Friday, March 27, 2009

Daring Bakers Bake Lasagna?

The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.

This was a difficult assignment for me. Partly because I had to add an egg and some extra water to make a coherant pasta dough. Partly because I have really very little time. A lot because I just don't like a bechamel sauce and we have a lactose intollerance problem. (Yes, I probably could have figured out how to make a bechamel with soy milk, except there's an even bigger soy intollerance problem). And I let more curse words fly in the hand rolling of the dough than I have all year. At one point I was ready to give up and quit the Daring Bakers. But then I decided that the purpose of the Daring Bakers was to stretch myself and that I was being a sissy for lack of a better word.

I also think the person who wrote the recipe didn't have this hungry little helper watching her every move. Otherwise the suggestion of draping the rolled out pasta over the back of chairs would have never been encouraged. I skipped that step. That's why there was some for me and the Brain to eat.

And I didn't use the three meat Country Ragu recipe either. I used this. The busy woman's fairly good pasta sauce.

I had such a rough time making the lasagna that I cooked it and left it on the counter to cool and drove through the Taco Bell drive through for dinner. (To be fair, I was on my way to school.) When I got home the Brain had had a hefty portion. And I decided to have a nibble.

Oh it's good. Really good. I'm not sure if I'll make it again because lasagna is a very rare treat in our house.

Go check out the rest of the Daring Bakers. And make sure you check out the new Daring Kitchen website!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Broccoli Pie

Last weekend I had a couple of my girl friends over for a candle party/ Sunday brunch. Mostly it was an excuse to hang out with my lady friends with no husbands or kids allowed. As a single woman I was pretty familiar with how to throw a dinner party. Or a cocktail party. I could gather people together in the evening and I knew what to make. I gotta admit though. The idea of Sunday brunch intimidated the crap out of me. All I could think of was Ina Garten saying that the first time she entertained she made omelets and it turned out horribly because omelets are hard to keep warm and serve everyone at the same time.

Oh the anxiety.

So I called my mom. Zucchini pie is always good she said. I called my sister Super G and asked her what to make. Zucchini Pie, she responded. I'd only barely even heard of Zucchini Pie. So Super G talked me through the ingredient list as I wandered through Meier. First major trauma came in the produce department. The zucchini were small and shriveled and far from fresh and tasty looking. Super G suggested broccoli. But she said if I went with broccoli I needed to change the cheese to cheddar too. Oh boy. So the next major trauma happened when I realized I'd never actually bought crescent rolls before. I had no idea what they looked like or where to find them. I'm a freak. I know this. Super G talked me off that cliff and then I went home and discovered another trauma. I didn't have the recipe for Zucchini Pie. Crap.

Remember I mentioned how my mom had given us all cookbooks she had written out good recipes in? Well the Brain has a problem with lactose and although it was in everyone else's cookbook, Mom figured something laden with cheese was probably not something I'd be making and she left it out of my cookbook. Fortunately, I called Mom and she quick emailed it to me. Whew. I then took a long nap.

Sunday came around and I have to say, Zucchini Pie, er Broccoli Pie is one easy and delicious recipe to make. It's not horrible bad for you, but it's apparently no fail and it's really very delicious. And now if I invite people over for brunch I know of at least one thing I can make and have it all go smoothly!
Broccoli Pie
an adaptation of a family recipe

1 8oz package of Crescent Rolls (use the Pillsbury type)
4 cups chopped broccoli
1 cup diced onion
2 Tbsp butter
2 eggs well beaten
8oz package shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp basil
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp Dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Over medium-high heat saute vegetables and onion in butter until tender, approximately 8 minutes. Add spices except mustard and stir well. In a large bowl combine eggs and cheese. Add vegetables to cheese mixture and combine thoroughly. Separate crescents into triangles. Smoosh dough into bottom and up sides of ungreased 10 inch pie pan. Press seams to seal completely. Spread mustard on bottom of crust. Fold in vegetables and cheese mixture. Cook for 18-20 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Note: cover edge of crust with tin foil strips the last 5 minutes of baking if crust becomes too brown.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Grape Jelly Meatballs

Well, I'm going to try this again. I really am going to put more of an effort into staying up and current on the blog. I've at least started taking photos of what I've actually cooked. If, say, I've actually cooked. So yes, more of an effort coming your way.

So how was your week? My week was interesting. And it flew by. Last weekend I was up in Michigan doing a four mile race walk with my mom. I came in third in my age group and she came in fourth in hers. Mom and I have done a couple of these type of races. I'm not supposed to run and Mom hates to exercise. It was a beautiful sunny day and we were going along pretty good until about 20 yards from the finish when a 90 year old man started to pick up speed and gain on us. I put in a final burst of speed and Mom wanted the guy to feel good about himself. I crossed the line seconds before him and then waited for Mom to cross seconds later.

The race drama was then followed by a nasty bought of bubonic plague, or the cold that just won't die. Fevers were abounding in the Shazam household. But I'm tired of being sick so I didn't call the doctor. Instead I substitute taught some very dull English classes and attended my university classes at night. I make a really bad English teacher. I just don't know how to make a class interesting when the lesson plan is read pages 160-176. hmmmm.

I also discovered that I'm turning into a fast food junkie. I have a funny feeling that maybe stopping at Taco Bell twice in one week might be contributing to not feeling so well (but those silly beef meximelts are so yummy.) Just a thought. I've decided Wendy's needs a rest because they keep screwing up my order. Who eats a baked potato with nothing at all on it? I did. After I asked the girl to make sure there was a fork in the bag and she didn't check to see if there was any butter or sour cream or anything in there too.

The Brain had a poker night since the last time I blogged. Centuries ago. And poker night always means fun food. This time I sent him over with a crock pot full of Grape Jelly Meatballs. They sound weird, I know. But really they are super delicious. The recipe is from a cookbook my mom gave me for Christmas several years back that she had hand written some of her good old recipes. She has written this recipe comes from Cooking Light, but I really really doubt it. And it's not on their website. She's been making these meatballs forever and they're a family favorite. They're now a poker night favorite too!

Grape Jelly Meatballs
from my mom ala "Cooking Light"

2 pounds ground beef
1 cup breadcrumbs
2/3 cup skim milk
1/2 cup minced fresh onion
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
cooking spray
1 cup ketchup
1 cup grape jelly

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Combine first 9 ingredients in a bowl; shape mixture into 54 (1-inch) meatballs. Place half of the meatballs on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Bake for 20 minutes or until done. Set aside. Repeat procedure with remaining meatballs.

Combine ketchup and jelly in a large nonstick skillet. Bring to a boil over medium heat, cook until well blended- stirring frequently. Once sauce is smooth pour the sauce into a crock pot. Add the meatballs and keep warm in the slow cooker.

My mom uses her fondue pot to keep the meatballs warm.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Crispy Rice Treats?

Well, the good news is that I have finally gotten out of my rut and I've started cooking again. Thank you to the 4 people who still read my blog (other than family and people who love me)! I'm cooking again and it's pretty good and for the most part healthy. Yay! Unfortunately, the amount of time I'm limited to because of school and subbing has gotten even smaller thanks to my furry sous chef.
Who would think that this fluffy little dog would leave mountains of dog hair around our cozy little home? Like for the first time in my life I understand the need to vacuum every. single. day. And with all the rain and mud in the back yard, yep, there's mopping pretty damn often too. It's a good thing she's so cute and loveable and happy or I'd start to get annoyed that my dog has turned me into a clean freak.

Also, challenging and new, I've given up both butter and dessert for Lent because I'm Catholic and that's what we do. Although I have relaxed the rules a little because I will eat things made with butter. And I have had a cookie or 15 as "after school snacks". In fact yesterday I had a slice of pie at midnight, which didn't follow a meal, so clearly that was a "midnight snack".

These delicious Crispy Bars are another fine example of a snack. Except these are really healthy. While I was on the couch with my bronchitis/stomach flu blend I was watching Ellie Krieger during a brief moment of consciousness (before I realized that the Food Network wasn't the best thing to watch while nauseous) and she made these and immediately I was curious.

Fast forward a week or so and I was healthy again and on a mission to make these bars. The most difficult thing about them (besides waiting a half hour for them to set) was finding the crispy brown rice cereal. I never did find it. I found puffed brown rice. Then I was praying that they turned out okay because I did NOT want to eat this cereal without slathering it in peanut butter and honey. And the peanut butter I used is my new favorite. It's Mighty Maple and mighty delicious! Overall I was totally pleased with this snack. It's healthy! It's delicious! I am definitely making it again to get rid of the excess puffed brown rice cereal!

Crispy Rice Treats

1/2 cup honey
6 cups puffed brown rice cereal
2/3 cup assorted chopped fruit (I used apricots and cherries)
cooking spray

Combine honey and peanut butter in a large pot and heat over medium-low heat until melted, about 2-3 minutes. Add brown rice cereal and dried fruit and stir to combine until mixture is sticky. Press into a 9x13x2" pan sprayed with cooking spray. Let cool, then chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes. Cut into 15 squares.