Easy Lasagna

My mom is the one who introduced us to this easy version of lasagna. The layers are beautiful and it is such a¬†delicious dish. I like it for company, providing a meal for someone, Sunday dinner, or even as a non-traditional holiday main dish – this is probably how I most remember having it growing up. I gave my husband a choice of things to serve for a dinner we were hosting recently and I didn’t get past the lasagna suggestion ūüôā –¬†I don’t make it often but it is definitely a family favorite.

Lasagna can be involved with bechamel sauce, meat sauce and more but this version will achieve the levels of flavor and takes a fraction of the time. I always use sausage because I think it adds incredible flavor! Also, the spinach is optional but I like the color it provides and, of course, the nutrients. Serve this with garlic bread or homemade breadsticks, and a lettuce salad. Hope you enjoy this as much as we do!

EASY LASAGNA
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1 – 16 oz. pkg. lasagna noodles
1 qt. spaghetti sauce (jarred or make your favorite homemade!)
1 lb. sausage or ground beef
1 c. water
1 – 15 oz. carton ricotta cheese
1 egg beaten
8 oz. shredded mozzarella or Italian cheese blend
6-8 oz. frozen spinach, thawed and water squeezed out
1/3 c. water
1/4 c. parmesan cheese
1 Tb. parsley flakes
dash nutmeg
salt, pepper to taste
1/2 c. parmesan cheese

Brown meat, add spaghetti sauce and 1 c. water, bring to a boil.  In mixing bowl combine ricotta cheese, egg, mozzeralla, spinach 1/3 c. water, 1/4 x. parmesan, parsley flakes, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.

TO ASSEMBLE: Use uncooked lasagna strips bu rinse in hot water before layering in a 9×13 pan (about 4 lasagna strips fit in a single layer – 3 lengthwise, 1 crosswise). Layers: 1 2/3 c. sauce, lasagna strips, 1/2 cheese mixture, 1 2/3 c. sauce, lasagna strips, remaining cheese mixture, 1 2/3 c. sauce, lasagna strips, remaining sauce, top w/1/4 c. parmesan cheese.

Bake at 375 degress covered w/foil for 40 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for 15 more minutes.  Let stand 5-10 minutes before cutting.

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On the Side: Chicken-Apple Sausage

A few months ago I purchased a pound of ground chicken for the purpose of making homemade chicken sausage. But I couldn’t get it made in time, so I froze the meat until an opportune time. An opportune time arrived in the form of a long weekend with my husband and I dug out the recipe I’d planned to make. Served alongside some eggs and asparagus, these sausages were delicious. And since you’re making them yourself and know all the ingredients included, they are certainly healthier than your average sausage.

CHICKEN-APPLE SAUSAGE
(from The Simple Art of EatingWell)
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2 teaspoons oil
1 small onion, diced
1 medium sweet apple, peeled and diced
1 pound ground chicken
1 Tablespoon of finely chopped fresh sage (or 1 tsp dry)
1 Tablespoon light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, chopped (optional)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Add apples and cook, stirring, 2 more minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and cool for 5 minutes. Wipe out the pan.

Add chicken, sage, sugar, fennel (if using), salt and pepper to the bowl with the apples and onions. Gently mix to combine.

Generously coat the pan with cooking spray and heat over medium. Using a 1/3-cup measure, scoop 4 portions into the pan, flattening each into a 3-inch patty. Cook until the patties are browned and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side, adjust the heat as necessary to prevent burning. Coat the pan with cooking spray again and repeat with remaining sausage mixture.

Off The Shelf: Poor Girl Gourmet

I recently came across this book: Poor Girl Gourmet: Eat in Style on a Bare-Bones Budget by Amy McCoy.  Overall, I was impressed. The book included delicious, health-conscious meals that are aimed at not costing you a fortune. In fact, the author gives you the estimated cost for each dish and how she figures the cost to break down.

The book includes pictures of most of the recipes, which is always a plus. It doesn’t have the layout finesse of a top-dollar publication, but it is attractive nonetheless and easy to flip through. At times I found the author’s instructions somewhat¬†convoluted, but not to the point of making the recipe too hard to figure out. I¬†¬†should also mention that the book tends toward the Italian flavors.

Recipes include such things as: Spicy Carrot Ginger Soup, Harvest Salad with Honey-Balsamic Dressing, Tomato Tart, Chicken in Cider Gravy, Roasted Carrots with Thyme, Honey-Mustard Coleslaw, Butternut Squash Risotto, Calzones, Cornmeal Crust Peach Crostata, and Banana-Wheat Muffins.

I chose to try the Chicken, Sausage, and Kale Soup. At first I wondered if this soup would be anything special. By the time dinner was finished I was already looking forward to leftovers and planning to put the recipe in my company dinners file. The soup was really, really good.

CHICKEN, SAUSAGE, AND KALE SOUP
(Poor Girl Gourmet)
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1 whole cooked chicken breast, cut crosswise into 1-inch strips
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (I used a bit less)
1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled, trimmed, coarsely chopped
1 celery stalk, trimmed, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp. dried thyme, or 1 Tbsp. fresh
1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
2 (6-inch) links sweet Italian sausage (approximately 1/2 pound), casings removed, meat cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 cups chicken broth
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, including liquid
1 bunch kale (approximately 3/4 pounds), washed, stemmed, coarsely chopped
Kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

While the chicken roasts, prepare the other ingredients. (Bake it covered in a 350F oven until cooked, about 20-30 minutes.)

Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot — at least 6-quart capacity, as the kale starts off as quite a gargantuan pile — over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic and saute — you are in the soffritto phase of this soup now — until the whole lot is softened and has blended together such that the color is leaning toward orange, 10 to 15 minutes.

Add the thyme and crushed red pepper flakes, then add the sausage — you should have in the neighborhood of 24 pieces of 1/2-inch sausage from the two links, in the event that you are curious — cooking until the sausage is lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the broth, the beans with their liquid, and the kale.

Add the chicken pieces to the pot, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the massive pile of kale is fully incorporated into the soup, 20 to 25 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve it forth.

Serves 4.

Note: I served ours with a dollop of pesto on top, but it was equally good the next day without!

International Cuisine: Polish Dishes

We thoroughly enjoy trying different cuisines. I¬†have yet to find one that I don’t like! It keeps food interesting, creates new ideas for flavor combinations, and expands the palates of my three sons. Last week, we spent time studying the country of Poland and whenever we focus on a country, we try to make at least one dish native to that area. This time we made two and both were delicious!

POTATOES BAKED with EGGS & CREAM (adapted slightly from this site)
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2 Tb. butter, melted
3 c. potatoes, diced & cooked
salt & pepper to taste
2 eggs, beaten
1 c. sour cream (I subbed some yogurt)
2 Tb. chives or spring onions, chopped (I was out of both so I used a little dried parsley)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour butter into the bottom of an oven proof casserole. Add potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Mix together the eggs and sour cream and pour over potatoes. Top with chives or onions, cover and bake for 1 hour.

SAVOURY SAUSAGE & SAUERKRAUT (adapted slightly from this site)
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2 Tb. butter
1 medium onion, chopped
¬ľ c. green peppers, chopped
1 lg. apple, peeled, cored, & chopped
2 Tb. brown sugar
¬Ĺ tsp. caraway or fennel seeds
3 red potatoes, cleaned & diced
1 ¬Ĺ c. sauerkraut, drained, rinsed, & packed
1-2 lb. smoke sausage (kielbasa), cut in 3-inch pieces

Melt butter in saucepan. Add onion and green pepper. Cook until tender. Add apple, brown sugar, caraway seeds, potatoes, and sauerkraut. Mix well. Place sausage on top of sauerkraut mixture. Cover. Cook over medium-low heat for 40 minutes.

Weekend Fare: Stuffed Shells

It had been far too long since I had made stuffed shells and so I decided to make them again. They are great for freezing and they are great for taking a meal to someone. They take a little bit of time but really, they are not hard at all and they look so pretty. You can easily make these vegetarian by omitting the sausage – they are delicious either way. My kids loved them and I like that the spinach adds some excellent nutrients!

SPINACH, SAUSAGE & CHEESE STUFFED SHELLS
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1 (12 oz.) package jumbo pasta shells
1 lb. Italian sausage
1 (10 oz.) package frozen chopped spinach – thawed, drained and squeezed dry
1 (15 oz.) container ricotta cheese
2 c. mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 eggs
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
pinch of nutmeg
4 c. spaghetti sauce (you can make your own or use jarred sauce)
1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 c. parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add shells and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain and rinse in cold water.

Place sausage in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until evenly brown. Drain and crumble. In a large bowl, combine cooked sausage, spinach, ricotta cheese, mozzarella, egg, garlic, lemon juice and parmesan cheese. Season with salt, pepper, oregano, nutmeg.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease a 9×13 pan and spread¬†1/4 c. spaghetti sauce in the bottom. Generously stuff pasta shells with the sausage and cheese mixture and place in baking dish. Top with remaining spaghetti sauce. Cover with foil and bake for 20 – 30 minutes until hot. Remove¬†foil and sprinkle on the remaining 1 c.¬†mozzarella and 1/4¬†c. parmesan.¬†Bake for another 10 minutes uncovered until cheese is melted and dish is bubbly.

Off The Shelf: May Magazines

Bon Appetit — This month’s issue is labled the “travel issue” and contains a collection of recipes from Italy, Spain, France, Belgium, and the United Kingdom. Each collection is lengthy, filled with beautiful photos and art, as well as stories and recipes. There is also a feature devoted to carrots, which, apparently, are in season just now.

I tried the Chicken with Tarragon for a Sunday dinner and it came out very well. I was skeptical of taking time to roast garlic in a pan, but it was quick and easy and worked well. We paired the chicken with the green rice and cucumber salad (also included in this post) and together it was a scrumptious meal. We ended it with the Strawberry and Rhubarb Crumble from Monday’s post.

CHICKEN WITH TARRAGON AND QUICK-ROASTED GARLIC
(Bon Appetit May 2010)
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3 large unpeeled garlic cloves
4 small skinless boneless chicken breast halves or cutlets
2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh tarragon
2 Tbsp. heavy whipping cream

Heat small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic; cover and cook until browned in spots and tender when pierced, turning occasionally, 9 to 10 minutes. Transfer to work surface to cool.

Meanwhile, sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Melt butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook until browned and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to plate (do not clean skillet).

Peel garlic. Add garlic and wine to same skillet; cook until reduced by about half, mashing garlic finely with fork, about 1 minute. Add broth and tarragon; simmer until liquid is reduced by about half, 1 to 2 minutes. Add cream and simmer to sauce consistency, about 1 minute. Return chicken to skillet with any accumulated juices. Simmer to heat through, turning occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer chicken to plate; spoon sauce over.

Serves 4.

Everyday Food — of interest in this issue is a feature on raspberries (apparently these are in season too? Perhaps at the grocery store, certainly not in my backyard) with some amazing-looking recipes included. Another feature tells what to do with jarred, roasted peppers. The Breakfast for Dinner feature dishes up some very tempting meals that look easy and delicious. As always, there are a number of great, everyday meals, side dishes and desserts included as well.

I made the Green Rice and the Cucumber and Snap Pea Salad. Both were easy to make and turned out well. The salad was so fresh and delightful that we’ll be having it again soon. Honestly, I couldn’t stop eating it. A perfect salad for spring!

GREEN RICE
(Everyday Food May 2010)
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1 cup packed fresh cilantro
1/2 cup packed fresh parsley leaves
1/4 white onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 3/4 cups water
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup long-grain white rice
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice

In a blender, combine cilantro, parsley, onion, garlic, water, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth.

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add rice and stir to coat. Add herb mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let sit, covered, 5 minutes. Add lime juice and fluff with a fork. Serve rice with lime wedges if desired.

Serves 4.

CUCUMBER AND SNAP PEA SALAD WITH MINT
(Everyday Food May 2010)
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1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. white-wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
salt & pepper
2 large cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced
1 pound snap peas, trimmed and sliced on the diagonal in 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 cup fresh mint, torn

In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, and mustard. Season with salt and pepper. Add cucumbers and peas. Toss to combine. Stir in mint just before serving.

Serves 4.

Everyday with Rachael Ray — Once again I am keenly aware that many magazines don’t follow seasonal eating very closely. While this magazine does include a number of seasonal-appropriate recipes (like Asparagus, Ham and Egg Pasta, and Rhubarb Fool), I question the appeal of recipes such as Potato-Leek soup, Chili, and Spaghetti Squash for this spring season. I felt this issue belonged more in fall.

However, there is a large section devoted to parties and weddings, which was fun to look through and might be beneficial if you are looking for ideas along those lines.

I tried the Gemelli with Fennel and Hot Sausage and it was an easy and delicious weeknight meal that is worth repeating.

GEMELLI WITH FENNEL AND HOT SAUSAGE
(Everyday with Rachael Ray, May 2010)
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3/4 pound hot Italian sausage links, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (I used mild)
1 large bulb fennel, cut into strips
1 large onion, sliced
3 carrots, sliced on an angle
2 Tbsp. olive oil
salt & pepper
1 pound gemelli pasta (I used penne)
1/4 cup chopped flat parsley

Preheat oven to 425F. On a baking sheet, toss the sausage, fennel, onion and carrots with the olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Bake until the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta until al dente; drain, reserving 1/3 cup of the pasta cooking water. Transfer the pasta to a large bowl.

Add the sausage -vegetable mixture to the pasta. Add the reserved pasta cooking water to the baking sheet, scraping up any browned bits; transfer to the pasta mixture. Toss in the parsley; season with salt and pepper.

NOTE: My kids liked this with grated cheese sprinkled on top.

Serves 4.

Cooking Light — While I didn’t get any recipes made from Cooking Light this month, I did bookmark a number of recipes that looked appealing. This issue includes an article on sandwiches, healthy eating while in the DC area, and a great round-up of seasonal recipes in the Dinner Tonight feature.

If you are into homemade ice-cream, you may want to check out their cooking class article on light ice-cream. There is also an article on smoothies.

The longest feature is devoted to pizza, with recipe after recipe of delicious and ingenious combinations for this favorite American food.

Other articles include: Haitian-American food, simple spring recipes, spring risottos, and budget cooking.

If you want a magazine that says SPRING!, this is probably the one for you.

Off The Shelf: March Magazines

(Heather) – Now that we are well into 2010, the food magazines have begun to arrive en masse. First up this month is Food Network. The March issue encompasses 140 pages. Along with all the normal features (such as Food News, Star Kitchen, Fun Cooking, He Made-She Made, and Copy That), there are a number of great feature articles which include: cooking with orange juice concentrate, 11,375 stir-fry possibilities¬†complete with some¬†amazing photos, easy green snacks for St. Patrick’s Day, Weeknight Cooking and Weekend Cooking — all of which have very appealing recipes, a Ravioli how-to, and a pull-out booklet on 50 Pizzas. The magazine ends with a lengthy spread devoted to the upcoming Oscars, including Hollywood-specific recipes.

I chose a recipe from the On The Road feature — Green Apple-SourDough Pancakes. I love the smell and taste of sourdough and these pancakes were lovely. And my kids ate them right up too!

GREEN APPLE-SOURDOUGH PANCAKES
(Food Network Magazine March 2010)
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For the sourdough starter:
1 cup whole milk
1 tsp. active dry yeast (1/2 packet)
1/2 cup apple cider (I had to substitute apple juice with 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar)
3 Tbsp. packed light brown sugar
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 cup all-purpose flour

For the pancakes:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp. baking soda
1 small tart green apple (such as Granny Smith), unpeeled and diced
1-2 Tbsp. butter
maple syrup or honey, for serving
chopped pecans, for garnish (optional)

Make the sourdough starter: Warm the milk in a small saucepan over low heat to about 110F. Transfer to a medium bowl, sprinkle with the yeast and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the cider, brown sugar, butter and 1 cup flour until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature overnight.

The next morning, make the pancakes: whisk 1/2 cup flour, the egg, baking soda and apple into the sourdough starter. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a cast-iron griddle or non-stick skillet over medium heat and swirl to coat. Pour about 1/4 cup batter onto the griddle for each pancake. (Alternatively, cook on an electric pancake griddle.) Cook until the tops are bubbly and the edges set, about 3 minutes, then flip and cook until golden and cooked through, 1 to 2 more minutes. Repeat with the remaining batter, adding more butter as needed. Drizzle with syrup and garnish with pecans, if desired.

Makes about 12 pancakes.

(Heather) – Next up is Everyday with Rachael Ray which boasts 462 easy recipes, tips & deals. The magazine opens with a number of regular features and this month includes a section on beating the winter blahs. There are focus pages on cauliflower, coffee, slow cookers, supermarket traps. My favorite section of this magazine is the five-page Meet the Grains feature, introducing us to brown rice, millet, barley, farro, buckwheat, and quinoa. I hope to obtain most, if not all, of these grains and begin to incorporate them into our diet. (Perhaps you’ll read about the results on this blog!)

As always the magazine includes some great suggestions for 30-minute meals, as well as a section on classic dishes (think chicken noodle soup, chocolate cake, apple pie, lasagna). Recipes for Oscar night fill several pages and, wouldn’t you know, there’s a lengthy article on the nation’s best pizza and how to make it (do magazine editors consult each other?).

I will mention that my biggest pick with this issue was from their Supermarket Traps article. The article actually encourages you to “save produce shopping for last; this will prevent overbuying.” Their argument being that produce has the highest profit margin and supermarket owners want you to buy a lot. In my opinion, fresh produce is what you should be filling the bulk of your cart with. The more fresh food we eat the more likely we are to have good health.

The Spaghetti Squash with Sausage and Greens from the $10 Dinners caught my attention. The recipe worked well and tasted great and one could even substitute regular pasta for the spaghetti squash.

SPAGHETTI SQUASH WITH SAUSAGE AND GREENS
(Everyday with Rachael Ray March 2010)
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1 spaghetti squash (about 3 1/2 pounds), halved lengthwise
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
1 1/2 tsp. olive oil
12 oz. sweet Italian sausage
1 bunch spinach, stems discarded and leaves coarsely chopped (I used a 10 oz. bag of fresh spinach)
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper

The magazine has you cook the spaghetti squash in the microwave. Because I try to avoid microwave cooking I placed my halved squash in a baking pan, added about 1-inch of water and baked it at 350F for 45-60 minutes until tender.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook until no longer pink, about 6 minutes. Add the spinach and crushed red pepper and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes; season with salt and pepper.

Using a fork, comb the cooked squash into strands into a bowl. Toss with the parmesan and season with black pepper. Serve the spinach and sausage over the squash.

Serves 4.

(Alaina) РEveryday Food is focused on spring! It has some wonderful looking salad recipes, a whole section on poaching eggs and recipes for them, five different uses for homemade pizza dough (which all look amazing!), as well as their usual meal plan with grocery a list. I continue to be impressed with this magazine. They make gourmet food easy! The Beer-Braised Sausages with Warm Potato Salad, Almond Torte with Pears and Whipped Cream, and the Swiss Chard Pie are just a few of the recipes I would love to try!

I decided to try the Orecchiette with Bacon and Tomato Sauce – Orcchiette is a small shell-like pasta which I didn’t happen to have on hand so mine was actually Orzo with Bacon and Tomato Sauce. Orzo is¬†a small pasta that looks a little like rice. It worked well. This was a little spicy for my kids, so I would reduce the red-pepper flakes¬†to 1/4 tsp. The smoky bacon is so good in this simple dish!

ORECCHIETTE WITH BACON & TOMATO SAUCE
(Everyday Food, March 2010)
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1 Tb. extra-virgin olive oil
4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. red-pepper flakes
1 can (28 oz.) whole peeled tomatoes
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 lb. orecchiette or other short pasta
Grated Parmesan and chopped fresh parsley, for serving

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium-high. Add bacon and cook until browned and almost crisp, about 4 min. Add onion and cook until softened, 3 to 5 min. Add garlic and red-pepper flakes and stir until fragrant, 1 min. Add tomatoes, breaking them up as you go, and season with salt and pepper. Bring sauce to a boil; reduce to a simmer and cook until slightly reduced, 15 min.

Meanwhile, in a large pot of salted water, cook pasta 1 minute less than package instructions. Reserve cup pasta water; drain pasta and return to pot.

Add sauce and pasta water to pasta and toss to combine; cook over medium-high until sauce thickens and coats pasta, about 2 min. Serve pasta topped with Parmesan and parsley.

(Alaina) – Cooking Light has a wide variety of recipes including many different proteins and vegetarian dishes.¬†The photos are inspiring and the articles interesting. I especially enjoyed the article on 25 Most Common Cooking Mistakes – and yes, I’m definitely guilty of some of them! The Lentil-Barley Burgers with Fiery Fruit Salad, Apricot-Ginger Bellinis, Pear & Prosciutto Pizza, and Braised Short Ribs with Egg Noodles all look amazing.

I decided to try the lightened up¬†Sour Cream Coffee Cake which was actually one of the Cooking Light staff favorites! And I agree – it was surprisingly¬†delicious! I used yogurt which is the perfect substitute for sour cream if you don’t have any and since mine was fat-free plain, it reduced the fat in this recipe even more!

SOUR CREAM COFFEE CAKE
(Cooking Light, March 2010)
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3/4 c. old-fashioned oats, divided
1 c. flour
1/4 c. whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. packed brown sugar, divided
1/3 c. butter, softened
2 lg. eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 (8-oz) carton light sour cream (I used fat free plain yogurt)
2 Tb. finely chopped walnuts (I used pecans because we love them!)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tb. chilled butter, cut into small pieces

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Spread oats in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 6 minutes or until oats are barely fragrant and light brown. Coat a 9-inch springform pan (I used a regular 9-in. round glass baking pan) with cooking spray; set aside. Reserve 1/4 c. oats; set aside. Place remaining oats in a food processor; process 4 seconds or until finely ground. Combine flours, processed oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; stir with whisk.

Place a granulated sugar, 1/4 c. brown sugar, and 1/3 c. butter in a lg. bowl. Beat with a mixter at medium speed for 3 min. or until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture. (Batter will be slightly lumpy because of oats.) Spoon batter into prepared pan; spread evenly.

Combine remaining 1/4 c. oats and 1/4 c. brown sugar, nuts, and cinnamon in a bowl. Cut in 1 Tb. butter with a pastry blender until well blended. Sprinkle top of batter evenly with nut mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 38 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, top is golden, and cake begins to pull away from sides of pan.

Cool cake in pan for 10 min. Serves 10.

Market Fresh: Eggs

We could really spend weeks on this topic, but this week, we will be featuring dairy products: milk, cheese, yogurt, and eggs.

Fresh eggs are one of my absolute favorite things to get at the farmer’s market. They are delicious and just by the color of the yolk, you can see how nutrient-rich they are. Knowing the grower’s and knowing how the chickens are raised ensures a wonderful quality of¬†eggs.

Egg Salad is a great way use eggs. It’s easy and makes a beautiful sandwich!

EGG SALAD
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6 hard-boiled eggs
1 Tb. onion, finely minced
2 Tb. dill relish
2 Tb. Mayonnaise
1 tsp. pickle juice (just get some from the relish jar)
1 tsp. mustard
1/2 tsp. sugar
dash cayenne pepper
salt & pepper to taste

Dice the egg. Add onion and they rest of the ingredients. Adjust seasoning to taste. Serve on a bed of lettuce or as a sandwich filling (butter bread and add lettuce if desired).

This egg dish is great for a quick meal any time of the day! You can use whatever vegetables and ingredients you have on hand – be creative!


OVEN OMELET
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1/2 lb. sausage
2 Tb. butter
1 1/2 c. shredded potato (I used frozen shredded hashbrowns)
1 bell pepper (I used orange which was so good & sweet)
4 green onions, chopped
1 1/2 c. shredded cheese
8 lg. eggs
1 c. milk
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a 10-12 inch oven-safe skillet (cast iron or any other oven safe skillet) over med.-high heat, brown sausage and drain. Saute sausage, potatoes, pepper,  and onion in 2 Tb. butter until tender. Meanwhile, whisk eggs, milk, salt, & pepper in a separate bowl. Turn off heat. Spread vegetable & meat mixture evenly over the bottom of the skillet. Sprinkle half of the cheese over it. Pour eggs  mixture evenly over the skillet. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top.

Transfer skillet to oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until completely set. Cut in wedges and serve hot. Makes 4-5 servings.

Market Fresh: Kale

Kale is one of those dark green leafy vegetables that boasts excellent nutrients. It is so good for you. My favorite way to have it is in soup but you could also steam it or saute it. I find that my family will eat kale the best when it is in a flavorful soup and since I’m always trying to find ways to increase our leafy green consumption, it works well!

SAUSAGE, SWEET POTATO & KALE SOUP

1 lb. ground sausage
1 lg. onion, chopped
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper (may want to omit if using a spicy sausage)
3 garlic cloves, minced
5 c. sweet potato, peeled & chopped
2 c. water
1 qt. chicken stock
1 bunch kale, washed and torn
1 can cannellini beans or white beans, drained and rinsed

Brown sausage. Add onion and saute until tender and almost translucent. Add salt, pepper, red pepper, and garlic.  Add sweet potato, water, and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 8 minutes. Gradually add kale and cook until tender. Stir in beans and cook until thoroughly heated.

Fall Seasonal Recipes

IMG_7440

This is the perfect punch to serve in the Fall or around Thanksgiving.

SPICED CIDER PUNCH

1 gallon fresh apple cider, divided
2 c. orange juice
2 liters sparkling water

At least 8 hours before serving, mull half the cider by placing it in a saucepan and adding mulling spices. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1-3 hours. Strain out the mulling spices and chill.

When ready to serve, combine mulled cider, plain cider, orange juice and sparkling water.

I made an ice ring using apple juice and fresh cranberries.

Serves 24.

ROMAN APPLE CAKE
(from More With Less)

IMG_7199

1 c. sugar
2 ¬ľ c. flour
¬ľ tsp. salt
3/8 tsp. baking powder
1 ¬Ĺ tsp. soda
¬Ĺ tsp. cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon
2/3 c. oil
2 eggs
2/3 c. milk
1 ¬Ĺ tsp. vanilla
3 c. raw apples, peeled and chopped

 Crumb topping:
1 Tbsp. melted butter
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 c. brown sugar
2 tsp. flour
¬Ĺ c. chopped nuts (optional)
¬ľ c. rolled oats

¬†Combine dry ingredients. Mix together oil, eggs, milk, and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until combined. Add chopped apples. Pour into greased and floured bundt pan or 9×13 pan or muffin tins. Cover with crumb topping. Bake 35-40 minutes (or until done) at 350.

ROASTED SQUASH AND SAUSAGE PASTA
Heather

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1 butternut squash
1 lb. fresh sausage (sweet Italian or Polish)
1 red onion
1 box whole wheat pasta
1 tsp. thyme
salt & pepper
oil
1 cup grated cheese
Peel and dice squash. Cut sausages into pieces (about 1.5 inches long). Chop onion. Combine onion, squash and sausage on a baking tray. Coat with oil, salt, pepper and thyme. Roast at 375F until squash is tender (about 1 hour.).
Meanwhile, prepare pasta according to box directions. Keep warm. When squash is cooked, add to pasta and throw in a few handfuls of grated cheese.
Serves 4-6.
 
PEAR-ALMOND CAKE with CHOCOLATE CHUNKS
(from Everyday with Rachael Ray, September 2009)
Alaina
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1 c. flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. granulated sugar, divided
2 lg. eggs plus 1 egg white, divided
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 lg. pears, peeled, cored, & thinly sliced*
1/2 c. chocolate chunks (I used semi-sweet chocolate chips)
1/2 c. blanched almonds, sliced (I used whole, raw and chopped them myself)
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9-inch springform pan, line with parchment paper, grease the paper, then flour the pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl, whisk together 3/4 c. granulated sugar and the 2 eggs until pale yellow, 1 t0 2 minutes, whisk in the butter. Stir into the flour mixture until just combine. Pour half of the batter into the prepare pan and top with half of the pear slices and half of the chocolate; repeat with the remaining batter, pears, and chocolate.

Using the food processor (or a blender), finely grind 1/4 almonds with the remaining 1/4 c. sugar. Add the egg white and process until smooth. Drizzle over the cake and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 c. almonds. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 45-50 minutes. Let cool slightly, then dust with confectioners’ sugar.
Serves 8 – Enjoy! It’s delicious!

*Bananas were suggested as a substitute.