Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Quick One-Skillet Lasagna

“From the Tables of Round Top Revisited,” another one from the cookbook I got from Aunt Kinky

We modified this slightly; I’m putting our modifications in parentheses.

1-1/4 cup ricotta cheese (I used fat-free)
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1-1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 lb. Lean ground beef (turkey would probably be ok, too)
1 cup zucchini, diced (we used green squash and it was fine)
1 (29 oz) jar of pasta sauce
6 oven-ready lasagna noodles

In a medium bowl, mix the ricotta, Parmesan, water, and salt with ½ cup of the mozzarella cheese. Set the mixture aside.

Brown beef in a large skillet (be sure that the skillet has a lid for later use) over medium heat until the meat is no longer pink; about 5 minutes breaking up the beef with a wooden spoon or potato masher while cooking. Drain off any fat. Add diced zucchini and stir in 2 cups of the pasta sauce. Reduce heat to medium-low. Top the beef mixture with 2 lasagna noodles, set in the center. Break 1-2 more of the noodles and fill in the edges of the skillet.

Gently spread the cheese mixture over the noodles. (The noodles may begin to curl in the skillet but the cheese mixture will hold them down.) Lay the remaining noodles on top of the cheese mixture. Pour the rest of the pasta sauce over the noodles and spread evenly. Sprinkle remaining cup of mozzarella cheese on top.

Cover the skillet with lid and simmer the lasagna over medium-low heat until the noodles are tender, about 20 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and let lasagna cool for 5 minutes. Cut lasagna and serve.

Serves 6.

Joseph's Kielbasa

"From the Tables of Round Top Revisited," a cookbook I got for Christmas from Geoff's Aunt Kinky (of margarita and salsa fame).

1 can (10-3/4 oz) condensed cream of celery soup, undiluted
¾ cup water
1 T butter or margarine
1 lb smoked Kielbasa, cut into ½-inch pieces
¾ cup uncooked long grain rice
1 (10 oz) package frozen peas or frozen mixed vegetables
1 (4.5 oz) can sliced mushrooms, drained (optional)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

In a skillet, combine soup, water, and butter; bring to a boil. Add Kielbasa and rice. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15-18 minutes or until rice is almost tender. Stir in peas and mushrooms. Cover and simmer 15 minutes, or until rice is tender and peas or vegetables are heated through. Sprinkle with cheese, cover and let stand until melted.

Serves 4-6.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Mashed Yukon Gold Potatoes with Goat Cheese and Basil

From Bon Appetit, March 1998

(I have not tried these yet, but the recipe got rave reviews on

2 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
5 ounces soft fresh goat cheese (such as Montrachet), crumbled
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
3/4 cup half and half
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon minced garlic*

Cook potatoes in large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain well. Return to pot. Mix in cheese and butter. Mash until smooth. Add half and half, basil and garlic and stir over medium heat until heated through. Season with salt and pepper.

Makes 8 servings.

** One of the recipe reviewers suggested cooking the potatoes with 10 cloves of garlic, and then mashing the garlic along with the potatoes and other ingredients. Other reviewers after that agreed that this was a nice addition, instead of the minced garlic.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Sweet and Spicy Roasted Nuts

From "Recipes from a Very Small Island"

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 c packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I like spicy food and used a bit more than this, probably about a full teaspoon)
2 c walnut halves
2 c pecan halves
2 c whole almonds (I used slivered too)

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Spray a large baking sheet with vegetable oil spray.

2. In a large skillet, melt the butter. Add the sugar, 1/4 c water, and all the spices. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Add the nuts and cook, stirring, until the butter mixture coats the nuts evenly, about 2 minutes. Scrape onto the prepared baking sheet and spread out evenly in a single layer.

3. Bake in the preheated oven, stirring every few minutes, until nuts are glazed and deep brown, about 25 minutes. Cool completely on the baking sheet, stirring occasionally. Store in a covered container for up to a week.

Makes 6 cups.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

spinach ball appetizers

From one of my co-workers -- made them for a baby shower this weekend and they turned out great. One tip: Next time I'll make them smaller.

2 cups fresh bread crumbs (whole foods' is very good) (she was right about that)
1 lb frozen spinach, thawed
1 cup shredded Parmesan Reggiano (I used a blend of parmesan, fontina and something else)
5 eggs
3 garlic cloves minced
1 lg onion minced
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp cayenne (I used a bit more of all the spices)

Form little ping-pong-size balls and lay on cookie sheet. Refrigerated covered 1 hour, then stick in preheated oven (350) for about a half hour. Keep an eye out -- shd be a light golden brown when done.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Brownies with peppermint icing

So, Becky and I baked this weekend.
I'm always ambitious when I set out on a baking binge, and this weekend was no exception. And since I always like to try at least one new recipe, I carefully selected this one. What's not to love? Chocolate and peppermint are always good in my book.
Except, well...the tassie part didn't turn out. Good thing Becky was around, because we just improvised and it was well worth the little bit of extra time. These are my new favorite dessert.

Here is our version:

Get a brownie mix, whatever kind you like (We used a dark chocolate one). Mix the batter. Put into mini-muffin pans. Set the oven on the lowest setting called for on the box (ours was 325) and bake about 15 min, then check to see if they're done. (ours took about 17 min)
Cool brownie mini muffins.

Then prepare icing:

4 tablespoons butter, softened
7 ounce jar marshmallow creme
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk, divided

In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter, marshmallow creme and peppermint extract until smooth. Mix in 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar. Beat in 1 tablespoon milk. Add in the next 1 cup confectioners' sugar and mix until combined. Using a wooden spoon, mix in the final cup of confectioners' sugar. If this mixture is too thick to easily pipe, mix in 1 teaspoon of milk at a time until it reaches the desired consistency.
(next time I'm going to use 2 c. of sugar and see if I can get it the right consistency, without using the milk. if it's not stiff enough, I'll add more sugar)

Then pipe the icing onto the brownies. If you don't have a piping bag or decorator tool, put the icing in a ziploc bag, and cut the tip off. Instant piping bag. Top with crushed candy canes.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Spaghetti Carbonara

From “The Joy of Cooking” 75th Anniversary Edition

This is completely unhealthy, but it tastes great. Shocking, but true. What do you expect of a dish that involves bacon, eggs, cheese, and pasta?

Makes 8 first-course or 4 main-course servings

1 pound spaghetti or linguine (we used angel hair)
2 T olive oil
6 slices of bacon, chopped
1/3 cup dry white wine
3 large eggs
Salt and black pepper to taste
2/3 cup mixed grated Parmesan and Romano (3 oz)

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water.

Meanwhile, combine olive oil and bacon in a skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is crisp. Add wine and simmer until the wine has evaporated.

Beat eggs, salt and pepper, and cheeses together.

Drain pasta and return it to the hot pot. Immediately add the cheese mixture and the hot bacon and fat, stirring to coat thoroughly; the heat of the pasta will cook the eggs.

Notes: The bacon should be done at the same time the pasta is done, so you can throw everything together all at once. Adjust starting times to account for this.

Geoff and I thought there wasn’t enough bacon. Next time, I think we’ll use the entire half-pound package.