New Castle News

January 11, 2014

Culinary Conversation: Make it fast, easy and light

Lugene Hudson
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — If I’m on target, the word of the moment is light.

It’s especially appropriate after the holiday season when overindulgence often occurs.

Today, Culinary Conversation has just the antidote to start off the new year with some lighter selections.

There’s some bonuses. All are also easy. And fast.

Everybody’s busy. And often, there’s just not enough time to cook. If you keep your pantry stocked with some basic ingredients, you not only are able to throw together a quick, nutritious meal, the cost of constant take-outs is eliminated.

There’s even a quick dessert in today’s selections that has a surprise inside.

So, you can have a main course or toss a main course salad, make dessert and still have time for all the other things that matter.

What recipes do you call on when you need something that is quick and easy?

Share them at Culinary Conversation — the tasteful place to be in 2014.

Mexican Pasta Salad

Cook fusilli pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain. Rinse pasta with cold water to cool. Drain pasta well. Transfer pasta to large bowl. Add 11⁄2 tablespoons olive oil and mix thoroughly to coat. Add shredded chicken, diced tomatoes, corn kernels, carrot strips and chopped onion, and toss.

Mix Dijon mustard and fresh lime juice in small bowl. Gradually mix in remaining 1⁄3 cup olive oil. Mix in minced jalapeno chilies, chili powder and ground cumin. Add dressing and chopped fresh cilantro to salad and mix to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

(*Note: Salad can be prepared four hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Also, for convenience, use a roasted chicken from your market or favorite take-out place. Remove the skin and toss the chicken meat with the cooked fusilli and vegetables.

Citrus and Pepper

Tuna Salad

Whisk oil, vinegar and garlic in large bowl to blend. Working over bowl with dressing, cut oranges between membranes, releasing segments into bowl. Add onion, bell pepper, tuna, olives and parsley; toss. Season with salt and pepper. Can be made two hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.

Divide salad greens among plates. Spoon tuna salad over, dividing equally. Garnish with almonds.

Macaroni and Cheese

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the macaroni until tender but still firm, 4 to 5 minutes.

While the pasta is cooking, preheat the broiler. Pour the milk into a 1-quart glass or ceramic bowl and heat in the microwave on high for 3 minutes.

Melt the butter in a large, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes to make a roux. Whisk in the hot milk and bring to a boil, whisking until thickened and smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in 2 cups of the cheese. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.

Drain pasta and add it to the sauce, stirring gently to mix. Turn the macaroni and cheese into a buttered 9x13-inch flameproof baking dish or gratin. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top. Broil for about 2 minutes, until the cheese melts.

Balloon Biscuits

Preheat oven to 425. Line a large baking sheet with a piece of parchment or wax paper, or spray with nonstick vegetable coating.

Cut the butter into small pieces and place in a glass pie plate. Microwave on high for 30 to 60 seconds until the butter is melted. In small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon.

Remove biscuits from package. Roll or pat each one out to a 4-inch circle. Place a marshmallow in the center of a biscuit. Bring the dough up to enclose the marshmallow completely. Pinch the ends to seal.

Holding the sealed ends, roll the top and sides of the biscuit in the butter, then in the cinnamon-sugar. Place on the baking sheet, seam side down. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

Bake the biscuits on the middle rack of the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, until golden brown.

Easy Stroganoff

Cut the beef into 1⁄2-inch thick slices. Then cut the slices of meat into thin strips about 1⁄2-inch wide. Cut the mushrooms into thin slices.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the meat and cook over high heat, stirring, until the meat is browned all over, about 3 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and continue to cook, stirring, until the mushrooms begin to release their moisture, about 3 minutes. Stir in the sour cream and ketchup, and heat through. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve.