Sunday, September 7, 2008

Working person's lasagna

My mom packed away her cookbook somewhere because she's trying to sell her house and she asked me to email her this recipe yesterday. Since I typed it out I thought I'd go ahead and post it! This is the basic recipe. I usually substitute ricotta for the cottage cheese, a real egg for egg substitute, add lots of extra sauce (I use two jars) and cheese, double the spinach, and use whole wheat noodles. This recipe is so easy and delicious and fun to experiment with! You can also swap out a pound of cooked hamburger for the spinach for a yummy meat lasagna. What is SO AWESOME about this recipe is that you don't have to pre-cook the noodles. I love that. Just don't forget to add the water to the sauce!!

1 28 oz. jar spaghetti sauce
1 t. garlic powder
1 C. water
1/4 t. water
1/4 t. pepper
16 oz. lowfat cottage cheese
1 8 oz. package lasagna noodles, uncooked
1/4 C. egg substitute
1 10 oz. box frozen spinach, cooked and drained
8 oz. part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
vegetable cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375. Spray bottom of casserole dish with cooking spray. Add water to sauce. Mix cottage cheese and egg substitute with garlic powder, pepper, and 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese. Lightly cover the bottom of the casserole dish with some sauce. Place a layer of raw noodles with sauce. Drop spoonfuls of cheese mixture over sauce. Layer spinach. Layer noodles, sauce and cheese mixture and remaining sauce. Bake, uncovered 40 to 50 minutes. Sprinkle remaining cheese over lasagna during the last 15 minutes of baking. 8 servings.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Easy Garden Bake

When my mom was here last week she busted out my cook book and made one of her old standby recipes: easy garden bake! It was sooooo good. The whole family left yesterday (sniff, sniff), and John and I were starving for lunch after we got back from our hospital appointment so I rifled through the cabinets and discovered that we had enough ingredients for another batch! Don't you just love it when you don't have to go shopping to make something delicious?! I do. The recipe truly is very, very easy. I doubled it so I could use up a lot of ingredients (John brought in about 10 tomatoes from the garden today and we had just a cup of Bisquick left) and so we'd have plenty of leftovers.

Here's the recipe (don't forget, I doubled the recipe to get a full 9x13 pan's worth):

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a square baking dish (8x8x2) or a pie plate.

1 cup chopped zucchini
1 cup chopped tomato
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
-I also added fresh broccoli because we had it in the fridge. I chopped it up pretty small. You could also add potatoes! If you want to add cooked meat like ham, bacon, or sausage you'll probably want to omit the salt and reduce the pepper (which follows).

Sprinkle above ingredients evenly in pan.

In a separate bowl blend 1 minute or until smooth:
1 cup milk
1/2 cup Bisquick baking mix
2 eggs
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
Then pour batter evenly over veggies and cheese. Bake 30-35 mins.* or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes before cutting. Serves 6.

*For the double portion, I added an extra 15 minutes to the cooking time and it came out perfectly. As you can tell, John and I took out 6 portions on our own!! We were hungry!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Garden fresh goodness!

This week while my family's in town we've been feasting (once again) on the fruits of my husband's vegetable garden: green beans and tomatoes!! Can I just say for the record that home-grown tomatoes taste SO much better than store-bought? It's one of the joys of summer. We've had quite a crop this year of Romas, Better Boys, Beefsteaks, and even a few little Early Girls at the beginning of summer. I've made tomato-basil pizza with fresh basil from my herb garden, we've had TONS of great salad and sandwiches with our tomatoes, and we've also eaten easily 10 pounds of green beans from our back yard (and we even shared some with our neighbors!). I love that we got so many beans from a little package that only cost $1.50!! If you live in a climate that can handle it and have the time, veggie gardens are AWESOME!

Here's John and his dog tending the soil:

John enjoying his beans (or waiting to while I take a picture) with some homemade meatloaf!

This week we made tomato and mozzarella salad with fresh basil:

It was so simple to make ... just cubed fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, fresh snipped basil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper. We GORGED on this!!

We also made beans and potatoes to round out our lunch (the potatoes were from Trader Joe's, as was the fresh mozzarella):

We boiled the beans and potatoes together in salted water, drained, and then added butter and salt and pepper. YUM! I accidentally left my plate of leftovers out in dog range the other day to make a bathroom run and my basset hound ate ALL the rest of my veggies. I was so MAD!!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Pumpkin bread pudding

This is one my mom has made ... it is SINFUL. I'd like to make it for a special occasion this fall. I'm not sure if this is her exact recipe but it seems very similar.


Bread pudding
2 cups half and half
1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
1 cup (packed) plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
10 cups 1/2-inch cubes egg bread (about 10-ounces)
1/2 cup golden raisins

Caramel sauce
1 1/4 cups (packed) dark brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup whipping cream
Powdered sugar


For bread pudding: Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk half and half, pumpkin, dark brown sugar, eggs, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon and vanilla extract in large bowl to blend. Fold in bread cubes. Stir in golden raisins. Transfer mixture to 11x7-inch glass baking dish. Let stand 15 minutes. Bake pumpkin bread pudding until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare caramel sauce: Whisk brown sugar and butter in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until butter melts. Whisk in cream and stir until sugar dissolves and sauce is smooth, about 3 minutes.
Sift powdered sugar over bread pudding. Serve warm with caramel sauce.

The beauty of banana bread

What I love about banana bread is that it can take you from this:

To this!

Click here for the recipe.

And sometimes, you crap it up:

I only baked the pumpkin bread for an hour (the instructions said between 1-1.5 hours) ... I am still figuring out cooking with a gas stove. I have always had an electric before we moved last August, and I quickly learned that gas tends to be a bit hotter faster. Also, I have a bad habit of missing the buzzer and I was afraid of burning the bread.

Welp, today I had the opposite problem. Goo bread. One of the loaves was a bit larger and it sunk in the middle so I tried to save it by putting it in the oven on a cookie sheet for a while: no good. When I sliced into it the top was still batter. So I sliced it into chunks and am in the process of drying it out. The other loaf is in the freezer ... it wasn't as sunken on the top so hopefully it's all right.

Lesson learned? Cooking isn't an exact science.

Revised Mac & Cheese

I've finally found a more structured recipe for mac & cheese. I made this a few times last month, once for a friend's birthday and then again for a church potluck and both batches were consistent. Hope it works for you!!

Manda's Mac & Cheese

1/2 gallon whole milk
1 box Barilla small elbows
1 stick salted butter
1 (4 cup) package shredded cheddar
1 (2 cup) package Mexican blend cheese
4-6 T. flour
1 block colby jack

Cook macaroni according to package instructions (in salted water, about 1.5 T). Drain in collander and leave in sink until ready to return to pot. DO NOT RINSE!!

Pour entire 1/2 gallon of milk into hot macaroni pot and reduce heat to medium/medium-high. Add stick of butter. Whisk until butter is melted, then add in flour one tablespoon at a time until mix begins to thicken and loses its "grittiness." Add handfuls of cheddar cheese while continuously whisking until you have a combined sauce (note: don't stop whisking, ever!! This is the part that takes a little finesse, but it's important so you don't scorch the milk). Finish with a light handful of the Mexican blend cheese, but don't overdo it. You may want to continue whisking until the sauce reduces a little bit, but you don't have to. At this point I taste the sauce and add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Add the macaroni back into the pot, carefully separating the noodles (they'll be a bit sticky after sitting in the sink a while, but that's good! They will absorb the sauce!!). Take a few minutes and stir well, making sure all the noodles are coated and beginning to soak up the sauce.

Pour the mixture evenly into TWO 8x11 glass dishes. Cube the colby jack cheese and add half to each pan, tucking the cubes into the noodles so they are hidden (about one per scoop -- my husband refers to these lovingly as "cheese bombs"). Top with the remaining Mexican blend cheese and bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-30 mins until bubbling. Serves 8-10, depending on how hungry everyone is.

This is an original recipe! If you would like to republish it please do so with my name and a link back to this blog.

[Copyright Amanda Huddle, 2008]

Favorite cooking tool: My big bowl

My mom got me this bowl from Goodwill when I was in grad school. My husband got violently ill after eating buttered popcorn at the movies about SIX years ago (when we were still dating) and he still can't stand the smell or even consider eating popcorn again, so my big bowl gets used for other various things because of how big it is. I mix up bread batter, serve big salads, chips, I love how much it can hold! It's a pain to handwash sometimes because it's a bit heavy, but I use it weekly!

When Starbucks quits offering pumpkin bread ...

...the pregnant lady gets baking on a lovely warm June day. Sigh.

I love this recipe (click here to see it). It's so easy ... you just dump all the ingredients in a big bowl, combine, and bake!! It's not Starbucks pumpkin loaf, it's much cakier and doesn't have frosting or nuts, but it helps with my pumpkin craving. These freeze well. Since the recipe makes 2 loaves I'll freeze one for later. My mom and sister are visiting this weekend so it'll be a nice treat!

Dry ingredients:

Don't forget the pumpkin (I almost did):

Everything in the bowl:

350 degrees for 1-1.5 hours:

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Couscous salad with spiced mini burgers (from RealSimple)

I've been holding on to these pictures for about a month. I made this recipe for John and it was a hit! He loved it! My stomach didn't tolerate the spices too well (dang pregnancy!) but the leftovers didn't last long. The recipe made a HUGE bowl of the salad that fed John for days (it helps that he loves leftovers!!)

Here's the recipe link.

This is a great fresh meal if it's hot where you live and you're sick of traditional salads!!

Sometimes to make an omelet you have to break a few eggs, huh? I forget how messy I can be when I cook!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

What's for lunch?

Lately lunch has been an unimportant and ignored meal. I coach track, practice starts at 1:15, and I usually have a late-ish breakfast. Unfortunately, somewhere in the middle of practice I get RAGINGLY hungry! I'm committing to making lunch more of a priority for my pregnant self's sake (oh I guess the baby's sake too, hee hee!). I only had a carton of yogurt and some decaf tea with half-and-half and sugar for breakfast so I HAD to have a substantial lunch today.

I had Trader Joe's organic Shells & White Cheddar, prepped according to the box directions. And yes, I ate it all!

Monday, April 14, 2008

A New Leaf

Hello, hello food blog!! I haven't visited you in a long time. Why you ask? Well, unfortunately, I haven't been cooking much lately because pregnancy makes you a tired, lazy, take-out orderer. I've made a resolution, though, that I'm going to start blogging about food in an effort to light the fire under myself to do more real cooking before the baby comes.

I'll start with tonight's dinner, which was simply salad and steak! The thing I'm kicking myself about right now is how EASY and CHEAP it is to cook at home and how much better the food is for you. I went to Trader Joe's today and loaded up on fresh veggies and meat, came home, and had dinner on the table in less than 20 minutes. It's just pathetic how easy it was.

First I made the salad. I tore up one romaine heart (it's cheaper than the bag-o-lettuce) threw it in a colander, and rinsed. While that was draining I cut up a tomato, half an English cucumber, and a green pepper. To assemble the salad I blotted the lettuce with a paper towel, then arranged the veggies on top. For a little added protein I grabbed a handful of ciliegine mozzarella balls, squeezed them gently to remove the extra moisture, and then cut them in half to top the salad (a handful on each salad was perfect, and the cheese was definitely domestic so I didn't have to worry about pasteurization). For dressing, I used a drizzle of olive oil, then a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, then salt and pepper. Yum!

Then the steak: I have a great Teflon pan so I love pan-searing steak on the stove. I got some extra-virgin olive oil hot, then prepped the steak (lean Angus sirloin, yum) with some prepackaged Montreal steak seasoning. I cooked the steak about four minutes on each side to get mine RARE and a little longer to get John's medium rare. I think they turned out well!

That was dinner tonight! So easy!

Tomorrow I'm going to try Real Simple's Spiced Mini Burgers and Couscous Salad.