Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Cauliflower Puree

We're getting tired of the same old vegetables and the same of old sides. So what to do? I started googling. Doesn't sound so good. Is that a real verb yet? Sounds kind of funny to "google" and talk food in the same paragraph. But Google to the rescue.

And I found one! Hot, Buttered Cauliflower Puree at Food and Wine online, one of my favorite magazines! There's always a do-able recipe in there. This was definitely do-able. The original recipe called for a nice amount of heavy cream and butter. That wasn't happening here. There was no way anyone was schlepping out for cream, especially with my habit of last minute and dinner was heading towards 7:30pm. But I did have the cauliflower so I went ahead anyway!  A little too much butter for this family these days, so I cut down the butter and had two choices, 1% or skim! I went with the 1% milk. You can see the original recipe at Food and Wine, but have to say this turned out very rich and creamy using the milk. Would be lovely for company or just an every day kind of side. This one's a keeper!

Hot, Buttered Cauliflower Puree
Source: Food & Wine, recipe by John Besh
Printable Recipe

2 heads of cauliflower, cored and separated into florets
1 1/2 cups 1% milk)
1/2 stick unsalted butter
cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 325°. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the cauliflower florets until tender, about 7 minutes. Or you can steam them in a microwave for 10 or 15 minutes until soft and tender. Drain well. Spread the cauliflower on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake for about 5 minutes, to dry it out.

In a small saucepan, combine the heavy cream with the butter and some salt; bring to a simmer over moderate heat just until the butter is melted.

Working in batches, puree the cauliflower in a blender with the warm cream mixture; transfer the puree to a medium microwave-safe bowl. Season with more salt, if it needs it, and a bit of cayenne. Just before serving, reheat the puree in the microwave for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.

The cauliflower puree can be refrigerated overnight and reheated in a microwave; stir occasionally.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Grandma's Liquid Gold... Soup's on!

I cook a lot for the freezer. This way if I'm busy or don't feel like cooking, more often than not, I can just grab something and heat it up! So today I set out to make a huge pot of chicken soup just like my grandma used to make! It's easy to make and I always keep some in the freezer. I started cooking because my grandma had passed away and she never wrote down the recipes that were in her head. Not for the good stuff anyway. Except for two recipes. One for Mandel bread and one for Challah. An artist friend of mine helped me frame them in frosted and black stained glass. Took a few weeks, and when we finished I put it on display in my kitchen. I can just hear her telling my grandpa what to write down, they're written in his hand, on the worn, yellowed pages of an old notebook.

My mother never liked to cook and neither did I, but I loved to hang out in the kitchen watching my grandmother grab a pinch of this and a dash of that, although usually when it came to garlic and bay leaves, it was way more than a pinch! You could smell her cooking all the way up the elevator to the apartment. When she died, we would never have the ethnic foods I had grown up with and loved. Stuffed cabbages, chicken fricassee with those teeny, tiny meatballs, chicken soup, golden and glistening. Nope, all gone. My mother couldn't cook to save herself from starvation. But she did dial up a great meal from the takeout places! And that seemed to be the direction I was headed in when I got married. Any home cooked meal we had back then was hand delivered by Grandma and put in the freezer for when we needed it. Between that and dialing for takeout, I never had the need to make anything myself.

If it hadn't been for the internet, I never have found out how much I love to cook. I had wanted my children to know the foods I had growing up. When I called the local deli here, they had stuffed cabbages, they cost a fortune and were just ok. So I set out to figure out how my grandma did that! and I did. and along the way I figured out how to cook a lot of things. and met a lot of nice, imaginary people along the way! Not really imaginary, they are only an email away!

and through all the cooking forums and cooking email chit chats, and now blogging, I became a decent cook. My kids even request things, I still set off smoke alarms and still forget things and make a huge mess, some stuff even the puppies won't try, but we now eat home cooked more than ordering in sometimes.  This chicken soup was one of my first tries, and now I think I have it pretty close to Grandma's.

When I make wings, I always save the tips in the freezer for when I make soup. All those extra little bones and skin make a nice, thick, gelatinous broth. The kind that looks like jello when it's cold from the refrigerator. That's perfect. My friend, Renee, would say it's "liquid gold" and she's right!

Fresh dill, parsley, leeks, carrots, turnips, parsnips, celery, onions and peppercorns! There's a lot of flavor going on in this pot...

My liquid gold...

Chicken Soup
from the Grandma of There's Always Thyme to Cook
Printable Recipe

2 kosher chicken pullets (or whatever type chicken you use for soup! Also great if you can get some chicken necks from the butcher, and some wings to throw in as well)
8-10 carrots -- sliced thin, lengthwise or in rounds
2 leeks -- white part only
1 large onion, cut in quarters
2 turnips
2 parsnips
kosher salt and pepper -- to taste (I use peppercorns, about 10 or so)
3 celery ribs
2 shallots
bunch of fresh Italian parsley
bunch of fresh dill
water to cover

Peel and wash the vegetables. Rinse and clean the chickens. Put the chickens in a stock pot with the vegetables, and add enough cold water to cover it all. Bring to a boil. Skim the foam off the top.  Lower the heat to medium. Keep it on medium for about 30 - 40 minutes. Add salt and pepper. Not too much salt, you can always add more later. Simmer soup for three hours or more on low heat. Check the seasoning. The longer it simmers, the better the flavor.

Remove the chicken and vegetables from the soup. Keep the carrots and chicken meat. Discard the other vegetables. Pour the soup through a fine mesh strainer.  Put the carrots and chicken in a separate container. Skim the fat when it cools. To serve, heat the soup with the carrots and chicken and add egg noodles or matzo balls.

This makes a very big pot of soup,  and it freezes well.

and what do you do with the mushy boiled chicken left over from the soup? At our house, a little always went into the soup along with some very thin egg noodles, and some of the carrots, the rest we'd have on a Kaiser roll with grilled onions and ketchup. But now with that panini grill, we can get ambitious. This time we had Chicken, Onion and Cheddar with Spicy Tomato Aioli on brick oven bread from the bakery, grilled on that panini grill. Leftover mushy boiled chicken never tasted so good!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Toasted Barley and Mushrooms

We're getting ready for our holidays this year and I've started cooking. A family favorite is Toasted Barley and Mushrooms. Except it's not really barley. It's a egg noodle pasta shape, made to look like barley, and it's darker than regular egg noodles so it looks as if it's toasted but I don't think it is. Mine has the potential to be burned, not toasted, barley and mushrooms, but I was careful this time. I made it ahead, it freezes well. It's a fantastic side dish to brisket, turkey, chicken or steak.

We'll have it with brisket. Here's a link to a few brisket recipes I posted about in the past!

Toasted Barley and Mushrooms
Source: There's Always Thyme to Cook
Printable Recipe

1 package Toasted Barley Shaped Egg Noodles
1 onion, diced
1 package cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 small can mushrooms, stems and pieces
olive oil to saute the onion
1 tablespoon butter (you can use olive oil instead)
salt and pepper, to taste

Pour the noodles into a pot of salted, boiling water and cook for about 7 or 8 minutes. Do not let them get mushy.  Drain and set aside.

Heat a pan over medium-high heat and brown the onions, but don't burn them, they should be soft and golden. Add a little salt and pepper. Push the onions to the sides of the pan and add the sliced mushrooms, saute them until they get soft and mix them with the onions, add the canned mushrooms and the butter. Mix in the pasta until it's all combined, and hot.  Season to taste. and serve.

You can make this ahead and freeze it. Do not thaw, reheat in a 350 degree oven, stirring occasionally, until it's hot.

I used a new gadget to slice the mushrooms. Used to use an egg slicer, the kind with wires. But they always break. Every time. So I tried this one from Norpro, it had blades instead of wires. Kind of squished the wet mushrooms, which was fine since I was cooking them and mixing them in, but worked much better when they were dry. They did unsquish after I put them in the pan. Haven't tried it with strawberries or eggs yet.

Joining Mary's Mosaic Monday. For more mosaic's stop by the Little Red House!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Spicy Grilled Potatoes

Way back in July, Bobby Flay was on The Morning Show at CBS. Didn't always love Bobby Flay, but I do now. Especially considering the shows that the Food Network has on these days. I have a few of his books, his recipes have all turned out great for us. This time he was making little bites. And they looked so good. The little grilled potato rounds got me. Looked the recipe up online and saved it. and here it is end of August and I am finally getting to it.  And it was worth the wait.

We love this sauce! Spicy Tomato-Chipotle Aioli. I adapted it to my way of lazy cooking. I think it would be good on most anything! The recipe called for grilled potatoes and it was delicious with potatoes. We were having a porterhouse and somehow that sauce managed to get on the steak, too. So good. I think it would be nice with chicken and with shrimp. And definitely on a sandwich or a panini.

The recipe called for grilling the tomatoes, grilling the potatoes and there was no way the Griller would be fussing with that, not to mention I used some teeny potatoes. So I had that panini grill, I got my money's worth out of it already, and threw the parboiled potatoes on that! Squished them down pretty good, until they got good and somewhat crispy. The tomatoes I broil with a little salt, pepper and about three cloves of garlic. I threw the garlic in towards the end so they didn't burn. Then I strained the tomatoes and whizzed everything in a food processor. Today's sauce will be on tomorrow sandwich! Steak Panini with cheese and Tomato-Chipotle Aioli. Can't wait.

  Parboiled potatoes grilled and "smashed" on the panini grill

Roasted Tomato Sauce

Spicy Tomato-Chipotle Aioli

Grilled, Smashed Potatoes with Spicy Tomato-Chipotle Aioli

Grilled Potatoes with Spicy Tomato Aioli
Source: Bobby Flay - CBS The Early Show and also Food Network
Printable Recipe

1 1/4 pounds new potatoes (yellow and red) or baby Yukon Gold (You can use a large potatoes and slice them thick or small ones and cut in half, or leave the small ones whole and smash them)
2 plum tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup mayonnaise
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons Spanish paprika
1-2 chipotle in adobo sauce (depends how hot you like it)
1 teaspoons Ancho chile powder, or more to taste
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

Place the potatoes in a large pot of cold water, add 2 tablespoons of salt and cook until potatoes are tender, but still firm, about 12 to 15 minutes. Drain, let cool and cut each potato into 3/4 -inch thick slices.  You can microwave until just tender as well.

Heat the grill to high.  Or you can use a panini grill.

Brush the tomatoes with the some of the oil and season with salt and pepper. While the potatoes are cooking, place the tomatoes on the grill and grill until charred on all sides and soft, about 10 minutes. Remove from the grill and coarsely chop. You can also just roast them at 350 for about an hour until they get soft and start to brown. Or broil for about 10-15 minutes. Turning them once.

You can strain the tomatoes to get rid of the seeds and the skins.

Place the tomatoes, mayonnaise, garlic, paprika, chipotles and chile powder in a food processor and process until smooth, season with salt and pepper. Can be made 1 day in advance and refrigerated.
Brush the potatoes slices on both sides with some of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the potatoes on the grill, close the cover and grill until lightly golden brown and just cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. I used a panini grill and made them "smashed" potatoes. Carefully transfer the potatoes to a platter and garnish with the parsley. Serve the aioli drizzled over the potatoes or on the side.


I'm joining Suzy from Kitchen Bouquet for Flashback Friday! Flashing back to my first Panini Grill post!  It's gotten plenty of use since that day I decided I just had to have one. More use than the bread machine, more than the ice cream maker, more than the waffle maker, more than..., well, you get the picture!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Mosaic Monday: Tomato Sauce and Orzo

Ever since I saw the Orzo Milanese at Katerina's blog, Culinary Flavor's, I have craved a bowl of orzo. Her way is definitely much easier than standing over a pot and stirring. And stirring. And stirring. And if you know me by now, you know that it just aint happening. I rarely stand in one place, especially in front of the stove, for that long. Isn't that why smoke alarms and kitchen timers were invented?

And I still had that fresh tomato sauce from the other day. This would be a perfect way to use it. Had to adapt Katerina's recipe a bit because Miss Picky and the Big Kid would never go for cinnamon or nutmeg in their tomato sauce. So I looked around to see what would do. Epicurious had a nice one, too, so I combined the two recipes. Omitted the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, and added Parmesan and a little chicken stock, a little olive oil and a dab of butter! Miss Picky didn't even complain about the Parmesan. At least not after her second helping. Thanks, Katerina, for the inspiration! We really enjoyed the orzo! I hope next time to try it with the cinnamon and nutmeg, instead of the Parm!

The Roasted Tomato Sauce recipe can be found here.

Orzo and Tomato "Risotto" Milanese
Source: Culinary Flavors and Epicurious
adapted by There's Always Thyme to Cook
Printable Recipe

1 (1-lb) box orzo
1 cup tomato sauce or juice
1 cup chicken stock (more if needed)
1/4 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
1-2 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil
salt and black pepper, to taste

Cook orzo in a large pot of boiling salted water until barely al dente, about five minutes. Drain in a colander.

Pour orzo into a heavy saucepan and add stock, tomato juice or sauce, and the bay leaf. Simmer over moderate heat, stirring, until stock is almost absorbed.  Remove the bay leaf and stir in cheese, thyme, butter or oil, salt, and pepper and serve immediately.


Joining Mary's Mosaic Monday. For more mosaic's stop by the Little Red House!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Flashback Friday: Ribs and a thank you!

Just wanted to say thank you to Pam of Pam's Midwest Kitchen Korner for a really great giveaway!
I never win anything, except once, a really long time ago. A pink tablecloth at a charity luncheon my mother dragged me to when I was eight. You could imagine my excitement at that!  So I was kind of shocked when I saw the post who the winner was! ME! I was pretty excited, it must be my lucky day! Of course I went right out and bought a lottery ticket. Sweet Millions!  Did you hear my name mentioned on the news? Nah, well, I didn't either :) But still my lucky day because I won a $60 coupon code to spend at CSN stores on anything Le Creuset! Thank you, Pam, for hosting such a fun giveaway!

I ordered a Cherry Red Le Creuset Tart Tatin Pan and got a free baking dish on the deal as well!
I'm looking forward to using this pan, I see tart tatin just in time for apple season, a frittata, there are so many possibilities!


I'm just too excited from winning to cook anything, so I'm joining Suzy from Kitchen Bouquet for Flashback Friday! I'm bringing back the Cherry Cola ribs that my friend, San, had raved about and I've posted about before here. They've become a favorite in this house as well!

Grilled Cherry Cola Spareribs
Source: San, original recipe from Bon Appétit - July 2002
Printable Recipe

4 12-ounce cans cherry cola (flat)
2 cups cherry jam or preserves
2/3 cup Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce (or more to taste!)

7 1/4 to 7 1/2 pounds well-trimmed pork spareribs

Boil cherry cola in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 45 minutes. Stir in next 5 ingredients. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until mixture is reduced to 2 1/2 cups, stirring occasionally, about 35 minutes. Transfer glaze to large bowl. (Can be made 1 week ahead. Cover; chill. Bring to room temperature before using.)

Position racks in top and bottom thirds of oven and preheat to 325°F. Sprinkle ribs with salt and pepper. Wrap each rib rack tightly in foil, enclosing completely. Divide foil packets between 2 rimmed baking sheets. Bake until ribs are very tender. Cool ribs slightly in foil. Pour off any fat from foil packets. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Keep covered in foil packets and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature for about an hour before continuing.)

Prepare barbecue (medium-low heat). Cut each rib rack between bones into individual ribs. Set aside 1 cup glaze. Add ribs to bowl with remaining glaze and toss to coat. Grill ribs until brown and glazed, turning to prevent burning, about 5 minutes total. Serve, passing reserved glaze separately

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sauce or Soup?

I had a lot of tomatoes that just weren't going to make it much longer, do you see a pattern here? Anyway, I had plums, baby plums, yellow tomatoes, cherry tomatoes and grape tomatoes. Somehow the brownish ones didn't make it. Too soft to slice, I ended up roasting them with a little salt and pepper, garlic and olive oil. Usually we just have them like that, roasted, and smush it on a slice of toasted baguette. But I had a lot of tomatoes, a whole baking sheet full, jam packed with tomatoes. And a new gadget that I hadn't even taken out of the box on my last trip to Crate and Barrel. A food mill! I always wanted one of those. Finally. Now to put that mill to some good use.

 and after a few turns of the crank, a bowl of pure tomato goodness!

Now if I can just decide what to do with it!

Roasted Tomato Sauce

3 pounds fresh tomatoes (mix of any kind you like, heirlooms are great)
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 onion, sliced (optional)
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper

Combine ingredients on a half-sheet pan. Roast at 300°F for about 2 hours, until tomatoes get soft and caramelized. Let them cool. Run the tomatoes through a food mill to remove the skins and seeds. Or in the food processor and then strain the seeds and skins. The resulting puree will be nice and thick.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

You can freeze it for later, or use it for anything you like, sauce or soup. Add herbs or whatever seasonings.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Cheddar Burgers

Was one of those days, late start for dinner. Couldn't think of anything good. Decided on grilling burgers. Easy enough, the Griller does most of the work :) But I didn't want just a plain old cheeseburger so I started looking online for ideas. Epicurious. Typed BURGERS in the search box. Lot of hits. Found exactly what I was looking for by the third page. Cheddar Burgers with Balsamic Onions and Chipotle Ketchup. Sounded great and it had great reviews. I agree with them.

Chipotle ketchup, is my new favorite condiment. Ok, so chipotle mayo is still my number one, but this is really good stuff! Make it as hot and smoky as you like. I can see using this on a lot of things!

Balsamic Grilled Onions. You can use a grill or a grill pan. I used a panini griller. The Griddler. Came out great. Didn't take long at all, cooked on both sides in minutes. My Griller has issues with vegetables falling through the grates, so this was perfect! He was in charge of the burgers while I took care of the condiments and the sides. Good team. Great dinner!

My burger had Farmhouse Cheddar, balsamic onions, fresh baby spinach, tomatoes, avocado and chipotle ketchup. We used pre-made patties because we were running late. So what else is new? Next time we won't. A little chipotle ketchup mixed in with the ground beef would be even better. Bacon would be good, too! Lots of possibilities! The original recipe called for an English muffin, we had burger buns, but I think a toasted English muffin would be perfect with this burger. A nice change from the buns!

Fresh corn on the cob and cole slaw round out the meal. The cole slaw recipe can be found here.

Cheddar Burgers with Balsamic Onions and Chipotle Ketchup
Source: Bon Appétit - July 2008, recipe by Tony Rosenfeld
Printable Recipe

2 red onions, cut crosswise into 1/3- to 1/2-inch-thick rounds
olive oil
3/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Chipotle ketchup:
1 1/4 cup ketchup
2 chipotle chiles, chopped, from canned chipotles in adobo plus 3 tablespoons adobo sauce from can
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

2 1/4 pounds ground beef, made into six 1/2-inch thick patties
Coarse kosher salt (for mixing into the burgers, for pre-made patties sprinkle a little on each side)
6 thick slices sharp cheddar cheese (or any cheese you like)
6 large English muffins or hamburger buns, split, cut sides grilled
6 tomato slices
2 cups fresh spinach leaves (romaine leaves, or any greens you like)

For onions:
Prepare grill (medium-high heat): Arrange the onion rounds on a baking sheet. Brush with oil; sprinkle with 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt and pepper. Transfer onion rounds (still intact) to grill rack; close cover. Cook until grill marks appear, about 4 minutes per side. Reduce heat or move onions to cooler part of grill. Close cover; cook until onions are tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer to medium bowl. Toss with vinegar. Refrigerate. Can be made a few days ahead.

For chipotle ketchup:
Mix ketchup, chiles, adobo sauce, and 2 teaspoons vinegar in a small bowl. Or whiz it up in a food processor. Season with salt and more vinegar, to taste. Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill.

Prepare grill (medium-high heat). Place burgers on grill. Close cover; cook burgers until bottoms start to darken and juices rise to surface, about 3 minutes. Turn burgers; cook to desired doneness. Top with onions and cheese. Close cover; cook until cheese melts. Place muffin bottoms on plates; spread with ketchup. Top with burgers, tomatoes, spinach, avocado and muffin tops. Serve, passing the remaining ketchup.

*You can also mix a little of the chipotle ketchup into the burger meat mix!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Chocolate! Cakes and Strawberries

Spent the other day with Miss Picky in the kitchen. She was debating what we should bake. We don't usually agree. I was shooting for quick and easy. She wanted long and involved. It would definitely have to be something with chocolate. She found some strawberries, buried way back in the frig, barely surviving, those poor things. But they could be saved and be absolutely delicious dipped in chocolate. We weren't serving them to company, it was our treat! That worked for both of us, she got chocolate, and I got quick and easy, minimal clean up! She threw a wrench into the plans by looking in the pantry and digging out a quick bread mix from Williams-Sonoma that looked like something we had to have last time we were there. Chocolate-Peanut Butter Quick bread. It was the QUICK in the title that got me on that one!  OK, I'm a good sport. Most of the time anyway! and so began our time in the kitchen. Me and Miss Text Everyone while we bake, mix and melt!

  Although we had one vote for bittersweet and one for milk chocolate, milk chocolate won. Strawberries dipped in any kind of chocolate is a winning combination!

 Just add melted butter and eggs. It says QUICK right there. 

Instead of making a loaf we decided to put the mini bundt pans to good use. and a couple mini tart pans, too!  We dusted the pans with cocoa powder instead of flour. 

So with mini bundt's or bundt pans in general, the bottom of the pan is really the top of the cake, right? We followed directions, didn't over fill, not too much anyway and the bottom (or top?) or whatever kind of got rounded instead of flat. The mini tart pan cake definitely wasn't sitting pretty in the plate as you can see! The bundt was not too bad when you turned it over. See all the peanut butter chips? Delicious! Even topsy-turvy!

In the end, the bundt's came out nice! A little sprinkle of powdered sugar and all was well with the cakes!

Chocolate Covered Strawberries
 Printable Recipe
16 ounces milk or bittersweet chocolate chips (white chocolate or nay other kind of chips)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (optional, it gives it a smoother texture, but you don't need it)
pound fresh strawberries with leaves

Line a baking sheet or cookie pan with parchment or waxed paper.

Wash the strawberries and pat them dry with paper towels; set aside. NOTE: Make sure the strawberries are completely dry. Any drop of water in the melted chocolate can cause it to "seize" and turn the chocolate mixture into a grainy mess.
In a microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate chips (and vegetable oil, if using) in the microwave for one minute. Check and stir. If it needs more time, put it in for 30 second bursts, checking and stirring, it doesn't have to be completely melted, you don't want to scorch the chocolate.  Remove the container from the microwave and stir the chocolate until completely melted.

Grasp the stem or green leafy part of the strawberry and dip into the chocolate and swirl in chocolate to partially cover.

Give the strawberry a little shake as you take it out of the chocolate, let the excess drip off into the bowl, and then place the dipped berry on the cookie sheet lined with parchment. Repeat with the rest of the strawberries.

Set aside the berries to allow the chocolate to harden, about 30 minutes. Or you can place them in the refrigerator. Transfer fruit onto a serving platter to serve.


Joining Mary's Mosaic Monday. For more mosaic's stop by the Little Red House!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Flashback Friday: Easy Dinner!

Been a very long week. Very long. We've done a lot of ordering in and eating out so we were looking for a good dinner at home! and I was looking to make it easy on myself. Baked Ziti seemed the easiest, until I saw the oven ready lasagna noodles in the pantry!  That was good. and mushrooms in the frig. So I made stuffed mushrooms again! We love them. Again and again! and a very easy, meatless lasagna!

And look at my cool new dish! Supposed to look like a disposable pie tin but it's porcelain! I love online shopping with gift cards!  I thought the stuffed mushrooms would be perfect to serve in this dish! With a nice crusty baguette to sop up the sauce!  It was a great start to dinner! 

It was one of those easy dinners, that just comes together, spur of the moment, and it was so good. Lasagna, roasted Brussels sprouts and a nice salad with lots of stuff in it! How easy are no-boil lasagna noodles? Really easy! I used the "oven ready" ones from Barilla. I've used a different brand before, the wavy kind and didn't care much for them, but I had these and might as well try! They were really good! and too easy. Dinner was a big, unanimous thumbs up! and so easy!

Just put some sauce (homemade or jarred!) in the bottom of the dish, add a layer of the flat, oven ready noodles, spread some ricotta, a little shredded mozzarella.  More sauce, more layers, more sauce, cheese, cover and bake until browned and bubbly! Nonstick foil works well with this, so you don't lose any cheese to the foil!

Really Easy Lasagna
Printable Recipe

1 box oven ready lasagna noodles
1 32-ounce jar of marinara sauce (or homemade)
1 15-ounce container of ricotta cheese
4 cups shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup grated or shredded Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Pour a cup of sauce in the baking dish and then spread it on bottom of baking pan. Then layer the lasagna sheets on top of the sauce, overlapping them a bit, and spread 1/3 of the ricotta on the noodles, sprinkle a cup of mozzarella and spread another cup of sauce top.

Add another layer of noodles, make sure to overlap, and spread more ricotta, mozzarella and sauce. Repeat the layers and then spread remaining sauce on top of last noodle layer and then sprinkle Parmesan on top of sauce, then the last if the mozzarella!

Cover pan with foil, nonstick foil works well here, and bake for about 45 minutes! Remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes, until browned and bubbly! Let stand 10 minutes before cutting into it.

Easy Stuffed Mushrooms
Printable Recipe

1 lb (about 20) white or cremini mushrooms, stemmed (save stems for stuffing)
2 shallots, finely chopped by hand or food processor
2 cloves fresh garlic
salt and pepper
3 slices bread - white, whole grain, whatever kind you like
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
optional - a little white wine for the pan

Preheat oven to 375°. Remove the stems from the mushrooms. Whiz the bread slices in a food processor, then add the garlic, a tablespoon of butter, a little drizzle of olive oil, the shallots and some salt and pepper. Whiz it all together!

Stuff the filling into the mushroom caps. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on top. Put the mushrooms in a baking dish and drizzle a bit of olive oil on top of the mushrooms and some in the pan, add a little bit of butter to the dish, too, and some white wine and bake for 20 -30 minutes. Garnish with a bit of fresh chopped Italian Parsley.

For more Flashback Fridays, visit Suzy at Kitchen Bouquet.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Magazine Challenge!

There's always a stack of cookbooks and magazines on the night table. Other people read novels. I read cookbooks and magazines. So when Suzy from Kitchen Bouquet decided to have a Magazine Challenge a while back, I jumped in with both spatula's!  She just posted another Great Cooking Magazine Challenge and I'm joining in again!

The August issue of La Cucina Italiana had a very easy recipe for a Chicken Salad. It looked great in the magazine. Great way to use up a leftover roast chicken, or a store bought rotisserie. But of course we didn't have roast chicken or a rotisserie chicken when I decided I had to have this for lunch. But lucky me, I did have grilled chicken strips leftover from Trader Joe's. The Picky One likes that for lunch sometimes in a salad, good to have on hand. It worked out great!  We loved this salad. This one is definitely a keeper!

Marjoram?  Not something I have lying around the spice cabinet, or out in the garden even! But I do happen to be growing tarragon, which I love. And oregano, which I like. I just happen to love fresh tarragon more!  So I assumed tarragon made a really nice sub! It did, but when I looked up marjoram, the site mentioned that fresh oregano is a good sub for it. So I put a little in as well.  I will look into growing marjoram next summer. I just happen to have a whole bunch of Meyer lemons in the freezer, so I grabbed a couple and thawed them in the microwave with a couple of 30 seconds bursts! Great way to always have a lemon or lime on hand is to freeze them whole and zap them in micro when you need one or two.

The salad was delicious, really bursting with a lot of flavor! I used a red bell pepper in addition to a yellow pepper to give it a little more color. Also threw in some diced red onion just because I love red onion in a salad.  The grilled chicken gave it a lot of flavor. And just an extra squeeze of lemon juice made the flavor really pop! Yep, making this one again for sure!

Chicken and Yellow Pepper Salad
(insalata di pollo arrosto e peperoni gialli)
Source: adapted from La Cucina Italiana, August 2010
Printable Recipe

2 lemons
zest of one of the lemons (strips)
2 cups small shreds of skinless roast or grilled chicken
1/2 small red onion, chopped in small dice
1 yellow and 1 red, or orange, bell pepper, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (2 peppers, any color!)
7 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) Parmigiano-Reggiano or similar type cheese, cut into shards
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves, and or marjoram, oregano, whatever you like
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Using a sharp paring knife, trim off top and bottom of lemons. Stand fruit on end and carefully cut the peel and white pith from flesh, reserve the peel, following curve of fruit from top to bottom. Trim away any remaining pith. Cut each section away from membranes, cutting as close to membranes as you can, then cut fruit pieces in half crosswise, and cut again in smaller pieces, and place in a large bowl. I squeezed a bit of the lemon juice into the bowl, too!

In the bowl with the lemons and zest, add the chicken, bell peppers, onion and cheese. Add oil, tarragon leaves and salt and pepper, to taste; toss to combine.

Back to top