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Archive for January, 2010

Special Delivery: Spinach Lasagna

January 25, 2010 Leave a comment

The other day I was looking through a baby photo album with my oldest daughter and we were skipping down memory lane about her birth.  A few days after her arrival, visitors were swarming around the house like a SWAT team, ready to sneak a peek at my baby girl and offer any help.  And then there was the food.  I have to admit the barrage of meals that came neatly packaged and ready to go were priceless when you are sore and sleep deprived.  One of my favorites was from a dear friend of over fifteen years.  Nancy made us a killer spinach lasagna that bowled us over and fed us for days.

The simplicity of this recipe makes it great for cooking it for others and I have made it many times over for new parents. I think having all that iron in the spinach is good for a postpartum mother since their body is sure out of whack after experiencing “Nature’s Miracle”.  This recipe literally takes not even 15 minutes to prepare, since you don’t boil the noodles. I do suggest to give the lasagna at least 15-20 minutes to rest so it will not be watery.

Now fast forward over seven years and two other children later, the helping hands are not as eager and plenty.   I sometimes make two smaller pans of lasagna and freeze one uncooked.  When life gets crazy busy, I can just thaw a pan, pop it in the oven and poof, it’s a dinner that delivers.

Spinach Lasagna
Serves 8

1 Package of lasagna noodles
1 lb. ricotta cheese
4 cups shredded mozzarella
2 eggs (although 1 egg works just fine too)
1 1/2 packages of fresh spinach
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
4 cups (or two medium-sized jars) of your favorite pasta sauce (I like the Trader Joe’s Basil Marinara)

In large bowl, mix ricotta, 2 cups mozzarella, eggs, salt and pepper. Add spinach and mix well. In greased 9 x 13 pan, create layers of uncooked noodles, cheese mixture and sauce. Use all the ingredients. Sprinkle remaining 2 cups of mozzarella on top. Make sure all noodle edges are covered with sauce or they will become hard. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Let stand for 15 minutes and then cut and serve.

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Biscuit Topped Vegetable Pot Pie – No Sneakiness Needed

January 19, 2010 5 comments

I know I might offend some people (Mrs. Jerry Seinfeld) with this concept, but I don’t get the idea of sneaking vegetables into food.  Understandably, there are kids that just don’t wander beyond the comfort zone of mac and cheese and chicken nuggets.  Kids rely on the tried and true, and their taste palettes just aren’t developed like yours or mine.  Some parents claim the only way their kids will eat any vegetables is to puree them and dump them into other foods.  I get it.  I really do.  I have friends that do the same thing.  From time to time, for me it’s an acceptable practice for the child who doesn’t eat.  But on a day-to-day basis, I am not so sure.   Studies show that it takes introducing a vegetable over TEN times for a child to become receptive to the food.   I think what peeves me about the sneaking, is that it is deceiving your children of how delicious vegetables can be.  Kids trust their parents and know more than we think.   That’s why when I came across this Moosewood recipe for Biscuit Topped Vegetable Pot Pie, I thought it would be a great way to have the kids see their veggies in a tasty, healthy one-dish dinner.  And come on, who doesn’t like biscuits?

  

Moosewood’s Pot Pie
serves 6

Ingredients:
Veggies

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped onions
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 4-5 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 cups peeled and chopped sweet potatoes
  • 2 cups chopped potatoes
  • 2 cups peeled and chopped parsnips (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 cups water or stock
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch, dissolved in
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 cup green peas
  • 1 cup corn kernel
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Biscuit Topping

  • 2 cups unbleached white flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill (1 tsp dried)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400.  Lightly oil a 9 x 13 casserole dish.  Warm the oil in a large pot, add onions & garlic, cover and cook on medium heat for 10 to 12 min, stirring occasionally. Add the salt, thyme, marjoram, mushrooms and mustard. Cook till the mushrooms start to release their juices, about 5 minutes. 

Add the sweet potatoes, white potatoes, parsnips, black pepper and water, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 – 20 min, until the vegetables are tender. Stir the dissolved corn starch mixture into the simmering vegetables, stirring constantly. When the liquid starts to thicken, mix in the peas, corn, soy sauce and salt. Pour the vegetables into the prepared dish and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. In a separate bowl mix together the melted butter and buttermilk or yogurt. Combine the wet and dry ingredients in as few strokes as possible to make a soft dough. Drop the biscuit batter over the vegetables in the casserole dish in six equal mounds. Sprinkle the dill over the biscuits.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center of a biscuit comes out clean. Serve immediately.   

Make a donation to Red Cross International Relief Fund, for the victims in Haiti and for other natural disasters

January 14, 2010 Leave a comment

I am currently working on a post, but in light of recent events in Haiti, I thought that this deserved more attention.  I used to work for the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago, so I understand the need for aid.  By clicking the picture you can make a secure, online donation to the Red Cross to help victims of the earthquake in Haiti and for other natural disasters.  Thank you very much.

Karen

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Kale to the Chief (of Veggies) – Barley Stew with Leeks, Mushrooms, and Kale

January 7, 2010 3 comments

It’s been an off-week at the Rocks’ household. 

Monday:  I had a good day and was all excited for dinner – Lemon Sole w/Sautéed Greens and Roasted Beets.  Simple and tasty.  However, upon opening up the fish I realized dinner would be not be the dining experience I was hoping for.  I grew up fishing and have been around my fair share of fish.  This fish I had opened up was the most rank, foul-smelling, beyond fishy smell I have ever been around.  After abusing the noses of myself and my very vocal children, a decision was made.   Out for Mexican.

Tuesday:  After going out for dinner on Monday we got home and flipped on Good Eats with Alton Brown.  While I could do without the cheesy acting, I do like Alton’s recipes and the science of cooking.  He had on a very simple recipe for salmon.  I had some sockeye in the freezer and decided to have Jaws II on the menu for Tuesday.  Let’s just say after putting the fish under the broiler, it got a little over-carmelized.  It was still edible, but Alton would not have been pleased.

Wednesday:  On the menu – leftovers.  I hate leftovers, but restaurant leftovers from Monday were there, so I was fine.  However, why do restaurant leftovers taste better than homemade leftovers?  Is it just me?   

Thursday:  Finally a meal that comes together…a new recipe from Bon Appetit (Dec 09).   Barley Stew with Leeks, Mushrooms, and Kale really hit the spot.  I have been on a kale binge lately, in trying to eat with the season.  The kids really liked the barley too. so it was a good all-skate dish.  I love the nutty taste of the kale (I used Tuscan kale), along with the heartiness of the barley and mushrooms.  And if you are into that kind of thing, kale has one of the highest levels of antioxidants of any vegetable.  Easy and simple and didn’t involve fish – I was pleased.  I would give it a 8/10.

*Did anyone make the Sweet Onion Beggar’s Purses for New Year’s Eve?  I promised to follow up with you on my adventure cooking them for  New Year’s Eve.  Overall they were quite tasty, however I think you would max out at eating only 2-3 per person.  I gave up tying the chives around after baking, for once you took off the string, they held fine together on their own.  I would highly recommend these for a formal dinner party or if you are looking for a savory bite that will stand out in an appetizer line-up.