Not-so-diet-friendly Fare

A blog or two ago, I promised to share a few more selections from the Bratsch family cookbook CD, titled “Around the Dining Room Table.”

At first, as I flipped through its electronic pages, I concentrated on the recipes that are admissible in the low-carb diet that is under way at our abode. But pretty soon, my mouth was watering over the selections that feature ingredients that we’re trying to avoid, mainly pasta, potatoes, breads and desserts.

If I want to stick to my resolve, I can’t consume such things at the moment, but that doesn’t mean I should inflict those limitations on you readers. So let’s start with pasta, one of the things that I’m most craving at the moment. This version, labeled “Theo’s Favorite” on the CD, is made a bit healthier with the addition of fresh spinach, and a bit more decadent with bacon.

Spinach Bacon Mac ’N’ Cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cook 3 cups shell macaroni according to package directions; add one 6-ounce package baby spinach for the last minute of cooking time.

Cook 4 slices bacon and remove from pan and dice when cool; reserve drippings. Add 2 tablespoons flour to reserved drippings and stir until bubbly. Gradually stir in 2 cups milk and bring to a boil, stirring constantly until thickened. Add 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese and ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese; stir until melted. Add bacon and macaroni-spinach mixture. Pour into a greased casserole dish and top with another 1 cup cheddar cheese.

Bake 20 minutes or until heated through.

Parmesan Cheese

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Melt ¼ cup butter in a 9- by 13-inch baking dish or pour ¼ cup olive oil into bottom of dish.

In a large plastic bag, place ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, ¼ cup finely shredded cheddar cheese, ¼ cup flour, ½ teaspoon salt and pepper to taste; shake to mix thoroughly. To bag, add 8 potatoes, peeled and quartered, and shake until well-coated.

Arrange potatoes in a single layer in the baking dish. Bake for 1 hour or until potatoes crisp and begin to brown at the edges. Turn potatoes once, halfway through baking time.

Chicken Fajita Pizza

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in skillet over medium heat until hot. Add 2 chicken breasts, cut into thin slices, and stir fry until lightly browned. Stir in 1 clove garlic, minced; 1 or 2 teaspoons chili powder (to taste); and ½ teaspoon salt. Add 1 small onion, thinly sliced; ½ red bell pepper, cut into thin strips; and ½ green bell pepper, cut into thin strips. Continue to stir fry for a couple minutes, or until vegetables are tender-crisp.

Have ready one 14-inch ready-made pizza crust or homemade dough. Place on pizza pan and bake for 8 minutes. Spoon chicken mixture over crust. Spoon ½ cup salsa (the recipe suggests Newman’s Own Pineapple Medium Salsa) over top and sprinkle with 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.

Black Russian Cake

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 12-inch Bundt or tube pan.

In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 package yellow cake mix, ½ cup sugar, one 6-ounce package instant chocolate pudding, 1 cup canola oil, 4 eggs, ¼ cup vodka, ¼ cup Kahlua and ¾ cup water. Beat on medium speed for 4 minutes.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until a wooden pick inserted in the center of cake comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Let cake cool in pan for 5 to 10 minutes; invert onto serving plate.

Meanwhile, combine 1 cup powdered sugar with ¼ cup Kahlua. Pour glaze slowly over cake. Cool completely. Cake freezes well, glaze and all.