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Monthly Archives: March 2012

Lasagna- No Boil

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Does anyone remember when Garfield was on the air? I remember waking up on Saturday mornings and crawling into my parents’ bed with my sister to watch Saturday morning cartoons. We didn’t have cable and cartoon channels weren’t a thing for us. Garfield was a family favorite. You know you secretly wanted to be him. I will freely admit that I find being fat, lazy, and snarky tantalizing. Alas, it doesn’t seem to be in the cards as it is apparently a bad career move. I suppose it wouldn’t be good for my marriage either. But, like Garfield, I can take down a whole lot of lasagna.

This recipe is incredibly simple AND you don’t have to boil the noodles. I know that I shouldn’t think boiling noodles is a big deal but anything that saves a few dishes is for me. I like to swap out half the ground beef for ground pork and you could swap out the cottage cheese for ricotta if you are a purist. Just a thought. Also, if you like this recipe save it because it comes from a tattered old recipe of my mother’s and I have no idea where else it can be found.

Lasagna

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground beef (or half beef and half pork)
  • 1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½  teaspoon basil leaves
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups cottage cheese
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • 8 uncooked lasagna noodles
  • 2 cups mozzarella, shredded

Brown meat, drain. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, spices and water. Simmer 15 minutes. Combine cottage cheese, parmesan cheese, egg and parsley. In an 11×7 pan put 1 ½ cups sauce, top with 4 noodles, ½ the cottage cheese mixture, half the mozzarella and 1 cup more of the sauce. Top with other 4 noodles, remaining cheese mixture, mozzarella and sauce. Cook at 350 degrees covered with foil (shiny side down) for 60-70 minutes. Let stand 10-15 minutes.

French Bread

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Have you ever noticed that the greatest things in the world are usually the simplest? Leonardo DaVinci said it better when he said “simplicity is the ultimate in sophistication.” Proof? French Bread. There really isn’t a whole lot in French Bread but there aren’t many things more incredible than a fresh loaf. I attempted to make Irish Soda Bread to go with my corned beef and cabbage to serve at our vestry retreat last Saturday. Unfortunately, the loaf turned out ugly and I refused to serve it. Don’t get me wrong, it tasted great but I don’t like to serve ugly food to people I’m bribing to do the hard work of a full-day vestry retreat. But French Bread? It’s fool proof, delicious, and gorgeous! Next time I’ll ignore that it is St. Patrick’s Day and serve the French bread anyway.

French Bread

Ingredients

  •             1 1/4 cups water (70 to 80 degrees F)
  •             2 teaspoons sugar
  •             1 teaspoon salt
  •             3 1/2 cups bread flour
  •             1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  •             1 tablespoon olive oil
  •             1 tablespoon cornmeal
  •             1 egg
  •             1 tablespoon water

In bread machine pan, place the first five ingredients in the order suggested by the manufacturer. Select dough setting (check dough after 5 minutes of mixing; add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water or flour if needed, add olive oil).

When cycle is completed, turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide in half. Roll each portion into a 10-in. x 8-in. rectangle. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a long side; pinch seams to seal.

Sprinkle a greased baking sheet with cornmeal; place loaves seam side down on prepared pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 20 minutes.

Whisk egg and water; brush over loaves. With a sharp knife, make four shallow slashes across the top of each loaf. Bake at 375 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks.

Orange We Gonna Stop MS? -Orange Chocolate Cupcakes

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Every year after Christmas I make a mad rush to the grocery store. Not to return gifts but to snatch up the heavily discounted Terry’s Chocolate Oranges. You know, the “whack and unwrap” chocolate oranges? I love the flavor combination of chocolate and orange, but in baking you really don’t see all that many recipes for this flavor combination. I did some digging for this recipe specifically for orange week.

These cupcakes have a deep, dark chocolate flavor that I paired with a chocolate ganache frosting. To continue the orange flavor I just added some orange zest to the ganache. It is impossible to not try at least one right away but the flavor deepens and melds if you stash the cupcakes in the fridge for a day and let them mature.

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 orange

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners; set aside. Sift together cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Add eggs, orange juice, buttermilk, oil, vanilla and zest, and mix until smooth, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl to assure batter is well mixed.

Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full. Bake until tops spring back when touched, about 18 minutes, rotating pan once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.

Orange Sour Cream Ganache Frosting

Melt:

  • 10 ounces semi-sweet chocolate

Then stir in:

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • A pinch of salt
  • Zest of one orange

Spread onto completely cooled cake. I just dipped the cupcakes into the frosting.

Orange We Gonna Stop MS? -Orange Marmalade Cake

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We had an absolutely beautiful day here in Iowa. Sun shining and 70-degree weather. I had Border Collies sunning on our deck all day. Who could blame them? I know the weather won’t last but I took advantage to break out the grill. Also, I made a fantastic cake. Orange week continues with this cake. This cake recipe comes from The Mitford Series by Jan Karon. Is it weird that an Episcopal priest enjoys this series of books? Well, I do. I won’t tell you that this is exactly how parish life plays out but trust me, there are some similarities. For instance, I have a big, black dog and I love this cake.

This cake takes a little time because it has a few steps but they are all well worth it. If you like orange at all or you need a cake that induces thoughts of springtime here you go.

 Orange Marmalade Cake

Ingredients:

For the Cake:

  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) softened unsalted butter
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature, beaten lightly
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

For the Orange Syrup:

  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

For the Filling:

  • 1 cup orange marmalade

For the Frosting:

  • 3/4 cup well-chilled heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 cup well-chilled sour cream

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Prepare two 9-inch round cake pans (I just line my pans with parchment paper. It saves a lot of time and a lot of mess and your cakes come out perfectly).

In a bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, and salt. In a mixer, beat the butter until combined, add the sugar, a little at a time, and beat the mixture until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, orange zest, and vanilla. Beat in 1/3 of the dry ingredients alternately with 1/2 of the buttermilk until combined well. Add half the remaining dry ingredients and the remaining buttermilk and beat until combined well. Finally, beat in the remaining dry ingredients until mixture is smooth.

Evenly divide the batter between the pans. Bake for 45 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to racks and cool in the pans for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the orange syrup: In a bowl, stir together the orange juice and sugar until sugar is dissolved. With a toothpick or wooden skewer, poke holes at 1/2-inch intervals in the cake layers and spoon the syrup over each layer, allowing the syrup to be completely absorbed before adding the remaining. Let layers cool completely.

Microwave the marmalade until just melted. Let cool 5 minutes.

In a bowl, whisk the heavy cream with the sugar until it forms firm peaks. Add the sour cream, a little at a time, and whisk until of spreading consistency.

Arrange one of the layers on a cake plate, carefully peel off the waxed paper, and then spread 2/3 of the marmalade over the top, smoothing it into an even layer. Invert the remaining layer onto the top of the first layer. Frost the cake with whipped cream. If desired, use the remaining marmalade for a garnish. Chill 2 hours before serving.

Orange We Gonna Stop MS? -Orange Poppyseed Muffins

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So, what is MS? According to the National MS Society, “Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, unpredictable disease of the central nervous system (the brain, optic nerves, and spinal cord). It is thought to be an autoimmune disorder. This means the immune system incorrectly attacks the person’s healthy tissue. MS can cause blurred vision, loss of balance, poor coordination, slurred speech, tremors, numbness, extreme fatigue, problems with memory and concentration, paralysis, blindness and more. These problems may be permanent or may come and go. MS is as unique as the individual. MS affects more than 400,000 people in the U.S. and 2.1 million worldwide.” If I were that lucky in everything, I’d play the lottery! For me personally, MS can cause fatigue, difficulty walking, and vision changes. As one person said with great sensitivity and empathy; I look like “a drunken mule.” I’ll make another plug for the National MS Society. Go check out the website to learn more about this disease and how we can fight it.

Orange recipe for today: Orange Poppy Seed Muffins! You’d be hard-pressed to find anything easier to bake than quick breads and few things make your home smell more heavenly. I wasn’t about to squeeze a fresh orange for this recipe (and orange juice was on sale) so I substituted the stuff in the carton. One orange will produce about ¼ cup of juice.

Orange Poppy Seed Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (I omitted this because I used salted butter)
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 1 Tablespoon poppy seeds

For the glaze:

  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Prepare a muffin pan. Melt 1/2 cup of butter and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, blend orange zest and sugar. Mix until fragrant.  Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and poppy seeds.  Mix until well blended.

In a separate bowl whisk together sour cream, eggs, vanilla, orange juice, and melted butter until well blended.  Pour liquid mixture over the dry ingredients.  Gently stir until just combined.  Do not over mix.

Spoon into prepared muffin pan.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15 – 18 minutes, or until golden brown and cake tester comes out clean.

While the muffins are baking, make the glaze by whisking together the powdered sugar and 3 tablespoons orange juice until smooth.

Remove muffins from pan, place on a cooling rack with a cookie sheet beneath to catch the overspill.  Allow to cool for a few minutes before dipping each muffin into the glaze.

Orange We Gonna Stop MS? – Creamsicle Fudge

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Guess what this week is? MS Awareness Week! Oh, you didn’t know there was an MS Awareness Week? Well, now you do. Next question. Do you know the MS Awareness color? Orange! Honestly, I really don’t like the color orange but I guess all the good colors were already taken. I don’t think I even have anything orange in my closet. So, rather than wear orange we’ll just make a whole week of orange flavored recipes, how’s that? Also, take some time to go check out the website for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Do you remember the Creamsicles of your youth? It’s March and unless you are a die-hard (or you live somewhere warmer than Iowa) you probably aren’t craving a popsicle. That’s okay you can still have that fun flavor without getting the brain freeze! All in all, this is a simple recipe and I say go for it. I didn’t have marshmallow cream and I was too lazy to pick it up at the store so I melted a bag of marshmallows with some corn syrup. For the record, it works but it makes some pretty messy dishes. I found this sweet little recipe (and I mean sweet) while meandering around Pinterest.

Creamsicle Fudge

  • 6 ounces (1.5 sticks) butter
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 package (12 oz) white chocolate chips
  • 1 jar (7 oz) marshmallow cream (I melted 1 bag of mini marshmallows with 1/5 cup corn syrup)
  • 1 tablespoon orange extract
  • orange (or a combination of red and yellow) food coloring

Prepare a 13×9 pan by lining it with aluminum foil and spraying the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, cream, and butter over medium heat. Continually stir the mixture until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves. Bring the mixture to a boil, and once it starts boiling, stir continuously for four minutes. After four minutes of boiling, remove the pan from the heat and immediately stir in the marshmallow cream and white chocolate chips. Stir until the white chocolate has melted and the fudge is completely smooth.

Working quickly, pour about a third of the white fudge into a bowl and set aside. To the remaining fudge, add the orange extract and orange food coloring, stirring until it is a smooth, even color. It is important to perform these steps quickly, because the fudge will start to set if you take too long, and the end result will not be smooth Pour the orange fudge into the prepared pan and spread it into an even layer. Drop the white fudge over the top by the spoonful, then drag a table knife or toothpick through the fudge to create orange-white swirls. You can spray your hands with nonstick cooking spray and gently press them into the top to smooth out the swirls, if desired.

Allow the fudge to set at room temperature for 2 hours, or in the refrigerator for 1 hour. To cut, pull the fudge out of the pan using the foil as handles. Use a large sharp knife to cut the fudge into small 1-inch squares.

Carrot Cupcakes

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I’ve had a pretty mean craving for carrot cupcakes lately. What’s not to love? Dessert that counts as a vegetable! While scrounging in my fridge I came across a bag of baby carrots that I didn’t know existed. Clearly, this was a sign from the divine creator that I was meant to have carrot cupcakes! And kids, when God speaks, I listen. Usually.

This is a very versatile carrot cake recipe and you could do this as a 9×13, a layer cake, a bundt cake or just about anything else. I happen to like cupcakes so here we are. Having said that you’ll need to vary your baking time a bit if you want one of the other cakes. I love this cream cheese frosting recipe but if you go with a layer cake you’ll have to use a different recipe. This frosting is pretty loose, making it perfect for cupcakes or a 9×13 but not great for a layer cake. Another thing, don’t get lazy and use bagged carrot shreds, shred them yourself with a box grater or a food processor (second only to the Kitchen Aid Mixer, greatest invention EVER).

This recipe comes from my America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook which is the first place I go hunting for recipes. They are always spot-on and they have lots of little tips and tricks.

Carrot Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound carrots, shredded (if you use baby carrots you won’t have to peel them)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare cupcake pans (recipe makes about 24). Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt in large bowl; set aside. Mix granulated and brown sugars and eggs until frothy and thoroughly combined, about 20 seconds. While mixing, add oil in steady stream. Mix until light in color and emulsified, about 20 seconds. Stir in carrots and dry ingredients until incorporated and no streaks of flour remain. Pour into prepared pans and bake until toothpick comes out clean, about 30 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking time. Cool cakes on wire racks before frosting (at least an hour).

Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar

In food processor, process cream cheese, butter, sour cream, and vanilla until combined, about 5 seconds, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Add confectioners’ sugar and process until smooth, about 10 seconds.