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Cooking with 'Friends': Jamie Colby's Back Home Bolognese


1 lb. ground bison
¼ c. olive oil
4 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1 large onion, chopped
1 red, yellow or orange bell pepper, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 can diced low-sodium tomatoes
1 can low-sodium black beans
1 jar low-sodium tomato sauce (Franco Rinaldi recommended)
1 bag fresh spinach
1 pint sliced mushrooms

Fresh basil for the bolognese
Grated cheese and diced scallions for chili and nachos
Tortilla Chips for nachos

Spray an extra-large deep fry pan with olive oil spray, and then add the olive oil, garlic, onions and peppers. Cook until softened. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Once cooked, add mushrooms, black beans and then the ground bison. Chop bison apart with a spatula. Add the spinach and tomatoes and allow to simmer covered. Check frequently. The bison is so lean it cooks quickly. Stir frequently.

Cooking with 'Friends': Todd Piro's Sunday Gravy

For the meat:

1 lb. Italian sausage, hot or sweet
1 lb. ground meat mix of pork, beef & veal
½ c. Italian bread crumbs
1 egg
2 tbsp. fresh Italian parsley, chopped
¼ c. grated parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper to taste

For the sauce:
3 large cloves of garlic, chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 bay leaves
¼ c. olive oil
2 small cans tomato paste
1 large can San Marzano plum tomatoes
2 tbsp. oregano
½ c. grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp. sugar
Pepper to taste

Fry sausage in frying pan and set aside.
In a bowl, combine ground meat mix, bread crumbs, egg, parsley, parmesan, and salt and  pepper. Work into small meatballs. Fry in pan and set aside.
In large pot, sauté garlic, onion, and bay leaves in olive oil until they turn translucent. Add tomato paste. Mix and cook for about three minutes until all ingredients are well combined.
Put large can of plum tomatoes into blender and blend for about 10 seconds. Add blended tomatoes to tomato mixture in pot and stir until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed
Add two small cans of water – use the small paste cans.
Add oregano, cheese, sugar, and pepper. Stir thoroughly.
Add the cooked sausage and meatballs to pot. Cook for about 1- 1½ hours on low heat. The mixing of the meat with the sauce creates the “gravy.” Serve over rigatoni that has cooked in boiling water for about 7 to 8 minutes. Add a dollop of ricotta cheese.

Cooking with ‘Friends’: Dr. Saphier’s Lasagna

A healthy take on her Mommom’s classic Italian dish.
1 whole clove of garlic, sliced
1 tsp. Olive oil, plus more for greasing pan
Small container sliced mushrooms
32 oz. Ricotta
1 bag shredded mozzarella
1 egg
1 c. grated Parmesan
Garlic powder
Dash of red pepper flakes
Large bag fresh spinach
Oven ready lasagna pasta
Tomato sauce
1 c. grated pecorino
1 pack whole mozzarella
Fresh basil

Preheat oven to 375°F.
Sauté fresh, sliced garlic with a tsp of olive oil. Add mushrooms for less than one minute then set aside.
In a large bowl, mix ricotta, shredded mozzarella, egg, handful of parmesan, garlic powder, salt, pepper, dash of red pepper. Mix spinach/mushrooms into cheese mix.
Grease 13”x9” baking dish with olive oil.
Add a thin layer of tomato sauce in baking dish. Place a single layer of lasagna oven-ready noodles on top of sauce. Add another thin layer of tomato sauce followed by a thick layer of the cheese/spinach mixture. Repeat layering of lasagna noodles, tomato sauce, and cheese/spinach mixture. Add one more layer of lasagna noodles then top with thin layer of tomato sauce and a thin layer of shredded mozzarella. Top with a thin layer of grated pecorino or parmesan followed by thick slices of fresh mozzarella and basil.
Place tooth picks at the four corners of the baking dish. Cover dish with tin foil over, making sure it does not touch the cheese.
Bake in pre-heated oven for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 10 more minutes.
Optional: Turn on broiler for 2 minutes to brown the top layer of mozzarella.

Cooking with 'Friends': Duffy Family's Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

2 c. all-purpose flour
½ c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
4 tsp. lemon zest
2 c. part-skim ricotta
1 c. milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 c. blueberries
4 large eggs, separated
Powdered sugar
Wisconsin butter
Wisconsin maple syrup

Whisk dry ingredients, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt, set aside.
In separate bowl, whisk together ricotta, egg yolks, milk, lemon zest, and vanilla. Stir flour mixture into egg mixture until combined.
Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gently fold egg whites into pancake mixture until blended.
Heat and butter your griddle. Pour about ¼ cup of batter for 4 inch pancakes. Drop desired amount of blueberries on each pancake.
Cook pancakes about 3 minutes until bubbles form. Flip and finish cooking until golden.
Finish with a dusting of powdered sugar.
Serve with a pat of Wisconsin butter, more blueberries, a dollop of fresh whip cream, and warm Wisconsin maple syrup.

Cooking with 'Friends': Gerri Willis' Ultimate Kale Salad


2 cans garbanzo beans, drained
⅛ c. sundried tomatoes packed in oil
4 garlic cloves, smashed
½ c. olive oil
4 sweet potatoes, peeled, cut in 1½” cubes
Lots of curly Kale (not dinosaur Kale)
1 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. chipotle paprika
Pumpkin seeds

For vinaigrette:
4 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 shallot, diced into very small pieces
1 tbsp. maple syrup

Preheat oven to 400°F.
Soften garbanzo beans in a cast iron pan with a quarter cup olive oil, spices, salt, pepper and garlic for 20 minutes. Add sundried tomatoes in last five minutes. Beans get brown on the outside, creamy on the inside.
While the beans simmer, put the sweet potato cubes on a baking sheet with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast them in the oven for 25 minutes, tossing them midway.
Prep Kale by cutting out the rib in each leaf. Cut into bite size pieces and put in salad bowl. Sprinkle with olive oil and sea salt then massage the kale.
For the vinaigrette, whisk together olive oil, apple cider vinegar, shallots, and maple syrup.
To serve, mix together the kale, sweet potatoes, and garbanzo beans.
NOTE: Gerri serves this salad with trout fillets roasted in the oven and cornbread on the side.

Cooking with 'Friends': Lauren Green's Chicken Club Casserole


14 oz. pkg Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned cubed stuffing mix*
1¼ c. butter
2 c. hot water
½ c. onion, chopped
1 c. celery, diced
4-5 c. cooked chicken, cubed
1 c. mayonnaise (or more)
1 small can drained sliced water chestnut
1 small can sliced mushrooms
2 eggs
2 c. milk
1 can cream of mushroom soup (Campbell's recommended)
8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese

Combine stuffing mix, butter and hot water. Mix together and put half in a 9x13” baking pan or casserole dish.
Sautee onion, celery, and butter in a medium pan.
In a bowl, mix together the cooked chicken, mayonnaise, water chestnuts, and mushrooms. Add to other half of crouton mixture and put in the casserole dish on top of croutons.
Beat together the eggs and milk. Pour over top of the mixture in the pan. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.
Remove from refrigerator 1 hour before baking and preheat oven to 325°F.
Mix together cream of mushroom soup and ½ cup of milk. Pour over top of casserole.
Bake uncovered for 45-50 minutes. Then sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese and continue to back until the cheese is melted.
*You can use other herb seasoned cubed stuffing mix, but the cubes may not be as dense so use much less water.

NOTE: This recipe was created years ago when Pepperidge Farm's Herbed Seasoned cubed stuffing came in 14 oz. packages. It's now in 12 oz. packages, so I usually get two packages and freeze the remaining mix for future casseroles.