Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Pasta carbonara, or something, with apples and cranberries

Pasta carbonara—pasta tossed with bacon and egg—is a great last-minute meal because it is very tasty and very quick. In less than half an hour you have a full main course, and, of course, the addition of cranberries makes it all the better (well, it makes it different, but it's very good). And it makes it slightly healthier. I was looking around my kitchen for things to make for dinner and saw bacon, pasta and eggs, a granny smith apple and, of course, cranberries, and—twenty-five minutes later—was eating dinner.

Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients for four moderately-sized (multiplies/divides easily):
8 strips bacon (mmm, bacon)
1 pound pasta
2 eggs, beaten
1 apple (I like Granny Smiths)
Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese for grating. Don't buy the powdered or shredded stuff in the plastic container—get a wedge and grate it yourself.

Heat a skillet over medium-low flame, and fry the bacon. Bring a pot of water to boil and add the pasta. Chop the apple in half and cut out the core, then slice each half in to thin slices, and cut these in half. Beat the eggs in a small bowl. When the bacon is crispy, remove it from the pan and any excess grease, and pat it dry with a paper towel. Keep the skillet over medium-low heat and add the apple and cranberries, cook them until they are soft.

In the mean time, chop the bacon in to small pieces, and add them back to the skillet; stir it in with the fruit. Drain the pasta, and add it to the skillet (if your skillet isn't big enough, throw the pasta and skillet contents in to a large bowl). Stir the pasta and skillet contents together, and put it in a large mixing bowl. Immediately add the egg, and stir quickly to coat (they eggs shouldn't scramble).

Top with shredded cheese.

Easy, cranberry breakfast

What's better for breakfast than oatmeal? Oatmeal with cranberries, of course. Throw them in to the pot about 30 seconds after the oats, and they'll pop and ooze as the oatmeal cooks. Top with a bit of brown sugar and you have a breakfast fit for a king.
Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients (per person):
3/4 c each: milk*, water*, oatmeal
1/2 c cranberries (or, more or less to taste)
brown sugar
* for very rich oatmeal, use all milk, for less rich (and less caloric) oatmeal, use all water. I prefer mine half-milk, half-water.


Boil milk-water mixture. Take care not to boil over. When it begins to boil, add the oats, stir, and then add the cranberries within 30 seconds. Return to a boil and stir constantly until it reaches your desired consistency. Top with brown sugar, honey or maple syrup, and butter if you so desire.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Nachos (with, of course, cranberries)

I like nachos. They are filling, moderately healthy (if you throw enough vegetables on them—I say this as someone with an active lifestyle who needs a lot of calories) and above all, tasty. The other night I set about making nachos and decided that, in the spirit of this page, I'd see how cranberries fit in. The answer: quite well, thank you.

Tortilla chips
Sharp cheddar cheese
Monterrey Jack or similar cheese
Black beans (canned or cooked)
Onions (cooked, optional)
Peppers (cooked, optional)

Toppings for dipping:
Sour cream

I've left off quantities because you can make nachos as big or small as you want. Fair warning: you have to eat them hot (although they can be reheated, but not in a microwave, or if you've added toppings). Once they come out of the oven, you have about 20 minus before the cheese cools and they lose everything that makes them special.

When I have nachos, I always make them multi-layered. Chips, toppings, cheese, chips, toppings, cheese. With cranberries, mix them with black beans (don't bother chopping them, they'll pop and ooze as it gets hot) and top with cheese and such. Cook at 400˚ until the cheese is nicely browned.

I didn't try these with guacamole because I a) couldn't find a ripe avocado and b) didn't know if the cranberries would clash with it. But with the tanginess of the little red berries. it needs little more flavor.