Updated: Nov 15, 2020
In the busy hustle and bustle of our quaint little community and life on Windwhisper, we see our friendly neighbors coming and then going, work, and then home. I do love the weekends here, especially when the holiday season is upon us. The Christmas lights start showing up on the houses, and tree boughs, wreaths, and decor are placed around the front doors. It feels so warm and cheerful. After all the work is done, and we settle in for a cozy evening, there is nothing quite like our favorite comfort foods to fill our bellies.
Now that the cooler temperatures are here, I tend to find myself in my kitchen more - feeling creative and inspired. We do watch a lot of Chef Gorden Ramsey, and his culinary genius is certainly rubbing off on me. Even though Sean hates the number of dirty dishes I make when cooking, he certainly loves the food that comes from the mess.
I wanted to share with you two new recipes that have now made their way into our Struthers Family Cookbook. I know your family will love these as well.
Buffalo Cauliflower Baked Mac and Cheese
A classic comfort food. This very easy dish is sure to impress for many to feed or for events like Sunday Football. With 8-10 servings, it will be a favorite for your gathering.
What you will need to make this:
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the dish
1 medium head cauliflower, cut into florets (about 4 cups)
1 pound elbow macaroni
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3/4 cup hot sauce, plus more for serving (I use BBQ sauce as I don't like hot sauces)
2 tablespoons of flour
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 1 /2 cups of half/half (milk/creamer)
1 pound sharp cheddar, cut into 1/2 cubes (about 3 1/2 cups)
8 ounces pepper jack cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
2/3 sour cream
1 cup panko
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley,
How to make:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and butter the 13x9 inch baking dish.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and fill a large bowl with ice water. Cook the cauliflower until just tender, about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the cauliflower and immediately submerge it in the ice water to cool completely, then drain. Bring the salted water back to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the celery and onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the blanched cauliflower and garlic and cook 2 minutes, then add 1/2 cup of hot sauce and simmer until slightly thickened, about 1 minute.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and mustard until smooth. Whisk in the half-and-half, then add the remaining 1/4 cup hot sauce and stir until thick, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the Cheddar and pepper jack cheeses, then whisk in the sour cream until smooth.
Spread half of the macaroni in the prepared baking dish and pour over about half of the cheese sauce. Top with the cauliflower mixture and the remaining macaroni. Pour the remaining cheese sauce evenly on top.
Put the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted, about 30 seconds. Stir in the panko, blue cheese, and parsley. Sprinkle over the macaroni and bake until bubbly, 30 to 40 minutes.
Let cool 10 minutes, then serve with additional hot sauce on the side.
Recipe courtesy of Food Network Kitchen.
Baked Pasta with Lamb.
Here is a delicious, baked pasta dish made with penne, lamb bolognese, and a bechamel sauce. Finding the ground lamb is actually easier than I thought, just go to your local butcher. Sean was a bit skeptical about this meal, as he isn't a huge fan of lamb, but let me tell you, after 2 large helpings, it was a hit. Makes for amazing leftovers too.
What you need to make bolognese:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 pounds ground lamb (or use half ground beef/ half ground turkey)
2 teaspoons salt
6 cloves garlic, rough chopped
1/2 cup red wine
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon pepper
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
What you need to make the Bechamel sauce:
3 tablespoons olive oil or butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (or gluten-free)
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
2 extra-large eggs, beaten
Plus you will need:
3/4 pounds of penne pasta
Some parmesan for sprinkling.
Start the lamb bolognese: heat the oil in a heavy bottom pan over medium heat. Add the onion, ground meat, and salt, breaking up the meat into small bits. Cook 10-12 minutes, stirring often until onions are tender and meat is browned. Drain any fat. Pour into the mixture, your red wine, and cook until evaporated, about 2 minutes. Then add your garlic, cinnamon, cumin, oregano, and pepper. Stir in and cook for 2 minutes. Add in the crushed tomato and paste and simmer on low heat, covered for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 F
While this is simmering, get the pasta water boiling and make the bechamel sauce. Heat oil in a medium saucepan, over medium heat. Whisk in flour into the oil which should make a smooth paste - cook for 60 seconds. Whisk in 1 cup of milk until smooth ad thickened and then quickly add the remaining 1 1 /2 cups of milk. Whisk until smooth and thickened again. Add the salt, nutmeg, pepper ad parmesan and stir until everything is mixed, the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth. Set aside and cool for 10 minutes.
Cook your pasta and drain.
Once the bechamel sauce has cooled (warm is good, not hot) stir in the yogurt and
Add the cooked pasta to the bolognese sauce and mix. Pour this mixture into a greased pan, or as we love to use - deep cast-iron skillet. Top it with the bechamel sauce, covering it evenly. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup more of parmesan.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until bubbly and golden.
We like to serve ours with a fresh arugula salad with a raspberry vinaigrette on the side, and sometimes as a treat - a slice of homemade bread.
Recipe courtesy of Feasting At Home
This season, and especially this year - finding cozy comforts for you and your family is key. Food is always a great way to spend time together making these dishes, and of course - eating them.
Happy Cooking. x