Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Macaroni and Cheese with Winter Squash

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 pound large or medium shells
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 teaspoon ground thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 8 ounces sharp Cheddar
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg


    1. Slice the squash in half.  Scoop out and discard the seeds.  Place the squash in a baking pan and roast at 375 degrees for 45 minutes, or until tender. Set aside to cool.
    2. Start the water for the pasta; when it reaches a boil, add the shells and cook according to package directions.  Drain and set aside until the sauce is ready.
    3. While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter and olive oil in a large skillet.
    4. Grate the onion in a food processor, and add the grated onion and thyme to the melted butter,
    5. Saute for 2 minutes, then add the flour and sauté for another 2 minutes
    6. Add the broth to the skillet, and bring to a boil, stirring until smooth.  Turn heat down to low.
    7. Scoop the squash out of the skin and puree in the food processor until smooth.
    8. Add 1 cup of skim milk to the squash puree and process until blended.
    9. Add the squash/milk mixture to the thickened stock and stir until thoroughly blended.
    10. Add the cheese to the sauce and stir until dissolved.
    11. Season with nutmeg, and add additional pepper if needed.
    12. Keep the sauce warm on low until the pasta is cooked.
    13. Combine the sauce and shells, and serve.

    I top each serving with a hearty portion of greens, such as swiss chard, sautéed in garlic and olive oil.

    Tuesday, December 11, 2012

    Did Splenda Tests Kill Beagles?

    A friend posted today that she had read that the toxicity tests on Splenda involved locking 42 beagles in metal cages, feeding the Splenda, then slitting their throats.  I did a fair amount of research last week on Sucralose for a page I did on its side effects and I did not encounter any mention of this study...just LOTS of rat I decided to go back and hunt for the source.    I found lots of blog posts repeating the story as truth, but couldn't find any authoritative source.
    The author of the article that the blog posts all seem to generate from mentions a study in ''Food and Chemical Toxicology'' which said this had happened to 42 beagles in New Jersey.   I searched through the archives of  ''Food and Chemical Toxicology'' and I couldn't find that article. The only one I did find had some of the same words ( locked in "metal cages") but used 4 (not 42) beagles, in the UK- not New Jersey.   Blood samples were taken from a vein in dogs' necks - but no beagles had their throats slashed. Here's the original article:  
    So, while you may not agree with animal testing, it doesn't appear that dogs were killed to test the safety of sucralose. I would suspect that all artificial sweeteners- indeed any food additives- go through similar tests before being certified as safe for human consumption.

    Saturday, December 8, 2012

    Baked Chard Stalks

    Credit: Stacy Spensley

    This recipe is very flexible-adjust the quantities as you see fit.  I prefer to use Silver Chard for this recipe, because I find the light green color the most visually appealing, but it works just as well with red or Bright Lights chard.

     Ingredients Needed:

    2 bunches (about 2- 2 1/2 pounds) Swiss Chard
    2 tablespoons butter, softened, plus an additional 2 tablespoons, diced
    2/3 cup Parmesan Reggiano cheese, grated
    Salt, to taste

    1. Trim the leaves from the stalks and set aside for another use.
    2. Cut the stalks into  2 inch long pieces.
    3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add the stalks.  Boil about 30 minutes, until the stalks are tender.  Drain.
    4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
    5. Use the softened butter to coat a baking dish.  Use a dish that will hold the chard in 2 layers.
    6. Add half the chard to the dish in a dingle layer, and top with half the cheese.  Add the remaining chard, press down, and top with the rest of the cheese.
    7. Top with the diced butter, and bake for 15 minutes until the top layer is just beginning to brown.

    Sunday, January 22, 2012

    Cranberry Pork Roast (Crock Pot Recipe)

    Credit: Andrew Morrell Photography
    This one is for Jenny's crock pot recipe library. Although it has a number of ingredients, it's pretty simple to prepare. You can vary the seasonings as desired - it can even be made with just the pork and cranberry sauce, if you don't have any of the other ingredients available. Serve with mashed potatoes and a strongly flavored green vegetable, like kale or spinach.

    1 (2-3 lb) boneless pork roast
    2 cups whole berry cranberry sauce
    1 teaspoon ground ginger
    1 tablespoon prepared spicy brown or whole grain mustard
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
    1 clove garlic, pressed
    1/3 cup pomegranate juice
    Juice from 1/2 lemon

    1. Trim any excess fat from the pork. A little is fine, but if it has a thick layer of fat on top, you'll want to remove it.
    2. Place the pork in the crock pot and turn it to low.
    3. Combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl, blending well.
    4. Pour the sauce over the pork.
    5. Cover the crock pot, and cook for 8-10 hours.