to hear them!

Potato Parsnip Soup

2 Feb

Potato Parsnip SoupSince Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, I figured it was time to dust off a couple root vegetables and make some Potato Parsnip Soup. This is a simple, tasty vegetarian soup that warms the soul. This recipe uses grated cheese and chopped vegetables, but if you have the best sous chef around it’s not a big deal. When I take this to the Partners meeting next week, I’ll just warm it up in the crockpot. Serves 4 to 6.

Continue reading

New Year, Raw Leaf

20 Jan

Happy January!  It’s a new year, and I’ve been eating completely differently to improve my health after  a crazy, treatment intensive 2011.  The big change for me is that I eat most of my food raw these days, to consume as many enzymes as possible.  I do this with the belief that “living” food nourishes me better than stuff that’s been cooked.  So, when we had our last potluck meeting at Corrigan Partners, I brought salad with a pesto dressing.  It seemed to be a hit!  In addition to the abundance of greens, the salad keeps you full due to the pine nuts in the dressing.  I like it best when the pesto is made the night before serving.  Adapted from Carol Alt’s book, The Raw 50.

Red Leaf Salad with Arugula Pesto Dressing, Serves 4

  • 2 cups packed arugula leaves
  • 1/2 cup raw pine nuts (totally optional, but if you have time, soak in water for 6 hours prior)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3  cup olive oil
  • 1 large head red leaf lettuce, torn (although any lettuce will do)

Put the arugula, pine nuts, garlic and salt in a food processor.  Blend the ingredients, then add the olive oil in a thin stream until completely combined.  Add to lettuce, toss and serve.