Monday, February 18, 2019

Michele's Baked Lasagna



Many years ago, I purchased R&F Brand Lasagna noodles.  I decided to save the recipe knowing someday I would not be able to find it. Sure enough, the parent company sold and today this brand no longer exists.   But I still have the recipe.  This recipe is my base. It is great as is, but I will enhance it, making it a little different each time.  I ALWAYS double the meat that is called for.


These are my ingredients.  I start with opening my wine, because I love to enjoy a glass as I cook.
Ingredients
1 lb. Lasagna noodles
3/4 lb. Ricotta
2 eggs
4 Cups Meat Sauce - See below
1 lb. Mozzarella Cheese
4 Tbls Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 1/2 Tsp Salt
1/2 Tsp Pepper
Meat Sauce
1 lb. Ground meat ( 1/2 beef - 1/2 Pork)   - (I double this.)
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
1 Large Onion
1/4 Cup Chopped Parsley
1 Clove Garlic, chopped or pressed
1 Carrot, grated
1 Can Tomatoes, chopped or mixed in blender for a few seconds
1 (6 oz) can Tomato Paste
1/2 Cup Dry Red Wine
12 oz. water
1 Tsp Salt
1/4 Tsp Pepper
1 Tsp Basil

Sauté onion, parsley, garlic and carrot in oil. Add meat and brown.
Add tomatoes paste wine and water, salt, pepper and basil.  Simmer 1 hour.

Boil Lasagna 10 minutes in 6 Qts. salted water.  Add cold water until noodles can be handles.  Do NOT drain.

In a separate bowl mix eggs and ricotta.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

 Grease Baking dish and arrange the bottom with parallel layers of lasagna.  Add 1/3 of Meat Sauce, 1/3 Ricotta mixture, 1/3 thin slices Mozzarella.  Sprinkle with grated Parmesan.  Cover with another layer of each, and a third layer of each.  Bake in moderate oven (350 degrees) for 30 minutes. 
Serves 8



I chopped my onion, added grated carrots, and pressed garlic.
Saute in 1/4 cup Olive Oil



I added 1 lb. each of
  Harter House Ground Round (95%  lean)
and Harter House homemade Italian Sausage.

At Harter House, all of our ground meats are ground fresh daily from our own trimmings, to ensure the freshest product for your family.




Brown the meat and drain the fat and oil from the pot.
I like to use Bounty paper towels to soak up the liquid.


I added basil rather than parsley.  I love the flavor of basil and I find that fresh spices add an extra kick that always wins the prize.




Next I added chopped Roasted Red Peppers, tomatoes, and tomato paste.
I added 1 cup Cabernet Wine and 1 cup water.
(a little different from the original recipe)


              

                                                       
Now, we let it simmer for an hour.

Next, I've set up my work station to layer each ingredient.
A little oil on the Pampered Chef Stone Bakeware. 
Layer noodles, meat sauce, Ricotta and egg mixture, Mozzarella slices, and Parmesan cheese. Repeat for three layers.  Then bake in a 350 degree oven 30-45 minutes. (since I made a larger amount, I cooked it a little longer)  Then I broiled the lasagna just long enough to make the cheese bubbly on top.







Finally, I made a Cheesy Garlic Bread with English Muffins.  Melted butter and garlic powder sprinkled on muffins and topped with shredded mozzarella.  Broil for about 8 minutes, till the cheese is browned a bit.

My hard work paid off.
I received a third place Judges Choice at our Springfield's Best Mixer, that had a Italian themed Bring a Dish contest.

Lemon Zucchini Bread


Zucchini bread is awesome, there’s no denying that…but lemon zucchini bread?? It’s unbelievably good.  This fruitier, sweeter, denser loaf makes a pretty perfect addition to any brunch or dessert buffet.



Ingredients

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 (6 oz.) container lemon Greek yogurt
3 eggs
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups zucchini, grated, drained and squeezed dry

Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest, optional

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350º F and lightly grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan with butter or non-stick spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a large bowl or mixer, beat together sugar and canola oil, then mix in eggs and Greek yogurt.
  4. Once eggs are fully incorporated, mix in lemon juice and vanilla extract.
  5. Gradually fold in dry ingredients until incorporated, then gently fold in grated zucchini and lemon zest.
  6. Pour batter into greased loaf pan, then place in oven and bake for 45-55 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs.
  7. Remove from oven and let cool.
  8. For the glaze: whisk lemon juice into powdered sugar until smooth, stirring in lemon zest, if desired.
  9. Once cake has fully cooled, pour glaze over cake and let set until hardened.
  10. Slice, serve and enjoy.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Baklava

  

Recipe by Maria Savvenas


Ingredients:
Filling:
  • 3 cups walnuts
  • 3 cups almonds
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • Grand Marnier, generous splash    (maybe 2 oz.)
Pulse walnuts and almonds in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Combine walnuts, almonds, cinnamon, cloves, and enough Grand Marnier to slightly moisten the mixture in a bowl. Set aside.

Assembly:
  • One Athens 1 lb. box fillo dough, at room temperature
  • 3/4 lb. Plugra Sweet Cream European-style butter, melted
Brush the bottom and sides of a 9 X 13 in. baking pan generously with butter. Working with one fillo sheet at a time, remove the top sheet, and replace the dry and wet tea towels back on the stack. Arrange one sheet at the bottom of the pan. Using a pastry brush, brush the fillo sheet with melted butter, first at the edges and then in the middle. Repeat until the bottom layer is 8 sheets thick, each brushed generously with butter. Spread 1/3 of the filling evenly over the top. Layer 4 more sheets, buttering each. Spread another 1/3 of the filling evenly on top. Layer 4 more sheets, buttering each. Spread the remaining 1/3 of the filling evenly. Layer up to 8 or more sheets of fillo, buttering each. This is your top layer. It can be as thick as you choose. Score the baklava into squares or diamonds. Dot any remaining butter evenly all over. Sprinkle a few drops of water over the top and place pan in a pre-heated 350-degree oven for about 1 hour until golden brown. Check at 40 minutes, but as long as 1 1/2 hours may be needed for fillo dough to be as golden brown as desired. In the meantime prepare the syrup.

Syrup:
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 9.88 oz jar Tassos Mountain Honey with Thyme (or 1 cup honey)
  • Cinnamon Stick
  • One lemon slice
Bring all ingredients to a boil in a large sauce pan. Allow to simmer for at least five minutes. Remove cinnamon stick and lemon slice and any foam that accumulates. As soon as you pull the baklava out of the oven, ladle the hot syrup evenly over the top. Allow the baklava to cool and absorb the syrup completely. It keeps at room temperature for up to 10 days in an air-tight container. Baklava may certainly be refrigerated, but the honey will crystallize and may alter the texture. 

Working with Fillo Dough: Remove fillo dough from freezer and leave overnight in refrigerator. At least two hours before preparation, leave the box on the kitchen counter to fully come to room temperature. Remove fillo dough from box and unroll carefully. Lay it flat on the counter top with its plastic membrane underneath and a dry and a wet tea towel on top to prevent the dough from drying out. If the top sheets are too wet, rotate to the bottom. It is important to work quickly at this point. You may rotate the stack a few more times as needed. Assemble as directed by recipe.


Spanakopita - Enjoy a Greek Spinach Pie


Several years ago, my good friend Maria Savvenas was a guest chef at Harter House World Flavors Sampling Station she demonstrated how to make Spanakopita, a Greek Spinach Pie.

At that time, I had eaten it before but had never made it myself. So I watched her put them together into small triangles and of course, she made it look SO easy. So I purchased all the ingredients and decided I would attempt to make them at home. Which I did do.  It was time consuming, it took me at least 3 hours, but OMG, it was so worth it. I did get faster the next time because I then had a better understanding of the process. The time consuming part is taking the Fillo Dough, one sheet at a time, and basting each sheet with butter, using 4 sheets for each triangle, and trying to get them right on top of the 1st sheet.  Today I feel like a pro.  I make it often, my family loves it, and I love to take it when I need to "bring a dish" to my holiday parties.

Working with Phyllo Dough
I put wax paper on the counter, unroll the Fillo dough on the wax paper, and put another piece of wax paper on top of the phyllo dough, then put a damp towel on top to keep the phyllo dough from drying out. It's nearly impossible to work with the Fillo dough after it starts to dry out.


I was able to get 16 Spanakopita triangles from this recipe and 1 box of Athen's Fillo Dough.


 


Maria also told me that if I want to make a lot for a large group that I can use a 9x13 pan, putting phyllo dough on the bottom of the pan, then the mixture, another layer of Fillo Dough and mixture, and top with more phyllo dough sheets. Same process of buttering each layer.

Spanakopita

1 lb. Spinach (baby – Large Container)
2 Leeks – chopped
Large Onion – chopped
1 bunch Green onion – Chopped
2-3 cloves of Garlic – Chopped or minced
Dill
2 Eggs
2 Cups Crumbled Feta
1 tsp. Salt
½ tsp. black pepper
1 lb. Fillo Dough
1 cup salted butter, melted

1) Remove fillo from Freezer and put it in the refrigerator overnight to thaw. As you prepare the filling, remove fillo from the fridge and leave on the counter
2) Sauté onion, leeks, green onion and garlic over medium high heat until softened. Add Spinach, wilting the leaves. Remove pan from heat. Add Salt, pepper, dill, and feta mixing well. Then add slightly beaten eggs, stirring well – to blend the ingredients. Set mixture aside.
3) Unroll fillo dough from package. Lay it out flat on the countertop. Wet a dishtowel to cover the fillo you are not using to keep it from drying out. Use a sharp knife to cut fillo in half lengthwise to create two columns of equal size. Cover one column with a damp towel. Use other column to begin assembling.












4) Take one sheet and brush with melted butter, and then place another sheet on top of the buttered side and brush with butter again. Repeat until you have four layers of fillo.
5) Place butter fillo in front of you lengthwise. (The wider side toward you)




  Drain spinach mixture in a colander. Press mixture with the back of a spoon to remove excess moisture. Take a Tbl. of spinach mixture and place it on the bottom inside corner of the fillo. Take the corner of the dough, underneath the spinach mixture so that the corner meets flush with the other side. Continue folding until there is no more fillo and you have a triangle.
6) Repeat until fillo or mixture is gone. Place on a baking sheet and brush each triangle with more butter
7) Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until the fillo dough is golden.  





          Tips
            I like to use Plugra European Butter.
        
    I also like Athenos Feta Cheese.  Plain or mix it up with flavored varieties.
            I like to chop all my vegetables before I start.  They tend to cook faster than I can cut. 
           
            Open a bottle of your favorite wine and consume while cooking.

    










Find everything you need at Harter House
and Harter House World Flavors.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Simple Scones



Ingredients
2 Cups All Purpose Sugar
1/3 Cup Sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, frozen
1/2 Cup raisins (or dried currants)
1/2 Cup Sour Cream
1 large egg

Directions
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a medium bowl, mix flour, 1/3 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Grate butter into flour mixture on the large holes of a box grater; use your fingers to work in butter (mixture should resemble coarse meal), then stir in raisins.

In a small bowl, whisk sour cream and egg until smooth.

Using a fork, stir sour cream mixture into flour mixture until large dough clumps form. Use your hands to press the dough against the bowl into a ball. (The dough will be sticky in places, and there may not seem to be enough liquid at first, but as you press, the dough will come together.)

Place on a lightly floured surface and pat into a 7- to 8-inch circle about 3/4-inch thick. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tsp. of sugar. Use a sharp knife to cut into 8 triangles; place on a cookie sheet (preferably lined with parchment paper), about 1 inch apart. Bake until golden, about 15 to 17 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and serve warm or at room temperature.

Variations

Cranberry-Orange Scones
Follow the recipe for Simple Scones, adding a generous teaspoon of finely grated orange rind (zest) to the dry ingredients and substituting dried cranberries for the raisins.

Lemon-Blueberry Scones
Follow the recipe for Simple Scones, adding a generous teaspoon of finely grated lemon rind (zest) to the dry ingredients and substituting dried blueberries for the raisins.

Cherry-Almond Scones
Follow the recipe for Simple Scones, adding 1/2 tsp. almond extract to the sour cream mixture and substituting dried cherries for the raisins.


Tip
Aluminum foil can be used to keep food moist, cook it evenly, and make clean-up easier.


This recipe comes from
https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/79470/simple-scones/

Quick Crispy Chicken Cutlets


This recipe is one of my favorites.  It comes from Home for Dinner with Jamie Deen.  It's an easy recipe, 4-6 servings.   About 1 hour and 30 minutes of prep and cooking.



Quick Crispy Chicken Cutlets


Ingredients
(4) 9-oz boneless, skinless, chicken breasts split OR (8) Chicken Cutlets

Directions


Lay the chicken out on a cutting board. Hold your knife parallel to the cutting board and slice the chicken breasts in half so one breast is now two cutlets. Lay the chicken between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound out with a meat mallet to 1/4-inch thickness. Sprinkle them on both sides with salt and pepper.

Set out three casserole dishes and add the flour to the first. Whisk together the mustard and eggs in the second. Mix together the panko, Parmesan, lemon zest and some salt and pepper in the third.

Dredge each cutlet first through the flour, then in the egg mixture and finally in the panko mixture. Put the chicken pieces on a clean baking sheet and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet. Once hot, add the cutlets, in batches, and cook for 3 minutes on each side. Remove to paper towels to drain and season again with salt. Put the chicken pieces on a clean baking sheet and place in the warm oven while you cook the second batch.

Serve the cutlets with avocado and lemon wedges.