Sunday, October 19, 2014

Mac, Veggie and Cheese Casserole for #SundaySupper

Mac, Veggie and Cheese Casserole for #SundaySupper.

Please don't follow this Mac, Veggie and Cheese Casserole recipe.

Well, sure, I'd like you to try to make a tasty casserole for your family too. But one key to budget friendly meals is to use everything. Casseroles are a great way to use up various veggies you have on hand. In this one, we give a starring role to leek tops, an item that often gets thrown out. But sautéed with onions, garlic and other veggies available, they can be pretty tasty!

Leek tops can be sauteed and added to casseroles. Cooking Chat recipe for #SundaySupper.

I had this casserole in mind when having dinner at my sister's home recently. My brother-in-law asked if I'd "help" use up some of their abundant basil before it fell victim to the frost. So this casserole got some pesto as a bonus ingredient. Add it if you have some basil or pesto on hand, but of course don't out and buy pesto for this if you want to stick to the budget theme. Add an extra clove or two of garlic if you're skipping the pesto. Here's my pesto recipe if you want to make some.

I love the challenge of cooking great, healthy food on a budget. So I'm pleased to co-host this Budget Friendly #SundaySupper with T.R. Crumbley of Gluten Free Crumbley. Today I'm focusing on casserole as a good way to use what you have on hand. For more of my budget friendly tips, check out "8 Planning Tips to Feed Your Family Well and Under Budget."

Time to get to the recipe. Use it as a launching point for your own casserole to use what you've got. Red cabbage looks nice, but if it's green you have, put that in there! Got extra spinach or other greens? Add the into the saute too. OK, I think you get the idea here...

Mac, Veggie and Cheese Casserole uses leek tops with red cabbage for nice color. Tasty for a Budget Friendly #SundaySupper!
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 small onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 leek tops, thinly sliced
1/2 cup yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 1/2 cups red cabbage, chopped into thin slices
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 cup cheddar, divided
1/3 cup feta cheese
10 ozs elbow macaroni or other short shape
1/2 cup pesto (optional)
tsp dried basil if you aren't using pesto
handful or two of pumpkin seeds (sunflower seeds also a good option)
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion, sauté on medium heat for a few minutes, then stir in the garlic.

Add the leek tops, bell pepper and cabbage. Stir well to combine all the veggies, then add the chicken broth. Cook for about 10 minutes until the veggies have softened a bit.

Put on a pot of water on to boil as you start cooking the veggies. Add the pasta after you've added the chicken stock, and cook al dente according to package instructions. Don't overcook the pasta as it will cook more in the oven.

Drain the pasta when done, and toss with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.  Combine the veggie mixture with the pasta, then add 1/2 cup of the cheddar plus the feta.

Spray a large casserole dish with oil. Add the pasta and veggie mixture to the casserole, leveling it with a spoon so that it is evenly distributed. Sprinkle the remaining cheddar over the top, followed by the seeds.

Cover the casserole, and place in the oven to bake for 15 minutes. Uncover the casserole took bake uncovered for another 5 minutes, this helps get the casserole browning nicely on top. After that final 5 minutes, you are are ready to eat. Scoop a generous serving of the casserole onto each plate and enjoy!

Mac, Veggie and Cheese Casserole for #SundaySupper

Wine Pairing: I tend to think of a nice medium bodied red with a casserole. We enjoyed this with a great Dolcetto/Barbera blend from Italy's Piedmont region. You could also try a full bodied white with this.
Mac, Veggie and Cheese Casserole for a Budget Friendly #SundaySupper.

Be sure to check out all the great Budget Friendly Recipe from the #SundaySupper crew!

Scrumptious Mains (Breakfast and Dinner)
Satisfying Sides
Sweet Treats
Sips, Spreads, and Snacks
Sunday Supper Movement Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Budget Friendly #SundaySupper Preview

Mac, Veggie and Cheese Casserole. #SundaySupper post preview.

Eat well, spend less. That is one simple goal I'm sure many of us food bloggers share. Preparing most of our meals at home gives us more control over what we eat and it's also a great way to save money. But how can we home cooks really get that food bill down while making food that is healthy and tastes great? We will be picking up on this theme for the upcoming Budget Friendly #SundaySupper on October 19.

I'm excited to co-host the Budget Friendly Sunday Supper with T. R. Crumbley of Gluten Free Crumbley. I relish the challenge of coming up with great meals while keeping within our budget, and over the years I've been honing my approach for achieving this goal. I broke down some of my tips in this post, "8 Planning Tips to Feed Your Family Well and Under Budget."

I'm excited to share the recipe for  my casserole shown above (great dish for adding in what you have on hand!) and hearing more about all these tasty recipes from the #SundaySupper crew! Be sure to check back on Sunday for all the recipe details, and join our Twitter chat at 7 p.m. ET.

Scrumptious Mains (Breakfast and Dinner)
Satisfying Sides
Sweet Treats
Sips, Spreads, and Snacks
Sunday Supper Movement Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Roasted Sirloin Steak with Chanterelle Mushrooms and a Halter Ranch Cab

Roasted Sirloin Steak with Chanterelle Mushrooms and a Halter Ranch Cabernet. Cooking Chat recipe.

Do you start with the food or the wine when coming up with a wine pairing? Well, I go both ways, but I do love the challenge of creating a recipe that will be well-suited for a particular wine. OK, sometimes this isn't all that challenging. Like when you have a bottle of Halter Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles. A bold California Cab calls out beef to me. I'd picked up some dried chanterelles mushrooms recently, so it wasn't long before I came up with this Roasted Sirloin Steak with Chanterelle Mushrooms to go with the Halter Ranch Cabernet. An easy idea to come up with, but very tasty!

Lest you think I always go for such natural pairings, be sure to check out the Grilled Tuna with Eggplant and Peppers I came up with for a different Halter Ranch red.

Back to the steak dish. This is my standard way to cook steak when it's not grilling season. Quick pan-sear on the stove top, then roast briefly in the oven. The lean sirloin cut cooks quickly, and is best served medium-rare. You could definitely go for a cut like ribeye with more fat content, might be an even better pair for the Cab. But we were definitely very happy with this dish and pairing!

Chanterelle mushrooms, reconstituted and ready to chop for steak sauce. Cooking Chat recipe

One other quick note before the recipe. I combine "regular" mushrooms with the fancier chanterelles as a cost-effective way to get the deeper flavors from the gourmet mushrooms. You could go with a full ounce of chanterelles and skip the regular mushrooms if you like.

Roasted Sirloin Steak with Chanterelle Mushrooms and a Halter Ranch Cabernet. Cooking Chat recipe.
For the steak
1 large sirloin steak, about 1.25 lbs
1/2 tsp herbes de provence
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt

For the mushrooms
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1/2 oz dried chanterelle mushrooms
6 button mushrooms, sliced
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/3 cup red wine
1 tbsp butter
salt and pepper to taste

Prepare the dried chanterelles by pouring boiling water over the mushrooms, then set aside for 30 minutes. Drain the water, and then chop the chanterelles into bite sized pieces.

Pre-heat the oven to 400.

Make the rub: combine the herbes de provence, garlic powder and salt in a bowl. Sprinkle half the rub onto one side of the steak, then gently rub it into the meat. Turn the steak over, and rub the remaining half into that side. Set aside for 10 to 15 minutes to let the rub absorb a bit into the meat.

Make the mushrooms: heat 1 tbsp oil in a skillet. Add the shallot, sauté  on medium for a few minutes until softened. Add the button mushrooms first, stirring them into the pan along with another tablespoon olive oil. Add the chanterelles a minute or two later, stirring to combine everything. Add salt and pepper to taste along with the thyme.

Chanterelle and button mushrooms to serve with roasted sirloin.

Cook the mushrooms for about 5 minutes until they begin to "sweat" (moisture starts coming out of the mushrooms). Add the cooking wine, bring to a boil briefly, then reduce to simmer until the wine is mostly absorbed, about 5 more minutes. Finish the mushrooms by stirring in the butter, letting it gradually melt in and combine with the mushrooms. Keep warm on low heat as the steak cooks.

Cook the Steak: You can start the steak around the time the wine gets added to the mushrooms. Add a tbsp of olive oil to an oven-proof skillet (if you don't have a cast iron skillet, it's a must have in my kitchen!), and heat the skillet on medium high. When the skillet is good and hot, with oil beginning to shimmer, add the steak. Sear on one side for one minute, then turn to sear the other side for a minute.

Move the steak from the stove top to the oven. Roast the steak 11 to 12 minutes for medium rare. Adjust the cooking time slightly based on the size of your steak and your desired doneness. (The steak in the photos here came out at 10 minutes, at which time it was rare. I correctly figured that rest of the steak would continue to cook up as we were taking these tasty photos!)

Let the steak rest for a minute or two, then slice it up, and serve topped with the mushrooms. Enjoy with a green salad, and a potato of your choosing if you're not shunning the carbs. Of course, there's that glass of wine to enjoy with it too...

Roasted Sirloin Steak with Chanterelle Mushrooms and a Halter Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon. Cooking Chat recipe.

Wine Pairing: This dish was created with the 2012 Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon from Halter Ranch in mind. I hadn't tried it before, but based I expected it to be a big, beef-worthy wine. I wasn't disappointed.

2012 Halter Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles.
The wine is deep red in the glass. I got eucalyptus on the nose. I tasted blackberry and cherry fruit, along with notes of charcoal. Tannins are well-integrated. It's approachable now, but I suspected decanting or aging would really make this shine. So I decanted after the first small tasting pour. Just 15 minutes or so in the decanter really help show a nice long finish on the wine.

No surprise that this robust Cab paired nicely with the steak. In addition to standing up to the beef, there was enough nuance to the wine to play well with the subtle flavors of the chanterelle mushrooms. A winning match for sure!

One more note on the wine: this Cab is comprised of 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Malbec and 3% Petit Verdot. I'd say the grapes blended in with the Cab add to the depth and complexity. Halter Ranch is a SIP Certified sustainable winery, too. One more reason to grab a bottle!

Full disclosure: I received a courtesy sample of this wine from the winery. As always, the opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Linguine with Roasted Carnival Squash and a Garnacha for #winePW 5

Linguine with Carnival Squash and a Garnacha for #winePW.

I mulled over for some time what to do for the "Fall fruits and wine pairings" Wine Pairing Weekend 5 theme announced by our host, Culinary Adventures with Camilla. Apples and pears came to mind first, but I haven't cooked with them much. Then I realized squash was fair game, and I sure enjoying cooking with them in the fall. I had some colorful carnival squash on hand from our fall farmshare, and thought they'd be fun to use. So I came up with this Linguine with Roasted Carnival Squash recipe.

carnival squash for a linguine dish.

Now, what wine to pair with this roasted carnival squash dish? You could make the case that a white might be best for this fairly light pasta dish. In fact, we did enjoy a white with the leftovers (Gastronomie Rousette de Savoie). But when the weather starts turning cooler, I'm definitely gravitating more toward reds. Smells of roasting garlic and squash in the house, that seals the deal.

While I wanted red, I didn't want something heavy or tannic with this pasta dish. I'd enjoyed a Garnacha from Abadía de la Oliva Winery recently and had an extra bottle on hand. I welcomed a chance to open that bottle and see how it paired with this dish...stay tuned for the pairing details after the recipe!

Linguine with Carnival Squash and a Garnacha for #winePW.
1 head garlic, root end cut off for roasting
2 small carnival squash, cut in half and seeds removed
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup cooking liquid or water (more as needed)
2 to 3 cups baby arugula
1 tbsp parsley
12 ozs linguine or penne
1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the olive oil on the root end of the garlic for roasting. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, wrap tightly with foil and place in oven.

Drizzle the squash flesh with a tablespoon of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Lightly coat a baking tray with oil spray, and place the squash flesh side down on the tray. Put the squash in the oven to roast.

After the squash has roasted for about 30 minutes, start a pot of water to boil for the pasta. Check to see how the squash and garlic are coming along, though they will need closer to 45 minutes. A fork should be able to puncture the squash skin easily when it is done, and the flesh should be soft and beginning to brown. The garlic should be down around the same time, with soft, browned cloves.

Remove the squash and garlic and set aside to cool for a few minutes. When the squash is cool enough to work with, scoop out the flesh into a bowl and break up with a sturdy spoon.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil on medium in a large skillet. Squeeze the garlic into the the skillet, stirring it in to combine with the olive oil. This is a good time to add the pasta to the boiling pot of water.

Linguine with Roasted Carnival Squash and a Garnacha for #winePW 5

When the garlic has begun to sizzle, stir the squash into the skillet, combining it with the garlic and oil. Add the chicken broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer for about 5 minutes, adding 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water toward the end of that time.

Stir the arugula into the squash mixture, cooking for another minute or two to wilt the arugula. Cover and keep warm on very low heat until the pasta is ready.

Drain the pasta when cooked to your liking, then gently toss it with the squash mixture. You need to stir it up pretty well to get the squash evenly distributed. Add the cheese and the parsley, and you are ready to serve along with a glass of wine.

Linguine with Roasted Carnival Squash and a Garnacha. Cooking Chat pairing for #winePW 5.

Wine Pairing: So our September #winePW selection was the 3 Riberas Garnacha 2012 from Abadía de la Oliva Winery, located in the Ribera del Duero area of Spain. This Garnacha also had a small amount of Graciano blended in. This wine has violet on the nose. Blackberry and cherry fruit, leathery on the back end. I recall this wine being a bit more fruit forward when I first had it (perhaps in contrast to the sausage I had it with!) which is why I thought of it to go with the sweetness of the squash.  It worked reasonably well, picking up the pepperiness of the arugula as well as matching OK with the squash. Definitely a good Garnacha for the price, but I wouldn't say this was as spot-on as some of my other #winePW pairings, such as last month's Grilled Tuna with a Halter Ranch Syrah. Nonetheless, this Garnacha is a good value wine and a decent pairing.

Abadia de la Oliva Garnacha, a good value wine from Spain. Cooking Chat #winePW post

Wine Pairing Weekend #5 Bloggers
Here's what all of the bloggers have created for the October Wine Pairing Weekend!

On the Menu...

Pumpkin Lasagna with Halter Ranch's Côtes de Paso by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Squash and Sausage Soup with Pumpkin Cornbread and McKinley Springs 2010 Bombing Range Red by Tasting Pour
Linguine with Roasted Carnival Squash and a Garnacha by Cooking Chat
Pinot Vs. Syrah - Pork Tenderloin with Fig & Apple Sauce by Confessions of a Culinary Diva
Caramelized Almond Apple Upside Down Cake with a Late Harvest Riesling by A Day in the Life on the Farm
Wines for a Sweet & Savory Fall Harvest Meal by foodwineclick
Fall Fruit and Wine Pairing by Rockin Red Blog
Autumn Pumpkin Food Flair by Vino Travels -- An Italian Wine Blog
Join the #winePW conversation: Follow the #winePW conversation on Twitter throughout the weekend and beyond. If you're reading this early enough, you can join us for a live Twitter chat on our theme "Fall Fruits + Wine" on Saturday, October 11, from 11 a.m. to noon Eastern Time. You can also visit our group Pinterest board to pin some great pairing ideas for later! Stay tuned for the November Wine Pairing Weekend focusing on "Creative Thanksgiving Pairings", hosted by Curious Cuisiniere. This #winePW 6 will be on Saturday, November 8.