Friday, October 31, 2008

Lasagna


I found this recipe a few months ago at Cooking, Dunkin Style and proceeded to make it the very same day. It sounded so good that I just had to have it! This is now my favorite lasagna recipe. At first when I told B that there's cream cheese in it, he told me that it didn't sound good and he probably wouldn't like it. I'm glad to say that he was wrong! He loved it as much as I did.

This was the second time that I made it and it turned out just as good as last time. I left out the mushrooms and olives because B doesn't like them, but next time I may try adding them to part of it. I was able to make two lasagnas out of this recipe. I used a 13X9 and a 8X8 pan because there was no way that everything would fit into the 13X9 pan. This worked out well because I just froze the smaller pan and had it for dinner another time. Last time I cooked the lasagna and then froze it, but this time I froze it as is and did not bake it. I will see which way I like better but I think that freezing it as is will work out better.



Lasagna
1 pound ground beef
1 pound Italian sausage (I used sage sausage)
1/2 of a large onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
lasagna noodles (I used 12)
1 jar pasta sauce
1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
Dried Italian herbs, basil, oregano
salt and pepper to taste (I didn't add any salt because I didn't think it needed any)
1 pound shredded mozzarella
1 pound shredded cheddar
1 cup Parmesan cheese, divided.
1 brick cream cheese
2 cups ricotta cheese

Cook the lasagna noodles according to the directions on the box.

In a large pan medium to medium high heat brown the ground beef and sausage. Once the meat is all brown drain off as much grease as you can.


Add the onions and garlic. Cook until the onions start to get soft, about 5 minutes.


Add the pasta sauce.


Add the tomato sauce.

Add the dried herbs and salt and pepper.


Mix it all together and simmer for about 20 minutes.


Meanwhile mix together the ricotta and cream cheese.


Mix together the mozzarella, cheddar and 1/2 cup Parmesan.

The blue dish has the other 1/2 cup of Parmesan that will be sprinkled on top.


Once the sauce is done you can start laying your ingredients.

Start with a layer of the sauce on the bottom of your pan.


The add a layer of your noodles.


Top with another layer of the sauce.


Add a layer of the ricotta mixture. (I just put blobs of the cheese and used an offset spatula to spread it out.)


Add a layer of your shredded cheese.


Add another layer of noodles and repeat until you reach the top of your pan. Both of my pans ended up having 3 layers of noodles.



Finish with a layer of cheese. Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese on top.


Bake at 350 degrees F for 35-40 minutes, until bubbly and the cheese is brown. Let rest for 10 minutes and serve. (I forgot to let it rest. OPPS!)

Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Cupcake Bites


When I first saw these cupcake bites at Bakerella I knew I had to make them sometime. I just needed to find the perfect excuse to make them and what do you know I finally found one! Jo had her birthday party on Saturday and I thought that these would be the perfect thing to bring.
Since I knew that they would be very time consuming, I decided to start these a few days ahead of time. I would strongly suggest this if you plan on making these. Especially if you decide to make two different kinds like I did. I'm sure it will go faster next time and trust me there will be a next time because these were good. I mean they were really good and everyone thought so.

The white cake that I used was too soft to shape into cupcake bites so I just decided to make them into cake balls. I think that the reason they were too soft was because B wanted some of the cake when it came out of the oven and I said that he could because I didn't think that it would be that big of a deal. BIG mistake! So the lesson that I learned was that you shouldn't eat ANY of the cake that is destined to be made into these bites. Although he ate some of the German chocolate one and it didn't effect it at all.........strange.

This is how I broke down the work. It made it much less stressful and fun to do it in stages rather than trying to get it all done in one day.

Day 1: Bake cakes and allow to cool. Crumble cakes and mix in frosting. Shape into balls and put into fridge.

Day 2: Shape balls using cookie cutter into cupcake shapes. Return to fridge.

Day 3: Dip and decorate cupcake bites.

Cupcake bites

2 13X9 baked cakes (I used boxed German chocolate and white cake)
2 cans of frosting (I used milk chocolate and vanilla)
2 packages almond bark (One chocolate and one vanilla flavored)
1 package candy melts (You can use any color but I used pink)
Rainbow sprinkles
M&M's

Day 1
Crumble the cake in a large bowl and add the can of frosting.

German chocolate cake with milk chocolate frosting


White cake with vanilla frosting


Mix until the frosting is evenly incorporated into the cake crumbles.


Shape your cake mixture into balls and place onto a waxed paper sheet pan. I used my number 50 cookie scoop and rolled them into balls in my hands and they turned out to be just the right size. Once all the cake is shaped into balls cover with plastic wrap (I used my cake pans that had lids so I could easily stack them in my fridge) and refrigerate for at least several hours or overnight like I did.

Day 2
Remove your cake balls from the fridge. Shape a ball into more of an oval shape.


You will need a flower shaped cookie cutter that is 1.25" wide X .75" tall


Push the oval half way into the cookie cutter and use your hand to shape the top into a mound. (I just used the palm of my hand when I was pushing the oval into the cookie cutter.)


Push the cupcake out of the cookie cutter from the bottom. You should have something that resembles a mini cupcake. Isn't it cute???
Now do the rest of your balls. Once you are finished return them to the fridge.

Day 3

Melt the chocolate flavored almond bark according to the directions on the package. I just melted mine in the microwave and that seemed to work out well. I would just pop it into the microwave for a few seconds if it started getting hard again as I was dipping.

Dip the bottom of the cupcakes into the brown almond bark. Dip only until where the mound part starts. Shake off any excess and place on a waxed paper lined baking sheet so that the mound side is down. Dip the remaining cupcake bites. The almond bark should set fairly fast since the bites are cold.


Once you have finished dipping all the bottoms of the cupcake bites melt the vanilla flavored almond bark or whatever candy melts you are using. You can start dipping the tops. If the cupcake tops weren't completely covered I would just use a spoon to do whatever cover up I needed to and then shake off the excess. Then place them back onto the lined baking sheet bottom side down and immediately place a M&M on the top and cover with sprinkles before the bark hardens. Repeat with all of your cupcake bites.


Each 13X9 cake should yield about 50 cupcake bites.
Aren't these so cute?? I think I'm in love! They are cute AND taste good!


For the balls I just dipped them completely in the bark and then sprinkled them with sprinkles.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

The bananas on my counter were screaming to be made into something. They were ripe with lots of brown spots. I love eating bananas but I hate them when they are too ripe. I like my banana to have just a hint of green to them. I know I'm weird but that's how I like them! Anyways I was eyeing a banana muffin recipe I had found a few days ago but then I stumbled across a recipe for banana oatmeal chocolate chip cookies over at The Crepes of Wrath that I knew I had to make.

They were super simple to make and turned out pretty good. They might be a little too chocolaty for me though so next time I think I will put a little less in. I liked the chunks of banana in the cookies but I found that the chunks were too big. So next time I will cut the banana chunks into smaller pieces.

Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 1/4 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
6 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup oatmeal
2 cups (12 ounces) chocolate chips (I would use less next time)
2 bananas, cut into 1/4 inch pieces (I used 3 because that's what I had)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Line or grease your baking sheets. I always use silpt. I love them!

In a small bowl mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon together and set aside.


In your mixer, beat the butter and sugars until completely blended. Scrape down the sides as needed. (I have a new beater blade that does this for you. It really makes it so much easier!)


Add the egg and vanilla and mix until blended.


On low speed add the flour mixture until it is just incorporated.


Mix in the oatmeal and then chocolate chips until evenly distributed.



Add the banana pieces and mix until they are evenly distributed. There will be some that are mashed and some that are still whole pieces. If you prefer you can mash all the bananas if you don't want the whole pieces in your cookies.



Scoop the dough onto your prepared baking sheets. I always use a cookie scoop. I love those things! The one I used is a number 50.


Bake the cookies one sheet at a time until the edges are lightly browned and the tops look dry. Mine took about 15 minutes.


Let the cookies cool and enjoy!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Broccoli Cheese Soup


It's been so cold here lately that I needed something warm and comforting. Nothing is more comforting than a big bowl of soup. I had broccoli that I needed to use up so I went searching for a broccoli soup. I found a yummy looking recipe for broccoli soup at For the Love of Cooking but wanted something a little more cheesy. So I kept searching and came across broccoli and three cheese soup at A Year of CrockPotting and decided that I would kind of combine the two recipes.

I used the cheese that I had on hand. You can use whatever kinds of cheese that you want. You can use one, two or three different kinds like I did. I'm not too sure of the exact measurement of cheese that I used because B was shredding and eating it and shredding more and eating more. We like cheese so we put more in but if you aren't a big fan of a lot of cheese then just use less.

This was a really simple recipe. It turned out really good. It's relatively healthy too if you don't add all the cheese. But cheese is dairy so it's good for you right?
Broccoli Cheese Soup

3 heads of broccoli (I used both the stems and florets. I got about 3 cups of stems and 8 cups of florets. I kept them separate because I added them in at different times. You'll want to make sure that your broccoli is cut up into bite sized pieces)
1/2 an onion
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups milk (I used non-fat milk)
1/2 cup water
1 quart chicken stock
1 bay leaf
3 cups of cheese (I used Gruyere, medium cheddar and mozzarella)
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil

In a large pot over medium high heat drizzle some olive oil. You need just enough to cook your onions and broccoli stems. Probably 1 or 2 tablespoons.


Add the onions and garlic and saute for a 2 minutes.


Add the broccoli stems and saute for about 5 minutes.


Add the chicken stock.


Add the milk, water and bay leaf.


Add salt and pepper to taste. (I ended up adding more salt and pepper later after I had tasted it.)


Cover and allow to simmer for 20 minutes. Stirring occasionally.
Isn't my new pot great??? I've been wanting one of these for a while now and Macy's had a good deal on it plus I had a gift card so it cost me less than $25!!! I love a good deal!

Add all the broccoli florets except for 2 cups. Allow to simmer for another 15-20 minutes or until the broccoli is completely cooked.


Remove the bay leaf and puree your soup until it is completely smooth. I used a stick blender for this but you can add your soup into a blender in batches if you would rather.



Once the soup is blended add the remaining broccoli florets and cook until they are done which will take probably about 5 to 10 minutes.


Add all the cheese and stir until completely melted.



Enjoy!