Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Lasagna, Lasagne….you say tomayto, I say tomaato

How do you spell it? I’ve seen it written both ways but my Word spell check suggests lasagna and since I can't stand those little red lines showing up under the words in my sentences, I'll spell it ending with an "a".

What can I say about this wonderful food? Nothing except that it is one of my favorite things to eat and that I could probably eat it every day and whenever I go to an Italian restaurant, this is always my first choice. I’ll vary from time to time but always go back to lasagna. 

I can't even remember the first time I had lasagna. I grew up in a meat and potatoes home in the Midwest...not much experience with any other types of food. We did occasionally order pizza, or my older brother would make the boxed Chef Boyardee pizza mix.....or, when he started working at a local pizza place, would bring home dough, sauce and other ingredients and he would make pizza for us. He had even learned to toss the dough...I was impressed...of course, I was quite young at the time and impressed easily. We also had spaghetti, either canned Franco American or the boxed Kraft Spaghetti and Meat Sauce, in the red box. As you can see, my ethnic food experience was basically, non existent. I was probably in my 20's when I first had lasagna and I imagine I probably had it at Pizza Hut. Actually, while I was in my 20's, I also started eating Mexican and Chinese as well. 

Detour over....back to lasagna....My lasagna recipe started out with one that I found in Betty Crocker's International Cookbook, published sometime in the 80's. The recipe from that cookbook served me well for many years, then I started tinkering with it…combining different ideas and techniques that I picked up from other recipes or articles that I’ve read or what I’ve seen on cooking shows, so it has changed a good bit over time and now barely resembles the original.

Before I started on the lasagna, I typed up what I hoped was the final draft of my recipe and since my computer isn’t hooked up to Michael’s printer, I emailed it to him and asked him to print it off for me. I wanted a hard copy so I could make notes or corrections, if needed. As I was reading over the printed recipe, I came across a sentence that I didn't remember typing….apparently there are gremlins at work here…..“Serve to Michael, but stay out of his way, as he stampedes to consume the whole pan!!!!!!!” Funny guy!

Mix 1/4 cup white wine with sausage. I read somewhere that this will keep the sausage from cooking up into lumps.
Saute onions in olive oil.

Saute red pepper flakes and garlic.

Add sausage and brown. Adding the wine to the sausage did keep it from cooking up into lumps....in the past it almost looked like I had little meatballs in my sauce.

Stir in tomatoes, parsley, sugar, salt, basil, oregano and pepper. Cover and simmer for at leat 20 minutes.

Combine eggs, ricotta, 3 cups mozzarella and Parmesan.

Spread sauce in bottom of pan.

Place four lasagna noodles over the sauce, slightly overlapping.

Spread half of the cheese mixture over the noodles. 

Cover with 1 1/2 cups sauce.  Repeat layers.

Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese.

Bake according to instructions, let rest and enjoy.

Michael  "the takeout king" thought I was going to entirely too much trouble to make lasagna...he thinks Stouffers makes a good one. Once he tasted it, he did change his mind....he exclaimed that, "It was the best lasagna I've ever eaten." I'm not sure if he really believes that or is afraid if he doesn't say it that I'll stop cooking.....

Print Italian Sausage Lasagna Recipe

Friday, April 23, 2010

Fruit Dip

I wasn’t sure whether I was going to post this recipe or not....it's such a simple little recipe that I wondered if it was even worth it. I figured that a lot of people may already know about it....I think Marzetti's even makes this and it, or something similar, can be found on many fruit trays that can be purchased from Kroger, Giant Eagle, etc. But then I decided to go ahead and post it….if even one person reads this and thinks that they would like to make this fruit dip, it would be worth it.

You’ll need:

1- 7 oz. jar marshmallow creme (I prefer Marshmallow Fluff but that isn't always easy to find....Kraft is.)
8 oz. cream cheese, softened.

Mix the two ingredients together and serve with fruit.
Print Recipe

Using an electric mixer, mix cream cheese with marshmallow creme.

I like to take a spatula and mix it a little more.....just want to make sure it's mixed completely. Then I put it in the fridge to chill a little before serving.
See…..I told you it was simple. The most difficult part is keeping away from it.....once you start eating, you may not be able to stop.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Cleo Coyle’s Twilight Cauliflower

 Did I hear you ask…..who in the world is Cleo Coyle? Cleo Coyle is a writer of culinary mysteries. If you aren’t familiar with them, culinary mysteries are really pretty cool. They are mysteries whose main character is in some way, involved with food, caterers, bakers, etc.,......and most of these books also have several recipes included. I’ve been a mystery lover ever since I picked up my first Nancy Drew book at the ripe old age of about nine. I even wanted to be Nancy Drew, sports car and all…..I think a lot of us who were fans wanted to be her. Anyway, I read a lot of culinary mysteries, I get to mix my love of mysteries with my love of food/cooking. It’s amazing how many culinary mysteries are out there and Cleo Coyle’s, Coffeehouse Mysteries series, is one of my favorites. Ms. Coyle’s main character, Clare Cosi, manages a family owned coffeehouse in New York City and blends coffee, food and murder in each book. Cleo Coyle has her own site, Coffeehouse Mystery and also contributes to the Mystery Lover’s Kitchen site. This recipe for Twilight Cauliflower is posted on both.

Now I’m not a cauliflower fan, I think I’ve mentioned that before,…I’ve tried it several ways but have only really been able to choke it down raw and with a lot of veggie dip. One day while reading my favorite blogs, I came across Cleo Coyle’s recipe for Twilight Cauliflower. I was intrigued….I love garlic and know that roasting vegetables gives them a slightly different taste and texture and this recipe did sound good so decided…..why not.

Twilight Cauliflower - Cleo Coyle
20-Clove Roasted Garlic Cauliflower
Print Recipe
1 average head of cauliflower (about 25 florets)
20 whole cloves of garlic (about 2 heads)
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon water
Salt to taste

Total Cooking times:
Garlic roasting time - 30-35 minutes
Cauliflower roasting time - about 1 hour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a small baking dish, place 20 whole garlic cloves (with skins removed). Add 4 tablespoons of olive oil and a splash of water (about 1/2 teaspoon). Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake about 30-35 minutes. Note: garlic should be cooked soft enough to easily smash with a fork.

Oil will be bubbling hot when you remove the foil. Allow the dish to cool a bit then use a fork to mash the garlic into the warm oil, making a thick slurry.

When the slurry has cooled enough to handle, place clean, dry cauliflower florets into a large bowl. (Keep the number of florets to around 25 for the best flavor results.) Pour the slurry over the top of the cauliflower and use your hands to coat the slurry over all of the florets.
Turn up the oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare a large baking dish or roasting pan by coating the bottom and sides with olive oil or lining with aluminum foil. (During roasting, pieces of garlic will bake onto your pan or dish, and this step will help with the cleanup.) Now transfer the slurry-coated cauliflower into the pan and pour any remaining slurry over the top.

Using aluminum foil, tightly cover the baking dish or roasting pan. This will create steam within the dish, which will soften and relax this cruciferous vegetable as it cooks.

Bake for 30 minutes and then remove the foil. Stir the florets and continue roasting (uncovered) for another 30-35 minutes, until fork tender and nicely carmelized. Remove from oven and salt to taste. (I added salt and pepper before returning pan to the oven and then didn't salt later.)

I loved the fragrance that wafted through the apartment while the garlic was roasting. When I took the cauliflower out of the oven, it looked wonderful… a nice, caramelized color. Then, I tasted it……delicious! I finally found a way that I can truly eat and enjoy cauliflower.

I served this with grilled beef brats on toasted New England style rolls and Garlic-Herb Mac and Cheese. As Michael and I were putting away leftovers and cleaning up the kitchen, he asked what I had planned for the leftover cauliflower. I said nothing really; just reheat it for another meal. He decided that he would like to just finish it off, now….and that he did. He said it even tasted great cold. Looks like this recipe meets with his approval as well.

Monday, April 12, 2010

And the Winner Is.............

This has been such a long week...I didn't think the day of the drawing would ever get here. I've been so anxious to give away this lovely pie dish!

Before I name the winner, I thought I would explain how I did the picking. When I decided to do this giveaway, I was just thinking that I would do something like pick a name out of a hat...so to speak. I was talking to Michael and telling him about this giveaway when he suggested that I make a list of the entries in Excel with their names, along with a number for each entry then let Excel pick the winner...he's such a computer geek, but then that's one of the things I like about him. I laughed and told him that I didn't have a problem with setting up a list, I had already planned to do that, I'm good at making lists but setting up a formula in order to pick the winner was a whole different thing....I had no idea how to do that. My knowledge of Excel is very limited. So, once I set up my list....I added the name of each entrant along with a number for each chance (in the order that it was posted on the blog), I emailed it to Michael and he set it up so that all I had to do was press F9 in order to pick a number.

The list is ready and it's time to pick a winner. I'm going to press F9, 12 times (I couldn't decide whether to press it once twice or what so chose 12 because it's today's date). Here we go....and the winner is.....

neonsafari is the lucky winner of the Emile Henry Pie Dish.

Congratulations neonsafari....email your name and address to me at, cookiebakr@yahoo.com, and I will forward it to the people at CSN Stores and they will send out the pie dish.

I would like to thank CSN Stores and all of you who participated in this contest.

Monday, April 5, 2010

My First Giveaway!

I don't know about you, but I'm so excited!!!

The kind people at CSN Stores have offered to provide the prize for my very first giveaway. CSN Stores have several stores that carry a large variety of great merchandise….I know because I’ve already been to their site and drooled over a lot of the cookware. Click on this link, Home Bars to visit one of their stores. You can scroll down to the bottom of the site to find a link to visit their other stores as well.

One lucky person, in the USA or Canada, will be winning this pretty Emile Henry Pie Dish. Many of us have pie dishes but some of us probably don’t have anything this nice. “I don’t make pie” you say….. Use it for pot pie, Sheppard’s pie, baked pasta, to roast several heads of garlic for those yummy Pioneer Woman’s, Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes or…… re-gift it, I’ll never tell.

All you have to do to enter is:

1. Become a follower of my blog and leave a comment on this post to let me know that you’ve done so. If you’re already following my blog, leave a comment here stating that you are.

2. Mention this giveaway on your Facebook page, along with a link to this post, then come back to this post and leave a comment letting me know.

3. Tweet about the giveaway, along with a link to this post and comment here to let me know that you did.

You can do one, two or all of the above…doing all three just gives you more chances to win.

When you leave your comment, feel free to tell me what you will be making in this pie dish. This is just for fun, not a requirement.

You have until midnight, Eastern Standard Time, April 12, 2010 to enter.
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