I can be an impulse buyer when I’m cruising through the grocery store. I try to remember special ingredients in dishes I think I might want to make soon. The holiday season is the worst for me. My cupboards and refrigerator are filled with supplies of things I didn’t get around to making for the holidays. So, time to find new ways to use up my supplies.
One thing I bought was mascarpone. Katie brought some home a couple of years ago and it was delicious. Mascarpone is spreadable, fresh cream cheese with a slightly sweet taste. The rich, buttery texture comes from the high butterfat content (up to 75%). It originated in the Lombardy region of northern Italy during the Renaissance period.
Although considered a cheese, mascarpone isn’t technically one. It is made from heavy cream that is gently heated and curdled. The whey is drained off leaving a creamy, slightly sweet and tangy mascarpone. It can be interchanged with cream cheese in many recipes. I’ve shared a couple of recipes and suggestions of how I use mascarpone.
In my shopping, I’ve also noticed that cauliflower is relatively inexpensive right now. I discovered a way to use it in one of my favorite meals, stuffed peppers, as a substitute for rice. Then I learned I can use cauliflower rice in about any recipe calling for rice. It is easy to make and one way to sneak a few more vegetables into the diet.

Mascarpone honey dip
8 ounces mascarpone
2 to 3 tablespoons honey
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
teaspoon lemon zest
Mix together and pour in a bowl. Chill for at least three hours for a firmer texture or serve right away at room temperature for a creamier dip. Use on cupcakes for frosting; in a dessert glass with leftover cake, cover with honey mascarpone and add extra honey and crushed vanilla cookies for crunch; make parfaits by layering dip with chopped fruit and granola; spread on vanilla cookies or graham crackers; dollop on a bowl of fruit.

Mascarpone-filled French toast topped with berry sauce
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons corn starch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold water
1 package frozen mixed berries
2 cups strawberries or blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1 loaf Texas toast 
Mascarpone cheese, about 1 tablespoon per sandwich
6 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1 cup whipping cream
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon vanilla
Butter
Combine sugar, corn starch and salt. Whisk in cold water. Add frozen mixed berries. Cook over medium heat until thickened. Add sliced strawberries or blueberries. Set aside. Whisk together eggs, milk, whipping cream, cinnamon and vanilla. Butter griddle. Dip slices of bread in egg mixture for 1-2 minutes per side. Place on griddle to cook. When one side is done, flip and spread mascarpone cheese on the toasted side. Top off with the baked side of another piece of toast to make a sandwich. Flip one final time to bake top slice. Serve with berry sauce. Another idea is to add chopped, dried cherries and chocolate chips to mascarpone and use this as the filling to the French toast.

30-minute Italian dinner with mascarpone by Taste of Home 
20 ounces cheese tortellini
8 ounces bulk Italian sausage
24 ounces pasta sauce with mushrooms
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
8 ounces mascarpone cheese
Prepare tortellini according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large, heavy skillet, cook sausage over medium heat until no longer pink, 6-8 minutes; drain. Stir in pasta sauce; heat through. Drain tortellini, saving 1 cup of the cooking water. Add tortellini to sauce with enough reserved cooking water to reach desired consistency; toss to coat. Stir in Parmesan cheese; dollop mascarpone cheese across the dish.

Stuffed pepper skillet dinner
1 pound ground beef
2-3 cups cauliflower rice 
1 tablespoon dried, minced onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons Worcestershire
15 ounces tomato sauce
2 large green peppers, seeded and chopped
Cook ground beef in large skillet over medium heat until cooked through; drain. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Bring mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer on low. Cover and cook 13-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until peppers are cooked through. If it seems to have too much liquid, remove lid and allow to cook for several more minutes to reduce moisture.

Cauliflower rice
1 head of cauliflower, washed, dried and greens removed
Break into chunks. Place in blender or food processor. Pulsate till chopped to the size of rice. Place on paper towels to absorb any extra moisture. Use right away in stir fry, as fried rice or other recipes calling for rice. Freeze any unused raw cauliflower rice for up to one month. Cooked cauliflower rice can be stored in refrigerator for up to four days. Raw cauliflower rice does not keep well in the refrigerator. Use or freeze.
As their four children pursue dairy careers off the family farm, Natalie and Mark are starting a new adventure of milking registered Holsteins just because they like good cows on their farm north of Rice, Minnesota.