Sunday, April 24, 2011

Roasted Butternut Squash Lasagna With Goat Cheese, "Bacon" & Fried Sage

6 slices of uncooked "bacon"
1 1/2 cups smashed, roasted butternut squash
8oz soft goat cheese
1/3 cup ricotta cheese
1 egg
2 Tbs minced fresh sage, or 1/2 tsp dried ground sage, plus 2 sprigs fresh sage to fry for garnish
1/4 tsp Kosher salt
1/8 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
3 cups marinara sauce
9 lasagna noodles (no-boil, or cooked regular noodles)
2 cups shredded mozzarella & Provolone cheeses

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2) Fry the bacon (sliced or whole, whichever you prefer) in a medium saucepan over medium heat until it crisps up. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside.
3) Meanwhile, remove leaves from the 2 sprigs of fresh sage and add to the hot bacon drippings after you remove the cooked bacon. Fry for about 45 seconds or so until they, too, crisp up. Remove fried leaves from skillet and set aside with cooked bacon bits.
4) In a small bowl combine the goat cheese, ricotta cheese, egg, 2 T minced fresh sage, salt & pepper. Mix thoroughly. Set aside.
5) Prepare an 11x7 inch casserole dish with nonstick spray and add spread a couple spoonfuls of marinara sauce in the bottom. Put a layer of lasagna noodles over the sauce. I used three, but I had to break one to make it fit. Spread about 1/2 cup smashed squash over noodles, followed by 1/3 of the goat cheese mixture, 1/3 of the marinara sauce and 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella. Repeat layering two more times with remaining ingredients and top with remaining mozzarella cheese.
6) Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake, uncovered, for another 15 minutes until everything is bubbly, heated through, and the cheese begins to turn golden brown. Remove from the oven and top with reserved bacon bits and fried sage. Allow to rest for about 10 minutes before slicing.
7) Notes: 1. This obviously goes much faster if the squash is roasted ahead of time. It also freezes well. To roast a butternut squash, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Slice the squash in half, discarding seeds and gunk from the center. At this point you can either place it face-up on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil or face-down in a casserole dish and fill the dish with about 1/2-inch of water. Bake for about 40-70 minutes, depending on the size of your squash. When it's done, it should easily pierce with a fork. Allow it to cool, then scrape the flesh from the skin, discarding the skin. Mash, then proceed with recipe. This method works for just about any type of squash.

Review:  So, I used frozen squash puree to make this dish, which made it easier.  I also used fake bacon.  Instead of cooking it beforehand, I tossed in on top for the last 15 minutes of baking.  So, this also meant I couldn't fry the sage in bacon fat.  Instead, I fried it in butter.  The sage was soooooo tasty, that I was eating it from the pan, as I tossed some onto the lasagna.  Yum!!  And, I got distracted during making this and forgot to add the egg.  It seemed to be fine, though.  This was a fairly salty tasting dish, due to the goat cheese, bacon and sage.  However, it was still incredibly delicious.  Savory, with just a hint of sweet.  Yum, yum, yum.  :)

Adapted from:

This Week's Planned Menu

Roasted Butternut Squash Lasagna With Goat Cheese, "Bacon" & Fried Sage

Israeli Couscous Salad With Black Beans, Mushrooms & Corn

Dill Garden Vegetable & Pasta Toss


Orzo Salad With Zucchini & Feta

school picnic

plans to go out with others


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Goat Cheese, Roasted Red Pepper & Kalamata Olive Mac 'n Cheese

1 lb pasta, your choice
  • 6 Tbs butter
  • 6 Tbs flour
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 8oz goat cheese
  • 3 large roasted red peppers, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • 15oz can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
  • 1/2 cup feta, crumbled
  • 1 cup mozzarella, grated

1) Start cooking the pasta as directed on the package.
2) Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat until it is bubbling and it has turned a light golden brown.
3) Mix in the flour and garlic and let simmer until it returns to a light golden brown.
4) Mix in the milk, pepper, oregano and goat cheese and heat until the goat cheese has melted and the sauce has thickened.
5) Mix the pasta, sauce, roasted red peppers, kalamata olives, artichoke hearts and feta and pour the mixture into a baking dish.
6) Sprinkle the mozzarella on top.
7) Bake in a preheated 350F oven until golden brown on the top and bubbling on the sides, about 30-40 minutes.

Review:  I didn't realize this needed to be baked, until I was on step five.  Oops.  So, dinner was served a little later than expected.  But, it was worth it!  This was incredibly yummy and filling.  And, we had more cheeses than expected.  It's difficult to find shredded mozzarella here, and what can be found is a mix.  So, this was mozzarella, parmesan and smoked provolone on top.  Yum!  And, the sauce looks brown because I used whole wheat flour.  That always leads to an odd appearance, but is healthier!

Adapted from:

Monday, April 18, 2011

Hearty Lentil Spaghetti

1 Tbs olive oil 
2 garlic cloves, minced 
1 1/2 cups dried lentils, rinsed 
4 cups vegetable broth 
1/2 tsp pepper 
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper 
1 14.5 can Italian diced tomatoes 
1 6oz can tomato paste 
1 tsp white vinegar 
1 1/2 tsp dried basil 
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano 
12oz uncooked spaghetti 
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese 

1) In a large saucepan coated with cooking spray, saute onion in oil until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Stir in the lentils, broth, pepper and cayenne. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until lentils are tender.
2) Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, vinegar, basil and oregano. Return to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 40-45 minutes.
3) Cook spaghetti according to package directions; drain. Serve with lentil sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Review:  I shaved off a considerable amount of time by using a can of lentils.  I dumped all the ingredients into a saucepan (but reduced the vegetable broth down to 1/2 cup) and simmered for about 5 minutes.  It was a great, thick sauce and had a wonderful flavor.  Mike thought it was a bit spicy.  However, that is likely due to the fact that I'm out of cayenne and substituted a packet of crushed red pepper that came with a pizza order.  It may have been too much for him, but I loved it!

Adapted from:

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Pumpkin Lasagna

2 Tbs olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 lbs Swiss chard, tough stems removed, leaves washed well and chopped
2 1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp dried sage
1 28oz can of pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan
1/2 cup milk
9 no-boil lasagna noodles
1 Tbs butter

1) In a large nonstick frying pan, heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Increase the heat to moderately high and add the Swiss chard, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper and 1/2 tsp sage. Cook, stirring, until the chard is wilted and no liquid remains in the pan, 5 to 10 minutes.
2) Heat the oven to 400°F. In a medium bowl, mix together 2 cups of the pumpkin, 3/4 cup cream, 1/2 cup Parmesan, and the remaining 1 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper and 1/2 tsp sage.
3) Pour the milk into an 8x12-inch baking dish. Top the milk with one third of the noodles, then spread half the pumpkin mixture over the noodles. Layer half the Swiss chard over the pumpkin and top with a second layer of noodles. Repeat with another layer of pumpkin, Swiss chard, and noodles. Combine the remaining 1 cup of pumpkin and 3/4 cup of cream. Spread the mixture evenly over the top of the lasagne, sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup of Parmesan, and dot with the butter. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until golden, about 15 minutes more.

Review:  This was actually a pretty easy lasagna.  Typically, I have to slave over a sauce while preparing the rest of the ingredients.  This was all dumped in to create the sauce and I loved it!  This was also a flatter lasagna, but it was no less filling!  It was a nice, savory flavor, without being too sweet.  It could also have been made with butternut squash puree.

Adapted from:

This Week's Planned Menu

Pumpkin Lasagna

Hearty Lentil Spaghetti

Easy Spinach Zucchini Pie

Goat Cheese, Roasted Red Pepper & Kalamata Olive Mac 'n Cheese


In Boise

In Boise

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Sweet Potato & Sage-Butter Casserole

2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 lb Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 stick unsalted butter, plus 2 Tbs, melted
2 1/2 Tbs chopped fresh sage
1 1/2 cups whole milk, warmed
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (from 3 slices white bread, crusts removed)

1) Place sweet potatoes and potatoes in a large saucepan; cover with water, and season with salt. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 9 minutes. Drain; pass through a ricer into a bowl.
2) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt 1 stick butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, swirling occasionally, until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat; add 2 tablespoons sage. Stir butter mixture and milk into potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a 2-quart casserole dish. (Mixture can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.)
3) Combine breadcrumbs with 2 tablespoons melted butter and remaining 1/2 tablespoon sage. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine.
4) Top potato mixture with breadcrumbs. Bake, uncovered, until bubbling around edges and breadcrumbs are golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. (If browning too quickly, tent with foil.) Let stand, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

Review: I hadn't fully read the instructions when I chose this dish.  I didn't want a main meal of fancy mashed potatoes, so I left them cubed.  (And, I used yams instead of sweet potatoes, as the grocery store was out of sweet potatoes)  Unfortunately, that ended up meaning I had way too much butter for the potatoes.  If they had been pureed, I think it would have blended evenly.  Either way, it was still incredibly yummy.  This would make a really yummy, savory Thanksgiving side dish!

Quilt #4

This time Katya got to be the first to try out her quilt.

And, I'm officially done quilting until I get settled into a new home!! 

Quilt #3

I finally finished Katya's first quilt!!  However, when I threw it on the ground for test drives, Dmitri claimed it as his.

Katya was left sitting beside it, wishing she could snuggle with her quilt.

After a few minutes, there was a fight over the quilt.  :(

Monday, April 11, 2011

Sweet Baked Beans & Pasta Salad

1 pkg elbow or rotini pasta
28oz can baked beans
2 tomatoes, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 cup cheddar cheese, cubed or shredded
2.8oz can French-fried onions

1) Cook pasta according to package directions.
2) Meanwhile, chop vegetables and place in large bowl.  Add can of French-fried onions.
3) Once pasta is al dente, drain and return pasta to pot.  Add baked beans and heat until warm throughout.  Dump pasta and beans into large bowl with the vegetables.  Stir to mix evenly.
4) Serve, topping each serving with paprika and cheese.

Review:  Mike found this recipe and so I thought I'd make it (trying to guarantee no complaints).  When I began the recipe, I reviewed the ingredients and thought "oh yuck."  It didn't sound good at all!!  But, it was too late to try something different, so I bit the bullet and forged ahead.  Luckily, it paid off, as this is actually really good!!  The baked beans makes it sweet, along with the tomatoes.  While the French-fried onions are also a bit sweet, it adds a savory taste.  I also used smoked paprika, which further enhanced the savory flavor.  It was such a great balance of flavors!  And, very filling.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

This Week's Planned Menu

Kidney Bean Bulgur (with asparagus added)

Sweet Baked Beans & Pasta Salad

Savory Mushroom "Popover Pie" 

Penne With Butternut-Sage Sauce

Potato Medley

Pumpkin & Black Bean Burritos

Sweet Potato & Sage-Butter Casserole

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Black Bean Burrito Bake

7oz can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
1/2 cup sour cream
15oz can black beans, rinsed, drained, and divided
1 cup frozen whole-kernel corn, thawed
4 (8 inch) flour tortillas
cooking spray
1 cup bottled salsa
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1) Preheat oven to 350°.
2) Remove one chile from can. Chop chile. Reserve remaining adobo sauce and chiles for another use. Combine sour cream and chile in a medium bowl; let stand 10 minutes.
3) Place half of beans in a food processor; process until finely chopped. Add chopped beans, remaining beans, and corn to sour cream mixture.
4) Spoon 1/2 cup bean mixture down the center of each tortilla. Roll up tortillas; place, seam side down, in an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Spread salsa over tortillas; sprinkle with cheese. Cover and bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Review:  This was so yummy, and very easy to make!!!  I actually chopped the chile in the food processor and scraped it out, before adding the beans (and a few corn kernels) for processing.  I have a history of using more chiles than the recipe requires, which then makes it too hot for Mike (Dr. Mike as of tonight).  I stuck to the recipe and only used one chile, but Mike still thought it was pretty spicy.  We topped the bake with more sour cream, which helped cut the heat.  I'll definitely make this again!!!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Spinach, Pesto & Fontina Lasagna

  • 2 Tbs (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 6oz packages baby spinach


  • 15 no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 3 1/2 cups fresh ricotta cheese (28 oz)
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp finely grated lemon peel
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups coarsely grated Italian Fontina cheese (8 to 9 ounces), divided
  • Herb Pesto

For sauce: 
Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk 1 minute (do not brown). Add milk and wine and whisk until smooth. Cook until sauce thickens and comes to boil, whisking constantly, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk in Parmesan cheese and salt. Season sauce to taste with pepper. DO AHEAD: Sauce can be made up to 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

For spinach: 
Heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add shallots and garlic. Sauté until shallots soften, about 2 minutes. Add all spinach (pot will be full). Cook spinach until wilted but still bright green, tossing often, about 3 minutes. Using tongs, transfer spinach to large sieve set over bowl; reserve pot. Press out excess liquid from spinach. Drain 10 to 15 minutes longer.
Return drained liquid from spinach to reserved pot. Boil until liquid is reduced to glaze. Return spinach to pot and toss 1 minute. Remove spinach from heat. Mix in 1 1/2 cups sauce. Season spinach to taste with pepper.

For lasagna: 
1) Place noodles in large bowl. Fill bowl with hot tap water. Soak noodles until pliable, stirring occasionally to separate, about 15 minutes. Place large sheet of parchment paper on work surface. Transfer noodles to parchment in single layer, shaking off excess water.
2) Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 13 x 9 x 2- inch glass baking dish. Mix ricotta, Parmesan, and lemon peel in medium bowl. Season to taste with salt. Mix in egg.
3) Spread 1/2 cup sauce thinly over bottom of prepared dish. Top with 3 noodles, arranged side by side and covering most of bottom of dish. Spread half of spinach mixture over (about 1 1/2 cups). Sprinkle with 1/3 cup Fontina. Top with 3 noodles and half of ricotta mixture (generous 1 3/4 cups). Drop half of pesto over by teaspoonfuls, spacing drops evenly apart. Continue layering with 3 noodles, remaining spinach mixture, 1/3 cup Fontina, 3 more noodles, remaining ricotta mixture, then remaining pesto. Top with last 3 noodles. Spread remaining sauce over; sprinkle with remaining Fontina. Cover dish with buttered foil.
4) Bake lasagna until heated through and bubbling at edges, 50 to 55 minutes. Remove from oven. Remove foil from dish.
5) Preheat broiler. Broil lasagna until top is browned in spots, turning dish occasionally for even browning, about 4 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes to set up.

Review:  What a mess!  Fontina doesn't exist in our area.  So, I subbed a bag of mozzarella and Parmesan mix.  I also didn't make the pesto, as I had some in the fridge.  And, I failed to fully read the instructions and only boiled three (not five) layers of lasagna.  Crud.  So, my top two layers are pasta-less.  Therefore, it was a soupy, oily mess.  And, this is without the spinach water that I poured down the drain, before reading that I needed to keep it!!  So, I made lots of errors in making this recipe.  I blame the fact that the recipe is organized oddly (and I couldn't organize it in a better manner for my blog purposes!) and I kept getting lost in the directions.  But, I figured it was lasagna, which I assume to be impossible to ruin.  Well, this lasagna wasn't exactly ruined, but I wouldn't recommend making it the way I did.  It didn't have very much flavor, had too much ricotta and was very oily.  I'd probably half the ricotta, mix the pesto (made with less oil) into the ricotta mix for easier spreading, and combine the layers.  I'd recommend three layers, one being all of the spinach mixture and one being the ricotta/pesto layer.  Top (third layer) with sauce and cheese.  Much easier!  And, use fontina, I'm sure it would have really *made* the recipe!

Quilt #2

My plan is to make four quilts, two for each kitty.  Dmitri got his first quilt made back in February.  He's happy to test out the newest one:

I have both of Katya's put together, but I need to bind them.  In the meantime, she enjoys making sure Dmitri's is up to snuff:

This Week's Planned Menu

Spinach, Pesto & Fontina Lasagna



frozen pizza

Black Bean Burrito Bake

celebrating Mike's dissertation defense?


Friday, April 1, 2011

Mushroom, Radicchio & Smoked Mozzarella Lasagna

4 Tbs vegetable oil
1 1/2 lbs radicchio, chopped
2 1/4 lbs white mushrooms, half sliced thin and half quartered
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
4 Tbs all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups milk
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup fresh flat-leafed parsley leaves, washed well, spun dry, and chopped fine
2 tsp fresh lemon juice, or to taste
2 cups smoked mozzarella, shredded
1 cup plain mozzarella, shredded
nine 7x3 1/2-inch sheets dry no-boil lasagna pasta

1) In a large (12- to 14-inch) non-stick skillet heat 2 tablespoons oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and sauté radicchio, stirring, until wilted and golden. In a food processor pulse quartered mushrooms until chopped fine. Add chopped mushrooms to radicchio with salt and pepper to taste and sauté, stirring, until liquid mushrooms give off is evaporated.
2) In a heavy saucepan melt butter over moderately low heat and whisk in flour until smooth. Cook roux, whisking, 3 minutes. Whisk in milk in a stream and salt and pepper to taste and simmer, whisking occasionally, 5 minutes, or until thick. Stir sauce into mushroom mixture. Mushroom sauce may be made 3 days ahead and chilled, its surface covered with plastic wrap.
3) In cleaned skillet cook garlic in remaining 2 tablespoons oil over moderately low heat until softened. Add sliced mushrooms and sauté over moderately high heat, stirring, until golden and liquid mushrooms give off is evaporated. Stir in parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Remove skillet from heat and cool. Stir in lemon juice.
4) Reserve 1/2 cup smoked mozzarella for topping. In a bowl combine remaining smoked mozzarella with plain mozzarella.
5) Preheat oven to 375°F.
6) Pour 1 cup mushroom sauce into a baking dish, 13 by 9 by 2 inches (sauce will not cover bottom completely), and cover with 3 lasagne sheets, making sure they do not touch each other. Spread about 1 cup sauce over pasta. Top sauce with one third of sliced mushroom mixture and half of mixed cheeses. Make 1 more layer in same manner, beginning and ending with pasta. Spread remaining sauce evenly over top pasta layer, making sure pasta is completely covered. Spread remaining sliced mushroom mixture evenly over sauce and sprinkle with reserved smoked mozzarella.
7) Cover dish tightly with foil, tenting slightly to prevent foil from touching top layer, and bake in middle of oven 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake lasagna 10 minutes more, or until top is bubbling and golden. Let lasagna stand 5 minutes before serving.

Review:  I had a few alterations to this recipe.  I used a 24oz package of mushrooms, which I don't think was enough for the recipe.  I also subbed a mozz mix (Parmesan, smoked Provolone and Mozzarella), since it's hard to find just shredded Mozzarella in this area.  The smokiness of the two smoked cheeses was amazing.  This lasagna tasted really fancy and exotic. 

And, I destroyed the kitchen.  This is just the stove, and the counters were equally as trashed.  It took two hours to prepare this dish!