Sunday, August 23, 2009

Squash-Stuffed Cannelloni with Roasted-Shallot Sauce

This is an extremely labor-intensive recipe, but the smell alone is worth the effort. It was also a lovely peak into Fall on this very warm Summer day.

I can't believe I'm actually going to say this, given my love of it... but... We didn't think the bacon was necessary. It actually took away from the other flavors a bit. So I don't think I'll add it the next time I make it. And I think it could have used a little more cheese. So I'm writing down the recipe I used, but I'm definitely doing some tweaking next time.

I also have a ton of leftover filling. I'm thinking maybe some butternut squash raviolis? Stuffed shells? Hmmmm...

Squash-Stuffed Cannelloni with Roasted-Shallot Sauce
Courtesy of Cooking Light


10 cup (1/2-inch) cubed butternut squash (about 4 pounds)
1/4 cup chopped shallots
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
1/4 cup half-and-half
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 slices applewood smoked bacon, chopped
1/2 pound shallots, peeled and halved
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons half-and-half
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Remaining ingredients:
16 cooked lasagna noodles
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded fontina cheese
1/4 cup chopped blanched hazelnuts, toasted

Preheat oven to 400ºF.

To prepare filling, combine first 3 ingredients on a jelly roll pan coated with cooking spray. Drizzle with butter; toss to coat. Bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Place squash mixture in a large bowl; mash with a potato masher. Stir in sour cream, 1/4 cup half-and-half, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

To prepare sauce, cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 2 teaspoons drippings in pan; set bacon aside. Add 1/2 pound shallots and garlic to drippings in pan; sauté 5 minutes or until browned. Bake for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Place pan on stovetop over medium-high heat. Add wine, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in 2 tablespoons half-and-half, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Spread 1/4 cup filling over each noodle, leaving a 1/2-inch border on each short end. Beginning with a short end, roll up noodles jelly-roll fashion. Place rolls, seam sides down, in a 13 x 9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Pour sauce over noodles; sprinkle evenly with cheese. Bake for 25 minutes or until cheese is golden. Sprinkle with bacon and hazelnuts.

Spinach and Artichoke Stuffed Shells and Plum Upside-Down Cake

We were having some friends over for dinner, so I thought I'd make something special. I had made a variation of this stuffed shells recipe before, but I found that the ground turkey the recipe calls for didn't really bring anything to it. So I decided to substitute spinach for the ground turkey. And it came out really well. Jonathan said it was the best version of this recipe that I had done.

I had also found a seasonal desserts section in the most recent Real Simple Magazine. So I couldn't help myself... I had to make the Plum Upside-Down Cake. It came out well, and it looked beautiful. I was only disappointed by the fact that the electricity went off almost immediately after we started dinner, so I wasn't able to serve the cake with the whipped cream or the coffee I was planning on making. As you see from the picture though, I was able to make the whipped cream, and Jonathan was able to enjoy the cake in its most delicious form. Yummmmmmm.

Spinach and Artichoke Stuffed Shells with Arrabbiata Sauce
A variation on this recipe by Giada De Laurentiis


1 (12-ounce) box jumbo pasta shells (recommended: Barilla)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 large yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus 1/2 teaspoon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus 1/4 teaspoon
1 8 to 10-ounce package frozen artichokes, thawed and coarsely chopped
1 10-ounce package frozen spinach, thawed and wrung dry
1 15-ounce container ricotta cheese
3/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
5 cups Arrabbiata Sauce, recipe follows
1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella (about 5 ounces)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and partially cook until tender but still very firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain pasta.

Meanwhile, in a large heavy skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and the garlic and cook until the onions are soft and starting to brown, about 3 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, artichoke hearts, and spinach; stir to combine. Remove from heat and let cool.

In a large bowl combine the cooled vegetable mixture with the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, eggs, basil, parsley, and the remaining salt and pepper. Stir to combine.

To stuff the shells, cover the bottom of a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking dish with 1 cup of Arrabbiata sauce. Take a shell in the palm of your hand and stuff it with a large spoonful of turkey mixture, about 2 tablespoons. Place the stuffed shell in the baking dish. Continue filling the shells until the baking dish is full, about 24 shells. Drizzle the remaining Arrabbiata Sauce over the shells, top with the grated mozzarella. If freezing, cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 1 day and up to 1 month.

To bake, preheat the oven to 400ºF. Bake until the shells are warmed through and the cheese is beginning to brown, about 60 minutes (20 minutes if shells are unfrozen.)

Arrabbiata Sauce:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 ounces sliced pancetta, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, minced
5 cups jarred or fresh marinara sauce

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the pancetta and sauté until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until tender, about 1 minute. Add the marinara sauce and red pepper flakes and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and let cool until ready to use.


Plum Upside-Down Cake
Courtesy of Real Simple


1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus extra for the pan, at room temperature
4 firm, ripe plums, each cut into 8 wedges
1/4 cup plus 2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg
2/3 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350° F. Butter an 8-inch cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the plums and 1/4 cup of the sugar and cook, tossing, until the sugar dissolves and the juices from the plums become syrupy, 3 to 4 minutes. Arrange the plums in the cake pan in slightly overlapping concentric circles, starting from the outside. Spoon any pan juices over the top.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

With an electric mixer, beat the remaining 1/2 cup of the butter and 2/3 cup of the sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg, sour cream, and vanilla. Gradually add the flour mixture, mixing just until incorporated.

Pour the batter over the plums and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 50 to 55 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 1 hour. Place a large plate over the cake pan and invert the cake onto the plate.

Spicy Black Bean-Corn Casserole

I received a new Cooking Light cookbook from my in-laws for my birthday. It's specifically for slow cooker recipes... So I really shouldn't have been shocked when my father-in-law disappeared after giving me the cookbook and reappeared with a new slow cooker. They have always been very generous about gifts, but when I started to show a love of cooking, they've shown extra generosity in the form of kitchen supplies. They joke that they're reaping the benefits.

This was my first recipe in my new slow cooker. I was extremely pleased -- with the slow cooker and the meal. I made a couple of changes, freshened things up a bit. For example, I used fresh jalapeño peppers in place of canned green chiles. And since I needed fresh corn for another recipe, I just got an extra ear, cut off the corn kernels and then chopped up some red and green peppers in place of the canned version. I also went with an egg instead of the egg substitute.

I can't find the original recipe online, but if you're interested in seeing it and finding lots of other new slow cooker recipes, this is a great cookbook.

Spicy Black Bean-Corn Casserole
A variation on a recipe from Cooking Light Cook's Essential Recipe Collection: Slow Cooker


3 tablespoons diced jalapeños, divided
1/2 cup salsa
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 ear corn, kernels removed
1/2 green pepper
1/2 red pepper
1 10-ounce can enchilada sauce
1 egg
1 8.5-ounce package corn muffin mix
1/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons chopped bottled roasted red peppers
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded Mexican blend or Cheddar cheese
Sour cream
Thinly sliced fresh cilantro

Place 2 tablespoons jalapeños and next 6 ingredients in slow cooker; stir well. Cover and cook on LOW 4 hours.

Combine remaining 1 tablespoon jalapeños, egg, muffin mix, milk, and roasted red peppers in a bowl. Spoon batter evenly over bean mixture in cooker. Cover and cook 1 hour or until corn bread is done.

Sprinkle cheese over corn bread. Cover and cook 5 minutes or until cheese melts. Top each serving with sour cream and sprinkle with cilantro.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Thai Corn Chowder and Basil Parmesan Biscuits

We woke up yesterday morning to a very dreary scene -- lots and lots of rain. It was the perfect morning to sleep in and potentially sleep the day away. But alas, when small children are involved, there is no rest for the weary.

So given the cooler than usual and dreary conditions, I thought a soup and biscuits dinner sounded like a wonderful idea. Unfortunately, as the afternoon progressed and I started my preparations for the meal, the weather became warm and sticky. So I ended up sweating through the rest of my preparations and the meal itself.

BUT... The meal was delicious. The chowder was really flavorful and the biscuits, though they weren't necessarily supposed to be paired with the chowder, came out great and tied in with the basil in the soup beautifully. The original biscuit recipe actually calls for purple basil, which I think is supposed to have a bit more of a mild flavor, but I couldn't find it, so I just used regular basil. Though maybe I should have used Thai basil in pairing these two recipes... Hmmmm...

The meal was quite labor-intensive. But I'm sure that was felt a bit more with the growing heat and the fact that it was the second meal that I had made that day. I'll be sure to wait until it's a bit cooler and less busy when I make it again. But I will make it again.

Thai Corn Chowder
Courtesy of Food Network Magazine


4 ears corn
2 cups diced red-skinned potatoes (about 12 ounces)
3/4 cup chopped scallions
2 tablespoons grated peeled fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic, smashed
8 black peppercorns
1 stalk lemongrass, cut into thirds (optional)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Kosher salt
1 red jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
1 13.5-ounce can coconut milk
8 fresh basil leaves
8 fresh mint leaves
4 radishes, thinly sliced
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of 1/2 lime, plus lime wedges for garnish
1 tomato, seeded and diced

Cut off the corn kernels; set aside. Combine the cobs, 1 cup potatoes, 1/2 cup scallions, 1 tablespoon ginger, the garlic, peppercorns and 5 cups water in a pot. Smash the lemongrass, if using, and add to the pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 25 to 30 minutes.

About 10 minutes before the broth is finished, melt the butter over medium-high heat in a separate pot. Add the remaining 1 cup potatoes, season with salt and cook until slightly soft, 5 minutes. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon ginger and the jalapeño; cook 1 minute. Add the corn kernels; cook until the vegetables are just tender, 3 to 4 minutes.

Strain the broth, pressing out as much liquid as possible; discard the solids. Add 2 cups of the strained broth to the potatoes and corn; bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the coconut milk, basil and mint; season with salt. Stir until simmering. Remove from the heat and add the radishes, cilantro and lime juice. Top with diced tomato and the remaining 1/4 cup scallions and serve with lime wedges.


Basil Parmesan Biscuits
A variation on this recipe from Cooking Light


9 ounces all-purpose flour (about 2 cups)
2 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chilled butter, cut into small pieces
2/3 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup (2 ounces) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2/3 cup fat-free milk
1 large egg
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 425ºF.

Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in basil and cheese. Combine milk and egg in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add milk mixture to flour mixture; stir just until moist.

The dough will be very sticky. Turn dough out onto plastic wrap. Wrap it up tightly and chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour or overnight. The longer you chill it, the easier it will be to work with when you're ready to cut out the biscuits.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface; pat to 1-inch-thick circle. Cut with a 2-inch biscuit cutter into 12 biscuits. Place biscuits on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and cool.

Fusilli with Roasted Tomato Sauce and Italian Sausage

I decided to make this pasta dish this week, but to make it a bit more of a significant meal, I added some Italian sausage. Kind of selfishly too, I may add. I've been dying for some sausage, for some odd reason.

The house smelled fantastic while the tomatoes were roasting, but despite following the directions exactly, I think I may have roasted them for too long. By the time I pulled them out, they were about a quarter of their original size and there was very little flesh left to use for the sauce. So the dish ended up feeling a bit weak. Thank goodness I used super tasty fresh Italian sausage with sun-dried tomatoes and basil that we had picked up at Booth's Corner.

I'm wondering if maybe I used a tomato or two more that maybe that would make a difference. My pan was big enough for at least one more... Hmmmm... Maybe I will make this dish again.

Fusilli with Roasted Tomato Sauce and Italian Sausage
A variation on this recipe from Cooking Light

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
6 large tomatoes (about 3 1/2 pounds), cored, cut in half crosswise, and seeded
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon chopped fresh or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1 pound Italian sausage, casings removed
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 1/2 cups hot cooked long fusilli (about 8 ounces uncooked pasta)
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
Basil sprigs (optional)

Preheat oven to 400ºF.

Brush a jelly roll pan or shallow roasting pan with 1 tablespoon oil. Arrange tomatoes in a single layer, cut sides down, in pan. Arrange crushed garlic around tomatoes; sprinkle tomatoes with thyme and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Bake at 400ºF for 30 minutes; drain juices from pan. Bake an additional 30 minutes. Remove tomatoes from pan; cool slightly. Discard juice and crushed garlic. Peel and coarsely chop tomatoes.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add sausage and break up with a wooden spoon. Cook until no longer pink. Remove from pan and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.

Reduce heat in pan to medium-low heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil, or as much as is needed to keep the rest of the ingredients from sticking and/or burning. Add chopped garlic, and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add chopped tomatoes and basil, and cook 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Add pasta, and toss to coat. Sprinkle with cheese; garnish with basil sprigs, if desired.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Banana Bread Muffins

We invited Jillie's friend, Sophie, over for a playdate this morning, so I decided that we were in need of some goodies. So I took the banana bread recipe from The All New Good Housekeeping Cook Book by Susan Westmoreland and made it into muffins. I overfilled the first batch a bit, but other than, they came out great.

Banana Bread Muffins


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups mashed very ripe bananas (3 medium)
1/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease or place muffin cups in a 12-count muffin pan.

In medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. In small bowl, combine bananas, milk, and vanilla.

In large bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Reduce speed to low; alternately add flour mixture and banana mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture, occasionally scraping bowl with rubber spatula. Beat just until blended.

Using an ice cream scooper, fill each section of the muffin pan about 3/4 of the way full. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Immediately remove muffins from pan. Serve warm, or cool on wire rack to serve later.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Old-Fashioned Strawberry Ice Cream

Basically, old-fashioned here means using eggs in the recipe. It makes a very rich ice cream which is always good. I'm thinking it will be particularly tasty with some homemade chocolate sauce on top. Yum!

Old-Fashioned Strawberry Ice Cream
Courtesy of Tracey Seaman


2 cups hulled and halved strawberries (about 12 ounces)
3/4 cup sugar
Ice Water
1 pint half-and-half
2 large eggs yolks

In a medium glass or stainless steel bowl, combine the strawberries and 1/4 cup sugar; mash with a fork. Set the bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice water.

In a medium saucepan, bring the half-and-half and remaining 1/2 cup sugar to a simmer, stirring occasionally, over medium heat. In a heatproof bowl, whisk the egg yolks, then gradually whisk in about 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture. Pour the mixture into the saucepan and cook, whisking constantly, over medium heat until steaming hot and frothy, about 3 minutes.

Strain the custard into the bowl of strawberries. Let stand, whisking occasionally, until cool.

Using an ice cream maker, process the cooled custard according to the manufacturer's instructions. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tuna Salad Lasagna Stack

I think this dish confused my mouth a bit when I first tried it. It looks like lasagna. But it really really isn't. It just has the same noodles and is layered like lasagna. It's served cold, like regular tuna salad, and instead of layers of meat and/or veggies, tomato sauce, and cheese, it's layers of a tuna mixture, arugula, and roasted red pepper sauce. It took me a minute or two to convince my brain that there wasn't something seriously wrong with my lasagna, but when my brain caught up, I really liked it!

I had gone light on the salt while I was making it since I have felt like I have been going a little heavy on the salt lately, but I found when I ate it that it actually needed a bit more.

I think it would be a really fun thing to bring to a picnic. Even if just to mess with people's heads.

Tuna Salad Lasagna Stack
Courtesy of Katherine Barreira


4 red bell peppers
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound lasagna noodles
Three 6-ounce cans tuna packed in water, drained
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
3 cups torn arugula
1/3 cup minced chives

Preheat the broiler. Place the bell peppers on a baking sheet and broil, turning every 5 minutes, until charred all over, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cover; let sit for 10 minutes. Using your fingers, peel and discard the charred skin. Discard the stems and seeds.

Meanwhile, grease a baking sheet with 1 tablespoon olive oil. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the lasagna noodles until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water. Arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet to prevent sticking.

In a medium bowl, combine the tuna, dill, lemon juice and 1/4 cup olive oil; season with salt and pepper.

Using a blender, puree the roasted peppers, sherry vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon salt. With the machine on, pour in the remaining 5 tablespoons olive oil in a slow stream, blending until thick, about 30 seconds.

Place a layer of lasagna noodles in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Top with one-third of the arugula and one-quarter of the bell pepper sauce. Repeat 2 more times, using the remaining tuna mixture and arugula and topping with the remaining noodles. Top with the remaining red pepper sauce and the chives.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Vegetarian Makhani Curry

So I was planning on making the Chicken Makhani that I had made before, but when I went to pick up the chicken at the grocery store, I couldn't bring myself to pick up a package. I don't know if it's just because I've been cooking mainly vegetarian stuff lately or because I've been reading The Omnivore's Dilemma and was feeling irresponsible for eating a piece of meat that had been grown in a non-sustainable setting... Though that latter fact didn't stop me from eating Chick-Fil-A today, so I'm thinking it had more to do with the fact that the chicken in the grocery store just looked kind of sad. So... I decided to vegetarianize this recipe.

And it came out really well. Added bonuses: I was able to use some spices that I don't regularly use but have giant bottles of them in my spice drawer (why are these unusual spices only available in giant containers?). AND I was able to use a can of beans that I had kept forgetting to use every time a recipe called for it. Yay. I used cannellini beans, but I think chickpeas (garbanzo beans) could have worked really well too.

Vegetarian Makhani Curry

1 onion, sliced
6 garlic cloves, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons curry
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 13.5-ounce can coconut milk
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup frozen peas
Brown rice

Place onions, garlic, carrot, celery, and beans in crockpot. Dot with butter. Add spices, coconut milk, tomato paste, and lemon juice. Stir to combine.

Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Stir in plain yogurt and frozen peas 15 minutes before serving. Serve over brown rice.

Warm Italiano Spread

I decided to give this appetizer a shot in preparation for some dinner parties we're going to be having in the fall. It had all sorts of elements that appeal to me (pesto, tomatoes, cheese), but I didn't really like it. It just felt like there was too much cream cheese. I would have preferred to just have put the pesto, tomatoes, and shredded cheese on top of the crackers and melted them that way. Though, if you enjoy appetizers that consist of cream cheese with stuff dumped on top, you will likely enjoy this one. It's not bad by any stretch. Just not my favorite.

Warm Italiano Spread
Courtesy of Kraft Foods

1 package (8 ounces) Neufchatel cheese (or cream cheese)
1/4 cup pesto
1 plum tomato, chopped
1/4 cup finely shredded Italian cheese blend

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Place unwrapped Neufchatel cheese in small baking dish. Top with pesto, tomatoes, and shredded cheese.

Bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until shredded cheese is melted and Neufchatel cheese is softened but still holding its shape. Serve with crackers.