Showing posts with label MELT. Show all posts
Showing posts with label MELT. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Mac & Cheese with Roasted Winter Squash

Classic comfort food--with the addition of a seasonal vegetable. Long-storing winter squash is cubed, roasted, and tossed into macaroni and cheese flavored with Italian sausage.

Long-storing winter squash are one of the ways that I feed my family from the farm share during the off season when we're not getting weekly boxes of fresh vegetables. For today's recipe I chose one of the squash that came from my compost pile. I'm thinking it's a cross between a butternut and a pumpkin or maybe it's an albino pumpkin like all the albino squirrels in my town. Who knows? Either way, it was a pale fleshed winter squash, part of the Strategic Winter Squash Reserve in my cold basement, and worked just as well as a pumpkin or butternut squash would in this recipe.

I don't combine this stuff on a whim, you know. [That's not exactly accurate. On Monday I posted a recipe that evolved as I was preheating the skillet and my daughter was throwing out ideas, which turned into Mardi Gras Fried Rice. Whims were involved.] Last year I took a sugar pie pumpkin from our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share and baked mac and cheese in it. I got the recipe from the versatile cookbook, Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese (Amazon affiliate link). I first made that recipe before my spouse returned from a deployment. I was thinking that I had to make it again for him as the recipe is such a good one and because I crave comfort foods like mac & cheese when it's cold out. You can find that recipe here, or, if you're local to me, I donated a copy of the cookbook to my local library.

The thing is, I rarely re-make a recipe without tweaking it somehow.  [Heck, even my morning oatmeal is currently undergoing revisions.] When I was spooning that mac & cheese into the pumpkin, I wondered about skipping the adorable container/serving dish concept and instead stirring pumpkin into the mac and cheese and then baking it. I kept the rest of the elements the same because the flavors are so good together (I have made 4 or 5 recipes from MELT and each time was successful). Because the baking time is 1½ hours total, this is not a weeknight meal. However, it feeds 8 to 10 people and the leftovers reheat well, so it's a weekend meal making leftovers that could become lunches or fast dinners on hockey busy nights during the week.

For another mac and cheese recipe, please check out Macaroni and Cheese with Beet Greens, Ham and Manchego. For other recipes using winter squash, please see my Winter Squash Recipe Collection, part of my Visual Recipe Index by Ingredient.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Macaroni and Cheese with Beet Greens and Ham

Classic comfort food with a colorful boost from beet greens and ham.

Last week on my FB page I posted a photo of the greens that were overwhelming me. My friends came to my rescue with great ideas that helped me come up with A Plan. I'm happy to report that there are no mustard greens left--except in leftovers that will be eaten at lunch. I also gave away lettuce, peppers and a kohlrabi to 3 neighbors, freeing space in my fridge for marked down milk and the box of #FreakyFruits that arrived from Melissa's Produce [more on that as I play with it--but I'll tell you that finger limes work nicely in a mustard greens kheema]. I'm feeling a lot better about using all the wonderful produce from the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share.

Sometimes it is hard to be inspired  by the contents of the fridge, freezer, and pantry as a base for dinner. It's easier to grab something at the store than to remember to thaw a package of meat or a bag of pizza dough. It's easier to nuke a prepared entree than to boil noodles.  I know how I sound--because it's October, the month where sled hockey, marching band, and sewing converge to keep my family hopping in ways we are not during the other 11 months of the year. This too shall pass!

As the weeks speed by I find myself  craving comfort foods but lacking time to prepare them. As a result, sometimes for a weekend lunch we sit down to a homey baked mac 'n cheese casserole only because I finally had time to make what I'd been hankering. Cooking a few casseroles on the weekends provides leftovers for us to eat on the fly.

The inspiration for this mac and cheese came from the wonderful cookbook MELT (link to the authors' website). I first raved about this cookbook when I received a free copy and made Mac and Cheese in a Pumpkin last year. Then I made a Pasta Salad with Grilled Fruits and Goat Cheese in the spring. This book really gave me the tools to make macaroni and cheese. Now I've been schooled in the The Art of Macaroni and Cheese (Amazon affiliate link) enough to spread my wings and try a creation of my own, using the ingredients I've got on hand.

I had beet greens from our CSA farm share and I want my family to love them like I do [I'm really not content to hog them all to myself]. I had Manchego cheese left from the Swiss Chard tart and thought that the pink beet stems and ham cubes would be pretty. I'm not pink washing--I'd use beets to make the whole thing pink if I were going in that direction. I suspect you could leave out the ham or substitute sautéed mushroom chunks of chopped ripe olives if you are leaning in a vegetarian direction. [I'm feeding kids who have not yet developed a taste for olives or mushrooms so I stuck with ham.]

For other recipes using Beet Greens, please check out my Beet Recipe Collection here.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Pasta Salad with Grilled Fruit and Goat Cheese {Recipe from MELT}

A sweetly savory summer side dish or light vegetarian supper--pasta combined with grilled fruit, goat cheese, herbs and nuts. From MELT: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese

Pasta Salad with Grilled Fruit and Goat Cheese {Recipe from MELT} | Farm Fresh Feasts

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I want to talk about barriers to successful grilling.
[Those of you with your grills hooked up to your natural gas line, skip ahead to the recipe. Lucky ducks. The rest of you, read on.]
See, for 9 of the past 10 years we have tried--key word--to be successful at grilling.  Our grill is the largest tiny portable one there is, and it has a nice loop to hold a tiny propane tank (the kind a restaurant might use for creme brûlée). Each time we wanted to grill out, we'd carry the grill out of the shed, set it up, preheat, put the food on the hot grill, and then . . . when it was time to turn the meat, the small propane tank was empty and the grill was cooling. When this scenario is played out often, it makes you want to just crank up the oven and heat up the house!

Last summer I decided to tackle our grilling barrier head on.  We got a standard size propane tank, one that has to be carried separately from our little grill. Finally I could trust that when I started the fire I'd be able to see the cooking through, and with that our grilling changed.  We do store our grill in the garage (because we've since moved to a house with a garage) so once it's hauled out and set up I like to grill anything handy and used the grilled items in future meals.  I've used this technique in my Grilled Veggie Ciabatta Pizza, but now I'd like to share a terrific picnic side dish or light summer supper:  Pasta Salad with Grilled Fruit and Goat Cheese.

A sweetly savory summer side dish or light vegetarian supper--pasta combined with grilled fruit, goat cheese, herbs and nuts. From MELT: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese.

At its heart this a recipe for macaroni and cheese, so it's no surprise that I got the recipe from MELT: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese (link to the author's website).  I received a copy of this terrific cookbook last fall and have made several recipes with it, including Macaroni and Cheese in a Pumpkin and Pumpkin Cranberry Maple Kugel.

One of the first recipes that caught my eye was an orzo salad with Humboldt Fog goat cheese and grilled peaches. Since I eat seasonally I figured I'd need to wait until peach season to try it--but first I found myself with some fresh figs at the same time  I found Humboldt Fog marked down at the fancy cheese counter.  Score! This tasted so yummy that the name--Humboldt Fog--stuck, so since then I'm always on the lookout for it in the marked down bin.

A sweetly savory summer side dish or light vegetarian supper--pasta combined with grilled fruit, goat cheese, herbs and nuts. From MELT: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese.

The next time I came across the cheese coincided with cored pineapple selling for the same price as whole pineapple.  I prefer not to pay for the parts that just go into the compost anyway, so I picked up a container of prepped pineapple. While we had the grill going for steaks, I whipped up the marinade and tossed the pineapple in to coat.  I was out of orzo, so I subbed in elbow macaroni.

A sweetly savory summer side dish or light vegetarian supper--pasta combined with grilled fruit, goat cheese, herbs and nuts. From MELT: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese.

This savory-sweet pasta salad is a refreshing addition to summer meals. We prefer it served freshly tossed or at room temperature (do not microwave to reheat the leftovers).

For more recipes using figs, please see my Fig Recipes Collection. For more recipes calling for fresh peaches, please see my Peach Recipes Collection. For more recipes using pineapple, please see my Pineapple Recipes Collection. These collections are part of the Visual Recipe Index by Ingredient, a resource for folks like me eating from the farm share, the farmer's market, the garden, the neighbor's garden, and great deals on ugly produce at the grocery store.

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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Pumpkin Cranberry Maple Kugel

This cross-cultural mash up of fresh pumpkin, cranberries, and maple syrup with noodle kugel makes a lightly sweet (without sugar) dessert--and a terrific post-holiday breakfast!

This post is part of the Thanksgivukkah Food Blogger Potluck hosted by Stefani of  You can read all about it here, and scroll down for links to many more recipes!

Pumpkin Cranberry Maple Kugel | Farm Fresh Feasts
I think it is a natural tendency, when you embark on a new endeavor, to look to those experienced in the field for guidance.
When I became a mother I looked to the women around me who were a few months/years ahead of me on the motherhood journey.  From the practical (my oldest friend took one look at the giant convertible carseat I was lugging in and out every day and loaned me her snap-in infant carrier) to the more intangible (while fretting about the lower percentile my son doggedly stayed in on his growth chart, another friend reminded me that when he gets to college, no one will remember or care where his height/weight fell on the chart at age 6 months). The help I received from those women who have gone before me made a huge difference in my life.

As my children grow into their teens, I continue to look to those ahead of me, and I'm especially interested in the interactions of mothers and their now-adult children.  I avidly observe my friends who have adult children with Spina Bifida, watching and learning the steps of the complicated dance that is supporting yet not directing another adult's life.  It is fun to see photos of a friend enjoying a day at Disney with her daughter who now works there.  It's gratifying to see another friend's daughter drop in to see her mom at work, just for a little Mom time (and not money!).

Pumpkin Cranberry Maple Kugel | Farm Fresh Feasts

Why am I going on about mothers and adult children?  It was Molly, visiting her mom during sled hockey practice recently, who gave me the idea for this recipe.  See, while I was brainstorming Hanukkah/Thanksgiving mashup ideas, all I could think of was latkes.  Over the years I've been over to my oldest friend's house many times to make--and eat--latkes, but they were the star of the meal.  While I was chatting with Molly and her mom about other Hanukkah dishes, like brisket and roast chicken, Molly suggested kugel.
I just happened to have my copy of Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese (Amazon affiliate link) because I was working on this post and wouldn't you know it, there's a recipe in Melt for Sweet Potato Kugel. [Put this book on your holiday wish list, unless you're local to me, then check it out of the library or borrow my copy--I keep finding more recipes I must try, and each one I've made is well-written with delicious results.]  Obviously from the title of this post I didn't make that recipe (I used pumpkin not sweet potato, fresh cranberries not dried, maple syrup in place of sugar and changed up the spices) but since Stephanie Stiavetti and Garrett McCord have gone before me into the world of autumnal vegetable kugels I am glad to follow their guidance.

Pumpkin Cranberry Maple Kugel | Farm Fresh Feasts

Just like I follow others who have gone before me.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Mac and Cheese in a Pumpkin from MELT

Creamy macaroni and cheese with bits of Italian sausage baked in a pie pumpkin from the new cookbook MELT:  The Art of Macaroni and Cheese by Stephanie Stiavetti and Garrett McCord

Mac and Cheese in a Pumpkin from MELT

I'm going to talk about this recipe first, then the cookbook where I got it.  Before I get too wordy, some notes:
MELT will be on sale on 22 October 2013.  You can preorder a copy from a variety of vendors, check here for a list of links (link to website).
If you preorder a copy, or even if you don't, you can participate in a $500 Le Creuset cookware giveaway!  Click here for details on the giveaway (link to website). 
I received a review copy* of MELT and chose to post my experience making this recipe from the book because it's tasty and uses seasonal vegetables from my CSA farm share.  I am not involved in the cookware giveaway (just passing the info along to you), I do not benefit from the links posted above, nor was I compensated for this post.  I do get to keep the cookbook, though, which rocks.
Mac and Cheese in a Pumpkin from MELT

What's all the fuss about baking in pumpkins? 

When I see photos of things baked in pumpkins I tend to think it's a gimmick, more for the presentation aspect than the actual taste.  I mean, how often do you see photos of the food actually being served? [Yeah, I went there.  Seems only sporting to share reality.]  As it turns out, while the mac and cheese in this recipe is delicious, it's even better baked inside the pumpkin!  How do I know this?  The recipe calls for a 5 pound pumpkin and the largest one I'd gotten from my farm share was only 2 pounds.  So I baked the rest of the mac and cheese in a pretty Polish pottery bowl alongside the pumpkin.  The pumpkin adds a creamy sweet vegetable base to the mac and cheese which is truly amazing.

What if I don't have access to little pumpkins?

Since I've lived around the world where seasonal, traditional American plant items are pretty pricey (I'm talking pumpkins and Christmas trees) I've given this situation a bit of thought.  I would suggest using a can of pumpkin puree (not the pie filling, just the puree) and spreading a layer of canned pumpkin along the bottom and up the sides of a 2-3 quart casserole dish, then adding the filling, covering, and baking as directed below.  No access to canned pumpkin?  Roast whatever winter squash is local to you, and spread that inside a casserole dish, cover and bake.