Gyoza Potstickers on Lettuce Salad With Sauces

Gyoza is a type of Japanese potsticker that is surprisingly easy to prepare. It is particularly delicious when served on a bed of lettuce to up your vegetable intake and improves presentation. The popular gyoza sauce is also simple to prepare, perfect for dipping your pan-fried dumplings.

The only caveat is that you may need a little bit of practice to fold the potstickers in a visually appealing way. Even if it takes a few tries, the gyoza will taste delicious.

A Little History of Gyoza Potstickers

Gyoza potstickers are the Japanese variation of Asian dumplings. The history of potstickers is rumored to have begun when a chef tried to boil a dumpling in a wok but left it alone, causing the water to boil off. The dumpling stuck and crisped, creating potstickers, which translates into “stuck to the wok” in Chinese. From there, each country, including Japan created their versions.

Recipe

To make life easy, opt for packaged gyoza wrappers, although you could make your own if you have the time.

Potstickers

  • 1 package of gyoza wrappers
  • 1 tablespoon of neutrally flavored oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • ¼ cup of water
  • ¾ pounds of ground pork
  • 2 green onions
  • 2 shiitake mushrooms
  • 1-inch ginger, grated and fresh
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 or 3 cabbage leaves
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon sake
  • Black pepper, fresh ground
  • ¼ teaspoons salt

Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon Japanese chili oil, optional

Preparation

1.     Start by preparing your fillings. You can wilt the cabbage leaves to make them easier to handle. If so, you can use the microwave to blanch them or add salt then squeeze out the water. Remove the cabbage leaves’ cores then chop them into tiny pieces.

2.     Cut the shiitake mushrooms and green onions into very small pieces as well.

3.     Combine the ground meat with the cabbage, shiitake mushrooms, and green onion.

4.     Add your grated ginger and minced garlic. Then add the freshly ground pepper, 1 teaspoon sake, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, and ¼ teaspoon kosher salt. Mix the contents of the bowl well, kneading them by hand.

5.     Place a wrapper in your palm on the non-dominant hand. Place a small quantity of filling in the center of the wrapper. Then use a wet finger to create a circle on the wrapper’s outer quarter inch.

6.     Fold the potsticker in your preferred way. You can fold it in half and pinch the center without sealing, then pleat the top starting in the center.

7.     To cook the gyoza, get a large, non-stick frying pan and put it over medium-high heat. Place the gyoza in one layer with the flat side down. In about three minutes, the bottoms should be golden brown.

8.     At this point, add ¼ cup water to your pan and cover it. Steam the gyoza for around three minutes, at which point almost all of the water should evaporate. Remove the lid so any remaining water evaporates.

9.     Add a teaspoon of sesame oil throughout the frying pan. Keep cooking the gyoza uncovered until they are crisp on the bottom.

10. Combine all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and serve the sauce on the side.

11. Serve the potstickers on a bed of lettuce for some extra vegetables and an even more visually appealing plate.

Videos on How to Make Your Gyozas Potstickers

To see the entire process of making gyoza potstickers and the sauce, watch this video.

For another angle to help you get the folding technique down, check out this video.

This is just one of the many variations of gyoza potstickers you can prepare as well as one of the popular choices for the sauce. You can easily change the protein or add your favorite vegetables to the potstickers or try a different Asian sauce.

Bacon and Egg Fried Rice

When you want to shake up your dinner, lunch or breakfast, this bacon and egg fried recipe is a go-to option. It can be eaten any time of day and only takes 20 minutes to whip up.

History of Fried Rice

We don’t know the exact beginning of fried rice because it does date back to the 6th century. It’s believed to have been created at some point during the Sui dynasty. Fried rice is recorded as being in Yangzhou, a city in the eastern Jiangsu province at that time.

Yangzhou fried rice is still the standard base that most Chinese fried rice dishes are made from. Typical fried rice dishes contains peas, scallions, fluffy rice, prawns and roasted pork. This type is found in American-Chinese restaurants as a “special” fried rice.

Unique Characteristics of Fried Rice

When making fried rice, the key is to use previously cooked rice for the best results. Older rice is dryer which lessens the chances of you having a wet and sloppy recipe. You can use rice from a day ago, but ideally, you’ll want some from two to three days before.

Whatever rice you use, it’s good to run it between your fingers first and remove the clumps before you cook it.

It’s also recommended to use long-grain rice for these recipes. Of all the varieties, long-grain rice comes out fluffier and has less stickiness. Some recipes specifically call for scented rice like basmati or jasmine rice.

Bacon and Egg Fried Rice Recipe

Total: 20 min

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • Neutral oil, such as canola or vegetable
  • 3/4 cup diced bacon or ham
  • 3/4 cup diced white onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup diced carrots
  • 1/4 cup snap peas, sliced, or other seasonal vegetables
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 4 cups cooked rice
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • Freshly ground white pepper

Step 1

Heat a large skillet or wok over high heat, then add 2 tablespoons of oil and the bacon. Render the bacon for about 2 minutes until crispy. Stir in the onion, garlic, carrots and snap peas and saute for a minute or until the vegetables start to soften.

Step 2

Add the eggs to the skillet, then add the rice directly into the wet egg. Using the back of a spatula or spoon, press the rice into the egg, fold and repeat until the rice is completely coated and heated through. Add the soy sauce and oyster sauce and stir to coat the rice. Season with a pinch of salt. Cook over high heat, stirring, until the rice is heated through, 2 to 4 minutes. Garnish with the green onions and some white pepper.

Food Network also published a video that shows another way to make this bacon and egg fried rice recipe.

Greg’s Kitchen also shares ways to make this simple dish more enjoyable.

Variations

The best thing about fried rice is that you can add just about anything to it and the recipe still takes good. Consider swapping out the vegetable oil in the directions above with sesame oil for a more authentic taste.

It’s also possible to add whatever vegetables you enjoy. Consider shredded lettuce, peppers or zucchini. Even mushrooms go well with most fried rice recipes. There’s also the option to mix in other types of meat from chicken to hot dogs. There’s no stopping you from putting in any meat option you enjoy.

Finally, consider adding some cheese to this dish if you enjoy the gooey texture. This is a fantastic way to get picky eaters to consume it.

Enjoy the Meal

The biggest question is what meal of the day will you eat this with? Does this look like a good breakfast or dinner for your family? Maybe you want to eat it one night for dinner and then reheat the leftovers for a quick breakfast option. It’s that versatile.

Barbecued Chicken

There are few dishes as American as barbecued chicken, even though cultures across the world have their own variations. When you plan a backyard party or just desire some quality comfort food, you want this fantastic barbecued chicken recipe.

History of Barbecued Chicken

Barbecue holds roots in the Caribbean, most likely from the Taino Indians. They smoked meats over frames made from green sticks. In a travel account from 1706, an Englishman recorded an evening in Jamaica when they had three whole pigs cooked with a rack over sticks with the natives.

Barbecue then made it to American through Virginia, where it continued to move south and west. By the early 1800s, it had made its way to Texas. It’s still a staple in the south and west. During the Civil War, families hosted public barbecues where they rallied support for local troops.

During the late 1800s, barbecued meat started becoming commercially available. It’s been common for potluck and communal meals. Barbecue tents also became popular where cooks could share their love for the food.

During the 1900s, it became strongly connected to African American culture. The slow cooking process of inexpensive meat cuts created a cost-effective way to feed the family. That’s why it’s an integral part of the soul food cuisine.

Unique Characteristics of Barbecued Chicken

While many people believe that barbecuing and grilling meat are the same thing, they aren’t. Grilling is a basic form of cooking over an open flame or high heat source. Authentic barbecue, on the other hand, requires cooking slowly over indirect heat.

Many recipes today create the same flavor without spending hours cooking. While the taste is there, what’s missing is the tender, moist texture that comes from the slow-cooking process.

Real barbecue is best suited for tough, big cuts of meat. It’s used for pulled pork, ribs and brisket. Grilling is best for quick-cooking foods such as steaks, hamburgers, vegetables, seafood and hot dogs.

Barbecued Chicken Recipe

(from //www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/favorite-barbecued-chicken/)

Our barbecued chicken recipe from Taste of Home helps you to achieve the same flavor without spending hours slow cooking.

Total Time

Prep: 15 min. Grill: 35 min.

Makes:  12 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 broiler/fryer chickens (3 to 4 pounds each), cut into 8 pieces each
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 small onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

Directions:

Step 1

Sprinkle chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Grill skin side down, uncovered, on a greased grill rack over medium heat for 20 minutes.

Step 2

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, make barbecue sauce by heating oil over medium heat. Add onion; saute until tender. Stir in remaining sauce ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

Step 3

Turn chicken; brush with barbecue sauce. Grill 15-25 minutes longer, brushing frequently with sauce, until a thermometer reads 165° when inserted in the breast and 170°-175° in the thigh.

Here’s one old-school way to make barbecued chicken.

If you would rather cook it in the oven, try this recipe instead.

Variations

There are some ways to vary the barbecued chicken recipe to make it more worldly. In Asia, the chicken is cubed and marinated in a soy-based sauce instead. Then, it’s put on skewers and grilled. For an Australian feel, you’ll want to add the barbecue sauce to grilled chicken wings for a unique flavor. It’s also possible to use a jerk spice to make it like they do in Jamaica.

Cook the chicken in your pressure cooker or slow cooker to get maximum tenderness from it. You might also opt for a regional variation. For example, in the southeast, cooks often use a mayonnaise or egg-based white sauce to dip the chicken in. Just like with California Pizza Kitchen, you can add the barbecue chicken to pizza for a combination of two fun flavors.

There’s also the option to make a sweeter sauce with mustard or add vinegar for a bite. In the northeast, cooks like to batter the chicken with egg and make it crispy before cooking. You might even consider beer-can chicken, which involves grilling a chicken with a can of beer open inside the chicken.

Enjoy the Meal

There’s no limit to the ways you can make a barbecue chicken recipe your own. Experiment with the flavors and taste test each one. We are sure you can find some friends and family to give their opinions until you find a favorite.

French Toast

Is there anything better than fluffy French toast? It’s browned on the outside and tender inside. When you make the perfect batter and cook it to perfection for a great breakfast, lunch or dinner. This simple recipe takes less than 30 minutes from start to completion.

History of French Toast

Most people assume that the birth of French toast occurred in France, but that’s not true. Long before it received that name, it was part of the cuisine in the Roman Empire. In fact, the first time it was called French toast was in the 17th-century by the English. Then, the early settlers brought it with them to America.

Surprisingly, the dish is referred to as pain perdu in France, which translates “lost bread.” This name came from the fact that people used day-old bread that would have otherwise been thrown away.

Back in the United States, it’s common to serve French toast with maple syrup, butter or powdered sugar. It’s also common to top it with fresh fruit.

Unique Characteristics of French Toast

Making French toast doesn’t take a lot of work. The simple ingredients include beaten eggs, cinnamon, milk, vanilla and bread. After frying the egg-coated bread in a pan, the dish is complete. That’s why it’s a popular staple for American breakfasts.

It’s often recommended to slice the bread the night before cooking. This allows it to dry out overnight and keeps it from getting too soggy from the egg mixture.

French Toast Recipe

(from //www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/robert-irvine/french-toast-recipe-1951408)

Prep: 20 min

Cook: 10 min

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 slices challah, brioche, or white bread
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup, warmed

Directions:

Step 1

In a small bowl, combine cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar and set aside briefly.

Step 2

In a 10-inch or 12-inch skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk together cinnamon mixture, eggs, milk, and vanilla and pour into a shallow container such as a pie plate. Dip bread in egg mixture. Fry slices until golden brown, then flip to cook the other side. Serve with syrup.

Food Network also published a video showing how to make French toast.

There’s also a recipe for beginners with some practical tips.

Variations

The main consideration to give for your French toast recipe is the bread you use. Ideally, it should be old and not fresh. This gives it the texture you want and helps it to hold up in the egg mixture. We recommend using an Italian or French loaf which is naturally crusty and hard. Some people prefer to use sourdough bread, which is fine as well. In the Jewish communities, leftover challah bread is used from the Sabbath dinner to create breakfast on Sunday.

You also want to make sure you have thick slices, because thin slices simply won’t do.

On to the toppings, you can add whatever you want. Some popular toppings include powder sugar, jelly, maple syrup, honey, applesauce, peanut butter, whipped cream, nuts, fruit, yogurt or ice cream.

If you prefer a savory meal, make French toast with cheese, bacon, gravy or ketchup instead. This would even work well as a hearty dinner.

If you desire some extra zing, there’s an unconventional variation you might enjoy. Include a little orange zest and Triple Sec orange liqueur to the batter. This makes for a fantastic Sunday brunch recipe.

Enjoy the Meal

Treat you and the family to a classic breakfast sophisticated with some modern variations. It’s sure to become a favorite around the table and help you create new memories.

Mushroom Carbonara

In just 30 minutes or less, you can create this classic variation of carbonara for your busy family. The mushrooms lend an earthy feel to this simple, yet elegant cuisine. Even though it only contains a few ingredients, the dish comes together perfectly.

History of Carbonara

Any Italian-American will tell you that carbonara wasn’t something fed to them by their grandparents. That’s because no one cooked until at least the 1940s. During that time, it showed up in Rome once the Allies got rid of the German forces from the war. As they distributed rations to hungry Italians, the food included massive portions of powdered eggs and bacon.

As Americans returned home from the war, they brought new recipes of carbonara back to the States with them.

Carbonara stands for “in the manner of coal miners.” The origin appears to be from a Roman restaurant by the same name, Carbonara. It might have also earned its name from the black pepper specks that look like coal dust in creamy eggs, pasta and cheese.

There’s also some speculation that it might have been a dish dating back to the early 1800s, but there’s no proof. People say it was named after the Carbonari, from this time. This group was a secret Italian society that worked to unify the country.

Unique Characteristics of Carbonara

The classic version of carbonara is constructed from starchy water, pasta, eggs and salty pork products like bacon, guanciale or pancetta. The cheese used in most carbonara dishes includes Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino Romano or both. While spaghetti appears to be the most common option, recipes often call for bucatini, linguine, rigatoni and fettuccine as well.

Mushroom Carbonara Recipe

Total Time: 30 min.

Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2-1/2 cups uncooked mostaccioli
  • 8 bacon strips, diced
  • 1 jar (4-1/2 ounces) whole mushrooms, drained
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half cream
  • 1/3 cup butter, cubed
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 6 to 8 drops hot pepper sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, optional
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions

Step 1

Cook mostaccioli according to package directions.

Step 2

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove to paper towels to drain. Brown mushrooms in drippings; remove to paper towels. Drain drippings from pan.

Step 3

Add the cream, butter, parsley, garlic, pepper sauce and salt if desired to the skillet; cook and stir over medium heat until butter is melted. Drain mostaccioli; add to cream mixture. Stir in the bacon, mushrooms and cheese; heat through. Remove from the heat. Sprinkle with green onions.

Check out this video recipe out of the Bon Appetit kitchen.

Here is also a vegetarian combination worth looking into if you don’t want the meat included.

Variations

It’s simple to alter the ingredients to this dish and turn it into something tailored for your family. A simple adjustment would be to add some more hot sauce to heighten the kick.

You could also opt to include other types of meat, such as diced chicken or kielbasa. If you enjoy fresh herbs in your Italian cooking, throw in some tarragon, rosemary or basil.

Making this into a lower-fat meal is also possible. Just use fat-free half and half plus some chicken broth to add flavor.  If you plan to add more sauce, you’ll want a tubular-shaped pasta like penne or rigatoni.

Vegetables are also an essential addition, especially if you are trying to get little ones to eat more greens. Consider incorporating green peas and broccoli for some additional color.

Enjoy the Meal

When a hearty Italian meal is what you are after, but you don’t want a typical spaghetti sauce, then you’ll love mushroom carbonara. This creamy pasta dish is a crowd-pleaser, so make sure you cook plenty.

Ribollita

Ribollita is a thick Tuscan stew. It features plenty of beans, dark greens, olive oil and day-old bread. It’s a nourishing and filling dish for the cold, winter days. Despite the level of depth this recipe brings out, it still takes less than an hour to make.

History of Ribollita

Ribollita is a Tuscan bread soup. It’s a hearty meal complete with vegetables and bread. The name literally means reboiled because you can throw just about anything in it. As with many Tuscan meals, this soup comes with a peasant origin.

Initially, it was created by merely reheating leftover vegetable or minestrone soup from the previous day. During the reboiling process, people would throw in some more fresh ingredients to enhance the flavor. It’s typically made with inexpensive ingredients that allowed it to be more affordable. Common choices include potatoes, onion, celery, chard, beans and carrots.

Some records show this soup was around during the Middle Ages as well. That’s when the servants gathered up the leftover food-soaked bread pieces from the banquets and used them in their family’s soup for dinner.

Unique Characteristics of Ribollita

A true ribollita is made several days before serving. You want to throw whatever leftover ingredients you have into it. Just because it’s traditionally vegetarian, it also works well with leftover meats such as salami, pancetta and ham.

The aspect that makes a ribollita different from other stews is the day-old bread that’s included. These bread chunks or croutons change the entire texture of the stew and set it apart from mainstream soups.

Ribollita Recipe

(from //www.101cookbooks.com/ribollita-recipe/)

Serves: 10

Prep Time: 15 mins

Cook Time: 25 mins

Total Time: 40 mins

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots or equiv. winter squash, chopped
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 14- ounce / 400 ml can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound / 16 ounces / 450g cavolo nero (lacinato kale, Tuscan kale), stems trimmed off and leaves well chopped
  • 4 cups / 22 oz / 620g cooked white beans
  • 1/2 pound / 8 oz / 225g crustless loaf of bread
  • 1 1/2 + teaspoons fine grain sea salt
  • zest of one lemon
  • lots of well-chopped oily black olives

Directions:

Step 1

In your largest thick-bottomed pot over medium heat combine the olive oil, celery, garlic, carrot, and red onion. Cook for 10 -15 minutes sweating the vegetables, but avoid any browning. Stir in the tomatoes and red pepper flakes, and simmer for another 10 minutes or so, long enough for the tomatoes to thicken up a bit. Stir in the cavolo nero, 3 cups of the beans, and 8 cups / 2 liters water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the greens are tender, about 15 minutes.

Step 2

In the meantime, mash or puree the remaining beans with a generous splash of water – until smooth. Tear the bread into bite-sized chunks. Stir both the beans and bread into the soup. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the bread breaks down and the soup thickens, 20 minutes or so. Stir in the salt, taste and add more if needed. Stir in the lemon zest.

Step 3

Serve immediately, or cool and refrigerate overnight. Serve reheated, or “ribollita” meaning reboiled, the next day ladled into bowls. Finish each serving with a drizzle of olive oil and some chopped olives.

Rachael Ray shares her variation of this recipe on YouTube.

If you want to see the traditional method, Pasta Grannies also posted an informational video.

Variations

There are too many variations available to list; you can add or take out anything you want. It’s even possible to make it without the bread if you prefer. Just make sure you add some extra beans to create the thick texture.

If you want to increase the brightness and zest, add some lemon to the mixture.

It’s also helpful to know that this stew freezes well. Make an extra helping and put it in the freezer for a quick weeknight family meal. Just make sure you add the bread when you reheat it.

Enjoy the Meal

Imagine the smell of this soup as it reheats in a crockpot on a cold Sunday afternoon. It’s the perfect dish to bring your friends and family together in one place. Customize it until it becomes your own concoction.

Steak Salad with Shallot Vinaigrette

When it’s too hot to cook, or you simply want something light, a steak salad is perfect. Pair it with honey shallot vinaigrette to complete the fresh flavor. The beautiful thing about this easy salad is you can incorporate whatever is fresh and include it into your recipe.

History of Vinaigrette

It’s known that vinegar and other products like it were originally used to get rid of smells. In fact, there was a time that the filth in England was so rampant, that royalty and the wealthy would bathe in vinegar to remove the stench and ensure they remained disease-free.

As a food, vinaigrette was used on vegetables, originally. While it was commonly used, it didn’t get the term vinaigrette for many years. Now, it’s a standard sauce used for a multitude of purposes, but typically not bathing.

Unique Characteristics of Vinaigrette

Vinaigrette is a term used to describe a basic sauce with two or more ingredients. Vinegar is one of the elements mixed with other ingredients such as oil and mustard. This flavorful sauce works well for cold or hot dishes.

The name vinaigrette comes from vinaigre, which is the French term for vinegar. It’s not considered a stable emulsion, because it does separate. Still, it’s easy to re-blend the mixture just by shaking it.

Steak Salad with Shallot Vinaigrette Recipe

(from //theinspiredhome.com/articles/steakhouse-salad-with-honey-shallot-vinaigrette)

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

For the Vinaigrette:

  • 1 shallot
  • ½ cup of red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

For the Steak:

  • 1 lb sirloin steak
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil

For the Salad:

  • 1 head of trimmed bibb lettuce
  • 2 cups packed baby spinach
  • 2 cups packed arugula
  • ½ sliced cucumber
  • 1 sliced radishes
  • ¼ cup sliced pepperoncini’s
  • 4 slices of prosciutto ham
  • 1 cup of sliced assorted cherry tomatoes
  • 1 ball of burrata cut into wedges
  • ¼ cup of crumbled blue cheese
  • ¼ cup of shaved Parmesan cheese
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

For the Vinaigrette:

Place the ingredients into a blender and blend on high until the salad dressing is emulsified and the shallots is finely chopped. Set aside.

For the Steak:

Season the steak on all sides with salt and pepper and sear it in a hot large saute pan on high heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Cook the steak until it is browned on the outside and to your desired internal temperature. About 3-4 minutes on each side for a medium-rare internal temperature.

Set the steak aside to rest for 2 to 3 minutes before slicing it.

For the Salad:

Place all of the ingredients into a large bowl or a large platter evenly spreading out the vegetables. Finish the salad by adding on the sliced steak and vinaigrette.

You can see this recipe being created on YouTube.

There’s also a variation with honey shallot raspberry vinaigrette to consider.

Variations

This recipe features a lot of flavors, but there are plenty of ways to enhance it further. While it already includes Italian meats such as burrata and pepperoncini, consider adding salami or prosciutto. You can also swap out the cheese and experiment with your favorites.

Choose fresh vegetables and add in anything nutritious that you enjoy. This tastes good with mushrooms, artichoke hearts, broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. You can also play with the vinaigrette recipe itself. Replace the vinegar with any citrus or simply add it on top. You’ll be amazed at the flavors you come up with.

Enjoy the Meal

Because of the numerous possibilities available with this salad, it’s possible to make it countless times without ever having it the same way twice. Play with the flavors and incorporate items that you enjoy to create a light, summer dish for your family.

Beef and Cheddar Casserole

When your family demands comfort food, a great option is beef and cheddar casserole. It’s a four-step recipe that’s perfect for busy nights. Don’t be surprised if it ends up on your family’s favorite food list.

History of Cheddar Cheese

There’s no clear cut answer to the origin of cheddar cheese. A popular belief is that during the 1100s, a milkmaid left a milk pail in the cave. She meant to cool it, which was standard at that time, but she forgot about it. When she came back the following day, the milk hardened and turned into cheese.

While that story might not be more than folklore, we do know that cheddar cheese arrived in the United States during the 1800s. Cheddar producers began selling the cheese as a commodity. In the beginning, cheddar only got produced for the farm or as curds for manufacturers. Then, Jesse Williams changed everything.

Williams’s family built the first American cheese factory. He gathered milk from farms and produced curds and cheese onsite. It went from being a treat meant for farmers and their families to the factory. As the years went on, cheese making turned its focus to efficiency, which caused the quality to suffer. The manufacturers also worked to create a cheese that lasted longer.

Unique Characteristics of Cheddar Cheese

Cheddar cheese comes in a variety of colors, mainly based on the cows’ grazing habits and the time of year. Natural cheddar cheese doesn’t actually look that appealing to most people. That’s why many farmers began adding annatto seed to provide the consistent orange hue consumers are used to seeing.

For the past several decades, consumers got used to plastic-wrapped, smooth, processed cheddar cheese, but that’s not what real cheddar looks like. As more people become informed, the demand increases for natural products. That’s why you can now find more natural cheddar cheeses on the shelf that are perfect for recipes such as this.

Beef and Cheddar Casserole Recipe

(from //www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/beef-and-cheddar-casserole-recipe-2042594)

Total: 55 min

Prep: 5 min

Inactive: 10 min

Cook: 40 min

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the baking dish
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 cups wide egg noodles (about 5 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 12 ounces ground beef
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 bunch scallions (white and green parts), finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • One 14 1/2-ounce can petite diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups grated Cheddar

Directions:

Step 1

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Oil a 2-quart baking dish.

Step 2

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook to al dente according to the package directions. Drain and put in the prepared baking dish. Toss with the sour cream, Parmesan and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Step 3

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and cook, stirring, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Add the bell peppers and scallions and cook until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Make a space in the pan, add the tomato paste and toast for a minute. Sprinkle with the Italian seasoning and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add the diced tomatoes, stir and bring to a simmer. Cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.

Step 4

Pour the beef mixture over the noodles and sprinkle with the grated Cheddar. Bake on the middle rack until the cheese is melted and the edges are bubbling, 15 to 20 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

The Food Network published a video illustrating how to make this delicious dish.

There’s also another YouTube video that shows the way to make this on the stovetop, in one dish, to make things even easier. In this recipe.

Variations

You can choose to use any type of pasta you want in this recipe. While the original calls for egg noodles, rigatoni, elbow macaroni and any other variety would work well.

It’s also simple to hide some vegetables in this dish, to trick your picky eaters. Consider chopping some zucchini, kale, spinach and other greens finely so they can’t be seen.

Finally, experiment with some various cheese options. You can add some extra mozzarella or Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Enjoy the Meal

Prepare to have your tastebuds jump for joy when you bite into this dish. It’s flavorful, comforting and warm – ideal for any busy, cold winter night.

Baked Tortellini with Kale Pesto

When planning a modern, Italian dish, it makes sense to add pesto. Today, pesto comes with a variety of greens in it. The pesto itself doesn’t really relate to what’s included, but more about how it’s made. Instead of using basil for this pesto, you add pureed kale, olive oil, grated cheese and of course, garlic.

This isn’t a light meal, but it’s simple to make and a family favorite. Everyone will beg for more of this ooey-gooey dish.

History of Tortellini

The legends state that Tortellini came from the shape of Venus’s navel. This goddess was involved in a battle with Zeus against Bologna and Modena. The Italian story talks about how the involvement made the pair weary, so they ate a large dinner, got slightly drunk and shared a bedroom.

The innkeeper crept into the room, but all he saw was Venus’s navel. Spellbound by what he saw, he rushed to the kitchen to create a new pasta, thereby birthing the tortellini.

This ring-shaped pasta is also known as a belly-button shape. It comes from Emilia and often features a meat stuffing. In Italy, common inner options include pork loin, Mortadella, raw prosciutto, egg, nutmeg and Parmigiano Reggiano. You’ll find tortellini served in chicken broth as well as with traditional Italian dishes.

Tortellini comes industrially packed, dried, refrigerated and frozen, but it’s also homemade by many pasta enthusiasts.

Unique Characteristics of Tortellini

Tortellini is often confused for tortelloni, but the two are quite different. Tortelloni is larger and features a different method of closing the extremities. They also tend to come with ricotta and herbs inside instead of meat.

Furthermore, tortellini is typically cooked in broth and sometimes served with it. Tortelloni, on the other hand, gets cooked in water and then stir-fried with sage and butter. It’s normally served dry.

Baked Tortellini with Kale Pesto Recipe

(taken from //www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/baked-tortellini-with-kale-pesto-3562862)

Total: 40 min

Yield: 4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 12- to 14-ounce package spinach and cheese tortellini
  • 7 cups baby kale (about 8 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup sliced sun-dried tomatoes (not oil-packed)
  • 3/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (about 3 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

1 – Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the tortellini and cook as the label directs. Reserve ¼ cup cooking water, then drain. Reserve the pot.

2 – Meanwhile, puree 4 cups kale, the olive oil and garlic in a blender or food processor until almost smooth. Add ¼ cup parmesan and season with salt and pepper. Pulse until smooth, adding up to 1/4 cup tap water if needed.

3 – Transfer the pesto to the reserved pot along with the heavy cream; stir to combine. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low; stir in the tortellini, sun-dried tomatoes and the remaining 3 cups kale, adding the reserved cooking water as needed to loosen. Transfer to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and sprinkle with the mozzarella.

4 – Combine the panko, pine nuts, parsley and the remaining 2 tablespoons parmesan in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle over the tortellini and bake until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.

This first video we have describes the process of making a vegan super green kale pesto.

Another option to consider is the spinach tortellini with peas and pesto.

Variations

Obviously, there’s no limit to the ways you can alter this recipe to fit your family’s needs. If you don’t enjoy sun-dried tomatoes, the dish works fine without it.

You can also kick up the seasonings slightly to enhance the flavors you like. Consider adding some mozzarella or taking out the nuts and bread crumbs. Play with the recipe until you find the combination that works for you.

Don’t forget to experiment with other pasta options as well. Here’s an example of Rigatoni with Kale Pasta instead.

Enjoy the Meal

When your family craves a hearty plate of pasta but doesn’t want the traditional tastes, this concoction hits the spot. It’s the perfect comfort food for the middle of winter and provides plenty of flavors, ready to impress.