Monthly Archives: July 2014

Turkey Sausage and Spinach Lasagna

I don’t know what has happened to me but I think I’ve turned into a little girl again getting all giddy every time Frozen comes on television. The past couple of weekends, I’ve been getting ready to cook some food and scroll through the tv stations for background noise only to find Frozen on one of the cable channels. When I see it’s on, I can’t help but turn it on. And yes, I sing at the top of my lungs. Frozen has become one of those movies I turn on whenever it’s on. I’m even pretty darn close to downloading it. I mean, I have a niece who turns six on Friday so I should at least download it so I have it available for her to watch when she visits, right? It only seems like the right thing to do. Anyway, one dish I made while belting out Let It Go was this Turkey Sausage and Spinach Lasagna.

Hot turkey sausage, fresh spinach, shallots and garlic are the basis of this lasagna which is layered with no-boil lasagna noodles, ricotta cheese, and a béchamel white sauce. Topped with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, this tomato-less lasagna is creamy, a little spicy, and a lot flavorful. It makes six servings so this is a great meal for a family or easy to portion control for lunches or dinner leftovers. Maybe you won’t feel like making lasagna during the summer but after watching Frozen for the umpteenth time, I felt like having a warm meal. Do you want to build a snowman?

If you like this, check out Turkey Lasagna.

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Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, milk, stock, oil and bay leaf in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring with a whisk. Cook 8 minutes or until thick and bubbly, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; stir in salt and pepper. Spread 1 cup milk mixture in bottom of an 11 x 7-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray.

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Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons water and spinach to pan; cook 2 minutes or until spinach wilts. Drain spinach, pressing until barely moist. Increase heat to medium-high. Remove casings from sausage. Add sausage to pan; cook 4 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Remove sausage from pan. Add shallots and garlic to pan; sauté 2 minutes. Stir in remaining milk mixture, spinach, and cooked sausage. Remove pan from heat.

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Arrange 2 noodles over milk mixture in baking dish; top with 1/2 cup ricotta and one-third spinach mixture. Repeat layers twice. Sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375°F for 40 minutes. Remove foil.

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Preheat broiler to high. Broil 4 minutes or until cheese is golden brown.

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Let stand 10 minutes.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:  None

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Cooking Light magazine

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Pesto Tartlets

I told myself that as of this last birthday, I was going to start eating better and really focusing on healthier eating.  The reality is, when I eat healthier, I actually feel better (duh…who knew?!).  But I know this healthier lifestyle will take some time and let’s face it, when you have a food blog, it’s not really that easy sometimes. Well, I made these Pesto Tartlets last weekend and because they are made with puff pastry, they may not be the healthiest things in the world but they are not really the worst for you either.

Puff pastry is topped with bright grape tomatoes and baked before being topped with fresh burrata (or mozzarella) and an arugula pesto.  The pesto is made with arugula, parmesan, garlic, olive oil and vinegar and has different kick than regular basil pesto.  I used about half of the olive oil called for and my pesto was plenty flavorful with a perfect consistency so use your judgement with how much oil you use. The crust is buttery, the grapes are juicy, the pesto is vibrant and the cheese is creamy which makes this tartlet a little slice of heaven.  This pesto also tastes great with pasta or chicken so save any leftovers. Looks like I’m eating fruit the rest of this week.

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In food processor, puree arugula, Parmesan, olive oil, vinegar and garlic; season.

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Put puff pastry on parchment- lined baking sheet; pierce with fork. Top with tomatoes; season. Bake at 425 degrees until crisp, 15 minutes.

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Top with burrata and pesto.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:

  • Fresh mozzarella cheese

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine

Chipotle-Mango Guac

Today is my birthday. (Sound the alarms, ring the bells, cue the horns!)

Instead of making myself a cake or cookies like my sweet tooth usually urges me to, I’m making guacamole. Okay, I know it’s not even close to a birthday cake but when it’s your birthday, you can have whatever you want. Having a birthday on a Tuesday is pretty ho-hum so you have to make do and find the little joys.  Like a blue sky, an engaging book, driving with the windows down, a good night’s sleep, central air conditioning, and a satisfying snack like this Chipotle-Mango Guac.

Avocados are mashed with lime juice before being mixed with fresh mango, spicy chipotle in adobo, and cilantro. The combination of the sweet mango with the smokiness of the chipotle work so well with the creamy avocado. This is one guacamole that I could easily sit and eat entirely at one sitting if I’m not careful. This is such a simple and amazing snack that can be made in no time. And the good thing about guacamole? It’s thick enough to hold a lit candle for a birthday wish if necessary.

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In bowl, mash avocados with lime juice. Stir in mango, onion, chipotle and cilantro; season.

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Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions: None

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine

Pear, Blue Cheese, and Bacon Pizza

Pizza, pizza, pizza. We get pizza every Friday in our office and most Fridays, I skip it and grab take out from the vendor on the corner. For someone who loves pizza, sometimes I can’t bring myself to eat plain old cheese pizza. It’s my favorite but some days, I just can’t do it. I loved the idea of this different no-tomato style pizza, Pear, Blue Cheese, and Bacon Focaccia-Style Pizza. Okay, I admit my pizza dough isn’t “focaccia-style” because I take short cuts when it comes to pizza dough. Yes, I know I can make it myself and yes, I know it will probably taste better. But let’s face it, when I want pizza, I’m not waiting hours for dough to rise. Get in my belly!

Cooked bacon (in typical fashion, I used turkey bacon), red onions and blue cheese are layers over creamy ricotta mixed with a little nutmeg for extra flavor. After baking in the oven, the pizza is topped with thin Bosc pear slices and vibrant arugula. There are so many layers of flavor in the pie. For someone who never used to eat blue cheese, I found myself enjoying the bites with blue cheese the best (I used Gorgonzola) and wished I had used more. Not feeling pears during the summer? Juicy peaches would be a great substitute. If you are having a lazy weekend day and want to make your own dough, go for it. Please let me know what I’m missing out on.

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Cook bacon in a nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan with a slotted spoon. Return pan to medium heat. Add onion to drippings; cook 4 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.

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Combine ricotta and nutmeg in a small bowl. Spread ricotta mixture over dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border; top evenly with bacon, onion mixture, and blue cheese. Brush edges of dough with remaining 1 teaspoon oil.

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Bake at 450° for 12 minutes or until edges are golden. Top pizza evenly with arugula and pear; sprinkle with pepper.

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Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions:

Overall Rating: Like It

Source: Cooking Light magazine

Sloppy Turkey and Chili Joes

I had a nice long 4-day weekend this weekend and I didn’t do much but read, relax and sleep. No, I wasn’t at the beach, or the lake, or the park, or the pool. I was home. I found myself going to Target two or three times just because I was bored and wanted someone to talk to. See, here in the Philadelphia area, people disappear in the summer. People either have a shore house or know someone who does. Or people go on their summer vacation, something I’ve been used to since growing up in Illinois (my birthday is in July and friends were always on vacation). Going into the weekend, I took a deep breath and resigned myself to the fact that I’d be riding solo all weekend. My only plans were to read and eat a turkey burger. Done and done. But once that was accomplished, I got bored again. So I started cooking these Sloppy Turkey and Chili Joes.

Ground turkey is cooked with onion and poblano pepper (one of my faves) until meat is browned and veggies are softened. Next, canned tomato sauce, a little brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, and garlic powder are added and brought to a simmer. This is such a quick and simple sloppy joe recipe that I honestly think this is my new go-to. It doesn’t require a slow-cooker or an electric skillet (what my mom used make her sloppy joes in) or a bunch of ingredients. The poblano pepper gives it a subtle bit of heat without it being too much (you can use green pepper here if you prefer) and the brown sugar gives it a mild sweetness that I like from my sloppy joes. These are messy, just the way you want them to be, so keep a lot of napkins on hand. I liked this so much that I might make another batch and eat it on some baby spinach or roasted veggies. It’s just as good when eaten with a fork.

If you like this, also check out Sweet Chili Rolls.

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In a large nonstick skillet cook ground turkey, onion, and poblano pepper until turkey is no longer pink, stirring to break up turkey as it cooks.

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Stir in tomato sauce, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, and garlic powder. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

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Place bun bottoms on serving plates; add cheese slices. Top each with turkey mixture. If desired, top with basil leaves. Add bun tops.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:

  • Monterey Jack cheese

Substitutions: None

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Better Homes & Gardens magazine

Summer Sangria

Happy 4th of July! With the recent humidity and summer thunderstorms (not to mention the random hurricane), it officially feels like summer finally. Some of us in the northeast are still dealing with cloudy and/or rainy skies on this Independence Day but since when does the weather keep us from enjoying a cocktail? This Summer Sangria is quick, simple, and packs a punch.

White wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc but Pinot Grigio would be good also) and flavored rum or vodka (I used passion fruit rum) are mixed with a  little simple syrup and fruit.  Raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries made this summer cocktail especially patriotic for the weekend but grapes, peaches, oranges, kiwi or mango would be great additions too. Basically, use any fruit, any white wine, and any flavored spirit to make this quick sangria. I hope everyone has an amazing holiday weekend and enjoys their freedom, rain or shine.

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Combine wine, rum (or vodka), fruit and simple syrup in a large pitcher. Cover and chill at least 2 hours. Add ice; serve immediately.

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Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions:

  • Strawberries and blueberries

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Coastal Living magazine

 

Orzo Salad with Peas and Feta

My 4th of July plans are pretty low key this year and I plan on curling up with a good book, a turkey burger and a cocktail. But so many people will be heading to the beach, the lake, the park, the pool or a friend’s house for fireworks and that means needing food. Maybe you’ll be having a burger like me or something else grilled. Maybe you’ll take this holiday weekend to consume as much ice cream as you can. Or maybe it’s the time to eat salads and I don’t mean the leafy green kind. I mean the potato-y, mayonnaise-y, pasta-y kind. This Orzo Salad has been a long time staple of mine which is my go-to dish whenever there is a potluck at work, a picnic or any impromptu get-together.

Quick-cooking orzo, frozen peas, and feta cheese are mixed together with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, herbs, salt and pepper. That’s it. This pasta salad is so fast to make and easy to throw together at the last minute. This salad doesn’t have a lot of ingredients so the vinegar comes through nicely without being too overpowering and the peas add a subtle sweetness which pairs so well with the pasta. I used basil instead of parsley because I had it on hand but any herb would work here. The herbs provide a bold freshness which only complements this pasta. Orzo cooks in about nine minutes so if you have a box on hand, this is something that you can pull together quickly. Give this a try anytime you need a quick side whether it’s a holiday weekend or not. I bet it’ll become your go-to recipe too.

If you like this, also check out Orzo Salad with Corn, Tomatoes, and Basil.

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Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, and toss well to coat.

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Cover bowl and chill for 1 hour.

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Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions:

  • White balsamic vinegar
  • Reduced-fat feta cheese

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Cooking Light magazine

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