Kathy Maister's Start Cooking

Cranberry Relish

print recipe card posted in Soups, Salads, Sides and Sauces, Vegetarian by Kathy Maister
Difficulty:

The holidays are almost upon us. If you are lucky enough to get an invitation to a dinner that includes a turkey or a goose, offer to bring the cranberry relish. This recipe involves no cooking, but I guarantee your efforts will be appreciated!

There are three ingredients needed for this recipe: whole-berry cranberry sauce, mandarin oranges and walnuts.

Buy already shelled or chopped walnuts. (The shelled walnuts are generally bigger pieces of walnuts). Be sure to buy the “whole-berry” cranberry sauce.

Until you are ready to make this relish, store the can of the whole-berry cranberry sauce and the can of the mandarin oranges in the refrigerator. They should be really cold when you make this relish.

You need a really nice bowl, big enough to hold the cranberry sauce, oranges and about ½ cup of walnuts. You can make and serve this in the same bowl if the bowl is big enough. Or just use a medium size mixing bowl and transfer the relish into your serving bowl.

Open the can of whole berry cranberry sauce and spoon it into a bowl.

Drain the mandarin oranges in a colander and add them to the cranberries.

Now add about ½ cup of walnuts.

GENTLY stir everything together being careful not to break apart the mandarin oranges.

That’s it!

Enjoy!

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Cranberry Pinwheels

print recipe card posted in Appetizers and Snacks, Vegetarian by Kathy Maister
Difficulty:

These cranberry pinwheels are a great hors-d’oeuvre to serve year round, but they are especially perfect for the holidays. The dried red cranberries and the green scallions make them look really festive. Plus the sweet/savory combination of the cranberries, feta cheese and green onion make them particularly tasty. They can actually be made 1 day ahead of serving them.

You will need the following ingredients:

  • 1-8 ounces carton of whipped cream cheese
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
  • ¼ cup chopped green onion
  • 6 ounces of dried cranberries
  • 4-10 inch flour tortillas

There are many different brands of feta cheese. Some are saltier than others. You may have to try a few different brands until you find one that suits your taste! (Feta cheese is the one that is always served on a Greek Salad. I have used it on my Cold Mediterranean Plate.)

Tortillas are a Mexican, round, flat, unleavened, bread made of either corn or flour. For this recipe be sure to buy the flour tortillas. They can be found in the refrigerator section of the grocery store.

Preparation:

The green onions need to be washed. Then cut off the hairy end.

The white part has a stronger onion flavor than the green part. For this recipe I use the whole thing. Cut the green onions into thirds and line them up.

Now dice them into about 1/8 inch slices.

Put the crumbled feta cheese into a large mixing bowl.

Now add the whipped cream cheese.

And the chopped scallions.

Now all the cranberries.

Mix everything together.

Spread the mixture onto a dinner plate. Divide the mixture into four equal size piles. This way you know you have divided the filling equally and each Cranberry Roll-up will have the same amount of filling.

Using a knife spread ¼ of the mixture onto a 10 inch tortilla. If the filling is difficult to spread, dip your knife into water then try spreading the filling. (You can use the leftover flour tortillas to make Quesadillas!)

It is not necessary to spread the filling right to the very side edges. Those edges will get trimmed away later anyways in order to make perfect rounds.

Tightly roll up the tortilla.

Wrap each tortilla in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour. (Or you can make them a day in advance.)

Slice off the ends about 1 inch on each side. (These are the bits that you sample!) Now cut each roll into about 10 slices. (If you cut them too thin they will fall apart.)

Arrange the slices on a serving dish and garnish (decorate) with fresh parsley or leftover green onion. Enjoy!

Source: Taste of Home

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Baked Macaroni and Cheese

print recipe card posted in Lunch, Vegetarian by Kathy Maister
Difficulty:

Macaroni and Cheese lovers have many differing opinions on what is the perfect way to make this classic dish. Baked is my favorite. Many other people prefer the Stove-top version, while others stick to a Box-Mix. Different skill levels are needed to make each version, with the Baked generally being the most complicated and time consuming to prepare. But it’s oh so good!

This recipe for Baked Macaroni and Cheese is based on first making a white sauce (in French it’s called béchamel), then adding shredded cheese. There are some simpler “baked recipes” which do not require making a white sauce first, but personally,I have yet to find one I like.

I’ll go over some of the many recipe variations on Baked Macaroni and Cheese at the end of this post.

This version will take approximately 30 minutes to prepare and another 30 minutes to cook.

There are several steps necessary to make Baked Macaroni and Cheese. You will need to be able to:

Be sure to get all the ingredients measured and prepared before turning on the stove!

A complete list of ingredients is in the recipe; here is a photo of what you will need:

Preparing the ingredients

a) Measure out the macaroni: 8 ounces = 2 cups = 1/2 box

b) Shred 12 ounces of sharp cheddar cheese

c) Mince (that means to chop really fine) 1/2 cup of yellow onion

d) Measure (precisely) 3 Tablespoons of flour, 3 Tablespoons of butter, 3 cups of milk, 1 tablespoon of powdered mustard, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/8 teaspoon of black pepper

The flour, butter and milk must be measured accurately. Those three ingredients are the base of a béchamel (white sauce) to which we will then add the mustard, salt and pepper and the cheese. The ratio of the flour, butter and the milk will affect the outcome of your Mac and Cheese. (Too much milk and it will be runny, too much flour and it will too dry)

Bread Crumb Topping

Make the bread crumb topping by trimming off the crusts of 4 slices of bread, and then cut the bread into crumbs.

Melt 2 Tablespoons of butter.

In a medium bowl, combine the butter and bread crumbs.

Set this aside for now.

Cooking the Macaroni

Follow the directions on the box of the macaroni YOU purchased. Elbow style is traditional, but any small-to-medium size pasta would work as well. To review how to cook pasta, check out my video on How to Cook Pasta.

Putting it all Together

While the pasta is cooking, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter over very low heat in a separate medium size pot.

Whisk in the flour and…

…keep it moving for about one minute, making sure it’s free of lumps.

Whisk in the mustard, salt and pepper, milk…

…and the minced onion.

Simmer for about seven to ten minutes until the mixture is thickened and smooth, stirring often.

The next step-adding an egg- can be a bit tricky. You need to “temper” the egg first. That means to warm it up so that it does not just turn into scrambled eggs when you add it to the thickened, hot, milk mixture (béchamel).

The egg will make the Mac and Cheese smoother and creamier. I have tried this recipe with and without adding the egg and it does affect the texture of the final recipe.

In a medium bowl, beat one egg.

Warm the egg by drizzling in, very slowly, 2-3 Tablespoons of the thickened milk mixture. Continue to wisk the mixture as you drizzle. (You can use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop out the sauce from the pan.)

Now add the egg mixture to the pot. Stir in the cheese.

Fold the cooked and drained macaroni into the mix

Pour everything into a 2-quart casserole dish. (My dish is a Pyrex dish measuring 8 inches square by 2 inches high.) It should be very “soupy” at this point. Don’t worry, it will firm up in the oven.

Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs.

Bake for 30 minutes in a 350 degree preheated oven. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.

Variations

As I said at the very beginning, there are many variations to this classic dish. Many recipes use a combination of three or four cheeses. Each affects the final taste and texture. (One very famous recipe uses American cheese for a smoother consistency. That recipe was, by far, MY least favorite as I found the American cheese flavor overpowers the entire dish.)

There are also many options on the type of bread crumbs which you can use. I use fresh bread crumbs as it is the most traditional. Japanese-style Panko crumb topping seems to be gaining quite a bit in popularity.

There are many people who like to add extras like: salami, ham, browned ground beef, hot dogs (which I’m told kids love), crumbled cooked bacon, hot sauce, paprika, parsley, chopped canned tomatoes, butternut squash, salsa, etc….

Baked Macaroni is an American Classic. Everyone has a favorite.

What’s yours?

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