Try a twist on traditional mac and cheese.
Byline: Janet K. Keeler
Monday: Meatless meal
Rigatoni With White Bean Sauce is a muscular dish that gets deep flavor from Swiss cheese, making it an unusual take on mac and cheese. To make the sauce, heat a large saucepan and saute 1 cup chopped onion and 3 cloves minced garlic in 2 tablespoons of melted butter, until tender. Stir in 1/4 cup flour and freshly ground pepper. Pour in 2⅔ cups milk all at once and cook for another minute. Add 3 cups shredded Swiss cheese and, when it melts, stir in 2 cans drained Northern beans and 1 can drained diced chiles. This is enough sauce for 1 pound of cooked pasta. Green salad on the side.
Tuesday: Fruit first
Apricot and Mint Couscous will go with whatever you are tossing on the grill tonight, especially pork chops. To make the side dish, cook a box of couscous in broth (chicken or vegetable) according to package instructions along with halved apricots and some thinly sliced red onions. When it's done, season with salt and pepper, fluff with a fork and stir in chopped fresh mint and flat-leaf parsley, about 1/4 cup of each.
Wednesday: Rotisserie chicken
Buffalo Chicken Wing Dip is a wonderful snack you'll want to share. You'll need 2 cups of shredded rotisserie chicken to start. Mix it with 16 ounces softened cream cheese, 1/2 cup blue cheese, 1/2 cup hot wing sauce and 1/2 cup chopped celery. Spread it into a shallow casserole dish and sprinkle with 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve with sturdy crackers or celery sticks.
Thursday: Eat for good luck
Hoppin' John, a black-eyed pea and rice dish fueled by smoky ham or bacon, has long been a traditional dish eaten in the South on New Year's Day. The black-eyed peas are said to bring good luck. Hoppin' John Noodle Bowls (recipe below) is a twist on that old favorite, introducing Asian flavors into the mix. I love it because diners can reach into bowls of toppings to make it their own.
Friday: Resolution time
We've been dancing since around Halloween and now it's time to pay the piper. The diet piper that is. Saute cod or halibut seasoned with salt, pepper and olive oil. Serve with Sugar Snap Pea Salad. First, make a dressing of 2 parts olive oil and 1 part lime juice plus 1 to 2 teaspoons of grated fresh ginger. Season with salt and pepper. Use this to dress sugar snap peas and sliced red onion. Garnish with sesame seeds if desired.