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Egg Roll Wrapper Lasagna

20170216_080340-1600x1200I don’t remember where I first saw this tip but they really do work very well.  I do remember the chef saying, “after all, they’re just thin sheets of pasta”.  These wraps are 8″ square.20170215_165815-1600x1200I peeled them off two at a time for the first layers but tried to separate them better when it looked as though they would run short.  20170215_205851-1600x1200Setting the tray outside to take advantage of the evening chill to help set the lasagna, it cooled enough by bed time to slice cleanly. I lost count as it was assembled but I think there are four layers.  It went sauce – wrap -sauce -spinach, ricotta, and Parmesan mix – crumbled sausage – wrap, repeated until I ran out of wraps.  It finished with a generous layer of shredded mozzarella atop the last of the ricotta mix and sausage.20170215_205919-1600x1200It baked at 350 for nearly an hour, covered.  I took the lid off for the last 10-15 minutes.

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Christmas Eve Menu: Spinach Lasagna Dinner

Lasagna snap3

I’ll update the photo if I get a good one this Christmas Eve

Tossing around ideas for my Christmas Eve party and settled on lasagna this year. It will once again be gluten-free using specialty noodles. Excited to have our traditional party in the new house.

On the board:

  1. Spinach Lasagna
  2. Tossed Salad
  3. Garlic Bread*

This recipe takes about an hour to prepare and another hour to cook. It easily serves 6 – 8. I will make it a day ahead and refrigerate. It will need additional cooking time to bring center up to temperature.

Spinach Lasagna

Sauce:

  • 3-15 oz cans tomato sauce
  • 2-6 oz cans tomato paste
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tsp oregano, crushed
  • 2 tsp basil, crushed
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled & finely grated
  • pinch of sugar (reduces acidity of the tomatoes)
  • Optional: ½ lb ground beef and ½ spicy Italian sausage, browned

Saucepan

Add all ingredients to saucepan on medium-high, stirring constantly until it begins to boil lightly. Turn to low and let simmer while you prepare the remaining ingredients.

Lasagna:

  • 1 pkg lasagna noodles (16 oz), cooked and placed in cool water until layering
  • 16 oz ricotta cheese
  • 8 oz package frozen spinach, thawed or 8 oz fresh, washed and dried
  • 1 egg
  • 12 oz sliced mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese

13×9 baking dish (I prefer glass), lightly oiled

To prepare: Mix ricotta, spinach and egg until well blended. Ladle a layer of sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Cover in a single layer of noodles. Ladle sauce over noodles. Spoon ½ of the ricotta mixture evenly (if you place large dollops evenly like putting cookie dough on a baking sheet, fairly close together, it will spread as it cooks, no need to smooth it). Layer 1/3 of the mozzarella over the ricotta. Repeat: noodles, sauce, ricotta, mozzarella, noodles. On top of the last layer of noodles, add remaining sauce, mozzarella and parmesan cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, uncovered – I like to place the baking dish on a baking sheet to catch any spills as it bubbles. Place knife through the center, if it comes out heated through, remove and let stand for 10 minutes before cutting and serving. If it needs more cooking time, you can cover with foil to keep the cheese from burning and cook 10 more minutes. Let stand uncovered before serving.

Garlic Bread

*I’m going to purchase a gluten free loaf  (we have a great local bakery for that) and I’m also going to make this Slow Rise recipe.  Making the garlic bread is easy. I slice the loaves in half lengthwise, melt butter, add a healthy amount of crushed garlic and brush liberally on each loaf half. Then I top with shredded mozzarella and Parmesan.  Broil until cheese is melted and bread is golden brown. Slice and serve.

Tossed Salad

I try to change it up each year, and I don’t know how I’m going to do this time. Maybe spinach/raspberry or a veggie toss with romaine.

Next up: Dessert Menu



 

Mmm… Lasagna

DSC_1844 (1600x1060)I usually make this with ricotta as a base for shredded mozzarella, Parmesan, and provolone but decided to go with a bechamel this time just to see how it would work.  I’ve been seeing the basic white sauce used in a few different lasagnas prepared on one of my TV cooking shows.  I made one with 4 cups of milk and stirred the cheeses into that and added the ricotta just for the hell of it.  Made a ton of cheese sauce thinking I’d make two pans but my lasagna noodle count was off so I packed one pan, slightly larger than my usual, as full as I could.  Still had leftover cheese sauce.DSC_1848 (1600x1060)Freshly made lasagna, still warm from the oven, will slump all over the plate.  I let mine rest for a half hour but it still oozed all over.  Here’s a nice slice that’s firmed up overnight in the fridge.  The green is chopped spinach that went into the white sauce.  The tomato sauce has sausage in it but this would be just fine without any meat added if that’s your preference.DSC_1850 (1600x1060)Even just the one pan is way too much for the two of us so I divide it like so and slide it into the big freezer so I can vacuum seal the portions for later.  They’ll keep a long time like that.

Lasagna

DSC_1215 (1600x1060)I thought about making a lasagna with a bechamel sauce to carry the cheese but went with ricotta instead.  Why mess with a good thing?  I mixed a couple of eggs with the ricotta, a package of chopped spinach, a little shredded mozzarella, and a fair handful of Parmesan.  The tomato sauce was from a jar I canned last summer, with some crumbled and browned Italian sausage.  I had a loaf of fresh mozzarella to layer over the top.  Worked out nicely, had a good flavor, and this time I managed to wait a little while before I plated a serving so it held together better than my usual.DSC_1211 (1600x1060)We bought a set of these individual sized casseroles so I made a Mrs J sized portion for her.  I like the looks of the dishes and I’m going to do a mac & cheese in them one of these days.

Fun with Food: Slow-cooker Spinach Lasagna

Slow-Cooker Lasagna 2

This week I’m having fun with unusual recipes in unusual gadgets. Here’s one from December 2012:

This is a great take on spinach lasagna, using a slow-cooker. This entire dish completely surprised me. I was at work, one day, in our morning meeting – which was actually an excuse for the guys to wow me with their cooking ideas – when Vern told me about the slow-cooker lasagna he’d made the night before. I was skeptical. Lasagna in a slow-cooker sounded like it would have the consistency of canned ravioli. But he insisted it was really good. So I set out to see for myself. I have to say, he wasn’t wrong. It had a great flavor, the texture was very similar to having cooked it in an oven and the top was nicely browned and the cheese perfectly gooey. The only caveat is that it cooks in about 4 hours, so you can’t put it together in the morning and have it ready when you get home at the end of the work day. It would be burned to a crisp, even on low.

So, here is tonight’s featured recipe, my version of slow-cooker lasagna:

Slow-Cooker Spinach Lasagna

  • 1 lb lean ground beef (opt, you can skip to keep this vegetarian)
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 carrot shredded (this cuts the acidity of the sauce, adds a touch of sweetness)
  • 1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 28 oz canned tomato sauce
  • 6 oz can tomato paste
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp dried oregano, crushed
  • 2 tsp of dried basil, crushed
  • 12 ounces ricotta cheese (you can sub in cottage cheese if desired)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, washed and rough chopped
  • 16 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 12 ounces lasagna noodles, uncooked (I used brown rice pasta to keep it gluten free)

Sauce: Brown ground beef, along with onion, garlic, carrots and green pepper in a saucepan (if you are omitting the beef, sauté vegetables in a tbsp of olive oil). Add tomato sauce, paste and spices. Bring to a low boil, reduce heat and let simmer on low while preparing remaining ingredients.

Mix together ricotta cheese and egg, until well combined. Fold in spinach.

In the slow-cooker, spoon a layer of sauce onto the bottom, add a double layer of uncooked lasagna noodles (break to fit) and top with a portion of the ricotta mixture and then a portion of the mozzarella. Add sauce, then a single layer of noodles, ricotta and mozzarella and repeat layers until ingredients are all used up. (Because slow-cookers vary in size, I unfortunately can’t give you precise layering, as I can with the traditional lasagna. You’ll have to eye it. The good news is, it will all cook together and be just fine regardless).

Finish with sauce, mozzarella and then shredded Parmesan.

Cover and cook on low for 4 to 5 hours.

 

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Tex-Mex Lasagna

DSC_9787 (1600x1060)I may be in trouble for calling this lasagna because no pasta is involved, it uses corn tortillas between layers of refried beans, salsa, beef, and cheese.  Cook a pound of ground beef down with minced peppers and onions and season with taco spices and add a can of tomato bits with green chilies.  Add chicken stock to a couple of cans of rinsed pinto beans and mash them down over medium heat.  The beans play much the same role as ricotta in an Italian lasagna, spread the refried beans over warmed corn tacos, spoon on your favorite salsa, then spread the beef atop that, and then cheese.  I used cheddar but Monterey jack would work, or a combination.  Repeat the layering until you run out of room in your casserole.  Any kind of luck your makings will run out the same time as the room in the dish.

Friday Recipe Exchange: Christmas Eve Party

DSC_7514 (1600x1060)

Once again I am hosting Christmas Eve dinner. I try and keep the menu simple because I have a small kitchen and I like to spend time with my guests. I’m actually doing much of what I did last year, because it worked so well.  The menu will serve as tonight’s recipe exchange.  Thanks to JeffreyW for making lasagna this week so that I had an awesome photo to use tonight.

Christmas Eve Menu:

Appetizers –  Herbed Tomato Crostini (recipe here), vegetable tray

Main Event – Spinach Lasagna (recipe here), Salad, Cheesy Garlic Bread

Dessert – Truffles (featured recipe below), Peanut Butter Cookies (recipe here) and everyone’s favorite, a Sundae Bar

With the exception of the garlic bread, because I’m using gluten free noodles, the entire evening is gluten free and vegetarian. Everyone should be happy.

Dinner is at 6 pm, bring the wine.

That takes care of Christmas Eve, but what about Christmas day? How does this sound:

German Pancakes with Walnut Syrup (both recipes here) for breakfast and a Roast, Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Glazed Carrots for dinner (all those recipes are here and tips for perfect mashed potatoes are here).

How are your holiday plans coming along? Do you have a crowd coming? Share your favorite holiday recipes in the comments, I’d love to see what you prepare.

Now about those truffles. This was the first time I’d made them, though I’d thought about it for a while. How hard could it be? It’s basically ganache, right? That was very simple to make. The pain was making the actual truffles, a bit of work and very messy. But I think it was worth it and I’m sure the guests will enjoy them.

Truffles

Here’s the basic recipe, I then added pieces of walnut to the center of some, hazelnut to others and rolled them in either crushed walnut or hazelnut. The rest are rolled in either dark cocoa and powdered sugar. The powdered sugar kind of melted into them, so I’ll probably dust them quickly right before I serve them.

Chocolate Truffles

  • 1/2 pound good bittersweet chocolate (I use 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate)
  • 1/2 pound good semisweet chocolate
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp Grand Marnier, (optional)
  • 1 tbsp prepared coffee
  • 1/2 tsp good vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar
  • Cocoa powder (I used dark)
  • Nuts, whole and finely chopped (optional)

baking sheet, parchment paper

Heat the cream in a double boiler until it’s hot, not boiling, and then add chocolate chips. Whisk together until fully melted, then remove from heat.  Whisk in the optional Grand Marnier, coffee, and vanilla. Set aside at room temperature for 1 hour.

Spoon a dollop of the chocolate mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, until firm. Roll each dollop of chocolate in your hands to roughly make a round ball. Roll in powdered’ sugar, cocoa powder, or both.

Makes about 48.

These will keep refrigerated for weeks, but serve at room temperature.

cropped-flower_poinsettia_d2.jpg

Lasagna

DSC_7514 (1600x1060)I said last post that I hadn’t been cooking anything new and exciting.  This lasagna is neither of those things but it does make for a pretty picture.  You need to allow for the fact that this slice is firm and nicely layered only because it is fresh out of the fridge and was cut out of the pan with a sharp knife.  I looked at the piece I had for supper last night and decided against getting a photo because it was all hot a gooey and slumping all over the plate despite having plenty of time to rest out of the oven.

I sort of followed a recipe for this but I didn’t really need to.  The cheese layers are ricotta, grated Romano, shredded mozzarella, a couple of eggs, a package of chopped spinach, and some garlic powder with salt and black pepper.  It is layered with a tomato sauce that has sausage and ground beef, lots more garlic and a finely diced onion.  The sauce was from the garden and laden with plenty of basil and oregano.  That top layer isn’t pasta, it’s fresh mozzarella that was sliced and laid atop the last layer of meatsauce

Friday Recipe Exchange: Gluten Free Goodies

Lasagna snap3

This is going to be a quick one. I didn’t want to leave you hanging a second week, especially since I’m going to be travelling next week and there probably won’t be  any recipes.

I asked earlier in the summer  for gluten free recipe ideas. There was lots of input, as always you guys rock. One thing I noticed about  recipes for bread substitutes the ingredient list is daunting. I thought mixes might be a better route for these items. I wanted to test out some mixes for pizza crust, rolls and bread, but I just haven’t found the time.

If you’ve had success with mixes and would like to recommend some, let us know in the comments. I could use some direction and I’m probably not the only one. Share any other gluten free recipes I may have missed in the first go round. And of course talk about any other recipes you’d like to share.

First up, the links that came from various commenters:

Chewy Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies from Alton Brown, here.

Almond Butter Blondies, from Eat Well, here.

Too easy to believe, Chocolate-Walnut Cookies, recipe here.

Then there is my favorite gluten free cake recipe. I love this cake because not only is it gluten free, but you can change up the ingredients to a variety of fruits including cranberry, clementine oranges, and of course chocolate and mocha

And if I had to pick a blog, I like Gluten Free Girl, because she emphasizes foods that are naturally gluten free as a place to start, click here to see her journey and great recipes.

I am not gluten sensitive, but years ago realized that wheat flour, among other things, exacerbated my joint pain, so I cut way back. When my friend LFern went gluten free, she recommended a brown rice pasta that I love. It has great flavor and excellent texture, I’ve used it for all kinds of things, including tonight’s featured recipe, I rarely recommend specific products, but this is my exception, it’s Tinkyada Rice Pasta, link here to products, pricey, but worth it.

So that’s a start. I’m sure you have many more I haven’t even thought of and I look forward to hearing about them.

Tonight’s featured recipe I’ve posted before, but not with the gluten free alternative. I wanted to use it tonight because I wanted to show gluten free doesn’t mean it can’t be yummy.

Gluten Free Spinach Lasagna

Sauce:

  • 3-15 oz cans tomato sauce
  • 2-6 oz cans tomato paste
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tsp oregano, crushed
  • 2 tsp basil, crushed
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled & finely grated
  • pinch of sugar (reduces acidity of the tomatoes)
  • Optional: ½ lb ground beef and ½ spicy Italian sausage, browned

Saucepan

Add all ingredients to saucepan on medium-high, stirring constantly until it begins to boil lightly. Turn to low and let simmer while you prepare the remaining ingredients.

Lasagna:

  • 1 pkg Tinkyada or other gluten free lasagna noodles (16 oz)* – boiled and cooled.
  • 16 oz ricotta cheese
  • 8 oz package frozen spinach, thawed or 8 oz fresh, washed and dried
  • 1 egg
  • 12 oz sliced mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese

13×9 baking dish (I prefer glass), lightly oiled

*I’ve boiled these and also baked them dry. I prefer the dry method, you’ll need to increase baking time by 30 minutes or until the noodles are cooked through.

To prepare: Mix ricotta, spinach and egg until well blended. Ladle a layer of sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Cover in a single layer of noodles. Ladle sauce over noodles. Spoon ½ of the ricotta mixture evenly (if you place large dollops evenly like putting cookie dough on a baking sheet, fairly close together, it will spread as it cooks, no need to smooth it). Layer 1/3 of the mozzarella over the ricotta. Repeat: noodles, sauce, ricotta, mozzarella, noodles. On top of the last layer of noodles, add remaining sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, uncovered – I like to place the baking dish on a baking sheet to catch any spills as it bubbles. Place knife through the center, if it comes out heated through, remove and let stand for 10 minutes before cutting and serving. If it needs more cooking time, you can cover with foil to keep the cheese from burning and cook 10 more minutes. Let stand uncovered before serving.

Okay, this was all done on the fly, so if I missed something or messed something up, let me know, I’ll fix.  – TaMara

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Lasagna

DSC_4972 [1600x1200]I made this with the “no boil” pasta that’s been in the cupboard for a spell.  It works pretty well, nothing you will brag about to your mother but it’s not a bad thing.DSC_4973 [1600x1200]The noodles are thin, and they don’t bulk up too much more.  They don’t give the kind of body that the regular noodles do.  Damned easy to layer them into the dish.DSC_4974 [1600x1200]Here’s a little better angle on the layers.

Nothing special about the recipe, ricotta and mozzarella with an egg and chopped spinach for the cheese layer.  The sauce was my awesome sauce with my own Italian sausage.  That thick top layer of cheese is about half and half provolone and mozzarella.  I expect this will be better tomorrow.