Tag Archives: ricotta

Let it Burn

Cannelloni al Forno

Cannelloni al Forno

Nothing like an Italian challenge to get back in the swing of things!  It’s been a bit of a challenge getting everything back in order, as I’m used to having at least a week’s worth of recipes ready at any time.  While I had prepared a number of posts for while I was on my trip I didn’t take in to account the adjustment time once I returned.  So with that in mind I have been going on a cooking/baking rampage in order to insure no more gaps in posts.  Thankfully I had a few blog challenges waiting for me when I got back, including the Italian challenge from r/52weeksofcooking.  I knew rather early on that I wanted to do a stuffed pasta, and that I wanted to focus on seasonal greens for the stuffing.  I decided to go with canneloni and two varieties of chard along with some young spinach.

Canneloni al Forno

Serves 5-6

Ingredients

16 canneloni (fresh or dried)

2 1/2 cups ricotta cheese

3 cloves garlic, minced

5 basil leaved, chopped

1/2 cup onion, chopped

1/2 cup spinach

1/2 cup red swiss chard (or rainbow chard)

1/2 cup fordhook swiss chard

1 egg

1 cup bechamel sauce

1 1/2 cups marinara sauce

Instructions

  1. Preaheat oven to 375. Depending on type of noodle being used, precook and allow to cool before stuffing.
  2. While noodles are cooling mix together the ricotta, basil, onion, garlic, and greens in a large bowl. Add the egg and continue mixing.
  3. Stuff the canneloni with the cheese mixture, about 3 tbsp in each noodle and place in a single layer on the bottom of a 10x11 or other casserole dish. Top with the two sauces then cover in foil and bake for 35 minutes. Uncover and then bake for a final 10 minutes, edges of the dish should start to brown and the sauce should be bubbling.
  4. Allow to sit for at least 5 minutes then serve and enjoy!
http://dancingveggies.com/2013/05/letitburn.html

As an added bonus a friend joined us for dinner, supplying an amazing salad that went perfectly with the pasta and some sourdough bread.  Nothing like sharing a great meal with friends!

Gotta Get Out

Stuffed Shells Casserole

Stuffed Shell Casserole

I’ll admit it, sometimes I don’t want to cook or at least don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen.  For example I’m a huge fan of stuffed shells but they take much longer than I’m willing to spend on the average work night.  So I decided to cut a few corners and make a stuffed shell casserole with all of the flavor and half the prep time.  To further speed up the process I used some frozen pomodoro sauce, leftover form a large batch I made in my slowcooker.  I swear one of the best things about my slow cooker is the ability to prepare huge batches of sauce (and other yummies!) and saving them for the future.  I simply placed the frozen sauce in the fridge before I left for work and then zapped it a bit to finish the process, adding a few more leaves of basil to make sure it had the right taste.

Stuffed Shell Casserole

Serves: Serves 4-5

Ingredients

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp oregano

3 cloves garlic

1 small onion, diced

1 cup baby bella mushrooms, diced

1 cup fresh baby spinach, well washed and torn

2 cups ricotta cheese

1/2 lb precooked small shells

2 cups favorite pasta sauce

1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400
  2. While oven preheats heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large saute pan. Add the spices and toss in the oil for 30 seconds before adding the onion, mushrooms, and garlic. Cook until soft then remove from heat and pour in to a large bowl.
  3. Add the spinach and ricotta cheese to the bowl and mix well.
  4. Spoon 1/4 cup of the sauce in the bottom of a large casserole dish. Add half of the pasta, then top with a third of the mushroom and ricotta cheese mixture. Top with 1 cup of sauce and then repeat the layering finishing with the cheese mixture before topping with the remaining sauce. Finish with the shredded cheeses and then bake, covered, for 20 minutes.
  5. Remove the cover and then bake for a final 10-15 minutes, until cheese on top is brown and bubbling. Serve and enjoy!
http://dancingveggies.com/2013/04/gotta-get-out.html

The photo might not be the best, but it’s delicious and quick and easy – which is all that matters after a long day at work.  I served this up with some oregano bread but would be just fine on it’s own.

If At First

Homemade Veggie Lasagna

A few months ago I attempted, and failed at, making homemade ravioli.  I was resolved that once I got my stand mixer I would try again to make my own rolled dough, and after a month of psyching myself up I finally did it!  Having the stand mixer not only greatly reduced the extreme mess, it also allowed me to focus more on what the dough looked like to insure the right balance of flour, egg, and oil.  I also made sure to take the time to let the pasta rest, and in the end I had dough that was rollable and edible.   I thought about making ravioli, or tortellini again, but wanted to make sure I could handle the basics first.  So I cleared off the space where my microwave once sat, laid out the parchment paper, and got to work.   I divided the dough into three sections to make the rolling more manageable and occasionally got out my hubby’s measuring tape to see how thick the dough was.  For the filling I used a combination of vegetables, based on what I found in the local section of the grocery – gotta love hothouse vegetables in December!

Homemade Lasagna

Serves 5-6

Ingredients

For Noodles:

3 cups flour

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 tbsp EVOO

1/4 tsp salt

For Filling

1/2 cup Mozzarella, shredded & divided

1/2 cup Ricotta, divided

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

1 zucchini, thinly sliced

1 vidalia onion, diced

1/4 cup oyster mushrooms, well washed, diced, and divided

1/2 cup baby bella mushrooms, well washed, sliced, and divided

1/4 cup Italian brown mushrooms, well washed, sliced, and divided

1 1/2 cups favorite sauces, divided

Instructions

  1. For Pasta: Add the flour to a large bowl, make a well and crack the eggs in to the well. Use a dough hook to slowly beat the eggs and flour, go slow to make sure you don't mix in to much flour. Remove the dough from the bowl and place on parchment, then remove any extra flour from the bowl and place the dough back in the bowl. Cover with a towel or wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  2. After 30minutes remove the dough from the fridge and divide in to three balls. Keep two in the bowl under the cover, and prepare an area to roll out the third ball. I used parchment paper with about 2tbsp of flour on the paper and another 2tbsp on the rolling pin. Roll out the dough until it is around 1/8 of an inch thick or thinner. Cover with a paper towel and repeat with the remaining two bowls. Allow pasta to rest on counter for about 10 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 375
  4. Place 1/4 cup of the sauce onto the bottom of a 9x9 casserole dish, and spread out along the bottom and side of the dish. Cut the pasta dough in to 3x3 strips and place one layer on the bottom of the dish. Then add half of the vegetables and half of the Mozz and Ricotta cheese and 1/2 cup of the sauce. Repeat with the remaining vegetables then add one last layer of pasta before adding the Parmesan cheese and remaining 1/4 cup of sauce.
  5. Bake for 35minutes, cheese should be brown and the sauce should be bubbling. Allow to sit for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy!
http://dancingveggies.com/2012/12/if_at_first.html

I’m not sure if I’m ready to try long noodles or shapes yet, but I’m hoping that after a few more goes at lasagna and ravioli I’ll have the rolling technique down enough to start cutting the dough.  If that ever happens I can promise a very happy blog post.

Take You There

Ricotta Kugel

I apologize in advance for the brain dump of a post that is to follow, but this is what happens when one decides to see The Hobbit and then go to work the next morning.  I keep telling myself that functioning on four hours of sleep is practice for later in life, but the truth of the situation is I am not as young as I use to be and midnight showings are no longer worth the exhaustion that follows.   However I’m sure by time the next Hobbit movie comes out, I’ll have forgotten all about this and still go to the midnight showing.

Today’s recipe has nothing to do with The Hobbit and everything to do with one of the few dishes I’ve had to make over and over and over again in an attempt to make it edible.  I was in college the first time I attempted to make kugel, using a recipe from a book that will remain nameless because it was just bad.  The dish was cloyingly sweet, putting it a far cry from the amazing kugel I had experienced in Poland only a few months prior.  I tried tweaking that recipe, and recorded my attempts, but it never came together.  I then switched to a recipe I found on AllRecipes.com which had the right level of sweetness but was too dry and more rock-like than pudding-like.   With that I decided to combine elements of both recipes while adding/subtracting a few things until I finally came up with the variation that worked best for me.

Take You There

Serves 3 as a Main Course, 6 as a side

Ingredients

8 oz wide egg noodles

3 eggs

2 tbsp butter, melted

2 oz cream cheese, room temperature

1/3 cup white sugar

3/4 cup ricotta cheese

1 tsp curry powder

Instructions

  1. Bring water to a boil in a large sauce pan and cook the pasta for four minutes, then drain reserving 2 tbsp of the starchy water.
  2. Preheat oven to 375
  3. In a large casserole dish cream together the butter, cream cheese, and white sugar then stir in the ricotta cheese and curry powder. Slowly mix in the starchy water and the noodles.
  4. Bake for 35 minutes, the pudding should be set and the top should be a light golden brown. Allow to cool then enjoy!
http://dancingveggies.com/2012/12/take-you-there.html

This recipe still has an element of sweetness to it, without going too far into the “should be a dessert” category.  For the rest of my Hanukkah inspired recipes please check out: Spinach Potato Knish, Cream Cheese Bread, and Sweet Potato Latkes.

Update: This post was written just prior to the horrible incident that happened today in CT.  My thoughts and prayers, and those of my family, go out to the families and victims of today’s horrible crime.  I’m still having a hard time wrapping my head around the senselessness of what happened and can only hope, wish, pray, and dream that something like this never happens again.  

We’re Gonna

(My attempt at) Homemade Pasta

I’m a horrible Italian.  Why?  I can’t make homemade pasta without cursing, yelling, and occasionally throwing something.  I can do pie crusts and when the moon is properly aligned with Venus I can roll pizza dough, but there is just something about pasta dough that I can’t quite conquer.  I’ve attempted pasta a dozen or so times and have had something edible at the end of it maybe three of those times.  On all those other occasions I had to call in Chinese or Thai in order to insure there would be dinner.  I have tried a variety of recipes, from Pioneer Woman to Joy of Cooking to Martha to Fabio and the end result is always the same: super sticky dough that requires so much flour that they turn in to a gluten mess once cooked.  However last week I tried again, thanks to the /52weeks homemade pasta challenge.  I thought about skipping it and just moving on to the baking challenge, but I had promised myself that I would give every week my best try and so I did.

The bad things:

  • few survivors – had to make some dry pasta to supplement
  • very chewy
  • I can’t make pasta

The good things:

  • great ricotta filling made with the last of the fresh basil and assembled by my amazing husband
  • delicious onion sauce
  • awesome arm workout trying to roll out the dough

I used the standard 1 cup to 2 eggs ratio, and doubled it with the idea that there would be enough for two dinners and two lunches.   For the filling I had two cups of ricotta cheese, 8 basil leaves, and a touch of pepper.  Once I finally figure out this pasta thing I promise I’ll post a real recipe…just not sure when that will be!I’m thinking that if I had a stand-mixer I could get the pasta attachment and then maybe (maybe) I would finally be able to make homemade pasta on a semi-regular basis.  Until then it will be good old store bought pasta for this family!