September 20th – Lasagna

September 20th, – Lasagna

Ok, so this isn’t exactly a wholly new recipe to me.  I’ve made lasagna before, but in a crock pot because I thought it saved time.  You know what?  It doesn’t.  Instead of baking for an hour, you crock pot it for 4…. Which is still weird on one’s schedule.  AND it never sets in the crock pot.  It just ends up looking like a pile of barf on one’s plate.  Absolutely delicious, but doesn’t present well.

I decided to make this because I had left over ricotta and parmesan cheese in my fridge from the gnocchi last week.  It’s also Jim’s favorite dish of mine… so two birds, one stone.

I am taking my old recipe and using a new backing direction.  I sort of used the following recipe:

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/slow-cooker-lasagna/

Slow-cooker lasagna

Ingredients

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 (29 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 (12 ounce) package lasagna noodles
  • 12 ounces cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 16 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions

  1. In a large skillet over medium heat cook the ground beef, onion, and garlic until brown. Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, salt, and oregano and stir until well incorporated. Cook until heated through.
  2. In a large bowl mix together the cottage cheese, grated Parmesan cheese, and shredded mozzarella cheese.

Easy lasagna II

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Easy-Lasagna-II/Detail.aspx?src=mer224

  1. To assemble, in the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish evenly spread 3/4 cup of the sauce mixture. Cover with 3 uncooked lasagna noodles, 1 3/4 cup of the cheese mixture, and 1/4 cup sauce. Repeat layers twice. Top with 3 noodles, remaining sauce, remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Add 1/2 cup water to the edges of the pan. Cover with aluminum foil.
  2. Bake in a preheated 350 degree F(175 degrees C) oven for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

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Mmmmm… local & free-ranged.  I love you, Pastures-A-Plenty.

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All set to make the sauce.

What the heck do they mean by one onion?  Onions vary so much in size.  I ended up using two “small” onions; whatever that means to you.

Ground beef in a lasagna?  Booooooorrrrrrrrrrrrrrring.  Hot Italian pork sausage is much more delicious.

I didn’t use fresh garlic because granulated garlic is one of my favorite condiments; I always have it on hand.  Instead, I dumped a WHOLE LOT of granulated garlic in it; a few tablespoons.  Probably too much for the average person, but I have quite the tolerance and adoration of garlic.

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The amount of onion I used.

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I didn’t really measure anything.  I just eyeballed it.

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The cheesy goodness.  In a guilt-free world, I would sit down and eat this whole thing. 

Instead of using all cottage cheese, I used about 7oz of ricotta cheese and…. 2 cups of cottage cheese.  Also, for the life of me, I could not find bulk parmesan cheese at Cub Foods so I used the prepackaged shakable parmesan.

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I wish I had scooped out the layer fixins into equal piles to keep equality in check.  Instead, I eyeballed it.  Look how cute these pans are?  Both were covered in foil.  One was placed in the freezer for another time.  The other was popped in the fridge for dinner after work.

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Coming home from work and popping this in the oven was a snap!  I forgot to add the ¼ cup of water to it, which made me nervous.  I was also curious about the cooking time because this pan was half the size.  The suggested 45 min and 10 min at 350 was great.

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How great is this lighting?!?!  It’s like the sky new I was taking the table’s picture. 

I also made some Pillsbury Crescents and canned corn (I have way too much corn in stalk right now)

The dished up lasagna stood up beautifully on the plate.  No slop of barf anywhere to see.  It seemed to be a great consistency too even though I forgot the water during baking.

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“This looks soooo delicious!” says my little kitchen helper.

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The taste test.  :)

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A happy face to match a happy tummy.  :)

Stay tuned for next week’s more unexpected meal; a meal I have never remotely attempted

Sept 13th – Sweet Potato Gnocchi with brown butter and sage sauce

 

 

­­­­­­­­­­­­­September 13th

 

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with brown butter and sage sauce

 

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Sweet-Potato-Gnocchi-with-Brown-Butter-and-Sage-233379

 

Ingredients

 

  • 2 1-pound red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams), rinsed, patted dry, pierced all over with fork
  • 1 12-ounce container fresh ricotta cheese, drained in sieve 2 hours 1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons plus 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 2 3/4 cups (about) all purpose flour
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 6 tablespoons chopped fresh sage plus whole leaves for garnish

 

Preparation

 

·         Line large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place sweet potatoes on plate; microwave on high until tender, about 5 minutes per side. Cut in half and cool. Scrape sweet potato flesh into medium bowl and mash; transfer 3 cups to large bowl. Add ricotta cheese; blend well. Add Parmesan cheese, brown sugar, 2 teaspoons salt, and nutmeg; mash to blend. Mix in flour, about 1/2 cup at a time, until soft dough forms.

 

·         Turn dough out onto floured surface; divide into 6 equal pieces. Rolling between palms and floured work surface, form each piece into 20-inch-long rope (about 1 inch in diameter), sprinkling with flour as needed if sticky. Cut each rope into 20 pieces. Roll each piece over tines of fork to indent. Transfer to baking sheet.

 

·         Bring large pot of water to boil; add 2 tablespoons salt and return to boil. Working in batches, boil gnocchi until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer gnocchi to clean rimmed baking sheet. Cool completely. (Can be made 4 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)

 

·         Preheat oven to 300°F. Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook until butter solids are brown and have toasty aroma, swirling pan occasionally, about 5 minutes.

 

·         Add chopped sage (mixture will bubble up). Turn off heat. Season sage butter generously with salt and pepper.

 

·         Transfer half of sage butter to large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add half of gnocchi. Sauté until gnocchi are heated through, about 6 minutes. Empty skillet onto rimmed baking sheet; place in oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining sage butter and gnocchi.

·         Divide gnocchi and sauce among shallow bowls. Garnish with sage leaves.

 

 

 

I would like to give my pal Alexis props for this recipe.  She’s so crafty! 

 

I split the gnocchi making into two shifts.  I prepped and boiled them, went to work, and sautéed them when I got home.  Collectively… I think this all took me about 2 hours… maybe more.  It was fun though.  I got to watch Live with Kelly and Michael while I prepped.  [PS, Michael Strahan is perfect for that show]

 

Please note:  I halved this recipe stated above!!!!  Alexis tipped me off that it made a tremendous amount of gnocchi and I was only cooking for two.  Though, in hindsight, I wish I would have made the whole thing and froze what we didn’t eat.

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I started off putting the dough together.  Everything was pretty straight forward.  The sweet potatoes microwaved sufficiently. 

 

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This probably goes without saying, but I was pretty grossed out at the thought of rolling food on my counters.  Ish.  Even after I cleaned it, I felt weird about it. 

 

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I separated the dough into 3 ~equal parts and rolled them out into the 20” snakes

 

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They were about 1” wide as suggested.

 

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Chopped

 

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The recipe says to roll the fork tines to make a cute little barrel pattern, but I couldn’t get the pattern to stick as the gnocchi rolled.  As soon as the underside pressed the cutting board, the pattern was ruined.  Instead, I made cute little squares.

 

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I plopped the first batch into the boiling water while I prepped the next batch.  They float and dance in the water when they are finished cooking.

 

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When they were all finished, I put plastic over them and popped them in the fridge for ~8 hours until I came home from work.

 

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Jim decided to make himself an horderve of a “pizza hotdog” consisting of a string cheese stick, pasta sauce, pepperoni on a left over hotdog bun.  See what I mean about our un-eating habits?  Sadly, I must admit that this concoction of his sounds amazing and I look forward to making one myself. 

 

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This is the one thing I would probably change about this recipe.  Did you see how much butter the recipe suggests!?!?!?!?!?!  Good lord.  That was TOO much butter for me.  I think a white sauce with sage would be yummy with these gnocchi. 

 

 I would also not add a generous amount of salt and pepper to the butter sauce as suggested.  I thought the end product was a bit too salty for my taste.  I would let the consumer season their food as desired at the table. 

 

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I got to premiere my new plates!!!!  Sango – Avanti Brown.  Soooo lovely.  :)  and I got a GREAT deal on them!!!

 

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Because the gnocchi have so much flavor [and fat for that matter], I simply cooked cubed pork up in a skillet – no oil, no seasonings, no salt; just covered with a little water.  The powerful gnocchi and bland pork together were a great pair.  DELICIOUS!  Even Jim, who doesn’t like sweet potatoes, loved the gnocchi.  :)

 

I would definitely make this again, but, again, would try a white sauce instead of pure butter and I wouldn’t salt the sauce so much.  Overall, super yummy.

Sept 5th – Rosemary Ranch Chicken Kabobs

Rosemary Ranch Chicken Kabobs

September 5th, 2012

Where to begin!?!  I searched around different websites not really knowing what I was looking for when I found this delicious sounding recipe for Rosemary Ranch Chicken Kabobs from allrecipes.com . 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup ranch dressing
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar, or to taste (optional)
  • 5 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cut into 1 inch cubes

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, stir together the olive oil, ranch dressing, Worcestershire sauce, rosemary, salt, lemon juice, white vinegar, pepper, and sugar. Let stand for 5 minutes. Place chicken in the bowl, and stir to coat with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the grill for medium-high heat. Thread chicken onto skewers and discard marinade.
  3. Lightly oil the grill grate. Grill skewers for 8 to 12 minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink in the center, and the juices run clear.

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The recipe said to marinade for a half hour.  Instead, I marinaded the chicken overnight.  This resulted in a pretty intense flavor.  We LOVED it, but if you are cooking for a timid eater, I would suggest sticking with the 30 minute marinade. 

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All prepped and ready to go… apron and allImageImage

I don’t have a grill so I just used my George Foreman.  3 skewers fit on at a time just perfectly.

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I learned that toaster ovens are terrible at baking potatoes.  I baked these babies for an hour at 350 and they still needed to be microwaved.  “Live and learn.”  says my little kitchen helper.

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Overall, a very delicious first start to my adventures in cooking.