Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Lasgna Round Up with Pesto Alfredo Sauce

Lasagna  roll ups with spinch/pesto Alfredo sauce.  It's not at all photogenic but it's incredibly good as a side dish or a main, meat free course.

You can make the pesto and lasagna bundles ahead and freeze, then just make the sauce before putting it in the oven.

Lasagna bundles

1 (15 oz) container Ricotta Cheese
1 large egg
1 small handful of Italian Parsley (about 1/3 cup) chopped
a small pinch of red pepper
2  and 1/4 cups freshly grated Mozzarella cheese, divided
3/4 cup freshly, fresh grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/3 cup freshly, finely grated asiago cheese
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

10-12 uncooked lasagna noodles

Cook lasagna noodles until al dente (you want firm as they will cook further in the oven) in a large pot of boiling  salted water  that has a small splash of olive oil added to it.   

When cooked, drain and lay out on waxed paper to cool and dry slightly (any extra noodles can be chopped for soup or stir fry)

Whisk ricotta, egg, salt and peppers together in a large mixing bowl until combined.  Stir in parsley and cheese until well combined.

Spread a generous 1/4 cup cheese mixture evenly onto each cooked lasagna noodle, roll up jellyroll style and place on waxed paper while you make the sauce. If you wish to make ahead and freeze, assemble as instructed with sauce,  cover with foil and cook at 400 F. degrees (not 375) for 45 minutes, uncover and cook another 12 - 15 minutes)

Pesto Alfredo sauce

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic roasted and minced
dash of nutmeg
1 and 3/4 cups heavy cream
3 Tablespoons cream cheese or cooking creme (if you don't have any, increase heavy cream to 2 cups)
1/4 heaping teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (if you grate it yourself it's smoother than the pre-grated for some reason)
2 teaspoons parsley
1/2 heaping cup mozzarella cheese
1 recipe homemade pesto, or 3 Tablespoons of store pesto in a jar or one package Knorr Pesto sauce mix (in the seasoning aisle), prepared as directed with oil and water.

Melt butter and olive oil  in medium sized pan over medium/low heat.

Add the garlic, cream, and cream cheese, bringing mixture to a simmer, stirring frequently.

Add the Parmesan cheese, nutmeg, parsley and pesto and simmer sauce for 8-10 minutes or until sauce has thickened and is smooth.

When sauce has thickened add the Mozzarella cheese and stir constantly until smooth.   If it's too thick add a tablespoon of milk or chicken stock.

While this cooks (3-5 minutes) quickly saute about 1/3 of a bag of fresh spinach in a pan very lightly brushed with olive oil and a dash of garlic powder until wilted (use only a minimum of oil or a non stick cooking spray, you don't want extra oil).

Remove Alfredo sauce from heat and add spinach.  Pour a cup into the bottom of a cooking pan.  Place 4-8 lasagna bundles seam side down (I cooked five so there was lots of yummy sauce left). Pour remainder of sauce over lasagna bundles and tent lightly with foil (should not touch sauce).  Bake in preheated 375 F. degree oven for 35 minutes.  Stir sauce around bundles before serving.

Homemade Pesto (can make up to four days ahead, put just enough EVOO on top to cover and keep from drying out).

1 cup fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
2 garlic cloves
1/3 cup olive oil (use really good quality oil)
1 cup grated Parmesan

Finely chop basil, pine nuts and garlic in a food  processor. With machine running, gradually add olive oil through feed tube and process until smooth. Mix in 1/2 Parmesan. Transfer to a small jar, cover and keep in fridge, drain off excess oil before adding it to alfredo sauce.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins

  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Egg Whites
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 cups Almond Flour
  • 1/2 tsp plus one pinch baking powder (check date, make sure it's fresh)
  •  two dashes of salt
  • 1 Tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar (I used Braggs, it's definitely the best)
  • 1 and 1/4 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil 
  • 1/8 tsp. of  your favorite baking spice (I used a premade mixture of 2 kinds of cinnamon, anise seed, allspice, mace and cardamon)
  • 1/8 tsp. of grated orange zest
  • 1 Cup Blueberries (I used the large ones, a mixture of large duke, bluecrop and bluejay)
  • Directions:
    Pre-heat oven to 350 F. and spray muffin with with non stick spray.

    Place all ingredients, excluding blueberries, in a food processor or blender and pulse until smooth, stirring occasionally and scraping down the sides between pulses (about 20-30 seconds total)

    Once completely mixed, fold in blueberries which you have first tossed in a teaspoon or so of almond flour so the juice doesn't turn the batter too purple. Sprinkle muffins with a tiny bit of sugar and bake for 25 minutes, just until the edges are barely turning brown.  Cool on a wire rack. Makes 9 large, or 12 medium sized muffins.

    Friday, September 21, 2007

    Maple Bourbon Walnut Pie

    Maple Bourbon Walnut Pie

    1 pie crust -  unbaked

    2  and 1/4 cups walnut halves (chop some of them smaller)
    1 Tablespoon honey
    1 generous teaspoon butter
    nice pinch of cayenne pepper

    melt butter in fry pan on medium, add remaining ingredients and  heat and stir until the nuts are lightly coated and the honey is starting to crystalize a bit.  Remove from heat, let cool slightly and place in unbaked pie shell

    In a medium bowl whisk until light and blended:
    4 extra large eggs
    2 Tablespoons lemon juice
    3/4 cup real maple syrup
    1/2 teaspoon plus 1 pinch Cinnamon
    2 Tablespoons Bourbon
    1/4 teaspoon sea salt
    2 teaspoons Penzey's Mexican vanilla
    1/8 teaspoon orange zest (the thin orange covering of an orange, grated)

    Pour over walnut mixture and bake in 375 degree F oven for 30-32 minutes, until solid in the center.  Cool for 30 minutes and serve with whipped cream

    Tuesday, September 18, 2007

    Grand Marnier Glazed Blueberry Scones


    Preheat oven to 400 F.

    In a cereal bowl mix and let sit 15 minutes:

    1/2 cup wild blueberries (thawed, rinsed and allowed to dry on a paper towel first to keep them from turning your dough blue)
    3 Tablespoons Grand Marnier

    In a large dry bowl mix:

    2 cups (9 ounces) cake flour (less gluten than other flour making for a light scone) (

    tip: weighing your flour makes a huge difference in pastry recipes

    1 Tbsp baking powder

    Tip:  Baking powder is viable for about 2 years, but only when it is kept dry, and at room temperature. Never store your baking powder over the sink (humidity) or the stove (heat).

    3 Tbsp plus 1 teaspoon sugar
    1/2 tsp salt
    5 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, quartered lengthwise, and then diced into 1/2 cubes
    3/4 cup heavy cream
    1 egg
    1 and 1/2  tsp. of vanilla

    With a pastry blender, a couple of knives or your fingers, mix the flour,  3 Tbsp. sugar, baking powder and salt until  until the mixture resembles course meal in a large dry bowl. (you want some remaining oatmeal sized butter bits, that makes them nice and tender).  Add the blueberries, which you have drained, reserving the Grand Marnier)

    In another small bowl whisk:

     egg, vanilla and heavy cream until blended.

    Make a slight well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in cream mixture, mixing the dough by hand just until down the dough is  moist and slightly holding together (it should not look like a ball of dough but should be fairly loose)

    Transfer this mess carefully to a floured cutting board or clean counter top and knead the dough for about 5-10 seconds (flatten it out, then fold it over on itself, about 5-6 times).  This will turn your sticky mess into a workable dough.

    Gently pat out into a 8 inch round, about 1/2 tall, cutting into 8 wedges (do NOT separate) Brush with a teaspoon or two of cream and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of sugar, bake until lightly browned 17-20 minutes.

    While still warm drizzle with

    Grand Marnier Glaze (prepare while they bake)

    add Grand Marnier.to any drained from the blueberries to make  a total of 2 Tablespoons
    Mix with the zest of a small orange, finely chopped, and allow to sit for  a few minutes so the orange peel releases it's oil
    1 tsp of orange juice
    a drop of vanilla
    1 cup confectioners sugar

    Whisk until combined and set aside to frost warmed scones as desired. (If you have any left, use on muffins or quick bread such as banana)

    Serve with butter and some good tea.

    Monday, September 17, 2007

    Crockpot Pork with Hot Bacon Potato Salad

     Golden Pork Steaks

    1 can Campbells golden mushroom soup
    1/2 can water
    1 small or 1/2 large sweet onion sliced thin
    1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
    2 dashes hot pepper sauce (I used Scoville Brothers Heavy Metal Heat)
    1/2  teaspoon Janes Krazy  Mixed Up Salt (a mix of salt and herbs, if you don't have, use a fairly low sodium salt/herb blend as the soup is high in sodium)
    1 heaping teaspoon dried basil
    1 Tablespoon brown sugar
    2 -3 large pork steaks

    Dice onions and place in bottom of crock pot.  Top with meat. Sprinkle with Krazy Salt.  Mix other ingredients in bowl and pour over meat.  Cover and cook on low for 7-8  hours. Also excellent over noodles or rice for an inexpensive meal.

    Hot Potato Salad

    2  pounds red potatoes, quartered
    2 tablespoons olive oil (if roasting potatoes)
    7-8  slices of good quality smoked bacon
    1 clove garlic,
    1/2 sweet onion, minced
    4 Tablespoons Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar (or wine vinegar)

    1 tablespoon grainy mustard
    2 teaspoons honey
    1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
    black pepper to taste

    Parsley and/or  sliced green onion for topping (optional)

    Peel, quarter and boil the potatoes until done but still a little firm (18-20 min). Even easier, don't peel and  roast them skin on at 375 degrees for 25 minutes tossed with a couple tablespoons of olive oil. (potatoes done when knife pierces potato easily).  The boiled potatoes will absorb more of the dressing, but the roasted potatoes have a nice firm bite and texture,  both are excellent.

    While potatoes cook, add the bacon to a fry pan  until just slightly crispy.  Remove from pan and remove some of the drippings if needed (you want at least 1/4 cup remaining)    Add onions, garlic and honey to remaining bacon drippings and cook over low until the onion is soft and golden with  the sugar from the honey starting to caramelize them well  lowering heat and stirring often to prevent garlic from burning.  Remove with slotted spoon and add to bacon. Add vinegar, mustard, and seasoning  to pan drippings and cook over low/medium, whisking well for 2-3 minutes until bubbly.  Add onions and bacon back in, reducing heat to keep warm and toss with boiled or roasted potatoes.

    Serve with pork and green beans.