Baking Time

Pumpkin Pie Bars with Maple Icing

Pumpkin Pie Bars with Maple

Does your pumpkin pie recipe need an update? Try making these instead – they pack all the flavor of pie in a bar.

I’m all for a few shortcuts on making these so I use a boxed spice cake mix to make the crust and I don’t need to add much extra spice, it’s already in there. To make a smooth, spreadable filling I lightened the pumpkin puree with softened cream cheese. Streusel topping? I included that, too, to add crunchiness. The final touch is a drizzle of maple icing.

Pumpkin Pie Bars with bite

Recipe

Servings: 1, 9×13 pan

Prep time: 15-20 minutes plus baking

Ingredients

Crust

1 box spice cake mix (or keep it mild and use a white or butter cake mix)

1/2 cup butter, melted

 

Filling

1, 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup canned pumpkin

1/8 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

 

Topping

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

2/3 cup flour

2/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup butter

1/4 tsp. salt

 

Icing (opt.)

2 cups powdered sugar

3 tbsp. milk

1/4-1/2 tsp. maple flavoring

 

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Prepare a 9×13″ baking dish by spraying it and then put down a piece of parchment and spray again.
  3. In a bowl, combine the boxed cake mix and the butter. Stir until the mixture becomes a dough.
  4. Press the dough into the bottom of the casserole dish.
  5. Place the crust in the refrigerator while you prepare the other ingredients.
  6. In another bowl, use a hand-held mixer to whip the cream cheese and sugar together until fluffy. Add in the pumpkin puree and the egg and mix until combined.
  7. One more bowl – mix the oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt together. Cut the butter into the flour mixture until it becomes crumbly.
  8. Take the crust out of the refrigerator and pour the pumpkin mixture on it. Top with the streusel.
  9. Bake for 20 minutes – be careful the bottom can brown quickly.
  10. Allow the bars to cool, cut.
  11. In a small bowl (ok, one more bowl) whisk together the icing ingredients. Drizzle over the slices. Allow time for the icing to set and harden on the slices before serving.

Pumpkin Pie Bars stacked

 

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Roasted broccoli with grapes

Roasted brocolli and grapes 2Roasting broccoli adds sweetness and a hint of smokiness to an otherwise mellow veggie. Usually, I let my broccoli go solo on the roasting pan since it cooks faster than my next fav – potatoes. But I liked the unusual addition to roasted broccoli I found in this month’s Midwest Living.

Grapes.

I know, I know – roasting grapes? I hadn’t thought of that either. Roasting time brings out the more savory side of red grapes making them firmer and lending a cool play on texture that contrasts nicely with broccoli.

But the real question – would my kids like it? My youngest loved the idea of grapes making there way from snack to dinner dish. My middle child picked out each and every grape after tasting one. Split decision for sure.

If you’re looking to jazz up roasted veggies I’d definitely recommend throwing in some red grapes. One side note: If you do have leftovers nix reheating the grapes. The roasted veggies do fine day #2, the grapes not so much.

Roasted brocolli and grapes

Recipe

Ingredients

2 cups broccoli in small pieces

1 cup green beans (I thawed haricots verts I had on hand from Trader Joe’s)

1 cup red grapes

1/4 cup slivered onion wedges

2 tablespoons olive oil (I used garlic olive oil)

1/4 tsp. garlic powder or 1 clove minced fresh garlic (if you’re not using garlic olive oil)

1/2 fresh lemon (optional)

1 large, heavy duty plastic bag

 

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Generously coat a baking sheet with cooking oil.
  3. In the heavy duty plastic bag place all of the ingredients. Seal tightly and shake (this is a good kid job).
  4. Pour the vegetables onto the baking sheet.
  5. Cook for 15-20 minutes removing the pan halfway through and moving the veggies around to ensure they’re roasting on all sides.
  6. Drizzle with fresh lemon juice right out of the oven.
  7. Serve hot!

 

 

 

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Easy Groot Cupcakes

If you’ve seen Guardians of the Galaxy then you know the certain joy that comes from the final scene (spoiler!) seeing a twig – Groot – dance to Jackson 5′s “I Want You Back.” Haven’t seen the movie? You should.

Once you do, make these silly cupcakes with your kids.

Child with groot cupcake

My youngest requested Groot cupcakes for her birthday

For more inspiration, sing along.

I got the general idea for Groot cupcakes from Koalipops – regular chocolate cupcakes topped with a Groot made out of gingerbread. Mr. Squid made a template to follow for the Groot cupcake toppers but my girls quickly abandoned it in favor of fashioning their own. I suggest you do the same. The beauty of Groot is that he doesn’t have to look perfect! Let your kids have fun making their own versions of little, dancing Groots.

Baby groots baking

Follow along to create your own Groots. And yes, you need to listen to “I Want You Back” while you’re baking.

Groot Cupcake with pan

First, I made 24 chocolate cupcakes from a box. Next, I mixed up a batch of King Arthur’s Gingerbread Cookies. I left out the ginger so the flavor wouldn’t clash too much with the chocolate cupcake base. Leave the cookie dough in the fridge for at least an hour before rolling them out. Now you have a choice: make a baby Groot template or start freestyling. We did both.

Next frost the top of the chocolate cupcakes (I added a little too much black coloring to mine–next time I wouldn’t add any and I’d just keep it as dark chocolate). Then, gently push your baked, cooled Groot into the cupcake. Complete the look with green frosting leaves and thin, chocolate icing to look like twigs – you can also use it to glue the chocolate chip eyes in place.

 

Groot Cupcake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Black Forest Cupcakes

Black Forest Cupcakes with a biteIn honor of Germany’s recent World Cup win we made Black Forest Cupcakes.

Cheering on the German soccer team while staying in Uberlingen, Germany

Cheering on the German soccer team while staying in Uberlingen, Germany

Black Forest cake is the quintessential dessert of the southwest Germany home to Schwarzwald (yes, Black Forest in German). It’s known as the setting for many of the Brothers Grimm’s collected fairy tales with its rolling hills that dip into valley towns and farmland along with crystal-clear lakes. To sample some of the areas culinary sweets we visited the Alemannen Hof along the banks of Lake Titisee.

Alemannen Hof

The traditional Black Forest cake has a slim, spongy chocolate cake that’s enveloped by fresh, whipped cream that’s dotted with cherries that have been soaked in liquor. Since I don’t drink alcohol opted for a slice of thick, creamy fruit torte while my teen had the apple crumb cake and my youngest the apple strudel. Still, the flavors of dark cherries, chocolate, and whipped cream was one I wanted to play around with once I was back stateside. And with the German soccer team’s win it was the perfect excuse.

Black Forest Cake

German cakes tend to be drier than American confections so I made my cake batter moister but tried to pump up the cherry flavor by using both chopped dark Morello cherries and the juice from the cherry jar (available at Trader Joe’s) in both the cake and the frosting. I also made another addition – fruit vinegar. The combination of cherry juice and a dash of sourness from the vinegar in the frosting cuts the sweetness and gives the cupcakes a more complex, rich flavor.

Recipe

Servings: Make 24 regular-sized cupcakes

Ingredients

Cupcake batter

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking powder

2 tsps. baking soda

2 tsp. black cocoa powder (opt.)

3/4 cup cocoa powder

2 cups sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup unsweetened red grape juice, dark cherry juice (like Trader Joe’s Dark Morello Cherries), or hot coffee

1 cup milk

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 tsp. almond extract

1/2 cup dark morello cherries

1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks or semi-sweet chocolate chips

 

Frosting

1 stick (1/2 cup) real butter, at room temperature

6 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp. salt

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup dark morello cherry juice

1/2 tsp. fruit vinegar (opt. like raspberry)

2 tbsp. finely chopped dark morello cherries

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. almond extract

 

Directions

Cupcakes

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line your muffin tins with paper muffin wrappers.
  2. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, black cocoa (if using), and sugar in a large bowl.
  3. In another bowl, use a blender to combine the vegetable oil, morello dark cherry juice, milk, eggs and extracts. Once combined add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients.
  4. Add the cherries and chocolate to the mixing bowl and blend until fully combined.
  5. Lightly coat the muffin papers with cooking spray before adding 2-3 tablespoons of batter to each one.
  6. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.
  7. Cool in the refrigerator.

 

Frosting

  1. In a mixing bowl whip the butter until smooth.
  2. Alternate adding 2 cups powdered sugar and a little bit of milk and the extracts until the frosting starts to become thick.
  3. Then, add the dark cherry juice gradually. Once the frosting is almost to the right consistency add the fruit vinegar to give the frosting a hint of tartness (opt.).
  4. Whip in the finely chopped cherries if you’re using them.
  5. Place the frosting in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm and then frost the cupcakes.

I use a french tip attachment to my pastry bag to swirl the frosting on top of each cupcake (using a knife is fine, too). Dust with cocoa powder and a chocolate chunk.

 Black Forest Cupcake

 

 

 

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Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Muffins

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Muffins

Happy National Chocolate Chip Day! To commemorate the invention of chocolate chip cookies by a creative baker back in the 1930s, May 15th is the day to bake up a batch. But cookies are so 2013. Make muffins instead to pair chocolate chips with something a little healthier – oats.

 Open chocolate chip oatmeal muffins

Recipe

Makes 12 regular-sized muffins

 

Ingredients

1 cup whole wheat flour (or go half whole-wheat, half all purpose or use just all-purpose)

1 cup oats

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg (opt.)

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1/4 cup butter, softened

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup milk

1 cup mini-chocolate chips

2 tbsp. ground flax seed (opt.)

 

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a large bowl mix together the dried ingredients.
  3. In another bowl, mix together the wet ingredients.
  4. Gently stir the wet ingredients into the dry ones until just softened.
  5. Fill each of the muffin tins up 2/3 full. (You can use muffin papers or generously grease the pan with baking spray.)
  6. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until just browned around the edges.

Optional: Add sugar crystals, chopped nuts, or extra mini-chocolate chips on top of the batter before baking.

*Recipe adapted from How Sweet It Is.

 

Stacked chocolate chip oatmeal muffins

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Chocolate Coconut Tres Leches

Chocolate coconut tres leches on a plate

Tres Leches translates into three milks cake. With nearly the consistency of a pudding cake, the dense cake batter is designed to soak up a sweetened milk glaze that you pour over it before after baking and before adding the frosting.

 

I first sampled the traditional vanilla tres leches not in Mexico, but La Crosse, Wisconsin of all places. In a tiny Mexican restaurant frequented by college students and foodies our server brightened when we ordered the tres leches. The owner of Iguana’s Mexican Street Cafe made it from scratch and took great pride in serving us a huge slice. I’ve been thinking about making it ever since. That was July.

 

I wanted to amp up the flavor of the cake so of course I thought it needed chocolate. I found a version of Chocolate Rum Cake from Chow that lead me through how to add chocolate to both the cake batter and the tres leches glaze. But I also wanted to temper some of the tres leches glaze, which can become too sweet for my taste, with another ingredient. I found it in coconut milk – a great stand-in for much of the heavy cream and some of the sweetened condensed milk. I just couldn’t stop there. I also added dark cocoa powder into the whipped frosting for a rich dessert that really is more like Cinco Leches – sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, coconut milk, heavy cream, and milk chocolate chips. I usually opt for semi-sweet but this creamy dessert works better with a milky chocolate.

 

Both of the recipes I combined made the tres leches cake as a layer cake. I like it better in a casserole dish – it’s easier to make that way and serves more people. If you want a layered cake go ahead but your cake may not soak up all the tres leches glaze, which was another reason I went with the dish – I didn’t want to lose any of the sauce!

Chocolate Coconut Tres Leches

Recipe

For the cake

¾ cup water

2 tsp. dark cocoa powder (opt. I used black onyx)

½ cup cocoa powder

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

1 ¼ cups sugar

5 large egg yolks

½ cup vegetable oil

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. coconut extract (opt.)

8 large egg whites

¾ tsp. cream of tartar

 

For the tres leches

4 ounces chocolate (milk chocolate chips work well)

1 cup coconut milk

½ cup sweetened condensed milk

¼ cup evaporated milk

¼ cup heavy cream

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. coconut extract (opt.)

Tres leches ingredients

For the frosting

2 cups heavy cream

1/8 cup coconut milk

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1-2 tbsp. dark cocoa powder

1 tsp. coconut extract (opt.)

 

For the garnish

Shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)

Mini chocolate chips

 

Directions

For the cake

  1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Generously coat the inside of a 9” x 13” casserole dish with cooking spray.
  2. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, ½ tsp. salt, and ½ cup plus 2 tbsp. sugar in a large mixing bowl.
  3. In another bowl whisk the egg yolks, oil, and extracts until combined. Whisk dark cocoa powder into the water right in the measuring cup and then whisk into the egg mixture.
  4. Whisk the egg yolk mixture into the flour until combined. (Lots of whisking!)
  5. In yet another bowl, beat the egg whites, ½ tsp. salt, and the cream of tartar in a bowl until the egg whites become frothy, about 2 minutes. (Yes, you’re essentially making a meringue.) Gradually add the rest of the sugar, ¾ cup, into the egg whites and beat until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes.
  6. Working in three batches, add 1/3 of the egg whites to the flour-egg yolk mixture and fold together until there are no white streaks. Follow the same procedure with the rest of the egg whites.
  7. Pour the batter into the casserole dish and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Test to see if the cake is done by putting a toothpick into the center – if it comes out clean take the cake out of the oven. Cool the cake for 10 minutes.

Adding tres leches

For the tres leches glaze

  1. In a large, glass measuring bowl, melt together the chocolate and ¼ cup heavy cream in the microwave on medium-high heat for 90 seconds. Stir until smooth.
  2. Allow to cool slightly.
  3. Whisk in coconut milk, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, extracts.
  4. Pour 1/3 of the tres leches glaze onto the cake. Wait 10 minutes and then pour the next 1/3. Follow the same process with the rest of the glaze.
  5. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or, if possible, overnight.

 

For the whipped topping

  1. With a hand-held mixer beat the whipping cream until frothy. Add the coconut milk and powdered sugar to the whipping cream until stiff, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add in the extracts and cocoa powder and whip 30 more seconds.
  3. Spread the whipped topping onto the cake using a spatula.
  4. Optional toppings – shredded coconut and mini chocolate chips.
  5. Refrigerate 1 more hour.

 

To serve

  1. On a large plate use chocolate sauce (such as Hershey’s syrup – it’s for the design not the flavor) and make a swirl shape on the plate.
  2. Use the extra tres leches sauce in the pan to do another swirl of sauce.
  3. Cut the cake into square pieces.

 

*Not a coconut fan? The coconut flavor in this recipe is subtle. Nix the coconut extract and the coconut milk in the whipped topping if you don’t like coconut. Keep it in the tres leches and you probably won’t notice it. Or, just go ahead and use all heavy cream instead of any coconut milk.

 

Pieces of chocolate coconut tres leches

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Ramp Au Gratin Potatoes

RampsRamps look like a cross between a green onion and a leek – but they have a pungent oniony-garlic flavor softened with a hint of sweetness. Also known as wild leeks, ramps are a sign it’s spring!

 

In my bag from my local CSA (community supported agriculture), Fresh Fork Market, I had a bunch of fresh ramps in need of a home. I paired them with a creamy au gratin recipe.

 

How do you cook with ramps? It’s easy. Wash them and then slice them thin as you would green onions. Remove any filmy parts that may be coming off the white ends already. For this recipe I used the entire ramp—white and green parts. Time to get cooking!

 

 

Recipe

Ingredients

6 Medium potatoes (Red, Yukon, regular, or a combination)

3 tbsp. butter

¼ cup onion, diced small

1/4 -1/2 cup sliced ramps

3 tbsp. all-purpose flour

1 tsp. salt

¼ tsp. ground pepperSauting ramps

¼ tsp. ground thyme (or 1 1/2 tsp. fresh)

1 can (12-oz.) evaporated milk

½ cup half and half

½ cup water

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 clove garlic, diced (opt.)

 

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Peel potatoes and then slice thin. I used my food processor with the slicing attachment.
  3. Place the thin-sliced potatoes into a pot and fill with water and a generous helping of salt. Bring to a boil over medium to high heat on the stovetop. Cook until the potatoes are just barely fork tender (about 4 minutes) and drain.
  4. Coat a 8” x 8” or similarly sized casserole dish with cooking spray. Place the potatoes onto the greased dish. Top the potatoes with the cheese.
  5. In a saucepan melt the butter on medium-high heat and add in the onions. Saute until translucent (about 4 minutes). Add the ramps and the garlic and sauté for another minute.
  6. Turn the heat to low and add the evaporated milk and seasonings.
  7. In a measuring cup, whisk the flour into the half and half and water until fully combined. Slowly pour into the saucepan and gradually bring to a boil stirring constantly. Simmer until thickened (about 3 minutes).
  8. Pour the sauce over the potatoes and bake for 25 minutes. Broil the potatoes on high for 3 minutes to crisp the top. Allow the potatoes to sit for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Make it a meal—add in cubed ham, steamed broccoli or whatever else you might have leftover in the fridge.

Ramp au gratin potatoes*Tweaked from a recipe for Scalloped Potatoes from Very Best Baking.

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Homemade Thin Mints

Stack of thin mints

My husband has asked me never to make these cookies again. Ever. They’re just too addictive. It’s impossible to eat just one and so we’ve been chowing down these homemade Girl Scout Thin Mints.

Thin mints with a bite

See, I had to make Thin Mints. We didn’t have any Girl Scouts come by and so I was left to come up with my own version. I used my favorite Chocolate Butter Cookie recipe as the base and added in peppermint extract. Now for the dipping! Looking through recipes online I saw plenty that relied on candy melts for the final dip. That’s a no-no. Candy melts have their place – a quick, fun addition to a dessert that you want to fancify, for instance. But you can’t rely on them. I like to mix them into semi-sweet chocolate chips to help it set, usually a 2:1 ratio. The better the chocolate wafers the better your cookies. I highly recommend Ghirardelli melting wafers.

Thin mints

 

Recipe

*Adapted from King Arthur Flour’s Baking Companion Cookbook

Yield: 4-5 dozen cookies (depends on thickness)

Prep time: Not gonna lie, it takes awhile to put these together – but it’s worth the effort

 

Ingredients

Cookies

1 1/2 cups flour

3/4 cocoa (*see note below)

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 butter at room temperature (not margarine)

1/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon black onyx powder (opt.)

1 egg

1 tablespoon water

1/2 tablespoon honey or agave

1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

Dipping thin mints

Dipping Chocolate

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup dark chocolate melting wafers

1/2 teaspoon black onyx powder (opt.)

1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

2 tablespoons shortening or coconut oil

Dipped thin mints

Cookie Directions

  1. Cream the butter and sugars together. Add the egg, water, honey and extract to the butter mixture. Blend well.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.
  3. Gently mix the dry ingredients gently into the batter just until incorporated. Place dough on waxed paper, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or until solid.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line your cookie pans with parchment paper.
  5. Working with 1/3 of the dough at a time and leaving the rest refrigerated, roll out the dough, using flour and a rolling pin, to 1/4″ thick. The object here is to keep the cookies AS COLD AS POSSIBLE so they don’t melt much when you cook them.
  6. Use a circular cookie cutter, the open end of a glass, or my favorite – a Linzer cookie cutter – to cut out the cookie shapes.
  7. Bake the cookies for 9-11 minutes and then check on them. Let the cookies cool on the pan.

 

Dipping Directions

  1. Melt all of the chocolate dipping ingredients in a glass bowl in the microwave.
  2. Place the cookies into the dipping chocolate one at a time and smooth the top with a spoon. Move onto the waxed paper to set; I like to put the waxed paper on a cookie sheet and then into the refrigerator.
  3. If you want your cookies to have that perfect-Thin Mint edge try this tip from my neighbor who has her own candy-making business, Celestial Sweets. Once the chocolate coating is set use your vegetable peeler to trim the excess chocolate off the edges.

 

*Note: to get the dark color try using Hershey’s special dark cocoa at the grocers or order dark cocoa powder from King Arthur Flour.

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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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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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