Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Veggie Lasagna Roll-Ups

I have been so uninspired lately.  I have several recipes to blog, but I am just preoccupied with life, and was with overwhelmed with the plague in my house, to get to actually blogging them.  I will try to do better.  Been a very unproductive summer so far.  *sigh*  I know, you don't really care to read my gripes.

Soooooo, ever have a recipe and you have swooned over the idea of it, but just never gotten around to making it?  Yeah, this was one of those.  My aunt gave it to me when I got married over 13 years ago (I know, I am a procrastinator. . . and I'm old!) and it always looked great, but I just never got to it.  Loser. Me, not my aunt.  This was an original recipe of hers, and I adjusted it a bit to my tastes...  like lots of garlic.  I also tweaked the veggies to my liking.

These babies were great!  I ate only one (trying to behave), but my 6 year old ate 3!  I could have joined him, if I had his metabolism.  Super creamy cheese and packed full of flavor.  These are so versatile too.  I could see using broccoli, or chopped mushrooms, or my aunt uses black olives.  Don't like a veggie I used?  Trade it out.  Also, I substituted out some lowfat cottage cheese for some ricotta to save some fat and calories, but you can do all ricotta if you so choose.  To me, recipes are open to interpretation!

Not gonna lie.  These are a little time consuming.  Between cooking the pasta and preparing the veggies and cheese.  I puttered around and could have had them done a lot sooner.  But I was lazy and out of practice.
Anyway, get inspired and make these.  You will love them!

Recipe adapted from: my Aunt Laurie

  • 1 box lasagna noodle (I like whole wheat), cooked (2 minutes less than called for)
  • 8 oz. ricotta cheese
  • 8 oz. cottage cheese
  • 8-16 oz. mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/2 cup(ish) Italian bread crumbs
  • sprinkle of fresh or dries basil (to taste)
  • 1-2 TBSP olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 can artichoke hearts, drained and diced
  • 1/2 cup roasted red peppers (can use fresh and add with onion)
  • 1/2 cup diced sun-dried tomatoes (drained if using oil packed)
  • 3-4 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup diced zucchini
  • jar favorite spaghetti sauce

Cook pasta very al dente (not cooked through), so it will bend and roll, but not cooked through.
Coat with some oil or lay out on foil or wax paper so it won't stick together. Set aside until cool enough to handle.  Meanwhile, mix ricotta, cottage cheese, 8 oz. mozzarella (2 cups), Parmesan, and Italian bread crumbs.
all the glorious veggies!
In a large skillet over med-high heat, add olive oil and diced onions (and fresh red pepper if you are using that instead of roasted variety).  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook for about 5-7 minutes until tender and starting to brown.  Add zucchini, and stir up.  Cook 2-3 minutes.  Garlic and cook another 2-3 minutes.  Add spinach and cook until wilted.  Add artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers and sun-dried tomatoes.  Stir, remove from heat and set aside to cool some.  After it has cooled a bit, add it to the cheese mixture.
Preheat oven to 350.  Pour half the sauce in the bottom of a pan.  Spoon 1/2-3/4 cup of the cheese and veggie mixture onto a noodle and smear it over the length of the noodle.  Roll it and place it in the pan.  Repeat until cheese mixture or noodles are gone.  Top each one with a spoonful of sauce.  If desired, top with some mozzarella cheese.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, until sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted and toasty.  Serve with bread and a  salad.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

TWD: BWJ French Berry Cake

I couldn't call mine strawberry as the recipe is written, because I did raspberries, blackberries and strawberries. 

So, at first glance, I thought this recipe was going to be a piece of cake (no pun intended).  A closer look revealed a little more fuss than the average cake.  I read the directions like 10 times because I did not want to screw it up.  I rolled up my sleeves and dove on in.  First dilemma, what pan to use.  There were complaints in the blog reel about the cake not being thick enough to get 3 layers.  Because I am a do-be do-right, I wanted those 3 layers, but was scared not to use the 8" pan the recipe said to use.  I threw caution to the wind and I opted for a 7 inch pan, rather than an 8 inch (bigger is not always better ;-) with a removable bottom.  SCORE!  I got a 2 1/4" cake rather than and 1 1/2".

My cake came out great, even with my normal little mistakes here and there (like dumping 2/3 of the flour in instead of 1/3).  I did one and a half batches of the cream topping, which was barely enough, but really the perfect amount, because there was none left over for me to dunk my head in.

There was some leftover berry juice from making the cake and we put it up on some vanilla ice cream.  OH-MY!  It reminded me of the "himbeer-bomchen"  we used to get at the ice cream shop, in Germany.  A raspberry topped ice cream sundae.  Amazing.  Better than the cake really.

But, we really loved this cake.  I felt like I was eating something out of a fancy bakery because it was pretty and it tasted great!  Would love to make this one again.  If you want to make it, you can get the recipe from our hosts websites.  Thanks to Sophia and Allison for hosting!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

S'mores Pancakes

Laying in bed this morning, while our door was revolving with tattling children we were desperately trying to ignore in order to squeeze in just a few more minutes of sleep, I thought of pancakes.  Not solving the problems of this world, or of what to do today, or even the fact that my kids feel the need to beat on each other and come tell me about it.  I thought of graham crackers, and chocolate and marshmallow pancakes.  I know, I know.  You are insanely jealous of my deep thoughts and my mad parenting skills.  I mean, tuning out your screaming kids to have a brain child like these pancakes takes some talent.

What can be said about these.  My daughter describes them as, and I quote, "chocolatey, graham crackery, marshmallowy, and s'morish." I mean, what else could one ask for for breakfast?  Oh, topping them with marshmallow creme might help.

 I will say, the graham cracker taste if more of an aftertaste, because the chocolate kind of takes the cake. You could always spread on some Trader Joe's cookie butter.   These are ubber rich and dessert like, decadent and delicious!!   If you don't like dessert for breakfast, make these for dinner.

serves 4-6

  • 1 1/2 cups flour (I used part unbleached, part oat, and part whole wheat)
  • 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 TBSP baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 TBSP brown sugar
  • 3 TBSP melted butter, cooled a bit
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 eggs, serparated
  • 1 1/2 cup milk (plus more to thin, if needed)
  • chocolate chips (milk or semi-sweet)
  • marshmallows
  • 1 cup marshmallow creme
  • 2 TBSP boiling water

getting ready to fold.
Whisk together flour, graham crackers crumbs, baking powder and salt.  Add brown sugar,  melted butter, egg yolks, vanilla and milk.  Whisk until just incorporated.  Whip egg whites to a stiff peak (this lightens the batter), and fold in gently, cutting into the middle of the batter and turning the spoon as you move to the outside of the bowl towards the outside of the bowl. (If you don't know how to fold, go to youtube, they have some great demonstrations).

Heat griddle to medium low.  Make sure batter is thin enough to spread.  Use ladle and place some on griddle.  Spot with chocolate chips and a few mini marshmallows.  Spread a tiny bit of batter over the marshmallows so they won't burn on the griddle too much.  A little browning good, too much, bad.
When the batter side is bubbled (2-3 minutes), turn carefully and cook 2-3 minutes on the other side.
FOR THE TOPPING:  Heat the water in the microwave and add the marshmallow creme to it.  Mix carefully and patiently, until smooth and syrupy. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Indian Chickpea and Potato Stew

I never had Indian food growing up.  I grew up in central NY where really there are Italians, Greeks and a smattering of other pure breds, and lots of "mutts".  I was a "mutt" with an Italian mom and a half Polish dad.  I grew up on American food, lots of Italian and some Polish dishes every now and then.    But I will tell you, upstate NY knows how to do Italian food.   But we never did Indian.
When I moved to Germany it brought me out of my comfort zone, eating some German fare, and when we moved to LA, I became reckless and ate all different kinds of foods.  Thai, Cuban and Indian were among my favorites.  We often went to an Indian place with our closest friends after church for a buffet.  Never have I tried making Indian fare and this was my first attempt.  It was probably Indian with an Italian flare, but we enjoyed it regardless of what it was.  I didn't do the yogurt and wish I had just for the variety.   

This meal is full great things, like chickpeas, garlic and onion and tumeric, which is a very powerful root derived spice (like ginger) that has countless health benefits and really, a very mild flavor.  It will turn your plastic utensils yellow though!  

Inspired by: pickyeater
Makes at least 6 servings, 1 1/4 cups each

  • 1-2 tablespoon(s) extra-virgin olive oil (I eyeball it)
  • 1-2 large onion, coarsely chopped (depending on how much you want)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 teaspoon tumeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cround coriander (opt.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • fresh ground pepper and salt to taste
  • 1 pound potatoes, (about 6-8 medium red potatoes) peeled and diced bite size
  • 1 head of cauliflower , chopped(opt.)
  • 1-2 cup(s) chicken broth (use veg. broth for vegetarian)
  • 2- 15 oz. cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1- 14 oz can diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1- 8 oz. can tomato sauce (I used salt-free )
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3/4 cup low-fat or fat-free plain greek yogurt (optional)

Chop all your veggies. Heat oil in a Dutch oven (or a large pot) over medium heat.
Add onions to the pot and cook, stirring often, until fragrant and beginning to brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add curry powder and tumeric, cinnamon, and pepper; cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds. Add potatoes, 1 cup broth and salt; bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Add chickpeas and tomatoes; stir to combine.
Bring the stew to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally and adding more broth, if needed, until the potatoes are tender, 15-25 minutes. Stir in and/or top with cilantro.
Once you’re ready to eat, you can serve this with naan, over brown rice or topped with yogurt. An alternative way to serve this is to toast up some whole wheat burger buns, and use this as the burger “filling” along with some yogurt drizzled on top to moisten it and some chopped red onion for texture.
I chose to have mine with jasmine brown rice, with some fresh baked naan.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Zucchini Frosted Brownies

 I saw these on pinterest and was a bit of a skeptic.  I went and bought some zucchini so I could make them anyway, setting out to prove my skepticism was warranted.  In mixing it, my husband asked if I had done it right because the batter was so thick and crumbly.  *SMACK*. After a sound scolding, I moved on and put them in the pan.  Then my loving husband told me it looked like worms in the batter.  *SMACK #2*  (now before you get on judging, I didn't really smack Mr. Delectable.  But maybe felt like it. . . a little.) A perk?  No temptation to devour the batter!

I cooked them and cut them when they were still warm, because my kids had a bed time.  Working with a schedule here people!  I frosted them individually.  I had a taste and was a bit disappointed, or maybe just proving I was right.  They were very cake like and I could still feel the texture of the zucchini.  Oh well~~~  BUT WAIT!  Don't dismiss these like I did.  The next day, the zucchini miraculously melted into the brownie and made them fudgy and yummy!  Less cakey...  now I added an egg which was not in the original recipe which may have made them more cakey to begin with.  Who knows?
The icing makes these babies, so don't skip it!  These are brownies that are actually better on day 2. I ate a huge piece in one sitting, did not feel an ounce of guilt, then wished I hadn't, because they were all gone!  I will be making these again... probably this week.  I got some more zucchini to use up!

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used coconut oil)
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 egg 
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups zucchini (shredded)

Chocolate Fudgy Frosting-
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder 
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3 cups confectioners sugar (or more)
  • 1/2 cup milk (can start with 1/3 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9×13 inch baking dish or line with parchment.

In a large bowl mix together oil, the egg, sugar and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract until well blended. In another bowl combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Mix into the sugar, adding in 1/3 at a time. Fold in zucchini. Batter will be very thick and almost crumbly.  Spread the mixture evenly into the prepared baking dish, using a spatula or your fingers to help spread it out..
Place into the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes I did 25min) until the brownies spring back when gently touched. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool.

To make the frosting- In a small saucepan over low heat, or microwave, melt together the cocoa powder and butter. Set aside to cool. In a medium bowl blend 2 cups confectioner’s sugar, milk, and vanilla extract. Whisk in the butter/cocoa mixture. Whisk in last cup of powdered sugar.  It will be thinner than cake icing, but should not be runny per say.  Add more sugar until consistency you like, and tastes good.  Spread over cooled brownies and cut into squares.  These are best when not warm.

TWD:BWJ Oasis Naan

I love naan!  Mostly because it is bread.  But I love to go out to eat at Indian restaurants and get garlic naan in particular.  My whole family fights over it, and there is never enough to go around.  This week we were supposed to make oasis naan.  It is similar to regular but sprinkled with coarse salt, scallions and cumin or coriander.  I am not a huge fan of coriander or cumin, so opted for fresh garlic and cilantro instead.

I was excited because I have some flavored coarse salts I wanted to try.   This seemed like a great opportunity.  I wet them down, smeared the crushed garlic over them, sprinkled them with salt, scallions and cilantro and baked them.

Now, while this bread was very good (because it is bread mind you, and I have never met a bread I didn't like), I do not think this compared with real naan.  With real naan, they use a screaming hot oven, like a brick oven and it gets almost burnt in spots.  I also found this bread tougher than traditional naan I have had.  Now don't mistake my critiques for not liking it.  It got eaten.   We liked the crunch of the coarse salt and loved the garlic!   I also got about 12 pieces instead of the 8 the recipes spoke of.  I also formed mine more like traditional naan.  I also brushed them with butter when they came out.  We enjoyed them with some homemade tzaziki!

Will I make it again?  Probably not.  I was disappointed that I didn't really get much browning, even after cooking for 8 minutes (the longer cooking time).  Plus, I buy a fabulous frozen garlic naan from Trader Joe's that is hard to beat for at home use.  And when I want the real stuff, we will just go out to eat.
Thank you to Maggie and Phyl for hosting!  You can find the recipe at their blogs or in our fabulous cookbook!