Thursday, December 25, 2008

Butternut Squash & Hazelnut Lasagna

For squash filling:
2 Tbs dried minced onion
3 Tbs butter
3 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley
2 tsp dried ground sage
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped

For sauce:
1 clove garlic, minced
3 Tbs butter
5 Tbs flour
5 cups milk
1 bay leaf
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp white pepper

For assembling lasagna:
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
12 sheets no-boil lasagna noodles

Make filling:
Cook onion, squash, garlic, salt and white pepper in butter over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until squash is just tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in parsley, sage, and nuts. Cool filling.

Make sauce while squash cooks:
Cook garlic in butter in a 3-qt heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, stirring, 1 minutes. Whisk in flour and cook, whisking, 3 minutes. Add milk in a stream, whisking. Add bay leaf and bring to a boil, whisking constantly, then reduce heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, 10 minutes. Whisk in salt and white pepper and remove from heat. Discard bay leaf.

Assemble lasagna:
Preheat oven to 425F. Toss cheeses together. Spread 1/2 cup sauce in a buttered 13x9x2 inch glass baking dish (or slightly deeper pan) and cover with 3 pasta sheets, leaving spaces between sheets. Spread with 2/3 cup sauce and 1/3 of filing, then sprinkle with a heaping 1/2 cup of cheese. Repeat layering 2 more times, beginning with pasta sheets and ending with cheese. Top with remaining 3 pasta sheets, remaining sauce, and remaining cheese.

Tightly cover baking dish with buttered foil and bake lasagna in middle of oven 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake until golden and bubbling, 10 to 15 minutes more. Let lasagna stand 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

Review: I took some short cuts. I bought frozen "cooked squash" in the square packages. Way easier to use, I shaved 10 minutes off of cooking and probably 30 minutes off of prep work! I love butternut squash, but it's a pain to prep if you buy it fresh. And I forgot to toast the hazelnuts, which probably saved 5 minutes! Oops. And I had way too much lasagna for my 13x9x2 pan, which resulted in some sauce going down the drain and some spilling in the oven. Eww. This was a super yummy dish, however, and a nice touch for Christmas dinner!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Soba Noodles With Zucchini Ribbons

8 oz soba noodles
1 large zucchini
6 Tbs soy sauce, or to taste
6 Tbs sherry, or to taste
2 tsp cornstarch
2 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs minced garlic
2 cups fresh edamame
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 bunch thinly sliced scallions for garnish

1) Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium heat, and add noodles. Cook according to package directions, drain and run under cold water briefly. Set aside.
2) Use a sharp vegetable peeler, and carefully slice zucchini into long, thin strips. Set aside. Combine soy sauce, sherry and cornstarch in a bowl, and set aside.
3) Heat oil in large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Stir-fry garlic for 30 seconds, and add edamame, mushrooms, zucchini and soy mixture, and stir-fry for about 30 seconds more, or until vegetables are heated through. Remove from heat.
4) To serve, put equal portions of noodles in individual bowls or on plates, and spoon vegetables and sauce over top. Garnish with scallions, and serve.

Review: This was so super yummy. Our area lacks good Asian food and I've been trying to add more ethnicity to our meals. This was easy and the sherry and soy sauce mixed for a really nice flavor that wasn't overwhelming.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Mexican Bulgur Pilaf

1 cup uncooked bulgur
2 (16oz) cans black, pink or pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup prepared salsa, or more to taste
2 scallions (white and light green parts), chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 tsp ground cumin

1) In large saucepan, bring 2 cups water to boil. Stir in bulgur, and return to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer gently until water is absorbed, about 15 minutes.
2) Fluff bulgur with fork, then stir in beans, salsa, scallions, cilantro and cumin. Increase heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, just until heated through, about 5 minutes. Serve hot.

Review: Mmmm, this was so yummy. It had enough of a Mexican flavor to be spicy, but not hot. I couldn't have asked for a better flavor combo.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Four-Alarm Chipotle Potato Casserole

3 lbs red skinned potatoes, skins on, scrubbed and diced
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 Tbs dried minced onion
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 4oz can diced green chiles
2 Tbs chipotle chiles pureed with adobo sauce, or to taste
4oz shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese

1) Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly grease baking sheet.
2) Put diced potatoes in mixing bowl with 1/4 cup oil, salt and cumin, and toss to coat potatoes. Spread out on baking sheet. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden. Leave oven on.
3) Meanwhile, saute onion, red bell pepper and green chiles in remaining 2 Tbs oil. Add roasted potatoes and chipotle chiles, and toss well. Put into baking dish, and top with cheese.
4) Bake 10 minutes, or until cheese is just melted. Serve hot.

Review: For those who are unfamiliar with chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, it's a small can found in the Mexican food aisle. Now, I tend to hate ingredients that only use a small portion of something like this. Since it's a can, if you don't use it, you have to throw it away. Well, I tend to toss it all in to not waste food. That may have been mistake this time. It was so hot that Mike couldn't finish his bowl and I drank 1 1/2 bottles of water while eating mine!!!! This was so unbelievably yummy though. The combination of spices, roasted potatoes and cheese is really just amazing. Lucky for me, I get ALL the leftovers so I'll be loving this for awhile. Next time I make it, I'll just double the rest of the ingredients to make up for the extra chipotle!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Brown Rice, Peas & Pine Nuts

1/3 cup pine nuts
4 1/4 cups vegetable stock, boiling
2 cups short-grain brown rice
1 cup frozen green peas, cooked
3 Tbs chopped fresh chives
3 Tbs chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp minced garlic
1 Tbs liquid aminos

1) Place pine nuts in a small, dry saucepan, and toast over medium heat, shaking pan constantly for 2 to 3 minutes, or until nuts are lightly browned. Set aside.
2) Combine stock and rice in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 40 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.
3) Remove from heat, and fold in green peas, chives and thyme. Stir in garlic and aminos. Top with toasted pine nuts; serve.

Review: I was afraid this was going to be a bland dish, but I forgot how tasty toasted pine nuts are. This was such a delicious dish, and so healthy! This one is definitely getting made again!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bulgur, Broccoli & Feta Cheese Pilaf

1 cup uncooked bulgur
1/2 tsp salt
3 to 4 Tbs olive oil
4 medium cloves garlic, minced
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 bunch broccoli, stalks peeled and cut into bite-size pieces, florets separated (5 cups)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1) In small saucepan, combine bulgur, salt and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside, covered.
2) Meanwhile, in large skillet, heat 2 Tbs oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring often, 30 to 60 seconds; do not brown. Stir in tomatoes and cook 2 minutes.
3) Add broccoli and oregano; mix well. Add 1/4 cup water, cover and increase heat to medium-high. Cook until broccoli is just tender, uncovering and stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.
4) Stir in cooked bulgur, feta and pepper. Drizzle with remaining 1 to 2 tablespoons oil and serve.

Review: Mike's loving bulgur, since it has a low glycemic index. This tasted like comfort food, though! It was a nice mix of flavors and was quick to make. You really can't ask for much more!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Pasta Primavera With Miso Dressing

1 lb cooked pasta, such as fusilli, penne or shells
1 medium red bell pepper, julienned
1 medium green bell pepper, julienned
1 medium zucchini, diced and blanched
2 cups chopped broccoli, blanched

Miso Dressing
1-2 Tbs olive oil
8 scallions (white and light green parts), thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup mellow miso
1 cup vegetable broth
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1) In large bowl, combine pasta, bell peppers, zucchini and broccoli.
2) Make dressing: In medium skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add scallions and garlic and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 1 minute. Stir in miso. Gradually stir in broth. When miso and broth are well blended, stir in parsley and red pepper flakes. Pour miso dressing over pasta mixture and serve.

Review: I think I tossed in too many red pepper flakes. But I liked the extra spice. This was a great take on "primavera." It was yummy and hearty, but still had a lightness to it that I really liked. Plus, it used up some of the miso leftover in the fridge. Yay.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Brown Rice With Yams

2 cups brown rice
2 medium yams, peeled and cubed
2 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
2 Tbs miso
2 Tbs oil
lots of water

1) Soak the rice overnight (or all day) in 4 cups of water, then drain.
2) Place the rice, yams, and 6 cups fresh water in a heavy covered saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and cook for about 30 minutes or until rice and yams are tender.
3) Dissolve the miso in a little warm water, then add miso, ginger, and oil to the rice pot and simmer for 15 minutes for 15 minutes more.

Review: Kind of bland, but exactly what I needed to get over my case of food poisoning. Rice, ginger and sweet potatoes are great for soothing stomachs and I just love miso. It has a great Asian flavor, without being too overpowering. I'll definitely add this to the permanent cookbook.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Pasta With Cilantro Pesto & Avocado

1 large bulb garlic
1/3 cup raw, unsalted pumpkin seeds
1 1/2 cups fresh cilantro leaves
1 1/2 cups fresh parsley leaves
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tsp chile powder
1 tsp dried red chile flakes
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 Tbs milk
12 oz spiral pasta
1 medium Haas avocado
1 medium red bell pepper, diced

1) Preheat oven to 350F. Trim 1/4-inch off the top end of the garlic bulb to just expose the individual cloves. Wrap with foil and bake for 45 minutes. The garlic inside the skin will soften to a paste-like consistency. Allow it to cool for a few minutes before squeezing the garlic paste from the cloves.
2) Meanwhile, toast the pumpkin seeds by placing them in a dry heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Shake the pan frequently so the seeds toast evenly, but do not burn. They will begin to pop and turn golden brown. Remove them from the pan and set aside.
3) Bring several quarts of water to a boil for the pasta. Meanwhile, wash the cilantro and parsley and dry well. In a food processor, combine the cilantro, parsley, and olive oil. Puree to the consistency of a thick paste. Add the garlic paste, chile powder, chile flakes, cumin, 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds, and the lemon juice. (Reserve the remaining seeds to garnish the pasta.) Puree until fairly smooth and set aside.
4) Cook the pasta in the boiling water until al dente. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, stir together the cilantro mixture, the sour cream, and the milk to make the pesto. Warm over very low heat until hot but not simmering.
5) Cut the avocado open and remove the pit. Peel the avocado and slice it.
6) Drain the pasta well and place it in a warmed serving bowl. Toss with the pesto and diced bell pepper. Serve immediately, garnished with the avocado slices and remaining pumpkin seeds.

Review: This was pretty time consuming. I wasn't sure about roasting the garlic, but it was a bit easier than I expected. And most of the bite was gone. This was an interesting dish, since it seems mostly Italian, but the cilantro, avocado and sour cream screams Mexican (so does the title on the cook book). I'm still not sure how I feel about the dish, as I can be a purist about my food. It didn't suck, though.

Friday, December 5, 2008

New Potato Gratin With Chard, Bell Pepper & Kalamata Olives

1 1/2 lb small new potatoes, sliced about 1/8 inch thick
1 tsp salt
1 small bunch Swiss chard, rinsed, trimmed and chopped
1 red or yellow bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives
1 tsp herbes de Provence
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 Tbs olive oil

1) Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly oil 2-qt gratin dish.
2) Layer half the potato slices in dish. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt. Spread chard over potatoes; scatter bell pepper, garlic and olives on top. Add 1/2 tsp herbes de Provence, remaining salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.
3) Top with remaining potatoes, pour on vegetable stock and sprinkle with remaining herbes de provence, pepper and salt to taste.
4) Cover with aluminum foil and bake about 45 minutes, or until tender. Toss breadcrumbs with 1 Tbs olive oil. Uncover gratin and sprinkle with breadcrumb mixture. Continue to bake uncovered for 15 minutes, or until top is golden brown. Serve hot.

Review: This was super yummy. It's the first time I've used herbes de Provence, but that spice mixture is WONDERFUL!! Normally expensive, but I scored a deal on some at TJ Maxx. We used baby Yukon gold potatoes, since I've never figured out what "new potatoes" are. And, I think we used too much chard, so I used a full cup of broth. Some of the chard got crispy, but I'm not sure how to prevent that. Also, I never mix breadcrumbs like they instruct to do, instead I sprinkle on the breadcrumbs, then hose them down with olive oil spray. We have a mister that's filled with just olive oil, so it's probably healthier since I'm using less oil, and it's way easier.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Lentil-Orzo Casserole

2 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs dried minced onion
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
6 medium cloves garlic, minced
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 cup dry brown lentils, rinsed
1 tsp dried thyme
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup dried orzo
1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes
1/3 cup plain dry bread crumbs
2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley

1) In large saucepan, heat 1 Tbs oil over medium heat. Add onions and carrots; cook, stirring often, until softened, 4 to 6 minutes.
2) Add garlic and pepper flakes; cook, stirring, 30 to 60 seconds. Add lentils and thyme; stir to coat. Add broth and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer, 25 minutes.
3) Preheat oven to 350F. Coat deep 3-quart casserole dish with cooking spray. Transfer lentil mixture to prepared casserole. Add pasta, tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste; mix with rubber spatula. Pour in 1 1/4 cups boiling water. Cover with foil and bake until lentils and orzo are almost tender, about 25 minutes. Uncover and stir to redistribute ingredients.
4) In small bowl, mix together bread crumbs, parsley and remaining 1 Tbs oil. Spread over dish and bake uncovered until bubbly and top is crusty, 15-20 minutes. Serve hot.

Review: I had leftover lentils and carrots from Thanksgiving, so this was another "leftover" dish, I guess you could say. It was super yummy, and THICK. We added Parmesan cheese to the breadcrumb topping, which made it even better. We had lots of food, mostly because I also doubled the lentil and orzo amounts. It's a great winter dish, though. Mmmmmm

Made again on 2/21/2011.  However, this time I used 2 cans of lentils (including the juice), a whole box of whole wheat orzo, kept the juices with the canned tomatoes, and reduced the broth to 1 cup.  I dumped everything (except the breadcrumb topping) into a big bowl and mixed it.  I then tossed it into the casserole dish, and left out the boiling hot water.  I then cooked as instructed (covered for 25 minutes) and then did step 4.  It turned out just as great as the first time, everything was cooked, but I shaved about an hour off my cooking and prepping time!