Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cracked Potatoes

I picked up some beautiful, organic baby dutch yellow potatoes on Saturday. I had two recipes in mind - either a potato salad or the pan-fried smashed potatoes in the March issue of Gourmet magazine. I went with the pan-fried, actually taking the idea from Gourmet & the method from Amy Finley (remember the short-lived Gourmet Next Door on the Food Network?) They are absolutely delicious - crisp on the outside & soft on the inside. Yum!

Cracked Potatoes
15 baby yellow potatoes
1/3 cup EVOO
parmesan cheese

Crack potatoes slightly with rolling pin. Over low heat, add the olive oil to a medium-sized heavy-bottomed saucepan, then add the potatoes and season generously with salt and pepper. Place the lid on the pan and allow to cook, undisturbed, shaking the pan every 5 minutes or so, until the bottoms of the potatoes are browned, about 8-10 minutes. (Check occasionally to make sure the potatoes aren't browning too quickly.) Turn the potatoes to their second side, replace the lid, and continue cooking undisturbed a further 5 to 6 minutes.

Remove the lid and cook a further 2 to 3 minutes, for the condensation to evaporate. Place potatoes in serving bowl, top with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

*Over medium heat, my potatoes browned very quickly, so don't walk away from these.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Classic Lasagna

Lasagna - another comfort food, perfect for a damp & dreary day Sunday. I love both zucchini & spinach in lasagna, but yesterday I was in the mood for my favorite classic recipe, four layers of goodness with plenty of leftovers for lunch the next day.

Please don't use the no boil noodles or add water to the sauce in this recipe. The noodles really need to be boiled & it takes no time at all - just 9 - 11 minutes in the boiling water.

Classic Lasagna

1 box lasagna noodles
3 jars marinara sauce
1 1/2 pounds ground beef, cooked and drained
1 1/2 containers (22.5 ounces) whole milk ricotta cheese
5 cups (16 ounces) mozzarella cheese, shredded
3/4 cup (2 ounces) Parmesan cheese, grated
3 eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cook 12 noodles according to package instructions, drain and separate.
Combine ground beef and 2 jars sauce in a large saucepan.
Mix eggs, ricotta, 4-1/2 cups mozzarella, and parmesan cheeses in a large bowl.
Spray a 13x9 baking dish* with cooking spray. Spread 1 cup sauce (not meat sauce) over the bottom of the baking dish.
Place 3 lasagna noodles over the bottom, slightly overlapping.
Spread 1/3 of the cheese mixture over noodles and cover with 1/3 of the meat sauce. Repeat layers. Cover last layer with remaining noodles and 1 cup of remaining sauce. sauce. You'll have 4 layers of noodles. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese.
Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

*A disposable lasagna pan works great.

There is no picture because my almost new Samsung camera won't power on for some reason. Ugh...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Day with Ally (and Chocolate Chip Cookies)

Ally is on spring break this week. She loves to bake, so we decided to make chocolate chip cookies today. As I watched her measure out the ingredients, carefully leveling off the flour in the measuring cup, I got caught up in memories of her as a 2 year old sitting barefoot on the kitchen table, happily adding a cup of raisins to the applesauce cake we were making. Each year she took on a new duty & now, at nine years old, she can practically make cakes & cookies all by herself. She's growing up fast, much faster than I want to admit, & soon she won't want to be in the kitchen with me. So I'm treasuring every moment.

Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks, 1/2 pound) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups (12-ounce package) NESTLE TOLL HOUSE Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1 cup chopped nuts*

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in large mixer bowl. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE in preheated 375-degree oven for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

*I added 1/2 cup of nuts to the remaining cookie dough after baking 2 dozen cookies. Neither Ally nor Mike like nuts in their cookies, so this was an easy solution.

Monday, March 16, 2009


Congratulations to Aly & Megan, the winning entries for Laura's Lean Beef coupons. Be sure to keep checking in for my spring contest - a great new bag that's perfect for the farmer's market.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Pan Fried Onion Dip

It's CANASTA night & that means munchies. And what better munchies than chips & dip? But we're not talking about the onion dip you buy from the dairy case (which I still enjoy sometimes). This recipe is a step above that & so easy to make. It's a thick dip, so you'll need to serve it with chips that can stand up to it - I usually go with kettle chips.

Ina Garten/Barefoot Contessa

2 Large Yellow Onions
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter*
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil*
1 Teaspoon salt
½ Teaspoon pepper
½ Teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 oz. Cream Cheese (room temperature)
½ cup Sour Cream
½ cup Mayonnaise

Heat butter & vegetable oil over medium heat in large skillet. Cut onions into half rings (you will have about 3 cups of onion). Add to skillet, add salt & pepper. Sauté 10 minutes; reduce to low heat & cook 20 minutes, stirring often, until onions are caramelized. Once caramelized, drain on paper towels. Mix cream cheese, mayo & sour cream until smooth. Add onions. Add more salt & black pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

*The original recipe calls for 4 Tablespoons of both butter & oil but 3 Tablespoons of each works just fine.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Panini-Style Reubens

I am usually not a fan of canned meat products, but canned corned beef makes a delicious Reuben sandwich. We had these for dinner tonight, fixed panini-style on my double burner grill pan. The inside has a velvety texture that plays wonderfully against the crispy, toasted outside. The secret to this is combining the corned beef & sauerkraut before assembling the sandwiches. Mike likes his with Thousand Island dressing, but I prefer mine without.

Panini-Style Reubens
2 tablespoons butter
8 slices rye bread
1 can corned beef (Hormel)
8 slices Swiss cheese
1 cup sauerkraut, drained
2 tablespoons Thousand Island dressing

In a small saucepan, combine corned beef & sauerkraut. Break corned beef apart with a fork as it heats. Heat through.

Heat a grill pan over medium heat while lightly buttering one side of bread slices. Spread non-buttered sides with Thousand Island dressing. Top 4 pieces with 1 slice swiss cheese, 1/4 corned beef mixture & second slice of cheese. Top with remaining bread slices, buttered side out. Grill sandwiches until both sides are golden brown, about 5-7 minutes per side, pressing down firmly with spatula. Serve hot.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Easy Sticky Buns

When you're in the mood for sticky buns & don't really have the time to make a yeast dough from scratch, crescent dough works pretty well. I wanted to make a quick treat for Mike to have when he got home from work yesterday & he loved these. He didn't even mind the raisins I snuck in.

Easy Sticky Buns
Inspired by 2008, Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics

The Topping
1 stick butter at room temperature
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/3 to 1/2 cup pecans, broken into medium size pieces

The Rest of the Story...
2 cans "one sheet" crescent dough*
2 tablespoons butter, melted & cooled
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350. Place muffin tin on foil lined baking sheet.

With a fork, mash butter and brown sugar together until smooth. Divide evenly among 12 cup muffin tin. Top with pecan pieces.

Roll out 1st sheet of crescent dough, pressing together any seams. Spread with 1 tablespoon of melted butter. Sprinkle with half the brown sugar, cinnamon & raisins. Roll up jelly-roll style. Trim ends and cut into 6 equal pieces. Place in muffin tins. Repeat with other sheet of crescent dough to make 12 sticky buns. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until baked completely through in center. Remove from oven & let cool for 5 minutes. Invert on parchment paper.

*If the "one sheet" crescent dough is more expensive, pass on it & buy the regular dough. Both of my one sheet rolls still had 2 or 3 seams each.

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