Friday, January 31, 2014

Bacon, Date & Pistachio Encrusted Mac & Cheese

An accidental success gave birth to this unusual recipe.  My roommates and I threw a party where we served homemade macaroni & cheese and bacon-wrapped dates, alongside many other finger foods.  The next day, I heated up some leftover mac n' cheese and, as happens from time to time, it got mixed into the candied dates.  Naturally, I just ate them all together.  BOOM!  A creamy, luscious, taste-bud popping classic was born.

This twist on your everyday mac n' cheese replaces the quotidien bread crumb topping with a mixture of smoky bacon, sweet dates and salty pistachios.  Elevate your next bowl of mac n' cheese with these decadent ingredients for a TO.DIE.FOR comfort meal.

Bacon, Date & Pistachio Encrusted Macaroni & Cheese

Your Favorite Macaroni/Pasta & Cheese
5 Slices of Bacon, cooked
5-6 Pitted Dates
1/4 C. Pistachios, shelled (almonds would also work well)
Something green for garnish, like thyme

Preheat the oven to 350.

Place your cheesy pasta into a greased baking dish.  Set aside.

Roughly chop your bacon, dates & pistachios into similar sized pieces.  Mix them together in a small bowl.  Evenly cover the pasta with the bacon mixture.  Bake for about 15 minutes until the pasta is heated through and the topping has ever so slightly browned.  Garnish with thyme to finish.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Beet Salad with Goat Cheese & Pistachios

My friend Mike says beets taste like dirt.  To him, this is a positive thing. To me, well, dirt's not my favorite flavor.  I've never been a beet lover but last week on a business trip to Scottsdale, AZ., my mind was changed.  I tried the most delicious version of beets that I've ever had. This recipe is my humble recreation.  Crunchy, creamy and fresh, these beets make the perfect side dish to any meal.  Serve them warm in the winter or cold in the summer.  

Beets are a great source of potassium, fiber and vitamin C.  

6-8 Beets, tops and roots removed, peeled and chopped (or 2 cans of beets, chopped and drained)
2 T. Olive oil
Salt & Pepper
1/4 C. Pistachios, shelled
1/4 C. Raisins
4 oz. Creamy goat cheese
4 Sprigs of thyme

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  

In a large bowl, toss the beets, olive oil, salt & pepper.  Spread out on a large baking sheet.  Roast in the oven for about 25-30 minutes, or until the beets are fork-tender.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.  *If you use canned beets, roasting is not necessary, but will add some more dimension to your dish.  

This salad tastes great hot or cold, so when you're ready to serve, transfer the beets to a serving dish.  Sprinkle with pistachios and raisins.  Crumble the goat cheese over the top and garnish with thyme leaves.