Monthly Archives: October 2010

Milk & Cookies = Cookies & Milk

Hey fellow foodies, wanna play a fun food game? Try A LA CARTE’s Classic Food Pairings Test! Here’s how it works.

Step. 1: Think of a classic food pairing and say it aloud. (i.e., “Spaghetti & Meatballs“) Does it sound delicious? Proceed to Step 2.

Step 2: Transpose the food pairing and say that aloud.  (i.e., “Meatballs & Spaghetti“) Does it still sound delicious, or is it a bit awkward? If it’s still delicious, add it to your list of winners. If it’s awkward, try another combination.

You’ll soon find that this is a rigorous test and that very few food pairings make the list of winners.

When I played this game, Milk & Cookies was my first clear winner. It immediately reminded me of a shot our A LA CARTE team took of chocolate chip cookies and milk. This shot may look familiar to you since it’s the icon we use

in our Comments section. I love the shot because the cookies look warm and melty from the oven, plus the tall glass of milk looks cool and inviting—perfect for dunking. Cathy added toasted chopped pecans and extra chips to the cookie dough just before baking, and the way they catch the late-afternoon sunlight brings back happy memories of years of after-school snacking.

Other pairs on my list of winners? Red Wine & Chocolate. Bacon & Eggs.  Tea & Toast. Tomato & Basil. I could play this game all day…

Please send us your own winning food pairs, and we’ll comprise a master list to feature in an upcoming post. Happy pairing!



Filed under Chocolate, Cookies, Dessert, Snacks, Sweets

Pick a Pepper, Any Pepper

I recently came across this artful display of jewel-like bell peppers at a fruit and veggie stand. I love the colors! I immediately started to think about inventing a new recipe for A LA CARTE Kitchen. There are a variety of ways to use bell peppers—you can roast, saute, grill, or blanch them, use them in salads, or eat them raw. After lots of ideas, I settled on creating a modern version of traditional stuffed peppers.  I have happy childhood memories of my Mom serving green

peppers stuffed with ground beef, rice and tomato sauce.  I am sure many of you have the same memories!  I put a spin on the traditional recipe by using red, yellow and orange bell peppers, flavored chicken sausage, butternut squash, fresh sage, yellow rice and blue saga  cheese.  I think the flavor combination is delicious, and really nice for autumn—let me know if you like it!

Twisted Stuffed Peppers

Makes 4 servings

4 red, yellow and/or orange peppers, halved and seeded
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 flavored chicken sausage links, removed from casings  (about 1/2 lb. — I used sun-dried tomato and basil flavor)
1 cup diced butternut squash (about 1/2 small peeled and seeded)
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
5 fresh sage leaves, chopped
1 package (8 ounces) yellow rice mix (I used Zataran’s, but you can use your favorite)
2 ounces Blue Saga cheese, cut into 8 slices

Parboil peppers until slightly tender, about 15 minutes. Drain.

– Preheat oven to 375F.  In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat.  Add sausage, breaking up meat with side of spoon, until browned.  With slotted spoon, remove sausage from skillet.

– To drippings in skillet, add  squash, onion, garlic and sage; cook, stirring, until lightly browned. Add rice mix, reserved sausage  and amount of water on rice package directions; heat to boiling.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer until rice is tender, following rice package directions.

– Arrange pepper halves, cut side up, in 13 x 9″ baking dish.  Spoon rice mixture evenly into pepper halves.  Top with cheese slices.  Bake, uncovered, until heated through and cheese is melted, about 15 minutes.


– Add raisins or currants to mixture to add a bit of sweet to mixture.

– Not a blue cheese fan like me? Try shredded cheddar, Monterey Jack, or mozzarella.

Peppers 101

Peppers come in all shapes, sizes and colors—large, small, red, green, yellow, orange, purple, oval, curled, bell-shaped and more.  They can be hot, mild, or sweet and have all sorts of names:  bell, chili, jalapeno, banana, habanero, cayenne, chipotle, cherry, fresno, mirasol, pablano, ancho, scotch bonnet, and serrano.

The most common is the bell pepper. They are the sweetest of all the varieties with green being the less sweet and slightly more bitter than the red, yellow and orange bell pepper. Red bell peppers also have more vitamins and nutrients and have twice the vitamin C content of green peppers.


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Filed under Main Dishes, Sausage