Friday, July 22, 2011

Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

We have a beautiful garden, my husband totally has a green thumb. It is producing squash like CRAZY! So I have started to get creative. That is where this recipe comes in. It is totally vegetarian because when you have gorgeous veggies in your back yard who would want to go to the store? I just used what I had. I will tell you what veggies I used but really, the *options are endless!

Roasted Vegetable Lasagna
(about 9 servings)

1 medium zucchini, sliced
1 medium yellow squash, sliced
2 tomatoes, quartered
1 medium onion, sliced
6-8 cloves of garlic
1 red bell pepper, sliced
extra virgin olive oil
salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
no-boil lasagna noodles
24-oz small curd cottage cheese
2-3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
32-oz marinara sauce, homemade or your favorite store bought brand
fresh spinach

Turn your oven on to broil. Cut your veggies and place them on a cookie sheet. Leave the peel on the garlic cloves while you roast them. Drizzle the veggies with the olive oil then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss them with your hands to coat evenly. Place under the broiler for about 15-20 minutes, stirring halfway through. They are done when they start to look dark brown (but not burned) on the edges. Remove the peels from the garlic and finely chop. I like to remove the tomato skins as well. Chop tomatoes and red bell peppers into chunks. Place these back on the cookie sheet and toss to mix.

To assemble:

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9x13 inch pan with cooking spray. Put a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of the pan.  Then put a layer of noodles followed by a layer of cottage cheese, then a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese and finally a layer of roasted veggies.  Top the veggies with sauce and start the process over again.  You will want to divide all ingredients into 3 equal portions because that is how many layers you will make.  The top layer will be sauce and then mozzarella cheese.  Cover the whole thing with foil and bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes.  Allow the lasagna to sit for 10-20 minutes before serving to let it set.  (I was obviously to excited to let mine set before I served it!) We LOVE to serve ours on a bed of fresh spinach, the spinach gets slightly wilted but not over cooked this way.  It is so good!

*You could also use carrots, mushrooms, kale, etc...
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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Quick French Baguettes

Bread is one of my favorite things to make. There is just something magical about the fresh baked bread smell filling your house. I also love quick bread recipes, because lets be honest, I am not a very good planner. That is what makes this bread so great! It can literally be done in half an hour! I know, I didn't believe it myself. And to top it off, it is really good bread. So next time you are out of time and need bread in a hurry, this is your go to recipe! I found the original recipe here.

Quick French Baguettes
(2 good sized baguettes)

2 cups very warm water (not hot)
2 1/4 t yeast
2 T honey
1 1/2 t salt
3-4 cups flour

Preheat oven to 425. In a large bowl, whisk together warm water, yeast and honey. Set the bowl on top of the preheating oven for 10 minutes. Stir in the salt and add the flour 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough becomes soft but not sticky. Knead the dough until elastic.

Cut the dough into4 even pieces. Roll each piece into a long, thin rope. Twist together 2 of the ropes to form one loaf. Repeat with the other 2 ropes to form the second loaf. Transfer both onto a large baking sheet covered with parchment paper.

You can now bake the loaves right away (if you are in a hurry) or allow them to rise for an additional 15-30 minutes on top of your warm oven.

Now for the secret: Fill a large bowl with 3-4 cups of ice cubes. Open your oven and place the baking sheet with the baguettes inside, then toss the ice cubes on the *bottom of your oven and quickly shut the door. DO NOT open the door for 15 minutes. Bake until golden brown 15-18 minutes. Rub the tops with melted butter as soon as they come out of the oven.

*I have a gas oven, when I put the ice on the bottom of the oven it leaked out and made a mess of water on my floor. I suggest putting foil or a second baking sheet on the bottom of your oven to toss the ice onto.
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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Blueberry Crisp

Last week we went on this AMAZING family reunion to a beautiful lake in Missouri called Table Rock Lake. We wound far back into rolling green hills and quaint farms to our cabins on the lake.  It was secluded, beautiful, relaxing and wonderful.  There was a you-pick berry farm a few miles away that we frequented throughout the week, coming back with blueberries and blackberries to garnish everything.  While at this farm we had a big bowl of the most delicious Blueberry Crisp with a huge scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.  We were in blueberry heaven!  So when we got home, we just knew we couldn't wait until our next family reunion to get more of that amazing crisp.  I set out finding a recipe to rival it.  After looking through a million different recipe, I decided I would just give it a try with all the parts I loved the most.  This recipe is what I came up with, and yes, it rivals the one we had at that berry farm!
Besides, July is national Blueberry month, so go get some blueberries!

Blueberry Crisp
(6 servings)

4 cups FRESH blueberries (I guess you could use frozen if you absolutely can not find fresh ones)
1 T fresh lemon juice
1 T cornstarch
1/4 cup sugar 
3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 t cinnamon
4 T butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup quick oats
1/2 cup pecans, chopped 
1 t vanilla
a dash of nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375. Grease a 9x9 inch square pan or 2-quart baking dish.

Mix together the cornstarch and lemon juice and toss with the blueberries.  Spread these evenly into the prepared pan.

In a bowl, using a pastry blender or fork (I just use my hands), mix together the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon,nutmeg, butter, oats, vanilla, and pecans until combined and crumbly.  Sprinkle evenly over the blueberries in the pan.  

Bake for about 30 minutes until the top is golden brown and the blueberries are bubbling.  Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Gnocchi with Marinara and Fresh Spinach

Gnocchi is the Italian word for dumpling. These have been a favorite of my husbands for a long time.  So when we went to a great little restaurant near us for dinner he ordered this fabulous Gnocchi dish with marinara sauce and fresh spinach.  We both liked it so much we decided to try our hand at recreating it.  It was sooo good!  Just as good as the original!  The Gnocchi recipe we found on Food Network.

Gnocchi with Marinara and Fresh Spinach
(4 servings)

kosher salt (optional)
1 pound russet potatoes
3-4 large egg yolks
1/2 fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 t nutmeg
1/2 t salt
1/4 t fresh ground black pepper
1 cup flour, plus more for dusting
1 recipe Garden Fresh Pasta Sauce or your favorite store bought brand
Fresh spinach
chicken sausage (optional)
fresh grated Parmesan Cheese

Preheat oven to 425.

Spread a layer of kosher salt on a baking sheet and arrange potatoes on top.  Bake until a bit over cooked (about 45 minutes).  Let sit until cool enough to handle, cut in half, and scoop out the insides.

Grate the potatoes on the large holes of a box grater.  You should have about 2 cups.  Make a mound of the potatoes on the counter with a well in the middle.  Add the 3 eggs, salt, pepper, nutmeg and cheese to the well.  Mix well with your hands. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the flour over the potatoes and, using your knuckles, press it into the potatoes.  Fold the mass over on itself and press down again.  Sprinkle on more flour, little by little folding and pressing the dough until it holds together (try not to knead it, this will make the gnocchi tough). Work any dough on your fingers back into the dough.  If the mixture is too dry, add another egg yolk or a little water.  The dough should give under light pressure.  It will feel firm but yielding.  To test if the dough is the right consistency, take a piece and roll it with your hands on a well-floured board into a rope 1/2 inch in diameter.  If the dough holds together, it is ready.  If not, add more flour, fold and press the dough several more times and then test again.

On a floured surface, cut the dough into 4 equal pieces.  Roll each piece into a rope about 1/2 inch thick. Cut into 1/2 in long pieces.  Lightly flour the gnocchi as you cut them.  You can cook these as us or form them into the classic Gnocchi shape using the times of the back side of a fork.  We watched this YouTube Video and it made it way easier.

Lightly four the Gnocchi as you shape them and then place them on a parchment covered cookie sheet.  If you will not be cooking the Gnocchi now, you can freeze them for a later use.

When ready to cook, bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt.  Drop the Gnocchi into the boiling water and cook for about 90 seconds from the time they rise to the surface. Drain the Gnocchi.

Place some Gnocchi in a bowl or on a plate.  Top with fresh spinach, then sauce and finally shredded Parmesan and chicken sausage if desired.  The heat of the Gnocchi and the sauce will slightly cook the spinach leaving a slight crisp to it.  Delish!

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