Trying out recipes to pass on to you.

Hey mambo! Italiano without garlic?

Posted: October 25th, 2009 | Author: leah | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , | 2 Comments »

Long time no cook! I just wrapped a huge project at work which has meant many long nights and many frozen pizzas. In the last few weeks of processed food, fast food, and quick fix meals the hubs has seen a pattern…onions and garlic make him have terrible heartburn.

 I’ve tried to deny his discomfort because frankly, other than salt, garlic and onions add the best flavor to a variety of dishes. Just look at the back of a package of, oh, anything. Garlic powder. Onion Powder. Flip through your favorite recipes. Two cloves garlic. One onion chopped. EVERYTHING. But I’m doing research and looking for ways to meet in the middle. Naturally he is a bit nervous to, say, try red onion instead of white. How about green onion? Shallot? Baby steps. Until then, a lot of Prilosec.

 So when this gorgeous and EASY lasagna recipe showed up on the homepage of I cringed. Garlic! Onion! I was sure of it. But with only slight tweaking and research the finished product was delectable. And the hubs feels fine!

Start by printing off this easy to follow recipe (with cute illustrations, might I add). It makes a large batch. I’ll give you my half recipe which could easily feed 4-5 people. I prepared it in a smaller baking dish with no problem. You’ll need:

  • Something smaller than a 13-by-9-inch baking dish (9×9?)
  • one minced garlic cloves (I left this out)
  • 8 oz of ricotta cheese
  • one box of frozen spinach, thawed with the liquid squeezed out
  • 2-3 handfuls of grated Parmesan cheese—about a cup
  • one egg
  • one jars of tomato sauce (or a batch of the sauce I made, below. HIGHLY recommended)
  • a box of no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 8 oz of mozzarella cheese, sliced.
  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Mix together the garlic, ricotta, spinach, half of the Parmesan, and the egg in the bowl until smooth.
  3. Spread a fifth of the tomato sauce on the bottom of the baking dish.
  4. Overlap a quarter of the noodles in a layer on top of the sauce. It’s OK if they don’t completely cover the surface area.
  5. Spread a fifth of the tomato sauce on top of the noodles.
  6. Dollop a third of the ricotta mixture in a few spots over the noodles and flatten the dollops (the ricotta mixture will spread out when it heats up). Lay a quarter of the mozzarella on top.
  7. Repeat the process by laying a quarter of the noodles in the opposite direction than you did before, top with a fifth of the tomato sauce, a third of the ricotta mixture, and a quarter of the mozzarella. Repeat once more: a quarter of the noodles in the opposite direction, a fifth of the tomato sauce, the last third of the ricotta, and a quarter of the mozzarella.
  8. Cover with the last quarter of the noodles, top with the last fifth of the tomato sauce and last quarter of the mozzarella, and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan.
  9. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake until the lasagna is bubbly around the edges, about 35 minutes.
  10. Remove the foil and bake another 15 minutes, until the top is bubbly and light golden brown. Let the lasagna rest 10 to 15 minutes before slicing, or it will be too runny.

As you can see, this is a simple dish. You can add things like mushrooms, hamburger or sausage if you’d like. Season as you wish. Use low fat ricotta and mozzarella. Whatever! But I think what made this dish REALLY special was the sauce I used.

While doing research of an onion and garlic free red sauce I came across a great blog and a gloriously simply and tasty five minute tomato saucerecipe. It has lemon zest which sounds strange but was magical with the tomato. The hubs even mentioned how good it was. Had I had this at a restaurant I’d still be thinking about it. It would be great with MANY other dishes. Enjoy!

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
3 medium cloves of garlic, finely chopped (I subbed one large shallot, cut in quarters. After sautéing I removed them)
1 28-ounce can crushed red tomatoes
zest of one lemon

Combine the olive oil, red pepper flakes, sea salt, and garlic in a cold saucepan. Stir while you heat the saucepan over medium-high heat, sauté just 45 seconds or so until everything is fragrant – you don’t want the garlic to brown. Stir in the tomatoes and heat to a gentle simmer just a few minutes. Remove from heat and carefully take a taste if it needs more salt. Stir in the lemon zest.

everybody’s talking ’bout—pumpkin!

Posted: October 14th, 2009 | Author: leah | Filed under: Uncategorized | 6 Comments »

pumpkin lattes. pumpkin creamer. pumpkin flavored pastries. everywhere you turn it’s pumpkin-palooza, right? and you LOVE it, non?! now in a week or two, you’ll have moved on to peppermint mochas and the like, but for now maybe you’re wondering how to save the $8 you just spent at the coffee shop on that latte and pumpkin bread…okay, I AM. (i keep telling myself ONCE A WEEK TREAT…and it ends up being three)

i horded several cans of pumpkin and wanted to know EASY things I could do with it besides pie. and preferably that i had the ingredients for. enter where there are, no lie, HUNDREDS of recipes using brands like Nestle and Libby’s pumpkin. i cruised around until i found some “no shopping required” recipes and loved these results.

First, pumpkin spice quick bread.

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • Directions

    PREHEAT oven to 350° F. Grease 9×5-inch loaf pan.

    COMBINE flour, pumpkin, brown sugar, butter, eggs, spice, baking soda, salt and baking powder in large mixer bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often for 1 to 2 minutes until well mixed. Spoon batter into prepared pan.

    BAKE for 45 to 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack 10 minutes; remove to wire rack to cool completely.

    *Substitute 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger and 1/4 teaspoon each ground nutmeg and ground cloves for pumpkin pie spice.

    i added about a cup of chocolate chips, added some extra spices (suggested by reviewers on the site) and it was DIVINE. easy peasy!




    what to do with the rest of that pumpkin? how about a pumpkin latte?




    • 1 cup strong coffee
    • 2/3 cup (5 fl.-oz. can) NESTLÉ® CARNATION® Evaporated Fat Free Milk (I’m sure you could use regular milk)
    • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin
    • 1 to 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
    • 1/8 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or ground cinnamon

    COMBINE coffee, evaporated milk, pumpkin, sugar and pumpkin pie spice in 2-cup microwave-safe glass measure or small saucepan. Heat until very hot (if using stove, use medium-low heat and stir occasionally). Carefully pour into mugs. makes 2 servings.

    i followed the online tip and transferred the hot mixture into a blender to get that foamy top. be careful and cover the lid with a towel! hot things + blender = messy!

    my only complaint was it wans’t very sweet.  i added a teaspoon of honey for sweetness.


    and YOU? any pumpkin cooking these days?

    what are the fall favorite treats around your house?


    lobster? in these parts?

    Posted: October 8th, 2009 | Author: leah | Filed under: Uncategorized | 6 Comments »

    when you’re from a landlocked state like me, you’re first exposure to seafood is either in the fish stick form or another fried variety. you’re local (though impressive) aquarium has a “state fish” display with the likes of crappie, catfish and gar. not exactly culinary treats (unless fried of course). and lobster? those are the sad looking creatures kept in tanks at the grocery store your mom stops at to distract you long enough to pry that box of cookie crisp out of your grubby paws. no one buys one. no one cooks one. perhaps you are allowed a bite or two from an adult’s plate at a restaurant. like red lobster.

    but then you get older. you get braver and try things on your own. order the sea bass or trout special. you try a local fish delicacy on a vacation. you find places in town who fly in fish fresh daily and you buy a gorgeous side of salmon or some mussels to cook up. maybe look up a new recipe to try yourself in an old Gourmet magazine you’ve saved (RIP GOURMET) or something online. now we’re talking. and now you’ve advanced to taking live things (mussels) and, well, killing the sad saps for your dinner. what’s next….lobster?

    i’ve wanted to try many a recipe with lobster. i’ve had a killer lobster corn chowder locally i’ve wanted to recreate. i’ve read many a summer culinary love story about lobster rolls. and come on, who DOESNT love dunking hunks of lobster in warm melted butter. at red lobster.

    enter the knowledgeable, the stunning tasha of the beloved tasha does tulsa blog giving the heads up on a fundraiser where (GULP) live lobster, freshly shipped in can be mine! Or (I DIE) they cook it FOR YOU to go home and do what with you may. is the price right? i don’t know! is it for a good cause? it is! how rewarding! so tulsa peeps, want to know how to get in on this treasure? more from tasha’s blog:

    St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church and Preschooloffers as much fresh-caught lobster as you can eat – we’re talking lobsters that were basking in the ocean just the day before you chow down. Simply pre-order and get to 5635 E. 71st Street on Saturday, Oct. 24. It’s $20 for a live Maine lobster, or for $20 for 1 1/4 pound of the cooked stuff.The deadline to order or sign up for the potluck is Oct. 19.  Simply call dear, sweet Angela at 918.492.7140, or e-mail her.”

    go here to read more info and for some adorable pics!

    so friends, what shall i DO with my lobster? first, i’ll be celebrating the completion of a HUGE work project. it’ll be fitting to cook something so special. and second, there are likely many people like me reading this or tasha’s blog who are  scared to kill their own lobster (enter images of the annie hall lobster scene) but want the deliciousness. so share with me what recipes you love to make with lobster. or ones you’d like to try.

    starbucks’ via–instant gratification?

    Posted: October 4th, 2009 | Author: leah | Filed under: Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

    one hectic day this week i made a mad dash in to one of the city’s many starbucks locations to “reward” myself with a grande-non-fat-yum-yum-something-or-other but was held up by a large crowd huddling around the cash registers. new starbucks via samples. everyone wanted a taste. and everyone (including me) wanted the handful of goodies that went along with it.

    at this starbucks location you were offered a sample taste of the instant columbian or italian roast. of course, these tiny packs are meant for one 8 oz cup and the store had prepared a large canister full. i found my taste bitter and dirty. no thanks. didn’t event want a take home sample. and then—they offered me recipes. hooked!

    in addition to a sample of each flavor pack i got a recipe for Via Meringue Kisses, Via Grand Marnier Truffles, and Colombian Pecan Brownies. and after investigating the product on its (very informative and boastful “how Starbucks Via can change your life!”) web site i found a link to seemingly hundreds of other recipe ideas posted by Via “fans”—and probably more than a few by the marketing geniuses at starbucks. read more HERE. i saw everything from coffee flavored icings to steak rubs.

    of the recipe stash i was given, the easiest and most versatile was the Via Cappuccino Muffins. these would be great for breakfast, brunch or a snack to take to work. maybe a gift for a coffee loving friend? the recipe card says they freeze well, too.

    Prep time:- 15 mins

    Cook time:- 15 minutes

    Yields:- 12 muffins or 48 mini muffins

    Ingredients: 2C. flour; 1C. sugar; 2-1/2t. baking powder; 2 pkg.Via Instant Coffee; 1/2t. salt; 1t. cinnamon; 1/2t. nutmeg; 1-1/4C. milk; 1/2C. butter, melted; 1 egg; 1t. vanilla; 1C. semi-sweet chocolate mini chips

    Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line muffin pan with papers or grease liberally. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, Instant via Coffee, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside. In a medium bowl, mix milk, melted butter, egg and vanilla until combined. Stir milk mixture into flour mixture only until combined. Do not over mix. Fold in chocolate chips. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake 15-20 minutes for standard muffins, 10-12 for mini-muffins.

    after trying a sample pack at home stirred into an 8 oz. cup of hot water i can vouch that the flavor was much better than the large thermos full they used for in store samples. plus the taste test goodies also included a $1 off coupon for a 3-pack of Via. i may buy some to try this recipe. as for buying it for actual coffee? no thanks. i pay big money for starbucks so i don’t have to make my own drink and to order things i wouldn’t make at home. 

    have you tried the new starbucks Via instant coffee? what did you think? would you cook with it?