24 November, 2010

The Frittata Experiment Continued- Mini Frittatas

Ahhh! Thanksgiving, you are my favorite holiday. I love you not only because you bring about feelings of warmth and coziness, not only because your main focus is spending time with loved ones, not only because the you require good food, but also because there is no pressure to buy “stuff” for people who don’t need or want "stuff". And by "stuff" I mean gifts.  I have very intense feelings on holidays that require gifts but I will spare you my rant. Instead I will post a crowd friendly recipe to feed those who may be milling about your home preparing food or burping babies or watching football. So grab a glass of wine or a cup of coffee and let us toast to a holiday without gifts. Cheers!

Makes 12 muffins
8 eggs, beaten
½ cup of milk
1-2 tbsp cilantro, chopped finely
4-6 strips of bacon, cooked crispy and chopped
1 cup any color bell peppers, diced
1/2 cup mexican cheese blend
1/4 tsp salt
Black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 and grease a nonstick muffin tin. Beat eggs and ½ cup of milk in a medium size bowl. Add cilantro, peppers, bacon, cheese, salt and pepper to combine. Using a measuring cup with a pouring spout for convenience, fill each muffin slot leaving a bit of room. Cook for 20 minutes or until egg is set in the middle.

17 November, 2010

Discovering Spaghetti Squash and San Marzano Tomatoes

 dis·cov·er : to notice or learn, especially by making an effort

I was introduced to the spaghetti squash about two years ago and it is one of my favorite things to cook and eat (shhhh, don’t tell my first love, the avocado). You will spot the squash at your farmer’s market or in your grocery starting around September. It’s oblong in shape and usually a golden hue. After breaking down and cooking the squash you can run a fork through the insides and it comes out in spaghetti like strands. To try and explain this amazing phenomenon won’t do it justice until you experience it yourself. I promise a smile on your face as you discover this magical squash. 

 In the recipe below you can use any tomatoes you choose but I will take this time to tell you about San Marzano tomatoes. These beauties are considered to be the top notch tomato for saucing. I have seen “San Marzano tomatoes” on top pizzeria menus around the city and finally came across them at the farmer’s market. You can also find them canned in the grocery store. If you can get your hands on some try them and bring your sauce to the next level. That would be level awesome!

Spaghetti Squash topped w/ San Marzano Tomato Sauce:
Feeds 2-3 as a main dish with a side of cheesy bread
1 spaghetti squash
6-8 tomatoes, sliced in half (*San Marzano, Roma, vine ripened)
Olive oil, 2.5 tablespoons
Oregano, 1 tablespoon
1-2 cloves of garlic, sliced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using caution and your sharpest knife, cut the two ends off of the squash. Stand it up and slice down the middle. Next, using a spoon, scoop the seeds and strings out of the middle and discard. On a roasting pan, lay the squash skin side down, drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and roast for about 25-30 minutes or until you can pierce easily with a fork. At the same time that the squash is roasting, put tomatoes in a dish drizzled with 1 tbsp olive oil and sliced garlic. Roast for about 20-25 minutes.

While the squash is cooling make the tomato sauce. Using a small saucepan on medium heat, add 1/2 tablespoon olive oil and roasted tomatoes with their juices. Use a spatula to mash up the tomatoes and garlic and add 1 tablespoon oregano. Let sauce simmer on low while you handle the cooled squash. Take a fork and scrape the insides out of the squash and place in a dish. The insides will come out in spaghetti like strands.

Serve squash topped with tomato sauce and a side of cheesy bread* 
*any type of bread in the oven drizzled with olive oil and topped with cheese for 8 minutes and finished with a minute of broiling

11 November, 2010

Back Pocket Lasagna

We should all have an excellent lasagna recipe in our back pockets for occasions that require such a hearty and yummy meal. Appropriate occasions that come to mind could be things such as:

1) a family gathering with kids and adults who are pleased by cheese and pasta and not much else
2) a group of friends over for dinner with prep ahead leaving time to visit while baking
3) arrival of a newborn with busy parents who could benefit from a mobile meal that keeps well
4) a Sunday meal with hopes of leftovers to help you cruise through Monday and Tuesday
5) a hungry husband who requests lasagna two weekends in a row (really?)
6) your craving for lasagna (if #5 happens then #6 likely won’t happen)

I have made a lot of different versions of lasagna and my personal favorite is a vegetarian lasagna (promises to post later) but the below recipe will likely please others. A few years ago I started with my Mother in Law’s recipe (cute husband’s request) and did some tweaking from there. My husband requested that I not change the way his mom finished off her lasagna...cheddar cheese slices. Mmmmm! Ok, request granted.

* Admitting that this one may not deserve “simple plate” status I have broken the recipe into three steps to make the process a bit more clear and perhaps “simple”.
1.5 -2 lbs ground beef
medium onion, diced
4+ cloves of garlic, minced
15 oz can diced tomatoes
6 oz can tomato paste
1 tablespoon oregano
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
16 oz fresh spinach
1 lb package lasagna noodles
1 cup cottage cheese
1 cup ricotta cheese
½ cup parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten
16 oz mozzarella cheese
6 slices medium to sharp cheddar cheese

Step 1 Making Tomato Sauce:
Brown ground meat with two cloves of garlic. After ground meat is cooked, add onion and cook for about 10 minutes. Drain excess grease and add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, Italian seasoning, oregano, ½ tsp salt and simmer for 30-45 minutes.
Step 2 Details In between:
While tomato sauce is simmering, heat a shallow skillet on medium and add ½ tablespoon of olive oil. In batches, add a large handful of spinach and more olive oil until wilted. Next, add 2 cloves of minced garlic. Once the garlic is fragrant remove from heat and set aside. Cook pasta and lay out on dish towels to drain. Combine cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, parmesan, 1 egg beaten and ½ teaspoon salt. Add spinach to the cheese mixture and set aside.
Step 3 Building Lasagna:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and build lasagna in a casserole dish. Layer a couple spoonfuls of sauce, pasta, ricotta spinach mixture, mozzarella, meat sauce and repeat. End the top layer with pasta and cheddar cheese slices. Bake immediately or refrigerate until ready to bake for 30-40 minutes.

04 November, 2010

Reach Worthy Granola

Alot of us work at a desk. And at a desk you feel the need to reach; the need to reach for coffee, for a midmorning snack, for an afternoon snack, for your neighbor’s candy dish. Get rid of that reach guilt and make something you can be proud to reach for. Whip up a simple batch of tasty and healthy granola and reach for it all morning and all afternoon.

You can use your granola as a trail mix, as your morning cereal or to top off your fruit and yogurt.
Make a big batch on Sunday and bring it to work all week long.
Reach on my friends!

2 tablespoons hot water
1/2 cup honey
2 spoonfuls of natural peanut butter
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup almonds; 1 cup pecans (or 2 cups nuts/seeds of choice)
1 cup of dried cherries (or dried fruit of choice)

Preheat oven to 275 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a small saucepan on medium, heat 2 tablespoons of water, ½ cup of honey 2 big spoonfuls of peanut butter and vanilla. Combine oats, almonds, pecans and cinnamon in a bowl. Add the contents of the saucepan to the dry ingredients and stir until all ingredients are moist. Pour the contents onto the cookie sheet and cook for 40-45 minutes or until browned. Remove from oven, let cool, add dried fruit and package into ziplocs.