Thursday, March 26, 2009

Ratatouille Lasagna

Hello everyone and happy spring! Today I created a ratatouille-ish version of lasagna. It is vegetarian, delicious, and based on my favorite lasagna recipe from my friend Karen M. The secret is the cottage cheese! I hope you enjoy it as much as Peter and I did!

8 oz. lasagna noodles
12 oz. part-skim mozzarella cheese
2 medium zucchini, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 1/2 cups cottage cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (fresh if possible)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tbl parsley
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
3 cups spaghetti sauce (I used Wegmans portabella mushroom)

1. Stir-fry zucchini and bell pepper in a bit of olive oil under crisp-tender. Season generously (I used Italian seasoning, salt, and red pepper. I wanted to imitate the kick of Italian sausage).
2. Mix together everything but lasagna noodles and mozzarella.
3. In a greased 9x13" dish, layer half the lasagna noodles, sauce mixture, and mozzarella. Repeat. No, you do not need to pre-cook the noodles, hurray!
4. Cook, uncovered, in a 350 degree oven for 45-55 minutes.

Yield: 6-8 servings

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

While I haven't actually made this, a friend of mine did, and it was delicious!

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 can (20 ounces) pineapple slices, well drained
Maraschino cherries, drained and halved
Walnut halves

1 package DUNCAN HINES® Moist Deluxe® Pineapple Supreme Cake Mix
1 package (4-serving size) vanilla-flavor instant pudding and pie filling mix
4 eggs
1 cup water (*you can also substitute pineapple juice for a moister cake)
1/2 cup oil

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. For topping, melt butter over low heat in 12-inch cast-iron skillet or skillet with ovenproof handle. Remove from heat. Stir in brown sugar. Spread to cover bottom of skillet. Arrange pineapple slices, maraschino cherries and walnut halves in skillet. Set aside.
3. For cake, combine cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, water and oil in large mixing bowl. Beat at medium speed with electric mixer for 2 minutes. Pour batter evenly over fruit in skillet. Bake at 350°F for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Invert onto serving plate.

Tip Cake can be made in a 13×9×2-inch pan. Bake at 350°F for 45 to 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cake is also delicious using Duncan Hines® Moist Deluxe® Classic Yellow Cake Mix.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Pickled red onion 4 ways, part 2

As much as I loved the escarole salad, I couldn't eat enough of it to use up all the pickled onion. When lunchtime came around the following day, I used it and some of the other leftovers hanging around to create this delightful sandwich! I did everything to taste, so sorry for the lack of precise measurements. You could also use leftover escarole instead of spinach leaves or some of the pickling juice instead of the red wine vinegar (if doing the latter, omit salt and pepper).

Red wine tuna sandwich with onion and spinach

1 5-6oz can tuna (they're so tricky these days with the tuna can sizes)
1 Tbl mayonnaise
paprika (to taste)
Red wine vinegar, tsp or so
salt and pepper to taste
Pickled onion slices
a handful of fresh spinach leaves
4 slices Italian bread (or bread of your choice)

Mix together tuna, mayonnaise, paprika, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Layer on one slice of bread, top with onions and spinach, and close with second slice. Repeat. Serve with fruit (I shared a grapefruit with Peter).

Yield: 2 servings

Friday, March 6, 2009

Pickled red onion 4 ways, part 1

Ladies and Gentleman, an historic event has occurred. I branched out beyond Caesar salad and made a new kind of salad!

I have many reasons for either not wanting or not caring to make interesting salads. First, taste and texture: I don't want lettuce and fruit together, I don't like strong cheeses, I don't like raw vegetables enough, and though I'm over it now I use to hate nuts in salads! Second, I don't like spending a lot of time on something that I eat only because "it's good for you." Just get it over and done with and spend my creative energies on the main dish (and dessert!). But on this historic day, all that changed!

I subscribe to a variety of food blogs with my hand-dandy google reader, where I found this amazing recipe from Smitten Kitchen. Here is my adapted version. The key is the pickled red onion. You will not be disappointed!

To make the pickled onion:
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup cold water
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 to 3 shots hot sauce (I used Tapatio)
1 red onion, sliced into very thin rings (Pampered Chef mandolin came in handy here!)

Mix all ingredients together and store in fridge at least 1 hour. I made this the day before, storing it in the fridge overnight. Then I took some escarole (washed and torn into bite-sized pieces), pickled onion, a bit of the pickling juice, a couple splashes of extra-virgin olive oil, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese and tossed it all together. Walla, amazing salad!

Yield: as much (or little) as you like! :)