Friday, December 30, 2011

Spinach Lasagna Rolls

My mom's birthday is right between Thanksgiving and Christmas when we are at our busiest. Since my mom does so much for others I like to make her a special birthday dinner every year to celebrate. Both of us adore lasagna but it can be very labor intensive and a little messy in presentation. These rolls still require some work but the resulting dish is definitely worthy of company. I started by making the homemade ricotta and mixed the spinach filling 2 days before our dinner. The night before I prepared the béchamel and assembled the final dish. When I arrived home all I had to do was pop the pan in the oven and make a salad.

Spinach Lasagna Rolls
recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

Béchamel Sauce:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups whole milk
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Pinch ground nutmeg

2 cups Homemade Ricotta
10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
1/3 pound thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped
1 large egg, beaten to blend
¾ teaspoon salt, plus more for salting water
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
12 uncooked lasagna noodles
2 cups Simple Tomato Sauce or your favorite marinara sauce

1 cup shredded mozzarella (about 4 ounces)

To make the sauce: Melt the butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the flour and whisk for 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk. Increase the heat to medium-high. Whisk the sauce until it comes to a simmer and is thick and smooth, about 3 minutes. Whisk the salt, pepper, and nutmeg into the béchamel sauce.

Whisk the ricotta, spinach, 1 cup Parmesan, prosciutto, egg, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl to blend.

Add a tablespoon or 2 of oil to a large pot of boiling salted water. Boil the noodles until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain. Arrange the noodles in a single layer on a baking sheet to prevent them from sticking.

Butter a 13-by-9-by-2-inch glass baking dish. Pour the béchamel sauce over the bottom of the prepared dish. Lay out 4 lasagna noodles on a work surface, then spread about 3 tablespoons of ricotta mixture evenly over each noodle. Starting at 1 end, roll each noodle like a jelly roll. Lay the lasagna rolls seam side down, without touching, atop the béchamel sauce in the dish. Repeat with the remaining noodles and ricotta mixture. Spoon 1 cup of marinara sauce over the lasagna rolls. Sprinkle the mozzarella and remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan over the lasagna rolls. Cover tightly with foil. Recipe can be prepared up to this point and refrigerated for up to 24 hours.

Remove pan from refrigerator and preheat the oven to 450°F.  Bake the lasagna rolls until heated through and the sauce bubbles, about 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until the cheese on top becomes golden, about 15 minutes longer. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining marinara sauce in a heavy small saucepan over medium heat until hot, and serve alongside.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Old Fashioned Chocolate Soda

There used to be old fashioned soda shop around the corner from my childhood home. It was a special treat to go and try their hand-churned ice cream and homemade toppings. My favorite things were the ice cream puff topped with a river of hot fudge and the chocolate soda topped with whipped cream and colorful candy sprinkles. To this day I cannot pass a soda shop without stopping and ordering a chocolate soda.

Old Fashioned Chocolate Soda
recipe slightly adapted from Sing For Your Supper

2-3 tablespoons Chocolate Syrup
2 scoops vanilla bean ice cream
1 cup club soda or sparkling water
Whipped cream
Maraschino cherry

Place 2-3 tablespoons chocolate syrup and ½ cup of the sparkling water in the bottom of a glass; stir gently to combine. Top with 2 scoops of ice cream and pour the remaining sparkling water over slowly gently stirring. You may want to add a splash more sparkling water after stirring if the foam deflates a little. Top with whipped cream, sprinkles, and a cherry.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Prosciutto and Provolone Panini with Paprika Butter

The Messy Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Bacon inspired me to make more sandwiches using flavored butter. The panini concept is the same but varying the ingredients to use what I had on hand. This panini was the perfect accompaniment to my Vegetable Bean Soup but I bet they would go equally well with the Roasted Tomato Soup.

Prosciutto and Provolone Panini with Paprika Butter
recipe inspired by Williams-Sonoma

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
8 slices Italian bread, each ¾ inch thick
½ pound thinly sliced prosciutto
½ pound thinly sliced provolone cheese

Preheat an electric panini press according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Into a food processor, add the butter, garlic, oregano, and smoked paprika. Blend until the mixture is thick, smooth and spreadable. Spread one side of each bread slice with the paprika butter. Lay 4 slices, buttered side down, on a clean work surface and top with 1 slice of cheese, followed by 2 slices of prosciutto and another slice of cheese. Add the remaining bread slices, buttered side up to form sandwiches.

Working in batches, place the sandwiches on the preheated panini press, cover and cook until the bread is golden brown and the cheese is melted, 3 to 4 minutes.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Mixed Green Salad with Parmigiano Crisps

This salad is a great starter to a full holiday meal. The parmigiano crisps add a nice salty bite and make for a beautiful presentation on your holiday table. The original recipe calls for 1 cup of grated cheese but I found the resulting crisps to be much too large for a side salad (as seen in the picture below). The second time I made these crisps I used 2 tablespoons of grated cheese per crisp and the results were perfect.

Mixed Green Salad with Parmigiano Crisps
salad recipe adapted from Anne Burrell vinaigrette recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

½ cup grated Parmigiano
4 cups salad greens, such as mesclun, arugula, red leaf, romaine or baby spinach
1 cup mixed fresh herb leaves, such as parsley, basil, oregano, chives or cilantro
1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in ½
½ cup cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
1/3 cup champagne vinegar
1 large clove garlic
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

For the crisps:
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a sheet tray with a silicone mat. Make 4 even, very thin circles of Parmigiano on the mat (2 tablespoons each). Be sure that the circles are not touching. Bake 7 to 8 minutes or until the cheese has melted, turned golden brown and looks like lace. Remove the tray from the oven and let the crisps cool for about 1 minute. Using a spatula, remove the crisps from the silicone mat and reserve on a plate.

For the vinaigrette:
Blend the vinegar, garlic, oregano, 1 teaspoon of salt, and ½ teaspoon black pepper in a blender until the garlic is finely chopped. With the blender running, slowly blend in the oil.

For the salad:
Fill your sink with cool water. Toss in all the salad greens and gently swish until all the dirt and grit falls to the bottom of the basin. Gently lift the greens out of the water and put in a salad spinner. If the greens are especially dirty empty the sink, rinse to rid of dirt and repeat the process. Spin the greens until they are dry and still very fresh looking. If not using the greens right away, store them wrapped loosely in paper towels then sealed in plastic bags in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.

In a large bowl, place the greens and herbs. Add the tomatoes, onions, and cucumbers. Drizzle in half of the oil and vinegar and season with salt. Using your hands, gently toss the salad to combine. Taste! Add the remaining oil and vinegar, if needed and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. The salad should be very flavorful but not soggy.

Arrange the salad on individual salad plates or bowls. Sprinkle each salad with the nuts and garnish with a Parmigiano crisp.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Grandma's Rum Balls

I have mentioned before that my paternal Grandma was a wonderful cook. Even though she is no longer with us, her rum ball cookies continue to make an appearance every Christmas. These cookies are simple to prepare and do not require any baking. Use your food processor to grind the walnuts and vanilla wafers. If you don't have a food processor, put them in a large ziplock bag and whack away with a heavy bottom skillet or a rolling pin. (Grandma was convinced this was the key to reliving holiday stress!) Grandma would always say you had to prepare the cookies at least 3 days in advance to allow the rum to mellow. While I always observe this advice I have been known to sneak a taste early.

Grandma R’s Rum Balls
recipe courtesy of Eating Deliciously

1 ½ cups walnuts, ground
3 cups vanilla wafers, ground
1 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 ½ tablespoons cocoa
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
½ cup dark rum (or bourbon)

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, mix well.  Shape into small balls, about 1 inch diameter.  Roll in confectioner’s sugar.

Make rum balls 3 days in advance to mellow before serving. Store in a covered container.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Guest Post: Proscuitto and Melon Salad

As the holidays approach I like to have a couple of appetizers I can whip up for unexpected guests. Today Hilary from Baking Bad shares a great idea along with several wine pairing suggestions. 

Hello, I am Hilary from Baking Bad and I am so excited to be guest posting for this wonderful blog!   I wanted to share a wonderful appetizer for the holidays or anytime of the year.  My husband and I love to travel, and one of our favorite places in wine country.  While we were out there we tasted prosciutto and melon with a Moscato wine.  A sweet Moscato chilled is the perfect contrast to the salad.  You can also dress the salad up by putting it on a bed of mixed greens and topping with a balsamic reduction.  I have included the base recipe with some Moscato recommendations, and also a balsamic reduction recipe.  Hope you enjoy and head on over to Baking Bad for more delicious treats!

Proscuitto and Melon Salad

For the salad:
1 thinly sliced cantaloupe
½ pound prosciutto di parma

Alternate cantaloupe and prosciutto on a platter for serving.  You may also place atop a bed of baby greens with a balsamic reduction.

Balsamic Reduction:
1 ½ cups balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup of brown sugar

Bring vinegar to a boil, turn down the heat and let it simmer. When it reduces halfway, add brown sugar. Simmer some more until it becomes syrupy and sticks to the back of a wooden spoon. As it cools it will thicken up. Store leftovers in fridge for up to a week.

Moscato Recommendations:

Written by:
Hilary from Baking Bad, follow me on Facebook and Twitter

Friday, December 16, 2011

Vegetable Bean Soup

This is my favorite vegetable soup. It is so quick and easy to put together with ingredients I always have on hand. 

Vegetable Bean Soup
recipe adapted from Everyday Food Magazine

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 medium carrots, diced
4 celery stalks, diced
1 medium onion, diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup dry sherry
2 (15.5 ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
8 cups vegetable stock
¼ cup chopped parsley

In a large Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add carrots, celery, and onion; cook until onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, thyme, and tomato paste and continue to for 5 minutes. Add the sherry to the vegetables and reduce for about a minute. Add the cannellini beans, tomatoes, and  stock. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 25 to 30 minutes. Divide soup among four bowls and serve topped with chopped parsley.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Slow Cooker Chicken Pot Pie

This recipe is a great way to use up leftover chicken or turkey. My original plan was to use leftover Thanksgiving turkey but we managed to eat it all! The original recipe calls for ½ cup frozen peas but peas are not a hit in my family so I left them out. If your family feels differently, add the peas during the last 30 minutes while the biscuits are baking. 

Slow Cooker Chicken Pot Pie
recipe adapted from A Year of Slow Cooking

4 boneless skinless chicken thighs or breast halves
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup frozen corn
½ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
2 cans cream of chicken or celery soup
4 tablespoons milk
1 can (16.3 oz) refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
2 tablespoons parsley, minced

Spray slow cooker insert with non-stick cooking spray. Dice the chicken and put it into the slow cooker. Add the vegetables and spices. Stir in the cream-of-chicken soup and add 2 tablespoons of milk to each can, swirl it around to get all the stuff out of the can, and pour in the slow cooker. Stir well to combine. Cover and cook on high for 3-5 hours or on low for 6-7 hours.

About 30 minutes before serving bake 8 biscuits as directed on package.

To serve, split a biscuit and place on a plate or shallow bowl. Spoon about 1 cup chicken mixture on top of biscuit and sprinkle with some of the minced parsley.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Crispy Roasted Chickpeas

These crunchy seasoned beans are a nice alternative to chips or mixed nuts. You can season them in any variety of ways, my favorite is using Garam Masala.

Crispy Roasted Chickpeas
recipe courtesy of Steamy Kitchen

15-ounce can chickpeas
1 tablespoon olive oil
Spice blend of your choice

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Drain the can of chickpeas in a strainer and rinse with water for a few seconds to clean off the beans. Shake and tap the strainer to rid of excess water. Lay paper towel on a baking sheet, and spread the beans over. Use another paper towel to gently press and absorb the water on the beans. Roll the beans around with the paper towel to also remove the thin skin from any of the beans. Discard the skins and the paper towels.

Drizzle the olive oil over the beans and season with salt and spice blend. Use your hands or a spatula to toss around and coat. Roast for 30-40 minutes until the beans are a deep golden brown and crunchy. Make sure that the beans do not burn.

Spice Blends:
  • Moroccan - 2 tsp. ground cumin, 1 tsp. ground coriander, ½ tsp. chile powder, ½ tsp. ground cinnamon, ¼ tsp. ground allspice, ¼ tsp. ground ginger, 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • Curry - 2 tsp. Garam Masala, 1 tsp. fine-grain sea salt
  • Smoky – cinnamon, cumin, chipotle powder, smoky seasoned salt, smoked paprika
  • Garlic - ½ tsp. kosher salt, ¼ tsp. fresh ground pepper, ¼ tsp. granulated garlic

Friday, December 9, 2011

Chicken with Tomato Herb Pan Sauce

This recipe is delicious and easy enough to prepare on a busy weeknight. The sauce really makes the dish but is easily adaptable to whichever fresh or dried herbs you have on hand. I plan to follow this recipe again using boneless pork chops in place of the chicken breasts.

Chicken with Tomato Herb Pan Sauce
recipe adapted from Annie's Eats adapted from Cook Like a Champion, originally from Bon Appétit

For the chicken:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied and halved (4 halves total)
Salt and pepper
¾ cup flour
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon sweet paprika

For the sauce:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh basil
 Salt and pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 pint grape tomatoes
1/3 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

Combine the flour, oregano, and paprika in a shallow bowl. Season both sides of the chicken breasts with salt and pepper.  Lightly dredge both sides of the chicken in the flour, shaking off the excess.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the butter, garlic, and basil; season with salt and pepper.  

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the garlic butter with the olive oil. Place the chicken breast halves in the skillet and cook until golden brown on each side and cooked through, about 3-4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate, cover loosely with foil, and set aside.

Increase the heat to high and add the tomatoes to the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes begin to char and burst, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining butter mixture to the pan. Crush the tomatoes slightly to release their juices and continue stirring until the butter is melted. Add the wine or broth to the pan, scraping the bottom to loosen the browned bits. Cook for a minute more until well blended.

Slice the chicken, transfer to serving plates, and top with the pan sauce. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Chocolate Syrup

On a quest for a good chocolate sauce, I came across a recipe from David Lebovitz. I adore his recipe for Vanilla Bean Ice Cream so I thought I would give this a try. My sauce did not thicken after cooling but I rewarmed it and poured it over the ice cream. The taste was outstanding but I prefer a thicker topping for ice cream. Not wanting to waste this rich and chocolatey liquid I decided to mix several tablespoons into a glass of cold milk. Perfection! I will never again need to buy those bottles of chocolate syrup in the grocery store.

Chocolate Syrup
recipe courtesy of David Lebovitz

1 cup water
½ cup sugar
½ cup light corn syrup, agave nectar, or glucose
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-processed)
2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the water, sugar, corn syrup (or agave or glucose), and cocoa powder. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Once it’s just begun to simmer and boil, remove from heat and stir in the chopped chocolate until melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 3 hours to thicken. Store the chocolate syrup in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Guest Post: Rice Cooker Daikon Soup

Please welcome my very first guest blogger on Eating Deliciously!

Now is the time of year when I crave warm and comforting soups. I wish I could have a pot of soup simmering on the stove top all day but that is just not an option sometimes. Today, Kiri shares her recipe for Daikon Soup. Not only is this recipe delicious, it can be prepared in about 30 minutes using your rice cooker.

I love to travel, and I spent some time in Japan at 12 and 16 years old. The food has always stayed close to my heart, and when my holiday CSA share included daikon, I knew I wanted to make daikon soup.  Daikon radishes are a wonderful vegetable that is both healthy and low in calories, and it’s also often used as a home remedy for sore throats, which makes it the perfect soup ingredient when you have cold and need to combat it fast!

So here goes a very simple recipe that I cooked in a rice-cooker. You can absolutely do this in a normal pot, too, but I love the convenience of not having to check whether my soup is about to boil over when I am sick, anyways. The soup is warming and has a great earthy flavor thanks to the shiitake mushrooms The crunch from the daikon (think radish, or maybe apple) contrasts really well with the quite different crunch of the lotus root (think... potato chip?).

- 2 medium daikon radishes
- 4 slices fresh ginger root
- 1 oz dried shiitake mushrooms
- 1 oz dried lotus root slices
- 4 cups water

1. Soak dried shiitake and lotus root in the water for 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile peel and slice daikon into 1/8 to ¼ inch thick slices, then halve the slices.

3. Set rice cooker to boil, and once water starts boiling, add ginger slices and daikon. Boil for 20 minutes.

4. Enjoy and hope for throat improvement!

 About the Author:
Hi, I'm Kiri from Healthy Foodie Travels. I am a fresh-baked Ph.D. in Microbiology and Molecular Biology, and in my spare time love to travel and cook meals I encountered abroad - healthily if possible. I'm also a German immigrant to the U.S., happily married to my American wife, owner/slave of a rescued cat, have a severe weakness for anything coconut and chocolate, and can be found on Twitter @kirikiri1

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Simple Tomato Sauce

Earlier this year I shared my recipe for a quick Fifteen Minute Tomato Sauce. When I have a little extra time in the kitchen I like to make a big batch of this simple tomato sauce. It freezes beautifully and is perfect for those days when I am feeling particularly lazy busy. The original recipe calls for pureeing the sauce smooth in a food processor but I like to use my stick/immersion blender so the sauce has a little texture.

Simple Tomato Sauce
recipe slightly adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 (28-ounce) cans peeled 
San Marzano tomatoes 
4 to 6 basil leaves
2 dried bay leaves
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, optional

Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch casserole over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until soft and translucent, about 2 minutes. Add celery and carrots and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until all the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, basil, and bay leaves and simmer covered on low heat for 1 hour or until thick. Remove the bay leaves. 

Using a stick/immersion blender, puree the sauce and season with salt and pepper, if needed. If sauce tastes acidic, add unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon at a time to round out the flavors.

If not using all the sauce, allow it to cool completely and pour 1 to 2 cup portions into ziptop freezer bags or other freezer-safe containers. You can freeze the sauce for up to 6 months.

Yield: 6 cups