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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

4 Cheese and Spinach Lasagna

Source- Food Network

This was our Valentine's Day Dinner.   About a week before I asked H if there was something specific that he wanted for Valentine's Day Dinner.  He requested pasta or lasagna.  I have a pretty standard recipe for making lasagna, so I went in search of something a little more for the special night. 

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 dry lasagna noodles (not no-boil)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (10-ounce) box frozen spinach, thawed
  • 1 pound cottage cheese (about 1 3/4 cups)
  • 4 ounces fresh goat cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, Pecorino Romano, or a combination
  • 1 pound pre-shredded mozzarella, shredded (about 4 cups)
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon (omitted)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (omitted)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne (omitted)
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 4 cups tomato sauce, recipe follows, or your favorite jarred (I made my own homemade sauce)
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat and salt it generously.
  • Add the lasagna noodles and boil, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain.
  •  Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and garlic in a saucepan over medium heat until the garlic begins to brown.
  • Add the spinach, season with salt and pepper and stir until the spinach dries out and the garlic is fragrant, about 3 minutes. Cool.
  • Mix the cottage cheese, goat cheese, Parmesan/Pecorino, 2 cups of the mozzarella cheese, lemon zest, nutmeg, cayenne, and cooled spinach in a bowl. 
  • Season with salt and pepper, to taste. 
  • Stir in the egg.
  • Cover the bottom of a 9 by 13-inch casserole with a thin layer of tomato sauce. Cover with 3 of the noodles placed side-to-side, but not overlapping. Top with a 1/4 of the cheese mixture and about a half cup of tomato sauce. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Repeat to make 2 more layers. 
  • Scatter the remaining 2 cups mozzarella on top. 
  • Bake, uncovered, until the lasagna is hot and bubbly, about 40 to 45 minutes. 
  • Let lasagna stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Next Time-This was pretty good, and an easy change from how I normally make lasagna.  This did have a slightly funny taste, so I think I may not cook the garlic with the spinach next time.  Just mix those 2 ingredients in with the cheese mixture.  And make sure the spinach is thoroughly drained before mixing.  I think having spinach in my lasagna could easily become my new standard.  

Friday, February 18, 2011

We have Success!

I posted back in December about starting sign language with Baby Rebel.  H and I haven't been consistent with numerous signs, but we have stuck with "milk".  And after 2 months of signing it, Baby Rebel is finally signing it to us!!  I love knowing when he is hungry.  Makes me feel really good that we've made this effort.

Now we need to get back into watching that video and consistently signing other signs to him.  Other signs being "mom", "dad", "eat", and "all done."

Having success reinforces our desire to teach him, and makes me so eager for him to learn more. 

Garlic Tuscan Chicken

Source- adapted from Joelen's Culinary Adventures

 Where to start with this recipe?  Apparently it originates from Olive Garden's website.  I don't think I've ever ordered this when I've eaten there, and after trying mine I don't think I will.  Not because it was bad, but because I don't want to compare my own cooking to a restaurant.

This recipe does not disappoint.  Honestly, you could eat it without the chicken, and make it a vegetarian meal.
This first picture was taken without the chicken because the chicken wasn't quite done, and I was too impatient to try it to wait!  ;)

Also, I'm a 1 pot girl.  If I can make everything in 1 pot, I will, even if it takes me a bit longer cooking time-wise.  Since all the dishes fall on my shoulders to get clean I like to limit dirty dishes where I can.  So the steps below reflect the steps I took using one 1 pot. 

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 1/2 cups flour, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 lb farfalle pasta, cooked according to package directions
  • 5 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 red pepper, julienne cut
  • 1 yellow pepper, julienne cut
  • 1 green pepper, julienne cut
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 10 oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 cup canned evaporated milk
  • 1 cups Fontinella cheese, grated 
  • Pre-heat oven to 350ºF. 
  • In large pot cook pasta according to package directions.  
  • Drain, and set aside.
  • Mix 1½ cups flour, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning in a shallow dish. 
  • Dredge chicken in the mixture, shaking off any excess.
  • Heat 3 Tbsp oil in pot. 
  • Cook chicken breasts over medium-high heat until golden brown and crisp (2-3 min). Add more oil for each batch as necessary.
  • Place cooked chicken breasts on a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil and transfer to preheated oven. 
  • Cook for 10-15 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165°F.
  • In pot you just removed chicken from add 2 Tbsp oil, if necessary. 
  • Add garlic and peppers and cook for approximately 1 minute. 
  • Stir in 1 Tbsp flour, wine, spinach and cream and bring to a boil. Sauce is done when spinach becomes wilted.
  • Complete by stirring in the cheese.
  • Pour pasta into pot with sauce and mix well.
  • Serve by topping pasta with chicken and remaining sauce. Garnish with extra cheese if desired. 

Next Time- This recipe is so good.  Like I said before, it could easily be a vegetarian meal.  This makes a lot of pasta and vegetables, so I'd make sure you have plenty of chicken to go with it.  I'd say make more like 6 breasts, instead of 4.  Or cut down on the pasta and vegetables if you didn't want to make that much food.

Monday, February 14, 2011

2 Year Blog Anniversary!

Wow, time flies!  2 years ago I started this blog with my Valentine's Day Dinner I made for H and I. 

Once again this year I planned on making a special dinner for us to eat here at home.  It got postponed when my husband's work called him and offered 8 hours of overtime.  Since he's off tomorrow I'll just make my planned meal then.  It is a new recipe, so I'll be sure to share it with all of you.

Hope each of you had a special day today.  

Taco Pizza Squares

Source- Joelen's Culinary Adventures

Well Joelen posted this as an appetizer.  I opted to make it as our dinner.  I thought it turned out really well, and leftovers were just as good.

A Note- Joelen's directions were a bit confusing to me, so I changed the directions up a bit to make it how I would expect it to be.  If you want to check out how Joelen made her's, just click the link above.  

  • 2 (8 oz.) cans Pillsbury crescent rolls
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 envelope taco seasoning mix
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup or less of taco sauce
  • 1 cup shredded lettuce
  • 1/2 tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • any other toppings that you normally put on tacos
  • Heat oven to 375 degrees. 
  • Brown meat and drain. Stir in taco sauce mix and set aside.
  • Unroll crescent rolls into rectangles. Place in ungreased 15"x10" jelly roll pan or cookie sheet; press over bottom and up side to form crust.  
  • Bake in preheated oven for 5 minutes or until golden brown. 
  • Cool completely, about 30 minutes.
  • Mix sour cream and taco sauce together
  • Spread on top of cooled crescent rolls
  • Top with browned beef.
  • Top with lettuce, tomatoes, onions and cheese.
  • Serve immediately.
Next Time-I really liked this pizza.  It made a great dinner, but would also make a good appetizer.  I wouldn't change anything. 

Friday, February 11, 2011

Five Question Friday

I saw this on a blog I follow, and I like the 5 questions, so I thought I'd give it a go.

This is sponsored by My Little Life, and the picture below is linked to her blog.

1. Would you rather be on ABC's Extreme Home Makeover or TLC's What Not to Wear?  Well considering that we live in an apartment, there isn't anything for Home Makeover to makeover.  Unless they just want to build us our dream home on some property they buy us too!  But I wouldn't mind the What Not to Wear.  Of course I wouldn't want to buy $5000 worth of clothes for my current size. 
2. Do you have any tattoos?  Yes.  I have 2, with intentions of getting more.  These are the 2 I have.  The rose is on the inside of my left calf and the cross is on the outside of my right ankle.  The rose represents all the single red roses my H has gotten me during our relationship, and I intend on adding rosebuds below it for each kid I have.  

The cross contains the initials of my best friend who died during my junior year of high school.  Not sure why I chose the sun and cross, but I'm really happy with the way it turned out.  

Also planning on getting a sisters tattoo this summer (hopefully).  This is the design, which symbolizes the 3 stages of womanhood and there are 3 of us, so I think if fits doubly. 

3. Do you tell your kids about things you did growing up?  Since I only have a 7 month old, this doesn't really apply.  But I don't intend on lying to him, or being a hypocrite.  If he asks, I'll tell him.  But I may try and apply some learning or life lesson.
4. If the traffic signal turns yellow, do you stop or speed up?  Depends.  50/50, I'll do either.  Depends on the road, if I'm rushing, or other factors.
5. What's your preference: chocolate or chips?  Chocolate, hands down.  I try to limit myself, but I usually have something chocolate once a day. 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Meatball with Peppers and Pineapples

Source-The Pioneer Woman

Some recipes just look really good.  Of course The Pioneer Woman maximizes this by taking photos of every step, and then making the final product look first class.  This recipe had so many of the right notes.  Meatballs, which H loves.  Peppers which we both love.  And pineapple, which I love.  Can't go wrong!

  • 1-¼ pound Ground Beef
  • ½ whole Onion, Diced Very Finely
  • 1 whole Egg
  • ½ cups Panko Bread Crumbs (or Regular Breadcrumbs)
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
  • ½ teaspoons Crushed Red Pepper, More To Taste
  • ¼ cups All-purpose Flour
  • Canola Oil, For Frying
  • 2 whole Green Bell Peppers, Seeded And Diced Roughly
  • 1-½ cup Fresh Pineapple Chunks
  • 2 cups Beef Stock Or Broth
  • 2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
  • ½ cups Sherry Or White Wine Vinegar
  • ⅓ cups Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Cornstarch
  • Salt To Taste
  • Crushed Red Pepper, To Taste
  • Extra Beef Stock If Needed
  • Combine ground beef, diced onion, egg, salt, pepper, breadcrumbs, and crushed red pepper. 
  • Mix with hands until combined. 
  • Roll meat mixture into small balls and place on a cookie sheet. Freeze on the pan for 15 minutes to firm.
  • Mix together beef stock, soy sauce, sherry (or vinegar), sugar, and cornstarch.
  • Heat canola oil over medium-high heat. 
  • Roll meatballs in flour, then fry in two batches until nice and brown, about two minutes per batch. 
  • Remove meatballs and set aside on a separate plate.
  • Pour off oil from pan and return pan to medium high heat. 
  • When pan is hot, throw in the chopped green peppers and cook for one minute. 
  • Add pineapple to pan and cook for one minute, stirring gently. 
  • Pour in stock/soy sauce mixture, then add meatballs
  • Stir gently to combine and allow to cook and bubble for a few minutes, or until sauce is thickened. 
  • Add salt and crushed red peppers to taste. (Hint: this dish is yummy if it’s a little spicy.)
  • Serve over cooked brown or white rice.

Next Time- This recipe was OK.  The meatballs were excellent.  My problem was the flavor the white wine vinegar gave was overwhelming.  I've never cooked with it before so I didn't know this could happen.  My H really liked the flavor.  I'd say next time I'd cut down the amount, or even omit it.  If I leave it out I'd cut down on the sugar. 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Lighthouse Lasagna

Source-Lauren's Kitchen

I love lasagna, so when I find a variation of it I want to try it out.

  • 1 pound ground meat
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (omitted)
  • Coarse salt
  • 12 ounces egg noodles
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (omitted, just added oil to boiling pasta water)
  • 1 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 5 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 bunch scallions, finely chopped
  • 8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Sauté the meat until lightly browned in a large skillet over medium heat, breaking it up as it cooks  Add onions as meat cooks.
  • Add the tomato paste, tomato sauce, salt, and sugar.
  • Fill the tomato paste can with water and stir it in.
  • Simmer, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Fill a large pot with water, salt it, and bring it to a boil.
  • Add the egg noodles and cook them until tender.
  • Drain the noodles, then return them to the pot.
  • Stir in the butter.
  • Mix the sour cream, cream cheese, and scallions in a small ­bowl.
  • Make two layers of the ingredients in a large casserole dish, as follows: Spread a little sauce over the bottom of the dish, top with a layer of noodles, then spread half of the sour cream mixture and half of the meat sauce. Repeat these steps.
  • Top the lasagna with the shredded mozzarella.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, until the lasagna mixture is bubbly and the cheese is lightly browned.
Next Time-This was really good and I liked the creamy layer of the cream cheese and sour cream.  The only downside is that I didn't find that there was enough sauce.  So perhaps maybe using 1 1/2lbs hamburger and 2 or even 3 of the 8oz jars of tomato sauce would be better.  Otherwise this had great flavor and leftovers were just as great!