Friday, December 28, 2012

Twenty Twelve

Hi Friends! I hope and each and every one of you readers had a holiday to remember with your loved ones. I've taken some time off this month to spend some time outside of the kitchen and regroup to make Dressing on the Side everything I want it to be in 2013 for all of you. With the warmest wishes for the happiest of new years, I want to thank all of you for making Dressing on the Side a place where I can share my love of food and family and a little bit of fashion. I hope I've been inspiring to you in the kitchen and have helped create those dinner table memories to last for years to come. 

As we head into a new year I'm excited for all of the adventures to come and all the things I hope to share with you soon. For all the great websites and blogs to read, it means the world to me that you've chosen to stop by and see what's cooking. You're support is inspiring and invaluable in my culinary conquests. 

Happy New Year's dear friends.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Italian Style Pizza Peppers

Hey Friends!

So the holiday season got the best of me--as did a few days of being under the weather, a mid-week family wedding and my mom's annual holiday visit. Sorry for the silence around here but I've been busy cooking up a few things in between and hand-making most of Christmas around here. 

These stuffed peppers capture the colors of the season and all the delicious, comforting flavors of a rich, heavy Italian feast. They're low (and can easily be made "no") carb and come together in just 30 minutes. A personalized serving always packs an impressive punch and can easily be made for lunch or a simple weeknight dinner after a day of shopping and wrapping.

Italian Style Stuffed Peppers ("Pizza Peppers")
(makes 4 medium peppers)
  • 4 red or green bell peppers, tops, ribs and seeds removed.
  • ~1/4 cup finely chopped bell pepper (use top pieces)
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 lb ground beef (or chicken, or even italian sausage would be delicious)
  • 1 cup cooked white rice, or orzo
  • ~1 cup shredded mozzerella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • ~3/4 cup marinara
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • ~1 tbsp fresh minced basil
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
 Getting Started:
 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the ground meat, onion and bell pepper and cook until meat is browned, about 7 minutes. Turn heat to medium and season with salt and pepper, garlic and Italian seasoning. Stir in the rice and 1/2 c marinara. Stir to combine well. Stir in the parmesan and basil. 

Sprinkle the inside of each pepper with mozzarella. Then stuff the peppers with the filling. Top with a generous amount of mozzarella.

Place the peppers in a deep baking dish (if only making 2 peppers, a loaf pan works great!) and loosely cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 10 minutes, remove the foil, and bake an additional 10 minutes. Top with more marinara before serving.

*These could easily be topped with pepperoni or any other pizza toppings as well, (black olives, mushrooms, you name it).

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Mac and Cheese

In keeping with the holiday entertaining idea around here I've got another one that can feed an army or scaled down to feed just two as a weeknight side dish.  There's nothing more comforting than a heaping portion of hearty noodles and a thick, delicious cream sauce. With a pinch of chili powder and ground mustard there's a few surprises in each bite that leave your palate craving just a little bit more.

For an army....
  •  3/4 lb elbow macaroni, cooked to just shy of al dente
  • 4 tbsp butter + 2tbsp sliced thin for the top
  • 3 tbsp flour 
  • 3 c milk (1% was just fine for me!)
  • 1 c broth (chicken or vegetable) ** you may not need all of this.
  • 1.5 tsp ground mustard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 10 oz cheddar, shredded and separated (about 2.5 cups) 
  • 1/3 c italian seasoned breadcrumbs
For two
  • 1/4 lb elbow macaroni, cooked to just shy of al dente
  • 1 tbsp butter + 1 tbsp sliced thin for the top
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 c milk
  • 1/4 tsp ground mustard
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • ~1 + 1/4 c shredded cheddar
  • 2-4 tbsp italian seasoned breadcrumbs
While you're boiling your noodles...
In a sauce pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter (be sure to reserve the extra amount for the topping!). Once melted whisk in the flour. Cook 1-2 minutes until bubbly. Slowly whisk in the milk and reduce heat to medium. Stirring occasionally, allow the mixture to come to a light bubble and thicken. (The small batch should take just a few minutes, the larger batch can take up to 6-7 minutes). When the mixture thickens, reduce head to medium low and whisk in the cheese--reserve 1/2 c for the large portion and 1/4 c for the small portion. When the cheese is melted, season with the mustard, chili powder, salt and garlic. 

Add the noodles to the cheese sauce until well coated. Pour the macaroni mixture into a casserole dish (3 qt size for the large, or ramekins for the small). Sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese, then the bread crumbs, and place a few thin slices of butter on top. 

For the large size, bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes until bubby and golden brown on top. 

For the small size, bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes until bubby and golden brown on top. My ramekins were pretty full so I set them on a baking sheet to catch any spills of bubbling cheese. 

Enjoy as a weeknight meal, along side a holiday roast or treat your guests to these mini versions along side fried chicken or grilled steaks.