November 26, 2014

Smoked Gouda Macaroni and Cheese

Introducing: the FIRST recipe for one of this year's "Best Thanksgiving Side Dish Challenge" Elite Eight winners, the front-runner for this year's competition, Smoked Gouda Macaroni and Cheese.  This mac 'n cheese dish is rich, creamy, and full of flavor.  It combines the dry acidic "bite" of white wine with the smoked "bacon-y" flavor from the Gouda.  Add in some Fontina for creaminess and the cracker crumble on top for some crunch, and you've got a perfect Thanksgiving side dish!  Enjoy.

What You'll Need:
  • 1 sleeve Ritz crackers, plain or vegetable-style
  • 1 stick butter, divided (4T. + 4T.)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni or small shells
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 pound smoked Gouda cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 pound Fontina cheese, shredded
  • 2 scallions, optional for garnish

1.   Empty one sleeve of Ritz crackers into a gallon-sized Ziploc bag.  Crush crackers until they have the consistency of panko breadcrumbs.  In a large skillet, melt 4 tablespoons of butter and add crushed crackers.  Stir in chopped chives and cook until crackers have toasted.  Set aside.

2.  In a medium-sized saucepan, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and the 4 tablespoons of flour and whisk until flour has dissolved and the mixture browns and is smooth.  Add buttermilk, white wine, onion powder, and spices, and whisk until mixture thickens, about 7 minutes, or until it coats the back of a spoon.  Remove from heat and whisk in cheese until incorporated and melted through.

3.  Meanwhile, fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.  Heavily salt the water and cook pasta according to package directions.  (Under-cook just slightly - by about one minute - as it is going in the oven for a bit at the end.)  Drain pasta and return to hot pot.  Add cheese sauce to hot pot with pasta and incorporate until mixed through. 

4.  Transfer pasta to a oven-safe dish and top with cracker crumble.  Bake in a 400-degree oven for 15 minutes, or until bubbly.  Remove from oven and enjoy!

November 23, 2014

Kale and Mixed Greens with Creamy Cashew Dressing

I haven't featured a Guest Blogger in quite some time, and I am happy to report that I have a wonderful, quick and easy recipe to share from a Guest Blogger, my Aunt Karen Burzichelli, who is a Registered Nurse and Holistic Health Coach.  Here's her story...

As I turned 50-years-old, I started having a lot of health issues, especially digestive issues.  After a lot of trial-and-error, I finally discovered I was allergic to dairy.  With my new-found allergy, I started learning more about nutrition and how to use food as medicine.  The discovery led me to make the decision to go back to school to become a Holistic Health Coach.  After 30 years of taking care of others as a nurse, I now wanted to teach people how not to get sick!  After finishing school with the Institution of Integrative Nutrition, I started my business, Woman to Woman Health Coaching.  I now teach people how to use food as medicine and how to make their favorite recipes healthy!  I also offer different services such as grocery store tours, pantry do-overs, and in-home health and wellness classes with cooking demos for groups.  Here is my recipe for an easy salad that is tasty for herbivores and carnivores alike!  The cashews make a creamy dressing that you will swear came from a bottle, and the textures throughout take this salad to the next level.  Enjoy!

What You'll Need:
  • 2 cups mixed greens
  • 2 cups kale
  • 1 tablespoon good quality oil
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2 cups carrots peeled
  • 2 apples cut in chunks
  • 1 1/2 cups cashews (soaked in water for 2 hours)
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste

1.  Tear the kale in small pieces and massage for 3 minutes with a small amount of either olive oil or coconut oil.  This will get the toughness out of it.  Place kale, mixed greens, walnuts, raisins, carrots, and apples in bowl.

2.  Rinse the cashews and put in high-powered blender or food processor with water.  Add sea salt and cracked pepper to taste, and blend until creamy.  Pour over the salad and toss to coat.

Custom Programs also available.     
Other  Services available:
     Grocery store tours
     Pantry do overs
     In home health and wellness classes with cooking demos for groups of 10 or more 
- See more at:
Custom Programs also available.     
Other  Services available:
     Grocery store tours
     Pantry do overs
     In home health and wellness classes with cooking demos for groups of 10 or more 
- See more at:
Custom Programs also available.     
Other  Services available:
     Grocery store tours
     Pantry do overs
     In home health and wellness classes with cooking demos for groups of 10 or more 
- See more at:

November 19, 2014

Simple White Wine Roasted Chicken

Simple. Flavorful.  All-around great meal for the entire family.  This recipe is almost as easy as a crock pot recipe, because there's hardly any fuss, and you can do lots of other things while your chicken is cooking.  The chicken stays moist, and the vegetables are full of flavor.  Try this tonight! (And serve it with some mashed potatoes!)

What You'll Need:
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 1/2 cups baby carrots
  • 1 medium Vidalia onion
  • 1/2 cup green olives
  •  2 lemons, quartered
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds of dark meat chicken, legs and thighs
  • Salt, pepper, paprika
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1.  Roughly chop celery, carrots, and onion into medium-sized pieces. Toss vegetables, olives, and dried spices in a large Pyrex (or an oven-safe) dish with white wine and olive oil, coating all ingredients liberally.

2.  Lay chicken pieces on top of the coated vegetables, skin-side up, and season to your liking with salt and pepper, and liberally with paprika.  Cover with foil and put in a 400-degree oven for one hour, or until the juices run clear and the internal temperature reaches 165-degrees. 

3.  Put the oven on broil, and remove the foil from the dish.  Broil the chicken for 5 more minutes, until the skin crisps.  Place chicken pieces on a platter and add the butter to the vegetables and stir until melted.  Spoon vegetables and broth over chicken and enjoy!

November 18, 2014

And the Sweet Sixteen Winners Are...

Hey Folks!  Welcome back to the Second Annual BEST Thanksgiving Side Dish Challenge, presented by The Community Plate!  The winners of the Sweet Sixteen have been chosen, and we are moving on to the Elite Eight round!  All the winners of the Elite Eight will have recipes created for them, so be sure vote for your favorites.  Here's a breakdown of the winners so far:

1 Savory Stuffing with Mushrooms, Pecans and Gravy
2 Roasted Rosemary Potatoes
4 Green Salad with Orange-Sage Vinaigrette TIE
5 Spaghetti Squash with Garlic Cream Sauce TIE
6 Roasted Onions with Gorgonzola and Balsamic Glaze

1 Sweet Potato S'more Pie
2 Sweet Stuffing with Cranberry-Apple Chutney
3 Coconut Candied Yams
5 Pumpkin Bread with Cinnamon Buttercream

1 Herbed Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes
2 Smoked Gouda Mac 'n Cheese
3 Cheddar Chive Biscuits
4 Gingerbread Cornbread

8 Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Purple Cabbage
7 Creamy Parmesan Spinach
3 Roasted Asparagus with Lemon-Dijon Cream Sauce
5 Brown Sugar-Spiced Carrots

How to vote:
Visit this website and take the survey!

November 16, 2014

Second Annual Thanksgiving Side Dish Challenge

Welcome To The Second Annual Thanksgiving Side Dish Challenge - brought to you by The Community Plate!   I am getting a late start this year, but have no fear!  I'll still be creating recipes for the Elite Eight winners of the bracket, so you will have eight new side dish recipes to use between now and Christmas.  And, the recipes will be totally different from last year, so you (and I!) can build a holiday repertoire.

If you don't know about the Thanksgiving Side Dish Challenge, get the full scoop from last year here. This year, I am keeping it relatively similar, and I would LOVE if you would all participate again.  Like last year, I have four different catergories ("regions", if you will):  Vegetables, Savory, Sweet, and Grains/Starches.  Last year, I simply named each side dish in its original state.  This year, I have decided to specify how I will prepare each dish, to entice different favorites.  Simply click the link at the bottom of this article to participate in this fun survey!  Voting will go as follows:

November 15 - November 17: Voting for Sweet Sixteen
November 18 - November 20: Voting for Elite Eight
November 21 - November 23: Voting for Final Four
November 24 - November 26: Voting for Championship Round
Thanksgiving Day!! Voting for the WINNER of the Second Annual Side Dish Challenge!