Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Skillet Lasagne for the Busy Cook

The day goes by so quickly and before you know it, the family is getting hungry and saying, "what's for dinner?"  Well, I have come up with a quick version of one of our family's favorite--Lasagne.

Lasagne, which is the actual name of the wide-shaped pasta and is probably one of the oldest types of pasta.  Typically, the dish is layered with several sheets of these wide noodles with a filling of meat, cheese, veggies and sauce.  I've made it several times in this manner and even in roll-ups, but this version goes together so quickly that it's my "go-to" dish when I'm busy.

Skillet Lasagne

6 sheets of Lasagne
1-32 oz. jar of marinara sauce (I love Raos!)
1-14oz pkg of veggie sausage, ground turkey, or sausage
1-8 oz carton of Whole-Milk Ricotta Cheese
1 cup grated Mozzarella or Fontina Cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
1 cup chopped spinach (I used frozen, about 1/2 of a 10oz pkg)--you don't need to squeeze out excess moisture because it's beneficial for cooking the lasagne noodles!
Or 1 Zucchini, grated


To begin, brown the meat of your choice in about 2-3 T olive oil in a 12-inch/2-inch high sauce pan.  Remove to a small dish.

Next, start layering:
Add 1/3 of the jar of the marinara sauce to the pan, then take 3 of the lasagne noodles and break in 2-inch pieces.
Spoon 1/2 of the Ricotta Cheese over top of the lasagne noodles.

Then, 1/2 of the sausage and 1/2 of the spinach.
Top with 1/2 of the Mozzarella Cheese.
Press this first layer down slightly, using a rubber spatula.  Repeat the layering, finishing off with adding the last 1/3 of the marinara sauce.  Top with Parmesan Cheese.

Place a lid on top and cook over medium low heat for 35-40 minutes.  Every 15-20 minutes, use the rubber spatula to push the mixture towards the center, so any liquid forming will sink to the bottom again.  This step resembles how you cook an omelette!

Use the point of a small knife to check if lasagne noodles are cooked--it should slide easily into the noodle.  Remove lid and cook 5 minutes more to remove any excess moisture.

Serve with a side salad and maybe some garlic bread and you have a complete dinner without much fuss and better yet, without much clean-up--1 pan!  

Spoon up the lasagne and watch your family dig in--Enjoy!

Monday, January 25, 2016

December's Give-Away Apron

Well, I guess you're saying, it's about time!  Speaking of time, where does it go??  I'm going to try to get back into a routine of sharing and yes, continuing.

I know I've been MIA, but with good reason as many of you know, I also design dies for Elizabeth Craft Designs and have a blog showing my projects.  Also, the holidays and a trade show that was on my plate, but with that behind me, I will get back to baking.

The winner of December's Apron is Ellen B of the Happy Wanderer. Please contact me and I will get this apron sent off to you ASAP<3 p="">
Let's just say, I'll shoot for February for a new apron and maybe a special Give-Away in honor of my mother's birthday.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Eve Egg Nog Mini Bundt Cakes

Egg Nog is one of my hubby's favorite holiday flavors.  I know he grew up with his parents having it on Christmas Eve and my Dad always made his "spirited" bowl for the open house my Mom would host each year.  These little cakes remind me of those times.


It's been a hectic month and as we all do our last minute baking, shopping, and wrapping, it's nice to take a minute and remember how thankful we are for all we have.  Wishing you all the merriest Christmas and happiest New Year.

Christmas Eve Egg Nog Mini Bundt Cakes
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
8 oz. cream cheese
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp. Egg Nog flavoring, or 1 tsp. vanilla extract, or 1 T. rum
1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup Egg Nog

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Spray a 6-cup mini Bundt pan with baking spray and set aside.  In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and cream cheese together.  Add the sugar and beat on medium to combine.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add the flavoring (or extract or rum) and mix once again.

Whisk the dry ingredients together, then add them to the bowl, alternating with the egg nog, starting and ending with dry ingredients.  The mixture is thick.

Scoop the batter into the prepared mini Bundt pan.
Bake for 18-20 minutes until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and after cooling for 5 minutes, turn them out onto a rack to cool.

I decided to treat these like a "doughnut" so I melted 3/4 + 2T (almost two sticks) of unsalted butter.  I also made a mixture of 1 cup granulated sugar, 1 tsp. cinnamon, and 1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg.
Dip the cakes into the butter, then roll into the sugar mixture.
Alternatively, you can glaze the cakes with 1 cup confectioners' sugar, 1tsp. Karo light syrup, and 1-2 T egg nog.

I have one last post to do tomorrow of a Buche de Noel cake, then the baking is done. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Chobani Christmas Coffee Cake

Christmas is less than two weeks away and I know we're all scurrying to get everything done.  This coffee cake came to me while sitting for a minute, taking a deep breath, and enjoying a snack of my favorite Greek yogurt--Chobani/Key Lime.  It's no secret that instead of coffee, I have a Diet Coke with Lime every morning, so you can understand my obsession with this flavor:-D

Food brings back a lot of memories for me and while I looked at this packaging, a memory of being with my girls came back.  It happened that the Catholic school they attended was not far from the mall in Thousand Oaks, CA and so occasionally we would stop on our way home for some "mother-daughter" shopping--they shopped, I paid!  And, occasionally we would take time for a treat when a must needed break was called for.  Our favorite place was a cinnamon roll shop, where one bun was plenty big enough for the three of us to share.  I ordered a diet Coke and the girls would get a Lime Cooler--fresh lime juice with club soda and a maraschino cherry!

The flavors in this coffee cake remind me of those days.  It's tang of lime, paired with the maraschino cherry filling and a hint of cinnamon in honor of those buns.  How good it would be on Christmas morning with brunch after all those presents are unwrapped.  My hubby says it's perfect with a good cup of coffee, but I'll have to take his word on that!

Chobani Christmas Coffee Cake

10 T (1 stick + 2T) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
Zest and juice of one lime
2 cartons (5.3oz) Chobani/Key Lime Greek Yogurt
1 1/2 tsp. Vanilla extract
2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

Filling:
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup maraschino cherries, cut into quarters
3/4 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Crumb Topping:
1 1/4 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 T lime zest
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 325F-degrees.  Use a baking spray to coat a 10-cup tubed baking pan.  I used my "coffee cake" pan, but if you use a decorative Bundt pan, baking time will have to be adjusted.

In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugars and lime zest thoroughly.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Scrape down the sides and add the extract and lime juice.

Sift the dry ingredients and add to the butter mixture, alternating with the Chobani yogurt, starting and ending with the flour mixture.

Mix up the filling ingredients in a medium bowl.  Add half of the batter to the prepared baking pan.  Spoon the filling over the batter, being careful to keep it away from the sides.  Top with the remaining batter and use an off-set spatula to smooth the surface.

Mix up the crumb topping in the same bowl as the filling was in (no need to wash another bowl!)  First, place all the dry ingredients into the bowl and mix well.  Pour the melted butter over the dry ingredients and use a fork to combine.  The mixture will form "crumbles" about 1/4 to 1/2-inch round; perfect for the topping.  Spoon topping over the batter.

Place in the preheated over for 50-55 minutes.  You can test the cake with a wooden skewer poked in the center--if it comes out cleanly, it's done.  Remove from the oven and allow the cake to rest for 10-15 minutes.  This resting is important to allow the filling to cool and not flatten the cake.

I used a parchment lined baking sheet to invert the pan and them placed my glass cake plate under it and flipped it once more so the crumb topping was showing.
It's great served just like this, warm from the oven or you can allow it cool slightly and add a glaze.

Glaze:
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 T light Karo syrup
2 T Maraschino cherry syrup
1-2 tsp. very warm water, if needed to thin the glaze

Drizzle over the cake before serving.
Just as I remember from those days of shopping with my girls.  Enjoy!

If you would like to see more recipes with Chobani yogurt, check out their recipe site.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Feast of St. Nicholas Peppermint Biscotti & December's Give-Away Apron


December 6th is the Feast of Saint Nicholas and I couldn't think of a better way to share the day for this time-honored figured than with baking.  It is a day celebrated with regard to his reputation as a bringer of gifts.  In the Ukraine children wait for St. Nicholas to place a present under their pillows whereas, in the Netherlands,  Dutch children put out their clogs filled with hay and carrots for his horse on December 5th.  It's for sure, it is a sweet tradition and one even our granddaughters have experienced.
Since peppermint is a flavor I associate with the season, I couldn't help but make up this Biscotti with a hint of peppermint in the dough, as well as, some crushed with white chocolate on the end.  I'm trying out some new recipes for the cookie boxes I send to family and friends.  More to come...

St. Nicholas Peppermint Biscotti
6 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/8 tsp. Peppermint Oil
2 large eggs
2 1/3 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder

4 oz. white chocolate, chopped and melted over a double boiler
2 candy canes, crushed

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a stand mixer, using the whisk attachment, cream the butter and sugar together.  Add the peppermint oil and mix again.  Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.

Remove the bowl from the stand and stir in the flour and baking powder.  Mix until fully incorporated.  I like to mix by hand to ensure I don't over beat.  Divide dough in half and create two logs, 8" x 2".
Lightly flour your hands to smooth a bit.  Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and cool about 10 minutes.

Slice the logs on the diagonal into 1/2-inch cookies.

 Lower oven temperature to 325F-degrees and bake another 15-20 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before spreading melted white chocolate on the ends and sprinkling crushed candy canes on.

The December apron is another symbol of the holidays--Poinsettias.  I just love this fabric and think it adds to the festivities.  If you would like a chance to win this apron, comment on the posts this month and it could be yours. Enjoy!


November's Apron Winner...

I could start off saying, I don't know where the time has gone, but actually I do.  In addition to baking, I am a paper artist and this time of year finds me mostly in the studio designing and getting ready for our big trade show in January; you have no idea how much work this is!  I'm not complaining, but haven't seen much time in the kitchen like I use to:-(

So, without further ado, November's winner is Susan of Writing Straight from the Heart blog.  Please email me your address and this lovely will be sent to you ASAP. 

I promise, by later today or tomorrow at the latest, I will have December's Apron and an intriguing recipe.  I feel like baking today:-D

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Starbuck's Lemon Pound Cake...or so they say

This recipe has been floating around FaceBook for the last week and being a lover of lemon, I just had to try it.  Since I'm not a coffee drinker, it's the only thing I can say I have ever purchased from Starbucks!

I don't know if it can truly qualify as a pound cake, but it certain lives up to the name Lemon.

STARBUCK'S LEMON POUND CAKE
2 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp. Vanilla extract
1 tsp. Lemon extract
1/3 cup Lemon juice (2 medium lemons)
1 1/2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup Coconut Oil
Coconut Oil can be found in the baking section of your grocery store


Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Well-grease a 9" x 5" loaf pan.

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, whisk, and set aside.  In a bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scrapping down the sides of the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula.  Add the extracts and lemon juice and mix again.

Add the dry ingredients and mix just until smooth.  Add the Coconut oil and mix well.  Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 45 minutes.  After 25 minutes, I did lower the temperature to 325F-degrees and covered the top of the cake with aluminum foil for my oven; I would recommend you checking after 25 minutes to see how it's browning.

Allow the cake to cool in the pan 5-7 minutes then invert it on a rack with parchment paper, then flip that onto a serving plate to cool before icing the top.

Icing:
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 tsp. Lemon extract
2 T whole milk
1 T Light Karo Syrup (I added this ingredient, as I do for all my icings, but not called for in the original)

Icing the cake and allow it to set before slicing.

The cake looked and tasted just as I remembered from Starbuck's.  However, the next time I make this cake, I would add lemon zest to the batter and use lemon juice in the icing in lieu of whole milk and lemon extract...just saying!
No one is complaining here though and that luscious lemon cake was a nice treat with the rain coming down--like a bite of sunshine:-D  Enjoy!