Saturday, July 28, 2012

Week 4: Lasagna Cups

Marcie picked won-ton wrappers for the food challenge and I knew immediately what I wanted to do.  I had seen a recipe for Lasagna cups using won-ton wrappers.  But then I had accidentally thawed some bean dip (or a version of it) and was going to make mini taco cups in won-ton wrappers.  Brian also wanted to use won-ton wrappers so we were going to have won-ton wrappers 3 ways.  Alas, we did not have enough won-ton wrappers and then our oven broke as I was about to put the lasagna cups in to bake.  I did modify the recipe since she just used ricotta cheese-I wanted it to be more like the lasagna that I make.

Lasagna Cups
makes 12 cups

2/3-3/4 lb ground beef
2 cups spaghetti sauce
1 cup (or so) part skim ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2 tsp dried parsley (or use fresh parsley)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
24 wonton wrappers

Brown ground beef.  Drain and then combine with spaghetti sauce. (Just a note, I did have about 1/2 cup extra meat sauce which I just froze and can use to make these again or use for spaghetti).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Combine the ricotta, egg, parsley, Parmesan and mozzarella.  Spray muffin pan with non stick spray.  Lay a won-ton wrapper in each muffin cup.  Add a spoonful of the ricotta mixture.  Then add a spoonful of the sauce mixture.  Sprinkle with shredded cheese.  Lay another won-ton wrapper down in each muffin cup.  Add a spoonful of ricotta and then a spoonful of sauce.  Sprinkle with shredded cheese.

Bake for 10-15 minutes (I did mine for 15 minutes).

*I made my lasagna cups the day before and baked them 24 hours later.  The bottoms of the cups were not crispy at all, in fact they were a little soggy. Perhaps that is how they were supposed to be-I'm not sure if sitting for 24 hours did this or not.  They were still very tasty!  2 cups were very filling.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Week 2- Lentil Veggie Balls

I really wanted to try lentils because of their healthiness and how inexpensive they are.  I feel like I should eat lentils.  When I saw this recipe for veggie balls, I knew how I wanted to try lentils.  I'm sorry to say that while the flavor was quite delicious, the texture wasn't great.  They were grainy.  Brian thought the texture was just too similar-everything was soft.  I think doing a half lentil/half meat of some sort might work well.  I did modify the recipe slightly.

Lentil Veggie Balls
makes about 48 1 inch balls

2 cups brown lentils
1 large onion chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
7 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tsp (or so) dried thyme
2 tbsp fresh parsley
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
4 tbsp tomato paste
3 eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup combination of Panko bread crumbs and regular bread crumbs
1/4 cup combination of toasted almonds and toasted pine nuts, ground

Cook lentils in 2 quarts of water.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes until lentils are soft.  Drain.  Let lentils cool.

While lentils are cooking, heat olive oil in skillet.  Then saute onion, garlic, green pepper, carrots, thyme, salt and parsley in a large skillet.  Cook for about 10 minutes or until vegetables are soft but not brown.  Add tomato paste and cook the mixture until the liquid is absorbed about 10-15 minutes more.  Transfer to a bowl and let cool to room temperature.

When lentils and veggies are cool, combine them together.  Mix together bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, nuts and eggs together.  Add this mixture to the lentil/veggie mixture and combine together using your hands. Let this mixture sit in the refrigerator for at least 25 minutes.

When you are ready to cook the veggie balls, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Use additional olive oil to coat the baking pans (2 9x13 inch pans).  Roll the mixture into 1 inch balls, making sure to pack firmly, and place in baking pans, leaving space in between.  Bake veggie balls for 30 minutes.  Serve with pesto.

*This is the recipe I followed.  I would omit the nuts as they did nothing to add to the flavor.  I would also do 1 cup lentils and 1 lb of ground beef or turkey.  I only ate about 4 of these lentil veggie balls so this recipe makes a lot!  You could easily cut it in half.  This was a great way to eat lots of veggies without tasting too much!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Beet Won Tons

Since Becky was taking on the main dish with won ton wrappers which were thwarted by a broken oven, I figured I should do vegetables, and deep frying them seemed to be a great idea. 

Beet Won Tons

2 medium size beets
3 carrots
¼ onion
3 cloves garlic
24 won ton skins
2 oz asiago cheese, grated
1 egg white
½ t black pepper
celery salt
onion powder
garlic powder 

Grate beets, carrot, onion, and garlic.  Mix together in pot, add water, and boil until beets are softened but not mushy 

Add pepper and half the cheese to vegetable mixture.  Divide mixture into won ton skins and seal with egg wash. 

Deep fry won tons for 3 minutes or until golden.  Place on paper towel and sprinkle with cheese, celery salt, onion powder and garlic powder.  Let cool for 3 minutes and eat hot!

 This one pairs nicely with a Two Brothers Domaine DuPage or another sweet ale.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Week 3-Brian's Fondue Rice (Ingredient-Smoked Gouda

When I tasted the smoked gouda (which I've never cooked with before), I really liked its smoky-ness and an almost beer like flavor.  So I figured pairing it with lots of beer wouldn't go wrong.  Cheese + beer = fondue.  It went really nicely with a Fat Tire in case you are looking for a beer pairing for it.

Fondue Rice
3 chicken breasts, cut in 2” cubes
4 pork and apple sausages, cut in 2” pieces
2 bottles Hefeweizen or other medium ale
1 cup brown rice
½ t garlic powder
½ t celery salt
1 t whole cloves
1 t whole coriander
1 t whole mustard seed
1 t black pepper
½ lb asparagus, cut in 2” segments
¼ white onion, cut in 2” pieces
¼ red pepper, cut in 2” pieces
8 oz smoked gouda, grated
½ c skim milk ( I might do 1 c if I do this one again)

Add 1 c water, 1 c beer, 1 c brown rice to a pot.  Heat until boiling.  Simmer for 35 minutes

 Grind cloves, coriander, mustard seed, and black pepper.

Add remaining beer, garlic powder, celery salt, and spice grind to a pot.  Heat to low boil.  Add chicken.  Simmer until chicken is cooked.

Add sausage to chicken and place vegetables in a steamer tray on top of the meat.  Steam for 10 minutes.

Once all are done, heat milk to a simmer in a chef pan.  Slowly add cheese and rice over low heat. 

Once cheese is melted, add meat and vegetables (no additional liquid).  Mix together.  Serve.

It's a little on the gooey side (Noah thought it looked like Rice Krispie Treats-he was sadly disappointed by the cheese flavor!)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Week 1: Spinach Pasta Salad

I finally got around to making my spinach dish and I made something totally different that I had planned to make.  I found a recipe for spinach pasta salad while trying to find a spinach and tilapia recipe.  I had one recipe pinned for Lemon Asparagus Pasta Salad and I combined that with Spinach and Tomato Pasta Salad.

Spinach Pasta Salad

4 cups spinach, cut coarsely or use baby spinach
several handfuls of cherry tomatoes cut in half
small bunch of asparagus cut into 1 inch pieces, cooked gently
6-7 oz small pasta-orzo or ditalini
3 oz feta cheese
half a lemon
freshly ground pepper
Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tbsp capers, drained

Cook pasta according to the directions on the box.  While pasta is cooking, cook asparagus.  Combine spinach, feta and capers in a large bowl.  Once pasta is done, add about 3/4 cup of the pasta liquid to the bowl and mix to combine.  Drain pasta and asparagus.  Add to salad.  Add tomatoes to salad.  Sprinkle on freshly ground black pepper and Parmesan cheese.  Zest half the lemon over the salad.  Squeeze some fresh lemon juice on the salad (half the lemon is a little too much).  Combine everything.  You can serve the salad hot, room temperature or cold.  I served it warm.

Brian thought olives would be a good addition to the salad but since I don't like olives, I vetoed that.  Don't go overboard on the lemon.

I'll post the tilapia recipe on my blog soon.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Week 2 - Marcie's Red Lentil Curry

This is probably a very boring lentil dish (for David, especially), but I don't often make curries, and both Ben and I thought this would be worth making again.  I really liked it on the naan, but thought it was a little grainy when eaten plain.  I think of lentils as grainy anyway, though, so I was happy to find a recipe where I didn't mind the graininess.

Oh, and I only slightly modified the original recipe on allrecipes.

Red Lentil Curry
(serves 5)

1 1/2 cups red lentils
1 large onion, diced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons curry paste
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon ginger root, minced
1 (14.25 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes

Rinse the lentils until the water runs clear.  Cover the lentils with water, and cook until done.  I boiled mine for about 2 minutes, then simmered for maybe 5 minutes more.  I probably could have cooked them for less time.

Meanwhile,  saute the onion in the oil until softened.  Combine the next 9 ingredients (the spices) to make a paste, and add to the sauteed onion.  Cook for 1 to 2 minutes.  Add the diced tomatoes and simmer until the lentils are done.  Drain the lentils.  Combine the lentils and the curry sauce.  Serve with naan and basmati rice.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Week 1 - Marcie's Gnocchi with Spinach Pesto

I got this recipe from Laura (Halbert) VanHorn's blog, which she seems to have given up on.  I thought a lot of her recipes looked interesting, but this is the first one I've tried.  Of course I had to change a few things.  :)   Ben and I both really liked this.  Amelia ate the gnocchi, but said she didn't really like it.  Megan was still working on finishing her food from lunch, so she didn't get any, although she did steal a few tomatoes off my plate.

Gnocchi with Spinach Pesto
(serves 3)

4 cups fresh spinach leaves
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup almonds

1 box whole wheat gnocchi
1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
1/4 cup feta cheese

Blend all pesto ingredients in a food processor.  You are supposed to add the oil last, but my food processor is small and it wouldn't blend up right without the oil being added at the beginning.

Drop the gnocchi in a pot of boiling water.  Boil for 3 to 4 minutes, or until gnocchi float to the top of the pot.  Drain.

Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a skillet, add the cooked gnocchi, and cook for 2 minutes, or until gnocchi is golden brown.  Gnocchi will stick to the skillet.  Add tomatoes, cook for another 2 minutes or until tomatoes are heated through and starting to soften. 

Mix half the pesto with the gnocchi and spinach mixture, top with cheese and serve.

Freeze remaining pesto.