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Archive for the ‘casserole’ Category

Butternut squash was crazy on sale about a month ago at Sprouts/ Henry’s, so I did the rational thing and bought like seven of them.  Luckily I came across this recipe in Martha Stewart Living for butternut squash lasagna.  It really is perfect because Boyfriend loves lasagna (but I rarely make it because it takes about 6 hours) and I have all these squash to use!  I followed the recipe for the most part, but did make some minor changes based on laziness.

What you need:

  • One butternut squash, about 3-4 lbs
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • At least one pound ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 2-3 cups of grated mozzarella
  • A tablespoon or two of nutmeg
  • minced garlic, to taste (I used about a tablespoon, maybe a bit more)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup loosely packed sage leaves, chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken stock
  • Lasagna noodles
  • Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top

What to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 425.  Peel and cut up the squash into one inch pieces.
  2. Toss or spray with olive oil.  Sprinkle with pepper.  Spread out on a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes.
  3. Reduce oven to 375.
  4. Combine ricotta, eggs, cream, mozzarella, nutmeg, garlic and a pinch or two of salt.

    Cheesy mixture

  5. When the squash is done roasting, or has a few minutes left, melt the butter in a large sauce pan.  When the butter is fully melted, add the chopped sage.  Stirring constantly, cook the sage & butter over medium heat until the butter becomes very yellow, about 4-5 minutes.

    Not quite yellow enough yet

  6. If you have a sous-chef, like I happen to last night, have them do this step while you are working on the sage & butter.  Soak about half a pack of uncooked lasagna noodles in hot tap water in a shallow dish.  After 3-4 minutes take them out of the water.  They should still be pretty stiff.
  7. Add the squash and chicken stock to the sauce pan with the sage and butter.  Mash most of the squash and stir thoroughly.
  8. Assemble the lasagna in a 9×13 baking dish, in this order: Layer of noodles, layer of butternut squash (about 1/3 to half of the mixture depending on how many layers you want), layer of cheese mixture.  Repeat until you run out of squash and cheese.  Top the entire thing with a generous layer of Parmesan cheese.

    Bad representation of the layers

  9. Bake for 35 minutes.  Let stand for at least 10 minutes before serving, unless you want to burn your face off. 

    Delicious!

    The end result was very good, perfect for a chilly night.  It was WAY less time consuming that normal lasagna (if you make your own sauce, as I do), so it’s much more appropriate for a weeknight dinner.

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PUMPKINS!!!  I have wanted to cook with pumpkins for years, but I could never find the right kind of pumpkins.  You can’t just use jack o lantern ones, because they don’t taste good, don’t have much meat and are watery and yucky.  But this year it seems that all my local grocers finally got with it.  There are sugar pumpkins everywhere!  I am still on the search for a cheese pumpkin, though…

I was perusing the interwebs, looking for a cool recipe to try out and stumbled upon this one, which I adapted for this dish.  Also, ricotta was on sale at Sprouts, so it was perfect.  I actually roasted my own pumpkin and made the puree the day before.  You can google instructions on how to roast a pumpkin, but it’s basically exactly like roasting a spaghetti squash, only without the salt and pepper.  I roasted two 2-3lb sugar pumpkins and it made double the amount needed for this recipe (popped the rest in the freezer for later).

pumpkin puree!

What you need:

  • 16 ounces of whatever type of pasta you prefer (although shorter noodles like penne or bowtie are better)
  • 4 – 6 cups of ricotta
  • 15 ounces or about 2 cups of pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 ounces yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic (about a bulb)
  • 3/4 – 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1 cup of mozzarella or a few ounces of heavy cream
  • About 1/2 a cup of breadcrumbs
  • Olive oil
  • Ground pepper

What to do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 and lightly oil a 9×13 baking dish or pan.
  2. Cook the pasta VERY al dente, and drain.  Add back into the pot and toss with a bit of olive oil to keep it from sticking.
  3. In a larger bowl whisk the following together; ricotta, mozzarella, pumpkin puree, eggs & yogurt.
  4. Add the salt, nutmeg, pepper, ginger, italian seasoning, garlic, parmesan and almonds and stir until combined.
  5. Add contents of bowl to pasta pot and stir into pasta until thoroughly mixed.  
  6. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish.
  7. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top.
  8. Bake for about 35 minutes.

ENJOY!

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So maybe this is a quiche type thing, or a frittata?  I dunno, I just know that I love breakfast for dinner.  And after visiting a local place for brunch and having one of the most delicious “omelets” ever, which was baked in a mini cast iron skillet, I HAD TO TRY IT.

This is insanely easy — I didn’t look up any recipes, just kind of did what I thought would work best. This is also really great because it’s kind of kitchen sink, throw in whatever you want/ have/ need to use and still have a delicious meal.  For example, I had a leftover baked potato that I cut up and threw in.  You really should have eggs, cheese and some veggies at all times in your kitchen, so just do what feels right.  Other things to try: sausage, tomatoes, onion, pesto, other kinds of cheeses, olives, ham, zucchini or squash, peppers, etc.

First I started pre-cooking some delicious, delicious bacon in the cast iron skillet (here is the skillet that I have and highly recommend, btw).  Oh, and preheat the oven to 425!

Frying the bacon

As you can see I used five pieces, but there are incredibly thick.  If you have normal cut bacon, maybe bump it up to 7.  But as I said earlier, you can just throw whatever you want in!  The great part about the bacon though, is that now you have delicious fatty grease to saute veggies in AND it’s a spectacular way to season and coat your skillet so that you can actually get the omelette out of the pan later and eat it.

While the bacon is a-cookin’, it would be a grand idea to clean and chop your delicious veggies.  I used broccoli, scallions and some spinach.  I only used half the broccoli, but all the spinach (about an oz) and all of the scallions, chopped.

Veggies!

I also whipped my eggs with shredded mozzarella cheese, salt, pepper, and milk while waiting for the bacon.  I used 8 eggs, about a cup of milk (maybe less?  I just poured some in, it was not more than a cup for sure), generous amounts of pepper and about half as much salt.  If I had to guess, I’d say a teaspoon or more of pepper.

Scrambling eggs

Finally the bacon was done, I took it out and wrapped in a paper towel to absorb some of the grease.  Then I threw in the scallions and maybe 8-10 minced cloves of garlic to saute for a few minutes on medium.  While it was sauteing, I went ahead and chopped up the bacon.

Sauteing garlic and scallions in bacon grease

Before I added the other veggies, I made sure to coat the sides of the skillet with the bacon grease.  I did this buy just taking a wooden spatula full of scallions/ garlic/ grease and running it all over the inside of the skillet a few times.  Then after the garlic turned a bit dark, I added the other veggies to cook for about 5 mins (or until the spinach starts to wilt, if you use it).

pre-cooking all veggies in bacon grease

Next I poured the eggs in.  Stir the contents around a few times, to make sure everything is evenly distributed.  Then I added more mozzarella on top!

Ready to bake

I let the whole thing cook on high for 7 – 8 minutes, until the eggs were more or less set.  Then I stuck that sucker in the oven.  As for the baking time, I had intended for it to bake for 15 – 20 mins… which after being extended in intervals of 5 mins eventually added up to about half an hour.  Bear in mind, I had an extremely DEEP skillet very, very full.  Not only was I starving by the time it was cooked throughout, but I had also sustained a very painful oven burn…. WAH.

All done!

I think it was worth it, though…

Like a breakfast pie

It was seriously delicious, you guys.  Also filling… we only ate about half and remember that one half of “we” is a giant (not me).  I served it with simple toast.  I wanted to make cheddar drop biscuits, but the lazy took over instead.  When I had the version that inspired me at Cafe 21, it was complemented by the most delicious potato pancake I have ever had in my life.  A good, easy substitute are the frozen ones at Trader Joe’s… plus, you already have the oven on, anyway.  Enjoy!

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Lasagna

One of the BF’s fav foods is lasagna.  I’m not a huge, huge fan, but I thought I’d be a good little house girlfriend and make some for him.  I got the following recipe from a friend (thanks Steph!):

Ingredients

  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage
  • 3/4 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
  • 2 (6.5 ounce) cans canned tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • fresh basil, approx ½ cup or so
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 16 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 lasagna noodles
  • 3/4 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. In a Dutch oven, cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned.
  2. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water.
  3. Season with sugar, basil, Italian seasoning, 1tablespoon pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley.
  4. Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  5. Soak raw, hard noodles in a large bowl of very hot tap water for 10-15 min
  6. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, remaining parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  7. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  8. To assemble, spread 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Arrange 6 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce. Spread with one half of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with a third of mozzarella cheese slices. Spoon 1 1/2 cups meat sauce over mozzarella, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers, and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil: to prevent sticking, either spray foil with cooking spray, or make sure the foil does not touch the cheese.
  9. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving

Changes I made (or will in the future):

More ricotta!

I used ground turkey and chicken Italian sausage because I don’t eat beef.

I didn’t use a dutch oven, just a huge saucepot.

I simmered the sauce for probably 3 hours or so, the longer the better!

I made the sauce and assembled the lasagna then stuck in the fridge for a day or two, then baked it.  This is definitely a weekend meal to prepare.

Next time I think I will double the sauce recipe because it is a bit labor intensive, but totally freezable.  Why not do the same about of work and just freeze some for pasta or another batch of lasagna?!

Other than that, shit was delish.  Even I liked it, A LOT.  My BF LOVED it.  I think if the lasagna could be impregnated and make a bunch of little baby lasagnas, he might leave me for it.

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I was perusing potato recipes online and came across one that used pumpkin soup instead of cheese for au gratin potatoes (http://www.greatpotatorecipes.com/easy-potato-recipe.html#more-52), so I thought I’d try out butternut squash, instead.  I tweaked it a bit:

Potatoes, thinly sliced (enough to fill up a casserole dish, I used about 7 small ones)
1.5 containers of TJ’s chopped onions, garlic and shallots
16 ounces of milk
about 20 ounces of TJ’s butternut squash soup
goat cheese
freshly ground pepper to taste

my TJ's ingredients

my TJ's ingredients

Put layers of potatoes, then sprinkle the chopped mixture, some pepper.  Then another layer of potatoes, and so on.

Mix the soup and milk together, then pour over potatoes.

oven ready

oven ready

Bake at 350 for about 75 minutes.  After it is done baking, I served the potatoes and added generous chunks of goat cheese on top, which quickly melted.  A new fall favorite!  I think it could use a bit more spice, though…any suggestions?

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