RECIPE: Mac and Two Cheeses with Caramelized Shallots

From Bon Appetit. Seriously, this makes your inner 5-year old cry with joy. Add bacon for even more goodness 🙂

6 servings
Prep: 40 minutes
Total: 55 minutes


3 tablespoons butter plus more for baking dish
3 cups sliced large shallots (about 6)
8 oz small elbow macaroni (2 cups)
1 1/4 cups half and half
2 1/2 teaspoons hot sauce (such as Cholula)
2 cups (packed) coarsely grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese (about 8 ounces)
1 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2/3 cup crumbled soft fresh goat cheese


Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter 11x7x2-inch glass baking dish. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover and cook 5 minutes, stirring often. Reduce heat to medium. Cook, covered, until shallots are deep brown, stirring often, about 6 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook macaroni in large saucepan of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally; drain well. Reserve pan.

Bring half and half and hot sauce to simmer in same saucepan over medium heat. Toss cheddar cheese and flour in medium bowl to coat; add to half and half mixture. Whisk until sauce is smooth and just returns to simmer, about 2 minutes. Mix in pasta. Season with salt and pepper.

Spread pasta mixture in prepared dish. Top with shallots, then goat cheese. Sprinkle with pepper. Bake until heated through, about 15 minutes.

Recipe: Sauteed Brussels Sprouts With Lemon and Pistachios

From Bon Appetit 🙂

4 to 6 servings


* 3 tablespoons olive oil or butter
* 1 tablespoon minced shallot
* 12 large brussels sprouts (about 1 1/2 pounds), trimmed, quartered
* 3/4 cup shelled unsalted natural pistachios
* 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice


Heat oil or butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallot and stir 20 seconds. Add Brussels sprout quarters and pistachios, and sauté until leaves begin to soften but are still bright green, about 20 minutes. Drizzle lemon juice over. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl and serve.

RECIPE: Belen’s Vat o’ Sketti

This is my know-it-by-heart, dump things in a pot, reheat for tasty leftovers all week comfort food. Some measurements are estimates, though I have made an effort to measure most things this time through. You may notice that I use a sauce mix in this…it’s my dirty secret 🙂 It just means I start with a nice base taste, rather than having to take the time to build it from scratch with a more time-intensive cooking cycle (which I do for my pizza sauce that I make every 6 weeks).

The sauce is meaty, thick, and heavy of the garlic and red pepper.
Prep time: 30 min.
Cook time: 30 min. – 3+ hours 🙂 (longer simmering gives you more depth of flavor)

Serves: approx. 12 (you may want to half the recipe)


1 tbsp olive oil
1 large sweet onion, roughly diced
3 small bell peppers, roughly diced (red, yellow, orange – I don’t like green, but you may 🙂
1 large head of garlic, sliced
1 small package of whole/sliced mushrooms, sliced
1.5 lbs ground bison or ground beef
28-oz can crushed tomatoes (I prefer organic sauces)
14-oz can diced tomatoes
14-oz can tomato sauce
6-oz can tomato paste
2 packages McCormick’s Thick and Zesty Spaghetti Sauce Mix
1/4 cup red wine
1/2 cup fresh oregano
1/2 cup fresh basil
1/3 cup fresh thyme
1/4 cup fresh rosemary
1 tbsp crushed red pepper (this is a guess – I shake it pretty liberally til there is a light coating on the surface of the sauce)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp fresh ground pepper


  1. In a 6-quart sauce pan, saute onions, peppers, & garlic in olive oil. Once onions are glassy, reduce heat to medium, add ground bison/beef (ground bison is lower in fat and needs to cook at a lower temp than most ground beef) and cook until half brown. Add mushrooms and continue to cook until ground bison is browned.
  2. While this is cooking, chop fresh herbs.
  3. Add all 4 tomato sauces to the sauce pan, along with the seasoning mixes, red wine, fresh herbs, and other spices. Stir, let come to a boil, and then turn down to the lowest simmer you can manage.
  4. Wait. And stir periodically. And wait (yes, that means you, Andee!). The longer you let it simmer, the better it will taste. If your pants are on fire, 30 minutes will do. I really prefer 1-1.5 hours, and if you can start it mid-day and let it cook for longer, you might just decide you love me forever 😉


Fresh Ingredients

Rough--Cut Sweet Onions

The Pepper Triumverate

Home-grown Garlic

Big Pile of Herbs

Even More Basil

Let's Get Going

Enter Beef and Mushrooms

Enter Beef and Mushrooms

Patience is a Virtue

RECIPE: Spicy Thai Coconut Chicken/Shrimp Soup


This has become one of my favorite recipes – spicy, rich with flavor, and not complicated 🙂

2 cans (14-ounce each) light unsweetened coconut milk
3 cups canned chicken broth
2 cups thinly sliced mushrooms
6 tablespoons finely chopped lemongrass
1/4 cup fish sauce (nam pla)
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 serrano chili, sliced into rounds
2 teaspoons chili-garlic sauce
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips or shrimp
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/4 cup thinly sliced basil
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 cups steamed jasmine rice or rice noodles

Combine first 8 ingredients (coconut milk through chili-garlic sauce) in large stock pot. Bring to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 10 minutes to blend flavors.

Add chicken/shrimp; simmer until cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Mix in green onions, basil, and lime juice.

Spoon some rice/rice noodles in soup bowl or plates. Add soup.

Servings: 6

RECIPE: Sweet Potato Soup with Prosciutto Crisps


From Sunset Magazine. This was intended for big parties, but it sounded so tasty, I figured I could scale it down and enjoy for smaller events. Served in demitasse cups, this sophisticated little soup makes an easy-to-handle big-party hors d’oeuvre. For a purely vegetarian soup, garnish with chopped chives.

PREP AND COOK TIME: About 1 1/2 hours
MAKES: About 25 servings
NOTES: You can make both the soup and the prosciutto crisps up to 3 days ahead and chill them in airtight containers.


1 1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 large leek (white and light green parts only), thinly sliced, rinsed, and drained
2 small garlic cloves, minced
2 Ibs. orange sweet potatoes (about 2 large sweet potatoes; often Labeled “yams”), peeled and cut into roughly 1-in. pieces
About 1 1/2 tsp. coarse kosher salt
About 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto
1/4 cup heavy cream
Chopped chives (optional)


1. Preheat oven to 400. Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add leek and cook, stirring, until soft and translucent, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes longer. Put sweet potatoes in pot; add 3 cups water, 1 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Increase heat to high, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-high and simmer until sweet potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool 10 minutes. Working in batches, puree soup until smooth.

2. Prepare the garnish: Spread prosdutto slices-on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Bake until crisp, 7 to 10 minutes (watch carefully, as they can burn quickly). Let prosciutto cool completely on baking sheet (about 1 hour), then crumble into tiny pieces and set aside.

3. Transfer pureed soup to a clean pot set over medium-low heat. Stir in cream and up to 2 cups water (enough to make soup easy to drink out of cups). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve soup hot, in demitasse cups, garnished with prosciutto or chives if you like.

PER 1/3-CUP SERVING WITH 1/2 TSP. PROSCIUTTO: 50 CAL., 34% (l7 CAL.) FROM FAT; 1.2 G PROTEIN; 1.9 G FAT (l.l G SAT.); 7.5 G CARBO (0.9 G FIBER); 144 MG SODIUM: 7 MG CHOL.

RECIPE: Apple Bacon Cornbread Stuffing


From Sunset Magazine. I scanned this one specifically so Alex could have bacon well-represented in our Thanksgiving decadance! This colorful stuffing gets a slight sweetness from apples and a savory depth from onion and bacon.

PREP AND COOK TIME: 2 1/2 hours
MAKES: 16 servings
NOTES: You can make the recipe through step 5 a day ahead: Cover cornbread cubes and store at room temperature. Cover and chill apple mixture. The entire dish can be assembled up to 6 hours before baking and chilled/covered.


Cooking oil spray
1/2 cup butter
8 eggs, divided
2 1/2 cups low-fat milk
2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. salt, divided
1 Ib. thick-cut bacon, chopped
4 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 onion, chopped
4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2- to 1-in. pieces
3 cups hard apple cider
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp. minced fresh thyme leaves
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350∞. Spray a 10- by 15-in. rimmed baking sheet or two 9- byl3-in. baking pans with cooking oil spray and set aside. Melt butter and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk 4 eggs with milk and set aside. In a large bowl, mix cornmeal, flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, and 1 tsp. salt. Add milk mixture to cornmeal mixture and mix just enough to combine thoroughly. Stir in melted butter. Pour batter into prepared pan(s) and bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Let cool until cool enough to handle, about 30 minutes. Keep oven on.

3. Cut cornbread into 1/2-in. pieces and spread on 2 large, rimmed baking sheets. Bake until golden brown, stirring once or twice, about 45 minutes. Let cool to room temperature; transfer to a very large bowl.

4. Meanwhile, in a large frying pan over medium-high heat, cook bacon until brown and crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a plate or bakingsheet lined with paper towels. Transfer rendered fat to a small bowl and set aside.

5. Put 1 tbsp. reserved bacon fat back in the same frying pan over medium-high heat. Add celery, onion, and remaining 1 tsp. salt. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Transfer onion and celery to a medium bowl along with bacon. Return pan to medium-high heat and add 1 more tbsp. reserved bacon fat. Add apples and cool, stirring occasionally, until well browned and soft but not falling apart,about 7 minutes. Transfer apples to bowl with onions, celery, and bacon.

6. Return pan to medium-high heat and add cider. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add cream and cook until liquid is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk remaining 4 eggs in a medium bowl. Add 1/4 cup cider-cream mixture to eggs, whisking constantly. Add another 1/2 cup cider cream, still whisking. Whisk in remaining cider cream.

7. Pour egg mixture over reserved cornbread cubes and toss gently but thoroughly. Add reserved onion-bacon mixture, thyme, and pepper. Toss gently to combine well. Transfer mixture to a 9- by 13-in. baking pan, coverwith aluminum foil, and bake until hot, about 45 minutes. Serve hot or warm.

PER SERVING 353 CAL, 41% (l44 CAL.) FROM FAT:9.9 S PROTEIN; 16 G FAT (7.3 G SAT.); 43 G CARBO (2.2 G FIBER); 675 MG SODIUM; 136 MG CHOL.

RECIPE: Frittata


Think of this as your best friend for low-carb breakfast on the go 🙂 As far as consistancy, it has roughly the density of omelets, but is cooked more like a quiche (sans pie crust). While this recipe uses meat, you can really use this base recipe to make any variety of cheese, veggie and/or meat frittata.

PREP AND COOK TIME: 40 minutes
MAKES: 6 to 8 servings
NOTES Cooktop temperatures and ovens can vary greatly, so it is always important to follow our visual cues, especially when cooking eggs.

4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
(ALTERNATIVE: 1 cup diced cooked sausage -pork, chicken, turkey)
8 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp. chopped fresh chives
1/4 tsp.salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
8 oz. frozen (or canned) artichoke hearts, thawed and roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
(ALTERNATIVE: diced, cooked potato)
1 cup thinly sliced leeks (white and light green parts)
3/4 cup grated fontina cheese, divided
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese


1. Preheat oven to 450. In a 10-in. ovenproof nonstick frying pan or well-seasoned cast-iron skillet, cook bacon over medium-high heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer bacon with a slotted spoon to paper towels; reserve 2 tbsp. drippings in pan (discard the rest) and set aside.

2. Whisk together eggs, milk, chives, salt, and pepper. Stir in bacon and artichoke hearts. Set aside.

3. Return skillet to medium-high heat. Add leeks and sautÈ in reserved bacon drippings until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Add egg mixture and stir to combine. Cook 1 minute, then gently stir in 1/2 cup fontina and the parmesan. Cook without stirring until edges of frittata are set and the center is still a bit soft, about 2 minutes (edges should appear firm when pan is gently shaken; the top layer should appear wet).

4. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup fontina over top and transfer skillet to preheated oven. Bake until eggs are fully set and the top is light golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. If top has not browned, broil frittata about 5 in. from heating element, keeping oven door ajar, until lightly golden, about 1 minute.

5. Slice frittata into wedges. Serve warm or at room temperature.

PER SERVING 238 CAL, 64% (153 CAL.) FROM FAT; 15 G PROTEIN; 17 G FAT (7 G SAT.); 6.3 G CARBO (2.2 G FIBER); 454 MG SODIUM; 268 MG CHOL.

RECIPE: Grilled Chicken Kababs with Romesco Sauce and Saffron Couscous


Belen’s Note: This recipe came from Sunset Magazine and it was a smash hit. It made great leftovers too. I have also made the sauce with sun-dried tomatoes instead of roasted red peppers and it was just as amazing! 🙂

Romesco sauce has its roots in the Spanish province of Catalonia. Although the mixture has lots of variations, most combine roasted red peppers, nuts, garlic, and crusty bread to make a thick sauce that often tops grilled fish.

PREP AND COOK TIME: 40 minutes
MAKES: 4 servings
NOTES: Smoked Spanish paprika, also known as pimenton, is available in the spice aisles of many grocery stores.

8 wood or metal skewers
2 Ibs. boned, skinned chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2-in. cubes
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
2 tsp. plus 1 tbsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. each coarse kosher salt and smoked Spanish paprika (pimenton; see Notes)
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup peeled roasted red peppers (canned or fresh)
1/4 cup whole almonds or hazelnuts, toasted
1 slice crusty bread, toasted and cut into cubes
1 tbsp. sherry vinegar

1. If using wood skewers, soak in cold water at least 30 minutes before using. , In a large bowl or resealable plastic bag, combine chicken, cilantro, 3 tbsp. oliv oil, lime juice, 2 tsp. garlic, salt, smoked paprika, and pepper. Toss to coat, then marinate, chilled, 25 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, put roasted peppers, nuts, bread, vinegar, remaining 1 tbsp. minced garlic, and 1/4 cup olive oil in food processor and whirl until pureed; sauce will be thick.

3. Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to medium-high (you can hold your hand 1 to 2 in. abo1/e cooking grate only 3 to 4 seconds). Thread chicken onto skewers, discarding marinade. Lay skewers on grill (cover if using gas) and cook 4 minutes. Turn skewers over. Cook 4 minutes, until chicken is browned and cooked through. Serve hot, accompanied by sauce.


56 G PROTEIN; 28 G FAT (4.2 G SAT.); 14 G CARBO (2.9 G FIBER); 495 MG SODIUM; 132 MG CHOL.



An easy, fragrant side dish that complements the smoky romesco sauce.

PREP AND COOK TIME: 20 minutes
MAKES: 4 servings

3 tbsp. butter
1/8 tsp. crushed saffron threads
1 medium onion, sliced into half-moons
1 tsp.salt
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken stock
One 10-oz. box couscous (1 1/2 cups)
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1. In a medium frying pan (with sides at least 2 in. high) over medium heat, melt butter. Add saffron and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add onion and salt and cook, stirring, until translucent, about 7 minutes.

2. Add chicken stock and 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Add couscous, stir, cover, and remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes.

3. Fluff couscous with a fork, then gently stir. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.


10 G PROTEIN; 9.1 G FAT (5.5 G SAT.); 59″

RECIPE: Pesto!



2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tbsp pine nuts or cashews
4 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp freshly grated Romano cheese
3 tbsp butter (softened to room temperature)


But the boasil, olive oil, nuts, garlic cloves and salt in the blender or food processor and mix and high speed. Once the ingredients are evenly blended, add the cheeses. Once those are blended, add the butter and mix a bit more.

If you are serving over pasta, add a tbsp or so of the water in which the pasta boiled.

RECIPE: Pomegranate Gravy

(Best of Gourmet Magazine 2005)
Altered to use store-bought stock

Active time: 30 min

This fabulous recipe was an exciting variation for the Thanksgiving Day feasting. It had the added benefit of being gluten-free with mashed potato flakes instead of flour, and it tasted amazing on french toast the next morning 🙂


1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon fresh pomegranate juice (see cooks’ note, below)
3 cups vegetable stock (can use turkey or chicken stock if you prefer)
6 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (I prefer to use mashed potato flakes instead of flour)


Cook sugar in a dry 1-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, undisturbed, until it begins to melt. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally with a fork, until sugar is melted into a deep golden caramel.

Add 1/2 cup pomegranate juice (use caution; mixture will bubble and steam vigorously) and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until caramel is dissolved. Remove syrup from heat.

Whisk together 1 cup vegetable stock and flour in 3-quart heavy saucepan and cook roux over moderately low heat, whisking, until pale golden, 7 to 10 minutes. Add remaining stock mixture in a stream, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Bring to a boil, whisking, and add pomegranate syrup, then reduce heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened, about 5 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper and stir in remaining tablespoon pomegranate juice.


We found bottled juice too sweet for this recipe. Cut 2 to 3 pomegranates in half crosswise, then juice with a manual or juicer; alternatively, remove from pomegranate and pulsein a food processor until juicy, then transfer to a sieve and let drain, pressing on and discarding solids.

Pomegranate syrup can be made 1 day ahead and kept, covered, at room temperature.