I love lasagna. To me, there’s nothing better than making WAY too much lasagna for your household size and then eating it over the next few days until you’re absolutely sick to death of it.
I usually don’t use the same lasagna recipe twice. Over the years I’ve tried many different versions ranging from the ones on the back of a pasta box to Pioneer Woman’s to Paris Hilton’s. Actually, gotta give the socialite credit, Paris’s recipe was pretty damn good. I couldn’t find it on the internet anymore for some reason, but I know I have a cat shredded copy of it stuffed in a binder somewhere in my house…
Anyway, I don’t make lasagna too often because of the way I overindulge in it when I do make it. I’d say it’s been around a year since the last time.
I started to get a craving.
Since I’ve been participating in Tyler Florence Fridays for the last couple weeks, I thought I’d look around to see what Tyler had to offer up lasagna wise. I found two recipes on foodnetwork.com. One for his “Ultimate” version which got widely varying reviews from “this is the best!” to “this totally sucks!” which, of course, definitely made me want to try it to see what I thought. But then there was this one, his Lasagna Al Forno which received five out of five star reviews. Pretty basic, seemed like I couldn’t go wrong and it called for far less ingredients. I decided to go for the cheaper, more basic Lasagna Al Forno route and save the controversial “Ultimate” for another time.
What I did: I cut the recipe in half. I used all sausage instead of a mix of ground beef and sausage (this change alone cut my grocery bill by about $5.00). I substituted dried herbs for most of the fresh ones which also saved some $$. A lot of reviews on foodnetwork.com recommended doubling the sauce so things didn’t get dried out, I followed that advice and found the lasagna was very… what word is right… moist? saucy? You get the drift. Not dry.
What I thought: This was delicious. It was cheesy, substantial, and totally comforting. Sometimes I worry about skimping on fresh herbs and stuff, but this lasagna really didn’t seem to suffer, it had a lot of flavor. I’d use this recipe again for sure. It reheated well and still tasted great a couple days later. I’m getting pretty sick of lasagna again actually. This might be it for me and lasagna until next year, but I will say we’ve had a great couple of days together thanks to Tyler. :)
Tyler Florence’s Lasagna al Forno
Show: Food 911 Episode: Lousy Lasagna-Orlando FL/Lady Marmalade-Cathedral City CA
1 pound dried lasagna noodles
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced (I used dried minced garlic)
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped (i used dried)
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped (i used dried)
3 bay leaves
1 1/2 pounds ground beef (didn’t use)
1 pound ground Italian sausage (i used all sausage)
6 ounces tomato paste, (1 can)
30 ounces ricotta cheese, (2 containers)
1/4 cup Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped (i used dried)
Salt and black pepper, to taste
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 cups tomato sauce, prepared (I used Hunt’s canned Spaghetti Sauce)
1 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded
Grated Parmesan and mozzarella, for topping
Click here for Directions
This is my third post for Tyler Florence Fridays, a group with the freedom to make any recipe of Tyler’s that they choose and then share their experiences every Friday.
This past New Year’s Eve, I felt something different than I usually do on New Year’s Eve. I felt hopeful. 2009 has not disappointed me yet, it’s starting off great. I already started working on my resolutions the second week of December so I didn’t have the dreaded January 2nd failure. I’ve successfully given up the French Vanilla Cappuccino and Hot Chocolate from the machine at work that was making me kind of tubby. I started running again (though actually mostly walking from all the knee, ankle and leg pain I experience). I quit smoking. I’m happy right now.
Life is good.
So is this Fresh Ginger and Chocolate Gingerbread.
Fresh ginger, dried ginger (and even candied stem ginger if you choose) team up with bittersweet chocolate, molasses and spices with a chocolate-coffee icing spread over the top. The final result is the moistest, most grown up version of gingerbread I’ve ever made. I highly recommend trying this one out. If you really like the taste of ginger, wait until the day two to eat the cake, the flavors are much more pronounced.
Sherry of Sherry Trifle selected Fresh Ginger and Chocolate Gingerbread for the January 27th edition of Tuesdays with Dorie. Please stop by Sherry Trifle here to check out the recipe or see pages 212-213 in Dorie Greenspan’s book Baking: From my home to yours.
Coming up next Tuesday is Dorie Greenspan’s World Peace Cookies chosen by Jessica of cookbookhabit.
These Easy Sticky Buns from Ina Garten are pretty good. A lot of recipes for things like this (see others I’ve made) are time consuming because they involve yeast for the dough. Not this one. It utilizes puff pastry which saves a huge step, so all in all, it barely takes any time to put everything together. You could even make them the night before, and just take them out of the fridge the next morning once the oven is pre-heated.
The components consist of a butter and sugar mixture that it topped with pecans in the bottom of a muffin tin. The puff pastry is thawed and then rolled up with butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and raisins inside. After the roll is cut, you place each individual piece inside the muffin tin and bake. Once out of the oven, you flip the pan over and you have Pecan Sticky Buns for breakfast.
Sounds easy, right? Of course, there is one little downfall… the puff pastry gets pretty hard in places. Maybe baking them a few minutes less might help, but it’s really kind of in a Pecan Rolls nature to become a rock soon after baking. I would say make only as many of these as you need at one time, although they do reheat ok.
Also, make sure you follow the step about placing the pan on a baking sheet with parchment paper underneath. (You’re going to need the parchment when you invert the rolls anyway, although I got around this by just spooning the pecan mixture over the tops of each one after flipping them over.) Normally I just say “yeah, yeah, whatever” to this type of parchment placing step in a recipe with no ramifications, but it backfired on me this time. The butter mixture overflowed… a lot. All over the bottom of my oven. It was pretty obvious to me that I ignore steps like this so much because until someone pointed out my mistake on one of the Musings posts, I didn’t even know it was written in the recipe! Note to self: need to pay more attention and actually read things.
Ina Garten’s Easy Sticky Buns
From: Back to Basics
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup pecans, chopped in very large pieces
1 package (17.3 ounces/2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, defrosted for the filling
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup raisins
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place a 12-cup standard muffin tin on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper (please do not ignore this step like I did – the butter mixture overflowed onto the bottom of my oven).
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the 12 tablespoons butter and 1/3 cup brown sugar. Place 1 rounded tablespoon of the mixture in each of the 12 muffin cups. Distribute the pecans evenly among the 12 muffin cups on top of the butter and sugar mixture.
Lightly flour a wooden board or stone surface. Unfold one sheet of puff pastry with the folds going left to right. Brush the whole sheet with half of the melted butter. Leaving a 1-inch border on the puff pastry, sprinkle each sheet with 1/3 cup of the brown sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the cinnamon, and 1/2 cup of the raisins. Starting with the end nearest you, roll the pastry up snugly like a jelly roll around the filling, finishing the roll with the seam side down.
Trim the ends of the roll about 1/2 inch and discard. Slice the roll in 6 equal pieces, each about 1 1/2 inches wide. Place each piece, spiral side up, in 6 of the muffin cups. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry to make 12 sticky buns.
Bake for 30 minutes, until the sticky buns are golden to dark brown on top and firm to the touch. Allow to cool for 5 minutes only, invert the buns onto the parchment paper (ease the filling and pecans out onto the buns with a spoon), and cool completely.
I was excited to make this one since it’s one of the things in The Book that always caught my interest. I love super decadent desserts (in moderation, of course), but my real soft spot is for things like this cake that are only slightly sweet and have fresh fruit as a main component. The cake has a hollowed out center with berries and a cream cheese filling hidden inside. A whipped cream topping covers everything with a few fresh berries on top for show.
I halved the recipe and used two 4 inch springform pans to bake in. I had no problems making any of the four elements of the recipe: A Génoise cake layer (which is pretty similar to my favorite Hot Milk Sponge Cake), a simple syrup (I just used raspberry jam mixed with water and sugar), the cream cheese filling (I added a little extra vanilla and sugar to this), and the whipped cream topping. Everything was very easy. I had my own surprise though when I went to the fridge to get the raspberries I had bought for this and found mold growing on them. I’m telling you, surprise trips to the grocery store are always a bad surprise. I was even more surprised when my local grocery store had no raspberries for sale at all. I chose to do blackberry instead.
My génoise sunk in the middle which seemed to be a common problem amongst other bakers. I didn’t really care about this too much since I was making mini cakes. You have to cut a hole out of the middle anyway, so I figured having a baked in hole already saved me a step. The only issue was I didn’t have a top layer to cut off to cover the inside. I just loaded it up with extra filling and whipped cream. No worries.
I would probably only make this cake for serving at my home, I don’t think it would be something I would bring to a party, etc. It does look beautiful though considering how casual it is. And it’s absolutely delicious.
Thanks to Mary Ann for choosing Berry Surprise Cake for the January 20th, 2009 edition of Tuesdays with Dorie, it was a great pick. Please head over to Meet Me in the Kitchen to view the recipe and see what Mary Ann had to say about her choice. Then if you want to see even more cakes, stop by the TWD site to check out about 400 more Berry Surprises.
Next week, Heather of Sherry Trifle chose Fresh Ginger and Chocolate Gingerbread. See you next Tuesday!
Baby, it’s cold outside!
I woke up to snow yesterday morning. Surprise snow. The best kind.
By the time I got home, it had already melted. I knew I should have stayed home from work and made that snowman.
Anyway, I’ve been craving something “different” lately. I came across these Roasted Pears with Blue Cheese and Walnuts and said “hmmm…”. My interest in this recipe surprised me because while I like pears, I don’t really like blue cheese or walnuts that much.
Blue cheese can be an overpowering taste but the pears knocked the flavor down a few notches. They ended up being a nice compliment to each other. This dish wouldn’t be for everyone I’m sure, even the looks of it might put some people off due to the colors from the blue cheese, but it was great to satisfy whatever strange craving I was having that led me to this recipe.
Tyler Florence’s Roasted Pears with Blue Cheese and Walnuts
Featured on: How To Boil Water Episode: Thankfully Easy
Rated 5/5 stars based on 30 reviews
4 pears, halved, but not peeled or cored
Extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 bunch fresh thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup crumbled good-quality blue cheese
1/4 cup walnut pieces
This is my first post for Tyler Florence Fridays, a group dedicated to sharing their experiences with Tyler Florence’s recipes. Yes, I broke my own rule of not belonging to more than two groups at once, but this one is a good fit for me (and the boyfriend) because I decide what it is I’m making. This will help us keep our resolution this year to make more meals at home.
I’ve had bananas on the brain recently. It started with the Banana Sour Cream Pancakes I recently made. From those I still had some bananas left that were needing to be used so I got to looking around for a new recipe to try out.
Back in November I won The Art and Soul of Baking by Cindy Mushet in a cookbook giveaway. For the last couple of months I have done a lot of looking through this book but hadn’t made a thing. I figured it was high time I got around to trying something out.
The Bananas Foster Bread Pudding seemed to be the perfect choice. It’s an easy recipe with some toasted challah, a banana custard, and butterscotch-rum sauce. Absolutely delicious! The banana flavor was really pronounced and the sauce was amazing. The only thing I wished was that I had actual banana slices to add on top, that would have made this even better.
If the rest of Cindy Mushet’s cookbook produces results like this one, I’m in trouble! Look at the size of the piece I ate all by myself. I’m not ashamed… well, maybe just a little.
Bananas Foster Bread Pudding
The Art & Soul of Baking by Cindy Mushet
1 loaf (1 to 1 1/2 pounds challah, brioche or other rich, dense bread) I used challah
2 ripe bananas
2 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 cups whole milk
2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons dark rum
1 tablespoon banana liqueur (or use additional rum)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extra
Preheat oven to 325. Butter or oil a 9 by 9 by 2-inch square cake pan.
Bread: Cut the crusts away from all sides of the bread. Cut into one inch cubes, spread cubes on baking sheet and toast in the oven for 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool. Measure 6 cups of bread cubes and place them in the cake pan.
Custard: Peel bananas and break them into chunks. Place in food processor and puree until very smooth. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, egg yolks, and sugar until blended. Add banana puree and vanilla and whisk until blended. Add cream and milk and whisk until blended.
Soak Bread Cubes: Pour custard over the bread cubes in the baking pan. Cover with plastic wrap and press down gently so all bread cubes are soaked with custard. Set aside for 30 minutes, pressing down every couple of minutes so the top bread cubes are covered with custard.
Bake: Remove plastic wrap and bake for 45 to 60 minutes until the top is browned and the custard is set. Remove from oven and transfer to a rack to cool.
Make the Sauce: Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add brown sugar and cinnamon and raise heat to medium. Bring to a boil, whisking frequently. Cook for 2 minutes at a boil, whisking constantly until the mixture is thick and smooth. Remove from heat and – away from the flame! – add the rum, banana liqueur, and vanilla. Return to heat and boil for 1 more minute, whisking. Use sauce while warm.
Serve the bread pudding warm, cut into squares and topped with vanilla ice cream and butterscotch-rum sauce. Then promise yourself you’ll go to the gym tomorrow.
Rebecca of Ezra Pound Cake chose Savory Corn and Pepper Muffins for this edition of Tuesdays with Dorie. This was the first non-sweet of the group so far. I have to admit, it was refreshing to get a taste of one of Dorie’s recipes with something other than sugar as a main ingredient.
The muffin is a cornbread with red peppers, jalapeños, cilantro and corn kernels. I made them for breakfast and thought they were pretty good. I thought they were spicy but my boyfriend didn’t agree at all, he said they were “blah”. I’m actually not sure I’d make them again, I’m just not a big fan of cornbread unless it’s really sweet. I’m glad I gave them a shot though.
Next week, Mary Ann of Meet Me in the Kitchen has selected Berry Surprise Cake.
A few years ago I was obsessed with Bang Bang Shrimp from Bonefish Grill. I always wanted to go there after work for happy hour so I could feed my addiction. I’d enlist my friend Carey to go with me and i’d usually get there before him so i’d sit at the bar, have a drink, chat with the bartenders… and watch none other than the Barefoot Contessa on the TV. I always thought that was a funny choice to show at a bar, but of course the choice worked for me. One episode in particular caught my eye… the one that featured Banana Sour Cream Pancakes. I was interested because they looked really good and I have a weak spot for all breakfast foods, but I always had a fear of making pancakes at home. This fear was directly related to the fact that I somehow managed to burn every single batch I ever tried to make. Besides, it always seemed easier to just leave the whole thing up to the pros… you know, I.H.O.P. and Denny’s.
Anyway, the pancakes stayed in the back of my mind as something I would like to try one day anyway. Since it was my turn to choose the first 2009 recipe for the Barefoot Bloggers, I wanted to select a recipe that wasn’t going to be a lot of steps or take a lot of time since it was right after the holiday season. I also didn’t want it to cost a lot of money or spur a huge trip to the grocery store. I figured that these pancakes would be the perfect thing since most cooks and bakers would have nearly every ingredient on hand, minus one or two things at the most. Plus, we hadn’t really had a breakfast recipe (not counting two Bonus Challenges) since the very beginning of the group.
The process: One thing that surprised me was how thick the batter was. It was so thick that I thought I did something wrong. Never fear, that was how it was supposed to be. It made ladling them out and shaping them a little tricky since the batter doesn’t spread easily. I confessed my pancake burning fears to my boyfriend and of course he got to witness them in action as the first try went down in flames. He showed me his trick: Instead of cooking one side for 2 or 3 minutes until the bubbles rise to the top, constantly flip them. 30 seconds… flip. 30 seconds… flip. For me, I found that was the way to go and it made things a lot less stressful. After that first scorch, there was not another burnt pancake to throw in the trash.
My Thoughts: The taste of these were really good. They were really thick pancakes with bananas baked in and spooned over the top as an added bonus. Sadly, I couldn’t really identify the sour cream or lemon that much but I won’t doubt it contributed to the overall awesomeness.
I used good old Mrs. Butterworth’s instead of pure maple syrup due to the difference in costs.
I used three “kid” or “juniors” bananas instead of regular size so I could get this cool Donald Duck sticker.
I’m glad I got the chance to finally make these Banana Sour Cream Pancakes, they were a huge success at my house and I will make them again for sure. I’m also glad I got to make them with the Barefoot Bloggers and hope all of you who tried them were pleased. Many thanks to Tara for hosting such a wonderful group for the last seven months. I look forward to seeing what this new year brings for the Barefoot Bloggers and all the good stuff of Ina’s we’ll be making!
Next time on the Barefoot Bloggers, it’s another breakfast recipe – Melissa from Made by Melissa chose Easy Sticky Buns.
Banana Sour Cream Pancakes
Cookbook: 2003′s Barefoot Contessa Family Style
Show: Barefoot Contessa Episode: Back to School
1 1/2 cups flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
2 extra-large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 ripe bananas, diced, plus extra for serving
Pure maple syrup
Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream, milk, eggs, vanilla, and lemon zest. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones, mixing only until combined.
Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat until it bubbles. Ladle the pancake batter into the pan to make 3 or 4 pancakes. Distribute a rounded tablespoon of bananas on each pancake. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until bubbles appear on top and the underside is nicely browned. Flip the pancakes and then cook for another minute until browned. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel, add more butter to the pan, and continue cooking pancakes until all the batter is used. Serve with sliced bananas, butter and maple syrup.
So this week of Tuesdays with Dorie marks a special occasion – the one year anniversary of TWD! Dorie Greenspan, the author of the fabulous Baking: From my home to yours book we’re all making our way through, chose her French Pear Tart for all of us to try. She also answered questions from the OSI featured bakers. Pretty cool.
This French Pear Tart is a super easy dessert. It’s just a tart shell with an almond cream and pears. You can poach the pears yourself (which I did) or use canned pears to make it even easier. I forgot that I didn’t own a large tart pan (which happens when you have cabinets and closets stuffed to the brim) so I made this in a springform instead. I wasn’t sure how using a different pan would affect it. I found out the tart didn’t get done all the way even after 65 minutes of baking but I didn’t care, it was still good. And what it may have lost in looks from not having the detailed edging on the crust, it made up for in taste. I loved this.
Please visit Dorie’s website for the recipe and to check out all the other amazing things she posts. If you haven’t gotten the Baking: From my home to yours, I highly recommend it. I’ve made enough recipes from it now where I can name off tons of my favorites, but if I had to choose my least favorite I’d have a really hard time. That equals a great book.
I’m looking forward to another great year with TWD. I got the book for Christmas 2007 and joined the group back in April 2008, starting with Bill’s Big Carrot Cake. Last year, I made 44 of the recipes selected. I did a lot of “Blast From the Past” posts when I had extra time and calories to spare where I made selections from before I joined. Now, I’m only 9 behind before I’ve made every single recipe the group has done.
Still need to complete:
Quintuple Chocolate Brownies, Black and White Chocolate Cake, Brown Sugar-Apple Cheesecake, Almost-Fudge Gateau, Russian Grandmothers’ Apple Pie-Cake, Caramel-Topped Flan, Gooey Chocolate Cakes, The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart, and Marshmallows.
Special thanks to Laurie for starting this amazing group that led me to the food blogging world. And, of course, thanks to Dorie Greenspan for inspiring me and so many other bakers to get in the kitchen every week and do what we love doing.