Archive for February, 2014

Easy Mediterranean Chicken Soup

Mediterrean soup

5 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s the temperature outside–but with the windchill it feels more like -6. Chicken noodle soup time. I’m getting tired of the regular chicken soup as the temperatures continue to slide. To capture a little bit of summer in a bowl, while warming myself up I’ve been making this Mediterranean version.

 

Recipe

 

Ingredients

4 cups chicken broth

2 cups cooked, chopped chicken (hello, leftovers!)

3 carrots, diced

2 celery stalks, diced

1 medium onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1/2 tsp. paprika (smoked, preferred)

1 10-oz. box Israeli couscous

1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and diced

1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 lemon

 

Directions

  1. Prepare the couscous according to package directions. You can use the smaller, more widely available Moroccan couscous but I prefer the larger, Israeli variety.
  2. Place the 2 tbsp. of olive oil in the bottom of a soup pot to coat. Saute the onions and garlic over medium-high heat until fragrant and the onions translucent.
  3. Add in the carrots and celery and saute for 2 more minutes.
  4. Stir in the chicken and saute 2 more minutes.
  5. Pour the chicken broth into the pot and bring the mixture just to a simmer for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
  6. Mix in couscous, parsley, olives, and seasonings.
  7. Serve each soup bowl topped with feta cheese and fresh squeezed lemon juice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Directions

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Easy No-Cook Noodle Lasagna

Lasagna Kit box

We’ve been hovering around freezing temps here in the Midwest so I’ve been on the hunt for recipes that heat up my house–and my tummy. Red Gold sent me a Lasagna Kit so that I can try out their version of this comfort food staple. I’m already a fan of Red Gold tomatoes–they’re grown here in the region in Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana, and they hold that just-picked flavor of tomatoes even when there’s a foot of snow outside.

 

I tweaked Red Gold’s Easy Classic Lasagna recipe to make my own version–I usually add an egg to the ricotta cheese to thin it out when I’m putting it into the uncooked lasagna and it helps hold the cheese in place once the dish is cooked. I can’t help but add a little heat to my lasagna, too–if you’re not a spice girl, feel free to leave off the extra kick of cayenne pepper.

 

To find more recipe ideas you can check out Red Gold’s other lasagna varieties. I have the Eggplant Florentine on my list to try soon since Mr. Squid loves eggplant.

Lasagna

Recipe

 

Ingredients

1/2 cup water

1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes

2 14.5-oz. cans diced tomatoes with Italian seasoning

1-2 cloves garlic, diced

1 pound cooked Italian sausage

1 16-oz. box lasagna noodles

1 15-oz. carton ricotta

1 egg

1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning (I used 1 tbsp. fresh, chopped basil)

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (opt.)

3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit. Use a handheld immersion blender to mix together the tomatoes, garlic, and water in a large bowl (or you can place these in a blender). In another bowl, whisk together the egg with the ricotta cheese and the Italian seasoning along with the cayenne pepper, if using. Now it’s time to assemble your lasagna!
  2. Generously coat a 9×13″ baking pan with baking spray. Spread 1 1/2 cups sauce on the bottom of the pan. Arrange 1/3 of the uncooked noodles over the sauce. It’s fine to overlap a little.
  3. Next, smear 1/2 of the ricotta mixture over the noodles (they’ll wiggle around a little, just put them back in place). Top with 1/2 of the sausage, sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella cheese.
  4. Drizzle 1 cup tomato sauce over the cheese then top with another layer of pasta noodles.
  5. Repeat the steps above: ricotta, sausage, cheese, sauce, noodles.
  6. Pour the remaining sauce on the final layer of noodles then sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella cheese and the Parmesan.
  7. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour; remove foil and cook for another 1/2 hour or until the top is golden. Let the lasagna stand for 10-15 minutes before you cut into it.

Your turn: What’s your favorite tweak to classic lasagna?

 

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Why aren’t you eating…julienne cut sun dried tomatoes

Sundried tomatoesSun dried tomatoes packed in oil are a regular addition to a variety of dishes at my house–from pasta sauces to enchilada sauce. I usually mix in the sun dried tomatoes with my hand stick blender so you never know they’re in there except for a deep, rich flavor.

 

But sun dried tomatoes on their own? I hadn’t tried that before. Then I had  a sprinkling of julienne cut sun dried tomatoes over my dish at La’Albatross, a fabulous restaurant in downtown Cleveland. French. They’re the only place in the city with their own fromagier, aka a cheese monger. (I know, I had to ask what a fromagier was, too.)

 

Since then I’ve been topping salads, pasta dishes, roasted vegetables, and more with julienne cut sun dried tomatoes. I’m hooked on Mariani Sun Dried Tomatoes. I find them in the produce section of the grocery store–chances are you can, too.

 

Lately, I’ve only been able to find the flavored varieties–basil and hot pepper I prefer them plain so I can play up the flavor however I like.

 

Packaged sundried tomatoes

 

 

 

 

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Easy Baked Alaska

Slice of Baked AlaskaLayered with two kinds of ice cream and topped with an impossibly golden meringue topping, Baked Alaska is an impressive dessert to serve to your family (invite guests for this one!). Here’s the secret: it’s really easy to make. The key? Be patient and have lots of freezer space. Lots.

So keep it cool for Valentine’s Day with this dessert.

Keep it fun: Around our house we have a bit of a competition when it comes to eating our slices of Baked Alaska. We serve them upright–no sideways slices. You try to see how small you can get your piece before it falls over.

 

Eating Baked AlaskaRecipe

Ingredients

Cake

1 store-bought graham cracker pie crust

2 containers ice cream (1.5 quarts or half gallons; I like a layer of chocolate and some kind of vanilla/caramel combo)

Meringue

8 eggs

1/8 tsp. cream of tartar

2 Tbsp. powdered sugar

1 cup sugar

1/2 tsp. pink food coloring (optional)

Chocolate sauce

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/3 cup heavy cream

Baked Alaska in the freezer

Directions

  1. Soften one container ice cream until just spreadable. Scoop onto the graham cracker pie shell trying to keep it in a dome shape. Freeze until hard. (Now’s the time to leave out the other ice cream container to soften.)
  2. Top the first layer of ice cream with the second just softened ice cream, keeping the dome shape. Freeze until hard.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, separate the eggs adding the whites into the bowl and discarding the yolks. With a blender whip the egg whites until they become frothy.
  4. Add the cream of tartar, food coloring, and powdered sugar into the egg whites, then gradually add in the sugar and continue to beat until stiff. (The mixture should form peaks when you dip a spoon into it and then pull it out.)
  5. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and get everything ready. Clear out the freezer since you’re going to need to put your Baked Alaska inside in a hurry.
  6. Take the ice cream base out of the freezer and place it on a baking sheet. Quickly put the meringue all over the ice cream trying to cover it completely to the graham crackers edges. Have fun with it–create swirl shapes and peaks.
  7. Put the cake into the oven for 3 minutes. Watch carefully and remove as soon the the meringue peaks begin to cook.
  8. Stash in the freezer right away.
  9. Freeze overnight before serving.
  10. Make the sauce by melting together the chips and the heavy cream in a glass dish in the microwave. Allow to cool.
  11. Let the Baked Alaska sit out the freezer for 10 minutes before cutting. Run the knife under hot water before trying to cut each piece.

Making a Baked Alaska

 

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