Friday, January 29, 2010

I Love This Lasagna

It's painful to put this photo up, but without any natural light, this was the best I could do. Oh well! You all know what lasagna looks like anyways!

I was DELIGHTED with how this recipe turned out. Seriously, it was kind of pathetic how happy it made me. But there's little worse in my book than spending an afternoon making a rather elaborate dinner only to have it flop. Thank goodness, that was not the case yesterday!

I chose this recipe because it earned 5 stars from 272 reviewers on Thank you, Ina Garden, for a restaurant-quality lasagna minus the joy (read: hassle) of trying to entertain the toddler while at said restaurant. :)

Turkey Lasagna
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 onion)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 pounds sweet Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes in tomato puree
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound lasagna noodles
15 ounces ricotta cheese
3 to 4 ounces creamy goat cheese, crumbled
1 cup grated Parmesan, plus 1/4 cup for sprinkling
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
1 pound fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced

Preheat to 400 degrees.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes over medium-low heat, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the sausage and cook, breaking it up, for 8 to 10 minutes or until no longer pink. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, 2 tablespoons of the parsley, the basil, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat, for 15 to 20 minutes, until thickened.

Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with the hottest tap water. Add the noodles and allow them to sit in the water for 20 minutes. Drain. (Or skip this and use no boil noodles!!)

In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, goat cheese, 1 cup of Parmesan, the egg, the remaining 2 tablespoons of parsley, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Set aside.

Ladle 1/3 of the sauce into a 9x12 baking dish, spreading the sauce over the bottom of the dish. Then add the layers as follows: half the pasta, half the mozzarella, half the ricotta, and one 1/3 of the sauce. Add the rest of the pasta, mozzarella, ricotta, and finally, sauce. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of Parmesan. Bake for 30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling.

My alterations:
  • Do yourself a favor and use no-boil noodles. It makes lasagna so much easier!
  • Despite the name, Turkey Lasanga, mine didn't actually have any turkey in it... I had ground beef and spicy Italian sausage on hand, so that's what I used. I liked the slight kick the spicy sausage gave it, and I also added a 1/4 red pepper flakes.
  • 1 1/2 pounds would be plenty of meat for this dish. I reduced to a pound and was happy I did.
  • I used shredded mozzarella instead of fresh (convenience). No regrets.
  • Though the recipe is meant for a 9x13 pan, I divided mine into two disposable 8x8 pans, one of which I froze for when the baby comes. (Yay!)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Cherry Bar

I'm shocked I've never posted this before, as it is one of my go-to desserts. It's not exactly New Year's resolution friendly...well, unless your resolution is to eat well and live it up! But it is sweet, rich, and slightly tart; it's perfect for bringing to an event because it feeds (and pleases) a crowd; and it can be made ahead of time. If you're really lucky, you may even be able to bring a piece home afterward!

Cherry Bar
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
6 eggs
4 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cans cherry pie filling
1 teaspoon almond extract.

Cream butter and sugar. Stir in vanilla and eggs. Stir in dry ingredients. Spread a thin layer of batter in the bottom of a baking sheet. Combine cherry pie filling and almond extract. Layer the cherry mixture over the batter. Top with remaining batter and spread as evenly as possible. Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes, or until lightly gold on top.

Allow to cool in baking sheet. In the meantime combine the following icing ingredients:

2 Tablespoons melted butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 Tablespoons milk

Poor the icing over the cherry bar once it has cooled. Slice and serve!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Cheesy Baked Faralle

One of my New Year's resolutions is to be a more efficient cook. With the second baby on the way, my meals are going to have to get streamlined if I'm going to have a chance of getting dinner on the table. I don't know how all you moms with big families do it! Hopefully I'll get the hang of it with practice.

So I was happy to see how few steps are in this recipe by the Food Network's Giada. Plus, it's delicious—a lightly creamy red sauce, thanks to the addition of mascarpone cheese, with gooey smoked mozzarella on top. It was perfect for taking to a friend who just had a baby because I could make it during T's naptime, stick it in the fridge, and take it to her cold so that she can pop it in the oven whenever she feels like it. Easy breezy.

Cheesy Baked Farfalle
Adapted from Giada's Cheesy Baked Tortellini

2 cups marinara sauce
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 pound farfalle pasta
1 cup mozarella cheese, grated
1 cup smoked mozarella cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil an 8 x 8 by baking dish.

Cook the farfalle in a large pot of water for about 7-8 minutes. (You want to leave it slightly undercooked because it will bake in the oven.) Drain well. Whisk together the sauce, mascarpone cheese, parsley and thyme. Add the pasta to the sauce and toss to coat. Transfer the pasta mixture to the prepared baking dish. Top the mixture with the smoked mozzarella and regular mozarella.

Cover with foil and bake for about 10 minutes. Remove the foil and let cook until the cheese bubbles and is slightly golden, about another 10 minutes.