Sunday, January 31, 2016


Superbowl Game Day Food.  It's the one thing that can bring all the fans together, regardless of who's jersey they're wearing.  It's the one day we forget just how cold it is outside, what our New Year's fitness resolutions are and what time we have to be to work on Monday.  All food bets are off, the grill is fired up and the drinks are pouring.

I'm sure everyone has their favorite entree or meat dish ready for the grill, but when it comes to side dishes, I find that people often end up scratching their heads and opting for the store bought macaroni salad.  At a potluck, being the side dish supplier always takes a bit more thought than a salad, entree or dessert contributor.  Look and think no further my are the answers!

Baked Buffalo Chicken Pasta

Baked Buffalo Chicken Pasta

  • 1 lb. rigatoni pasta
  • 1 lb. bacon, chopped
  • 4-5 scallions, chopped (green ends only)
  • 1 lb. prepared boneless buffalo chicken tenders or nuggets, chopped
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cup marinara sauce
  • 1/2 cup hot wing sauce (more or less to taste)
  • 2 cups shredded cheese
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. each salt and pepper, 
  • 1/2 cup bleu cheese crumbles (optional garnish)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Fill a large pot with generously salted water and bring to a boil.  Add the pasta and par-boil it for about 6 minutes until al dente.  Drain and transfer to a large baking dish.
  3. Chop the chicken tenders and add them to the dish with the pasta.  Mix until combined.
    1. In a medium saucepan on medium heat, combine the heavy cream, marinara sauce and hot wing sauce. Stir until combined.  Season with garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Adjust the ingredients to your liking, stir until warm, about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir the sauce and 1 cup of the cheese evenly into the mixture with the pasta and chicken.  Top the dish with the remaining 1 cup of cheese.  Cover the baking dish with foil and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.
  5. While the pasta is baking, fry the bacon in a large skillet on high heat until extra crispy.  Remove from the drippings with a slotted spoon, drain on a paper towel and allow the bits to cool.
  6. Chop the scallions and mix them together with the cooled bacon bits.
  7. Remove the dish from the oven after baking, uncover, and sprinkle the bacon/scallion mixture on top. Allow the dish to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.  Finish with bleu cheese crumbles if desired.

Southwest Stuffed Avocados
Prep time: 10 minutes / Cook time: 4 minutes / Servings: 8
Southwest Stuffed Avocados

  1. Place the frozen vegetables in the microwave (in the bag) and microwave on high heat for about 4 minutes. Allow the bag to cool before handling and transfer veggies to a large mixing bowl.
  2. With a large knife, cut the avocados in half lengthwise and discard the seeds. With a spoon, hollow out the avocados a bit more by running the spoon in a circle around the pit, leaving about 1/2 the fruit in the shells.
  3. Add the salad dressing, chopped fresh cilantro and lime juice to the mixing bowl with the veggies.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and stir until all ingredients are combined.
  4. Fill the hollowed avocados with the veggie mixture. Top or garnish with chopped more cilantro and sliced limes. Serve immediately.

Roasted Cashew & Lemon Pesto Stuffed Mushrooms

Prep Time: 5 minutes / Cook Time: 0 minutes / Servings: 12 mushrooms
Raw Cashew & Lemon Pesto Stuffed Mushrooms

  • 10 oz. whole Crimini or white mushrooms, center stems removed
  • 15-20 large basil leaves
  • 2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • juice and zest of 1 lemon (plus more zest for garnish)
  • 2/3 cup roasted cashews (plus a few more for garnish)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • cracker black pepper to taste

  1. In a food processor or blender combine basil, parsley, scallion, garlic, lemon juice and cashews.  Season with pepper and pulse food processor until roughly chopped.
  2. Scrape ingredients down into the bottom of the food processor and blend the ingredients again, streaming the olive oil in slowly. Blend for about 30 seconds until the pesto is smooth and creamy.
  3. Place the mushroom caps open side up on a serving dish.  Spoon the pesto into the mushroom caps.  Top with lemon zest and garnish with a whole cashew.

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