Side dish

Pasta with Gorgonzola Cheese and Roasted Cauliflower

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My nephew, Dalton (sister’s son), and niece, Laurel, (brother’s daughter), got together on Christmas eve and cooked up this “boujee” (their description!) version of my favorite dish - mac’n cheese.

Tender roasted cauliflower florets, Gorgonzola cheese, and the organic pasta they used, sets this apart from my typical elbow macaroni and cheddar dish, and make it special enough to serve at any dinner party of distinction. It’s versatile enough to use as a vegetarian main, or a side. (Perhaps to a halibut filet?)

Dalton and Laurel, a very Cousin Christmas!

Dalton and Laurel, a very Cousin Christmas!

Ingredients:

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets (less than an inch)

  • ¼ cup olive oil

  • ¾ teaspoon

  • freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 large leeks, halved and thinly sliced

  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

  • 8 ounces pasta like farfalle, bowtie, or fusilli

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed

  • 6 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

  • chives for serving

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.

  2. In a large bowl, toss cauliflower, leeks, and garlic with olive oil, salt and 3-4 twists of freshly ground black pepper. Spread in a single layer onto a baking sheet or roulade pan and bake for about 35-40 minutes until cauliflower is tender and all veggies are caramelized.

  3. Cook pasta in large stock pot of salted boiling water - remove from heat just BEFORE it is al dente. Remove about 1 cup of the water - set aside, then drain the pot.

  4. Return the pasta to the pot, add the butter, Gorgonzola, a few more twists of the black pepper and 1/2 cup pasta water. Stir thoroughly until cheese is melted and evenly distributed.

  5. Add the roasted florets. leeks, and garlic to the pasta, then season with additional salt and pepper (if desired). If it is too dry, add more of the reserved pasta water.

  6. Dish into shallow serving bowls and garnish with chopped chives. Serve it up warm and delicious!

After carefully taste-testing and much discussion, our two burgeoning chefs decided it could be made even a little more extra by adding crab or lobster to the mix. I have to agree.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Balsamic-Honey Glaze

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My oldest son hosted our Thanksgiving dinner this year. Well, what I really mean to say is that my daughter-in-law hosted Thanksgiving dinner this year.

While Isaiah works hard to provide for his family, so does Riely, and let’s face it, she’s the one that does the majority of the holiday prep.

Nearly 40 guests were invited into their gorgeous new home, where we feasted on not one, but two, delicious smoked turkeys. I brought the mashed potatoes and pumpkin dump cake; all other the sides, salads, and desserts were provided by the rest of the grateful guests.

The roasted Brussel sprouts with a balsamic-honey glaze were a stand out!

Ingredients:

  • 2lbs Brussel sprouts, trimmed and halved.

  • 1/4 cup Olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon each:

    • garlic powder

    • thyme

    • oregano

    • paprika

    • black pepper, and

    • sea salt

  • Glaze

    • 1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar

    • 1/4 cup Honey

Directions:

  1. Place prepared Brussel sprouts in a large bowl, toss with olive oil and seasonings until evenly coated (add or subtract seasonings as you desire, you know me, I use recipes as guides!)

  2. Spread seasoned sprouts on a shallow baking pan and place in preheated 425 degree oven.

  3. Meanwhile - combine vinegar and honey in saucepan and heat until mixture begins to reduce and thicken.

  4. Roast sprouts until tender and some have begun to blacken - about 25-30 minutes, turning occasionally.

  5. Remove from oven, drizzle glaze over the top, stir to coat and return to oven for approximately 5 more minutes.

  6. Serve hot.

  7. Add cooked bacon or sausage crumbles to the roasting mixture if desired.

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Even the kids gobbled these tasty little morsels up! They are super easy to prepare and a nutritious side to any family meal, but fancy enough to serve at your holiday dinner party!

(If you’re as lucky as me, after dinner you’ll get a live musical performance! Because, while my son may not be a domestic wonder, he - and our good friend Sharif - can sure play guitar and sing!)

Enjoy!