Saturday, August 29, 2009

Strata with leftover whatever(s)....

I am totally in love with the recipe! It is the best way to use leftover cheeses, veggies, bread, etc. My five year-old and I make this together: I cut up the ingredients and she assembles. I think I just love it because there really is no concrete recipe and I secretly LOVE using whatever ingredients I have to come up with something new (it makes me feel frugal).

so, here it is....kinda

Breakfast Strata
french bread, cubed (1/2 medium-sized loaf)
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
any combination of: leftover veggies (grilled are the best), cheeses, meats, and fresh herbs

1. Butter a 9x13 baking dish.
2. In mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, and parmesan cheese until rather smooth.
3. Layer: bread cubes, veggies, meats, cheeses.
4. Pour egg mixture over. Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake, covered, for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 15 minutes.
****here was our last version: leftover grilled peppers and onions, cubed cheddar cheese, sliced ham, basil, parsley, chives, and mozzarella cheese on top****
Please share your creations!!!

Lemon-Ricotta pancakes

I know this sounds a little weird, but these are so light and fluffy. I usually try to make a "big" breakfast for my gang once during the weekend, and these have quickly become one of our favorites. Tomorrow I'll post our other new favorite: strata! (we love carbs :)
I add blueberries to the pancakes, but half of us like them plain. I also slice peaches to put on top with maple syrup, of course!
I have used cottage cheese in place of the ricotta, and they taste almost as good.

Lemon-Ricotta pancakes

3/4 cup flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 t nutmeg (I keep whole nutmeg in the freezer and grate fresh)
1/4 t salt
2 T sugar
1 cup ricotta
2 eggs, separated
2/3 cup milk
zest of one lemon
(I find my cuisinart immersion blender with whisk attachment to be worth it's weight in gold with this recipe)

1. Blend ricotta, egg yolks, sugar, nutmeg, zest, and salt until
smooth. Mix in flour and baking powder until just incorporated.
2. Whip egg whites (with hand mixer or whisk immersion blender) until stiff. Fold into ricotta mixture gently.
3. Cook pancakes in buttered non-stick pan. Add blueberries before first flip, if desired.
***I usually make smallish pancakes because they're easier to flip and top with a pat of butter after taking them off the griddle or pan***

Hope you and your family love them!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Four Cheese Ravioli with grilled veggies

Disclaimer---I hardly EVER follow a recipe to the "T". I rarely have all of the ingredients called for, or just feel like breaking the rules! Most of my recipes are embarassingly simple and easy to vary, so please feel free!

Okay, so I am totally cheating with this one! I'm using store-bought four-cheese ravioli (from Trader Joe's, if you're curious) but adding some extra ingredients to make it extra yummy!. My eleven year-old helped me with this and we had a blast! I love using the fresh produce from our local fruit stand (J-Mar Farms, they are the best!). I'm not sure if we'll term this "healthy" because of the alfredo sauce and prosciutto, but there are lots of veggies. Dessert is very simple: fresh peaches with a zabaglione sauce. I love summer!

Four cheese Ravioli with Grilled Veggies

1 large yellow pepper
1 large red pepper
1/2 large Vidalia onion
1 small eggplant
8 button mushrooms
1 qt cherry tomatoes (keep whole)
1 zucchini (I used a green and yellow zucchini)
fresh herbs, chopped finely
2 T olive oil
premade ravioli (I used 2 packs, or 1 large family pack)
1/2 stick butter
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup mozzarella
large jar marinara sauce
10-12 paper-thin slices of prosciutto

1. Chop fresh veggies to about the same size and place in large bowl with herbs and olive oil. Place on your favorite grill tray until the veggies are crisp-tender and have a few char-marks.
2. In non-stick saute pan, "crisp" the prosciutto. Remove to paper towel to drain. In the same pan, place butter, parmesan cheese, garlic powder, and heavy cream and stir over low heat until melted together.
3. In large oven-proof dish, layer 1/2 of the marinara sauce, thawed ravioli, prosciutto, alfredo sauce, grilled veggies, the remaining marinara sauce, and mozzarella cheese. (You'll notice that I am totally skipping the step where the ravioli is supposed to be boiled...just ignore the package)
4. Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, uncover for 15 minutes and then serve.
(serves 4)

Sliced peaches with zabaglione sauce
Fresh sliced peaches, skin removed, tossed with lemon juice
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
rind of one lemon

1. Chill peaches until ready to serve.
2. In a double-boiler (make sure the boiling water does not come in contact with the "top"), whisk the yolks, sugar, and lemon rind until the mixture is thick and pale yellow. The mixture should be very warm, but definitely not boiling. Refrigerate until cooled.
3. To serve, place sauce over peaches. If desired, any kind of dessert wine or liqueur, (especially orange-flavored) could be mixed into the sauce. You could also top with fresh whipped cream for a little extra decadence.
***As always, vary! Any kind of berry or stone fruit would be delicious in place of the peaches***

Dinner Tonight Version One

Fresh Corn Chowder

6 ears of fresh corn, silk and husk removed

1 stalk of celery, finely chopped

1/2 small onion, finely chopped

1 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped

3 slices bacon, finely chopped

2 T butter

2 T all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups milk

fresh chives

salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook corn in a large kettle with boiling water for five minutes. Remove from water and cool. Slice corn kernels from cobs and place in separate bowl.

2. In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, cook celery, carrot, onion, bacon, and butter over medium-high heat until bacon is browned.

3. Sprinkle flour over vegetable/bacon mixture and stir with spoon until combined. Slowly add milk and stir mixture until thick and smooth.

4. Add corn, chives, and salt/pepper.

5. If desired, add half of mixture to blender, pour back into pot and serve.

*****Possible variations: add cooked shrimp, crabmeat, or finely chopped cooked chicken*******

(serves 4-6)

Baked parmesan tomatoes

4 large tomatoes

2/3 cup mayonnaise

1 tsp whole-grain mustard

1/2 tsp garlic powder

5 large basil leaves, sliced thinly

1/3 cup parmesan cheese

1/3 cup panko bread crumbs

pepper to taste

1. Blanch whole tomatoes. (Place in a pot of boiling water for 2 minutes, remove and cool in colander). The skins will easily slip from tomatoes. Remove core and half horizontally. Place in oven-proof dish.

2. Mix remaining ingredients. Add olive oil if necessary to thin mixture.

3. Top each tomato with an equal portion of the mayonnaise mixture. Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes or until nicely browned.

(serves 4)

Maryland-style Crabcakes

1 lb lump crabmeat

1/3 small onion, finely chopped

1 T dry mustard

1 egg

1/4 mayonnaise

1/4 tsp smoked paprika

1 T Old Bay seasoning

1 T fresh lemon juice

1 T fresh parsley, finely chopped

1 t worchestire sauce

panko bread crumbs


1. Pick through crabmeat and discard all cartilage segments.

2. Mix remaining ingredients into crabmeat and refrigerate for 1 hr.

3. In oven-proof dish, sprinkle breadcrumbs. Form crabcakes patties and place into breadcrumbs. Sprinkle additional breadcrumbs on top. Place a pat of butter and additional seafood seasoning on top, if desired.

4. Bake at 375 for 40 minutes or until browned and crispy on top.

(serves 4-5)

Chocolate brownies with peanut-butter chips

1 2/3 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup butter, melted

2 T water

2 large eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/3 cup flour

3/4 cup cocoa

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

10 oz peanut butter chips

1. Cream butter, sugar and water.

2. Add eggs and vanilla.

3. Add remaining dry ingredients except chips.

4. Stir in chips.

5. Bake at 350 for 18-25 minutes until toothpick inserted near center comes out slightly sticky.

(makes 2 dozen brownies)