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.
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
1/2 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
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- Drizzle 1 cup tomato sauce over the cheese then top with another layer of pasta noodles.
- Repeat the steps above: ricotta, sausage, cheese, sauce, noodles.
- Pour the remaining sauce on the final layer of noodles then sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella cheese and the Parmesan.
- 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?
Layered 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.
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)
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
2 Tbsp. powdered sugar
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. pink food coloring (optional)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup heavy cream
- 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.)
- Top the first layer of ice cream with the second just softened ice cream, keeping the dome shape. Freeze until hard.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- Put the cake into the oven for 3 minutes. Watch carefully and remove as soon the the meringue peaks begin to cook.
- Stash in the freezer right away.
- Freeze overnight before serving.
- Make the sauce by melting together the chips and the heavy cream in a glass dish in the microwave. Allow to cool.
- 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.
I’m happily drowning in apples around my house–we’re snapping up every last Honey Crisp apple until the season is over. But all those extra apples need a place to go (when we’re not munching on them). My idea? Waffles. To up the apple-y flavor I thinned the batter with apple cider and a touch of maple flavoring.
But I wanted these apple waffles to be filling enough to serve for dinner. So I used plain Greek yogurt for a dose of protein in the mix and added in some whole-wheat flour. Walnuts round out the nutrient boost to make these waffles worthy of dinner.
Servings: 5 waffles
Prep time: 10 minutes + baking
1 1/2 cups flour (I use 1 cup all-purpose, 1/2 cup whole-wheat)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tbsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup plain yogurt
4 tbsp. butter, melted and cooled
1/3 cup apples, diced small
1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup apple cider
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped small
1/2 tsp. maple flavoring
- Preheat your waffle iron.
- In a large bowl whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Whisk together yogurt, butter, milk, maple flavoring, and the egg.
- Stir in walnuts and apple dices; thin the batter with apple cider.
- Add batter to the waffle iron according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Cook through.
- The waffle will be soft when you remove it from the iron and will then firm up as it cools.
Happy St. Andrew’s Day! November 30th is a national holiday in Scotland, St. Andrew’s Day. I wasn’t quite ready to tackle haggis so we went for a traditional Fruit and Nut Bread instead.
Servings: 2 mini loaves or 1 regular loaf
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup oil
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup toasted pecans
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried fruit, chopped (like apricots or apples)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil two 5.5″ x 3″ mini-bread loaf pans.
- In a large bowl mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add in pecans, raisins, dried fruit, and chocolate chips.
- In another bowl whisk together egg, oil, and buttermilk.
- Mix wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until moistened.
- Pour batter into bread pans and bake for 30-40 minutes or until cooked through.
*Tweaked from a recipe for Fruit & Nut Bread from Seamus McInnes
I only wish I’d thought of this one first!
When I was served this impressive dark chocolate and vanilla mousse cake at a recent reception at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri, my thought was simply, “Oh yeah, I can do this at home!” (The design, that is.)
Here’s how you can too:
- Plain plate–the bigger the better!
- Place a fork and/or spoon in the middle of the plate.
- Find a sieve with the finest mesh possible.
- Add powdered cocoa to the middle of the sieve. Gently tap the side of the sieve to create a pattern on the plate.
- Take off the fork and/or spoon.
- Place your brownie on the plate.
This is a perfect kid assignment–prepping the plates for the brownies.
Apples and coconut? Oh yeah! The sweet, tart flavor of grated apples meld perfectly with chewy coconut. Plus, this recipe is a fun one to make with kiddos.
*Tweaked from King Arthur Morning Glory Muffins
Servings: 16 regular-sized muffins
Prep time: 15 minutes
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg (opt.)
1/4 tsp. ginger (opt.)
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups grated apple (about 2-3 large apples)
1/2 cup shredded coconut, sweetened or unsweetened
1/3 cup sunflower seeds or wheat germ (opt.)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
3 large eggs
2/3 cup vegetable oil (I used melted coconut oil)
2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup apple or orange juice
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 12-cup muffin tin. I usually have enough batter to make 16 muffins. You can either work in batches or if you have a second muffin pan you’re good to go.
- Whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, spices, and salt.
- Stir in apple, coconut, nuts, and wheat germ (if using). A note on grating apples: My youngest daughter took care of this task. She had fun but you need to watch closely so there’s no inadvertent finger grating. She gripped the apple with a clean wash cloth to keep some distance between her fingers and the grater. When the apple got close to the grater we just ate the extras. Also, it’s up to you but you don’t have to skin the apple first–just shred away!
- In another bowl, beat together the eggs, oil, vanilla, and juice.
- Add the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until combined.
- Place batter into muffin papers. Top with extra coconut.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
This week my tween got her braces off (round one at least). To celebrate we made brownies featuring her favorite ingredient that’s been on the no-no list for the past 18 months–caramel.
You can use either individual caramels, or I found these handy caramel “bits” at Target.
Recipe for Coconut Caramel Brownies
1 family size brownie mix or your favorite DIY 9×13″ brownie mix
2 cups individual caramels or caramel chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or almonds–or both!)
3/4 cup coconut (I toast mine before baking)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (opt. hey, we’re celebrating)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Mix up the brownie according to package directions.
- Line a 9×13″ baking dish with aluminum foil and then coat generously with cooking spray.
- Pour half of the brownie batter into the pan and spread evenly to the corners.
- Bake the brownie bottom for about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a glass measuring cup or bowl, melt the caramel until smooth. I put the caramel in the microwave at 30 intervals, stirring after each time. Usually, it takes around 90 seconds.
- Remove the brownie bottom from the oven and add caramel in glops followed by nuts, coconut, and chocolate chips.
- Top the caramel with the remaining chocolate. Don’t worry if the top isn’t even.
- Bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until cooked through and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Cool completely before cutting.
Warning: Eat with braces at your own risk.