Monday, October 12, 2009

French Omelet

I don't think there is any recipe that seems so simple and yet is so intimidating as the classic French Omelet. For years, what I thought what I was making, was an omelet. Until one day, I went to the Gourmet Institute (now sadly, defunct) in NYC and sat in a class on eggs. It was there I learned that the true French Omelet is in a class all on its own. I doesn't have the brown edges, or the dryness that I had become accustomed to in my omelets. It was creamy, delicate, moist and perfectly even colored.

Truth be told, I am not an egg lover. I have eaten them mostly because I thought they were some super food that would make me a healthier person. I don't know if that's true or just good marketing by egg farmers or what. You gotta say, for something so small, and pretty simple they pack a pretty good nutritional punch. One little egg only has 4g fat and 7g protein. Its pretty much carb free and a whole bunch of other vitamins that I'm sure do something good.

So back to the omelet. I finally "cracked" (I'm so funny!) the key to a good, creamy French omelet when I followed the following principles:
1) VERY Fresh eggs. I LOVE to use my farm fresh eggs from Rosas Farms but if I cannot get my hands on those babies, I use cage free, organic eggs. (The cage free part is purely for my guilty conscious)

2)Use only 3 eggs at a time. I dont care if you are feeding 34 people. Sorry. Use only 3 eggs at a time. If you try to use more, then you get so much thickness that it takes too long to cook and you get the dreaded "brown crust".

3) Don't over mix. Typically, when I would make scrambled eggs or an omelet I would scramble those suckers like it was an Olympic event. Take it easy, lightly break the yolks and get them nice and mixed but don't be all crazy about it.

4)Use real butter. Use good cheese (if you are using) and have them both at the ready when you start. If you have your omelet in the pan and then you have to go start looking for your cheese in the fridge under last week's leftovers, your omelet will burn and you will be sad. So practice the french art of "mise en place" (everything in its place) before you begin.

Ok- away we go

French Omelet

3 Fresh eggs (I use large)
1 tbl butter
2 tbl cheese or fresh herbs whatever strikes your fancy
Kosher salt and fresh pepper

Place a 10" nonstick skillet on the stove. Heat to med-high.
Crack eggs into a bowl, and gently mix.

When pan is thoroughly heated thru, add the butter. It should melt right away with a bit of a sizzle.

Right before you drop the eggs into the hot pan, sprinkle them with a bit of salt and pepper. If you add the salt too early, it makes the eggs watery.

Pour the eggs into the hot pan. Lower the heat to medium. Grab a rubber spatula, you know, this kind and gently swirl the eggs around. Use the handle of the pan to rotate the eggs around in the pan evenly. You are trying to make a nice, thin layer of eggs. keep lifting the edges with the spatula and give the pan several jerks swiftly over the heat.

You are trying to keep any one section of the eggs from staying in the heat for too long. Keep swirling the eggs around, coating all sides of the pan. Once the bottom layer has set (around 90 seconds) add the cheese or herbs if using down the middle of the omelet.

Swirl a bit more and gently fold one side over the other. If you are feeling daring, flip the omelet onto its other side for 15-20 seconds more and turn off the heat.

Slide the omelet gently, onto a plate, garnish with fresh chives or parsley.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers- White Pizzas with Arugula

After seeing Julie and Julia a few nights ago, I realized my blog needed some motivation. I was too willy-nilly about my postings and had no real pressure to commit. For those who know me, what Julia Child was to Julie Powell is what Ina Garten is to me. I love Ina. I am sure that if we just met, we would be instant life long friends.

I would love to be one of those people she invites to sit around her kitchen in the Hamptons and we could talk for hours about the importance of butter in all recipes. "How bad could that be?"
Her cooking style most resembles my own. It's classic, it's comforting, it's accessible for most cooks and it seems like food you would really want to eat.

I found this blogging group, Barefoot Bloggers, who are all..well..Ina fans too! Each month, another blogger (that would be someone like me!) is selected to choose 2 recipes from Ina and then (get this) everyone else has to make them and post on their own blogs! Perfect- that solves my motivation problem AND I get to make Ina recipes!

So this month, the recipes were White Pizzas with Arugula and a Mango Daiquiri or something drink. I didn't make the drink. Not that I didnt plan to (mangoes sitting nicely on my counter as we speak..) but I just flat out got too busy and honestly, I can't exactly serve a rum drink to my kids so..I stuck with the pizzas for this month.

Arugula is probably in my top 5 favorite foods. I LOVE the peppery, crisp taste and it doesn't hurt that my next door neighbors grow some in their herb garden and are always forcing it upon me.
Let me start by saying- I LOVED this recipe. LOVED IT. My husband and I looked at each other with the "OMG where has this been my whole life face". The salty and creamy combination of the cheeses combined with the garlic and peppery lettuce was out of this world.

Some notes:
First, when Ina said NOT to add the salt to the yeast before the flour, she means it. I had one totally flat, failed ball of dough that wouldn't rise.

I usually do not like goat cheese..if that is the case for you, try it anyway. I did and actually really liked the taste on this pizza. Gave it great depth.

Final thoughts: It's a bit of work, no doubt. Anytime you work with dough and things like - three different cheeses and garlic steeped oil it's going to be a bit more advanced of a recipe but it's all worth it. This is now my go-to appetizer for parties.

White Pizzas with Arugula

For the dough:

  • 1 1/4 cups warm (100 to 110) water
  • 2 packages dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Good olive oil
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

For the topping:

  • 3 cups grated Italian fontina cheese (8 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 cups grated fresh mozzarella cheese (7 ounces)
  • 11 ounces creamy goat cheese, such as montrachet, crumbled

For the vinaigrette:

  • 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces baby arugula
  • 1 lemon, sliced


Mix the dough.

Combine the water, yeast, honey and 3 tablespoons of olive oil in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. When the yeast is dissolved, add 3 cups of flour, then 2 teaspoons salt, and mix on medium-low speed. While mixing, add up to 1 more cup of flour, or just enough to make a soft dough. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until smooth, sprinkling it with the flour as necessary to keep it from sticking to the bowl.

Knead by hand.

When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a floured board and knead it by hand a dozen times. It should be smooth and elastic.

Let it rise.

Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl and turn it to cover it lightly with oil. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and allow the dough to rise at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Make garlic oil.

Place 1/2 cup of olive oil, the garlic, thyme and red pepper flakes in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat. Cook for 10 minutes, making sure the garlic doesn't burn. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. (Be sure your oven is clean!)

Portion the dough.

Dump the dough onto a board and divide it into 6 equal pieces. Place the doughs on sheet pans lined with parchment paper and cover them with a damp towel. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes. Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to 4 hours.

Stretch the dough.

Press and stretch each ball into an 8-inch circle and place 2 circles on each sheet pan lined with parchment paper. (If you've chilled the dough, take it out of the refrigerator approximately 30 minutes ahead to let it come to room temperature.)

Top the dough.

Brush the pizzas with the garlic oil, and sprinkle each one liberally with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the pizzas evenly with fontina, mozzarella and goat cheese. Drizzle each pizza with 1 tablespoon more of the garlic oil and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the crusts are crisp and the cheeses begin to brown.

Make the vinaigrette.

Meanwhile, whisk together 1/2 cup of olive oil, the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

Add the greens.

When the pizzas are done, place the arugula in a large bowl and toss with just enough lemon vinaigrette to moisten. Place a large bunch of arugula on each pizza and a slice of lemon and serve immediately.

TIP Make sure the bowl is warm before you put the water and yeast in; the water must be warm for the yeast to develop.

TIP Salt inhibits the growth of yeast; add half the flour, then the salt, and then the rest of the flour.

TIP To make sure yeast is still "alive," or active, put it in water and allow it to sit for a few minutes. If it becomes creamy or foamy, it's active.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Whole Wheat Pita Breads

I know, I are thinking "why on earth would you make pita when you can buy perfectly acceptable pitas in those bags at the grocery store". OK, true, you can. But then, when someone asks you "What did you do today?" you would not be able to answer: "I made pita from scratch, you?"
See? It has a nice ring to it, right?!

Don't you ever just want to do something so you can say you did? For some this sense of accomplishment might come from knitting a blanket, changing the oil in your car (although why would ANYONE want to do that..getting under your car, full of grease..but I digress..), bike thru get the idea. My "1000 things to do before I die" list probably has 934 related to food.

I have such a long list of things I want to attempt in the kitchen. Like this or this or this one too. Oh ya, and the best meal I ever had in a restaurant in my life - this one ( day!)

But until then, I'll stick with some amateur attempts - and those usually involve yeast. For me, there is just something magical and well..mystical about using yeast. It's totally out of my comfort zone, so many things can go wrong and must be handled with kid gloves. I have thrown out my share of bread starters because I was too lazy to add liquid at just the right temperature or because I just flat out didn't follow directions. I love the idea of homemade baked bread but its the "bread" part that intimidates me. Little, unassuming pita breads couldn't be that difficult. And turns out, they weren't..

Worth the effort- Oh yea. Warm, soft and just chewy enough. They don't even resemble store bought pitas. The best part was watching them puff up in the oven- a real crowd pleaser. Well, as long as your crowd is 6 years old (like mine was).

So- take a chance, try something new- make some pita breads.

From Cooking Light Mag:

Makes 8 servings (serving size: 1 pita)


  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water (100° to 110°)
  • 10 ounce bread flour (about 2 1/4 cups)
  • 4.75 ounces white whole-wheat flour (about 1 cup), divided
  • 2 tablespoons 2% Greek-style yogurt (such as Fage)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • Olive oil cooking spray

1. Dissolve sugar and yeast in 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Weigh or lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife.

Add bread flour, 3 ounces (about 3/4 cup) whole-wheat flour, yogurt, oil, and salt to the yeast mixture; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead dough until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes); add enough of remaining whole-wheat flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel sticky).

Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, for 45 minutes or until doubled in size.

2. Position the oven rack on the lowest shelf.

3. Preheat the oven to 500°.

4. Divide dough into 8 portions. Working with one portion at a time, gently roll each portion into a 5 1/2-inch circle. Place 4 dough circles on each of 2 baking sheets heavily coated with cooking spray. Bake, 1 sheet at a time, at 500° for 8 minutes or until puffed and browned. Cool on a wire rack.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Roasted Chicken

Seems appropriate since my last blog was Chicken Soup to stick with the "Jewish Food" theme.

I really do think that Roasted Chicken is quintessentially Jewish. I have no idea the origins of Roasted Chicken (although I assume a quick google search could answer that for me) but I have taken a very informal poll (really, I asked 4 people) and it seems that most Jewish people I know roast their own chickens and most non-Jews buy it at the grocery already roasted. Or maybe its a Jewish food because Friday night dinner wouldn't be complete without it and every Jewish grandma everywhere has their version of it. So there. It must be a Jewish thing to roast chickens.

So for all you non-Jewish-publix rotisserie buying people- this one's for you.

I am always amazed when I make this for company and my guests (my non-foodie friends) are aghast (I don't think Ive ever used that word before) that I actually roasted my own chicken. I get the oh-my-g-d- you-have-four-kids-and-now-even-roasted-your-own-chicken look every time. (Although, come to think of it, the you-have-four-kids part is really quite common) Listen people, be shocked that I make manicotti from scratch or that I would never ever buy store bought caramel but please do not extol praise on me for this. It's really not worth it. This is such a simple thing to do at home and it makes your house smell so incredible. If for nothing else but the smell- you must do this one at home!

The beauty of this recipe is you can adapt it any way you please. Love lemons - add them to the cavity. (Oranges are good too!) Love garlic? Add more - under the skin, in the pan, rub it over (you get the idea). There are a few key points I have learned along the way that really make the difference, the rest is up to your imagination.

So I'm going to post my original go-to recipe for Friday night Roast Chicken. Then I am going to post a variation that I do (just to keep it interesting because really, chicken can get pretty darn boring). No matter which you choose, you will love the outcome and will never ever have to take a chicken home in a sad looking bag, stamped with an "eat by 6:10pm" sticker from the grocery store, again.

Classic Roast Chicken Recipe

Equipment- medium sized roasting pan, heavy aluminum just a bit bigger than your chicken (and you can leave room for potatoes, more on that below)
Preheat- 475

1 3-4 lb Roaster- preferably organic
Kosher Salt and Ground Pepper
3-4 springs of fresh thyme
1 onion, sliced
4 tbl melted butter or canola oil (butter is SO not kosher, FYI!)
1/2 - 3/4 cup chicken stock, white wine or water.

Wash and pat dry chicken. Put onion slices down on roasting pan and lay chicken on top of onion slices. Salt liberally breasts and back and inside of chicken. Salt a bit on the wings and legs. Cover with a paper towel and refrigerate 1hr and up to 1 day.

Remove chicken from refrigerator, preheat oven to 475. Using a thin knife, gently separate the skin from the breasts creating a pocket on each breast. Stuff 2 sprigs of thyme into each breast. Rub the butter all over the bird and season with some pepper. Tuck the wings under the breasts.
Roast for 20 mins at 475, reduce temp to 350 and cook for 45-55 mins or until juices run clear from thigh. Halfway through cooking, baste with the chicken stock, white wine or water.(whichever you are using)

Move chicken onto a cutting board and let sit for 15 minutes before slicing and serving. This will help all the juices stay into the bird instead of running down your cutting board.

NOTE: This is delicious when roasted with cut up potatoes and carrots. For the potatoes, I like russets, cut small and scattered around the chicken. I toss it with a bit of olive or canola oil and season the potatoes with additional kosher salt and pepper.

***Variation #1***
Chicken with White wine and garlic

3-4lb CUT UP Chicken
20 peeled cloves of garlic
2 lemons (sliced)
6 sprigs of thyme
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup olive oil
Kosher salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 475. Arrange chicken pieces in roasting pan. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil. Scatter lemons and thyme around chicken. Roast for 20 minutes.

Reduce heat to 350, scatter garlic around chicken and add chicken stock and white wine (coating chicken pieces). Bake at 350 for additional 25-35 minutes or until juices run clear and chicken is browned and crispy.

Remove chicken, lemons and thyme onto platter, scatter half of the soft, roasted garlic around. platter. Pour remaining juices and garlic pieces into a food processor or blender and puree until thickened. Pour roasted garlic sauce over chicken and serve.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

A blogging vacation and my "Sneaky Style" Jewish Chicken Soup

I have taken a blogging vacation. This is not to imply that I have taken a cooking vacation - not at all. I have cooked and baked and photographed. I have simply not gotten around to writing about it, but I will try to remedy that now.

I do actually have a real job that is thankfully growing like crazy but requires much of my personal time. Oh, and then there are my 4 children who, as often I hear them say "I can do it myself", lo and behold...cannot "do it themselves". But I have missed you all - all 4 of my loyal followers :)

I am coming back with a staple - Chicken Soup. There is nothing particularly difficult about making the soup - and its a great starter recipe for a novice because you really cannot screw it up. What I love about my recipe is the "sneaky veggie" puree that finally gets your kids eating those carrots and celery pieces. Not only does it boost the nutrients in the soup but really gives off the most wonderful flavor and color, unlike any other chicken soup I have ever tried.

It's the perfect remedy for colds, it's comforting on rainy days and makes a great entree in the lunchbox - with a thermos, of course.

Of course, it also leaves you with an entire boiled chicken to deal with the next day - anyone thinking chicken salad? Might have to blog about that soon..

Wholesome Chicken Soup - serves at least 8-10 generous bowls

1 Whole, Organic Chicken (I prefer organic as I think it makes a cleaner soup)
2-3 celery stalks, trimmed
2-3 carrots, peeled
1 whole onion, peeled and cut in half
1 bunch of fresh dill
1-2 parsnips, peeled
3-4 tbl kosher salt
2 tbl fresh ground pepper
1 bag egg noodles (whatever size you prefer)

Wash chicken and place in large soup pot. Place all other vegetables on top, cover with water about 3"-5" above chicken and vegetables. Turn heat to high and bring soup to boil. Run it on boil for 15-20mins more. If any "foam" comes to the top, skim it off and toss. (I find with organic chicken you do not get much of this). Add salt and pepper, lower heat to med-low, cover and simmer for 1 - 1.5 hrs more, turning chicken occasionally.

Place a large colander on a large bowl and with tongs remove chicken into colander, allowing extra liquid to empty into the bowl. (Keep putting this liquid back into the pot) Using a strainer, remove all vegetables from the pot into the colander. Keep skimming with a fine mesh sieve until all small pieces are removed and soup is clear.

Save largest chicken pieces for soup or for chicken salad. Place carrots, celery and parsnip pieces into a food processor fitted with the standard blade. Add 1-2 cups of soup liquid to food processor and process 10 seconds until well pureed. Add puree back into the chicken soup, mix in well.

Cover and remove pot from heat. Refrigerate overnight and the next day skim off fat. Return to boil, add noodles and serve.
( you may want to add a bit more salt and pepper at the table)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Fish for All- Sole Meuinere

Lots of people assume, because of my ownership with Wholesome Tummies, that I am a nutritionist or at the very least an expert in nutrition.

Well, let me say it here, my lovely blog followers. I am not. I majored in something Liberal Arts (I have to go and read my diploma again, since I forgot) at UCF. I do have a huge passion for all things food related and making sure my family eats as healthfully (is that a word?) as possible. (well, we do eat our share of chocolate cake, but at least it's MY chocolate cake so I know what's in it!).

One of the food items I continue to be clueless about is fish. I have this hang up about fish. I think I grew up always thinking it was some superfood. In my younger years, I forced myself to make it when I didn't really love as a more fully grown adult (eek!) I actually LOVE fish and would eat it often. The irony is, now that I love it, there are so many conflicting reports about the dangers vs. benefits of certain fish. I even downloaded an iphone app that tells me what fish I should buy based on fishing standards and mercury levels. (pretty cool!).

So as a mom, I want my children to get all the benefits from eating fish without the dangerous PCB's and mercury. As if that isn't enough- I want them to like it. I want them to like fish that isn't battered and deep fried. I want them to actually TASTE the fish and not a whole bunch of breading. But, I'm a realist. I don't think my 20 month old will eat poached salmon. I don't think my 6 year olds would eat steamed sea bass (actually, that is on the do not eat list..) I found this classic recipe for Sole Meuniere- which is basically sole, lightly dredged in flour, sauteed in a brown butter sauce..
Hmm..Fish..butter..saute..lemon. Ok sounds kid friendly and sophisticated too?

I didn't have sole so I used flounder instead. (was on the approved list according to my handy iphone app!). I also omitted the capers because ..well..because I hate them. I highly recommend this easy, elegant and kid friendly dinner. Start to finish took 20 minutes.

Sole Meuniere (Adapted from Cooks Illustrated, NY Times and Ina Garten)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 fresh sole fillets, 3 to 4 ounces each
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tbl olive oil
  • 1 lemon sliced thin
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

Season fillets generously with salt and pepper and dredge them in flour.

Place a large skillets over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When hot, add 2 fillets to pan and cook, turning once, until the fish is golden and just cooked through, about 5-6 minutes.

Remove fish, wipe out the pan and repeat with remaining fish, 2 tbl butter and 1 tbl olive oil. Remove fish from pan.

Return the pan to low heat and whisk remaining 2 tablespoons of the butter into the pan. Add sliced lemons, lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of parsley to each pan and cook for 1 minute. Spoon the sauce over the fillets and serve immediately.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Boredom Baking- PB, Oatmeal, CC Cookies

Does anyone else ever do this? I cannot be the only one. When I am bored - I immediately think about what I should bake. I suppose its better than mindless eating but then again someone has to eventually eat whatever comes out of the oven..

And since that person is usually my husband I tend to bake things I know he likes. This is not exceptionally difficult- he is a very good willing taster to my creations but I know deep down, that he is a pretty simple tastes kinda guy. He doesn't like coconut, almond (any nuts except peanut, actually), lemon, carrot cake and basically anything too fussy. His favorites are the classics : Chocolate Chip Cookies, Cupcakes, Chocolate Cake and PB&Chocolate. So I rarely get to venture out to some of the more exotic recipes that I cut out. So... this cookie sort of appealed to both him and me...he gets his chocolate and peanut butter and I at least get some oatmeal! Besides, tomorrow when our toddler eats one, I'll feel less guilty since if it has oatmeal - it must be healthy!

This cookie is not so much some fancy for company cookie. Its more of a cookie jar, grab a few when you walk past it, cookie. And so what's wrong with that?

Peanut Butter-Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from Dorie Greenspan

3 cups oatmeal
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 sticks butter
2 eggs
1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 cup white sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup peanut butter
12 oz bittersweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350

Sift oatmeal, flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon together and set aside.

In mixer fixed with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add peanut butter and mix until well combined. Add eggs 1 at a time, scraping down the sides after each addition. Add vanilla. Slowly combine dry ingredients into butter mixture. Add chocolate chips in by hand.

On a lined cookie sheet, spoon tablespoon sized balls onto the sheet- 2-3" apart. Flatten with back of spoon and bake 12-14 minutes or until light golden brown.

When removed from the oven let them sit on the cookie sheet for 2-3 minutes before transferring them to a rack(this will help them harden up a bit). They will continue to harden after cooled.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Loaded up Lasagna

I am still challenged, like most moms are, to find vegetables my kids will eat. It seems that just when one of them starts to like one, the next week they hate it. So there you have it. The owner of Wholesome Tummies does not have little tofu and alfalfa sprout eating children. My dirty secret is out.

You know from my previous posts that I do like to sneak it in recipes. It's not only because I want them (and me too!) to get the extra vitamins that the veggies provide but I found as an added bonus but sneaking in veggies in a lot of recipes I was eliminating some fat and cutting down sugar and by accident making it lower calorie and lower fat too. Cool, right!? The only downside with sneaking in veggies, I think, is that I'm telling my kids that its OK to NOT eat their veggies. "Huh?"..well think about it - if you sneak in a cup of spinach into a taco meat then you wont feel as pressured to have them eat their broccoli that you put on the side, right? Therefore the kids sit back and go "ah..the old mom doesn't care if we eat our vegetables anymore, rock on!!"

So...(I do have a point here)..I think its important that they still see vegetables and know that you haven't backed off. If they eat the sneaky food, just think of it as a veggie bonus but not to replace the ones on their plate.

OK soapbox over- now on to the recipe... I have a split household when it comes to Lasagna. Hubby likes meat, daughter likes it super cheesy, toddler likes veggie and mom - well I don't care. We moms don't get an opinion anyway. So tonight I decided to do a combo of all three plus add a little gourmet addition for ME!

I love how this turned out. It was a bit more work then I would have liked (start to oven was about 35-40 mins) but it made a TON and it was all we served for dinner! I know it seems like a million steps but really one just leads into the next. The onions can be done 2 days in advance and kept in the refrigerator until needed. Make extra because they are amazing on just about anything - pastas, panninis, steak..mmm..

Turkey and Vegetable Lasagna with Caramelized Onions

Recipe courtesy of ...Oh ME!

For Meat Sauce

2 lbs ground turkey breast
2 jars of good quality spaghetti sauce (I used Muir Glen - Roasted Garlic)

For Cheese Mixture

1 container (15 oz ) part skim ricotta
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (part skim)
1 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 eggs
1 package frozen spinach- thawed
1 tbl dried oregano
1 tsp dried parsley

Vegetable Layer

2 carrots, sliced thin
10 mushrooms - caps sliced thin
1 head broccoli, chopped and stems removed
2 cloves garlic, minced

Caramelized Onions

2 whole onions, sliced thin
2 tbl butter
1 tsp sugar

1 package no boil lasagna noodles
Olive Oil

Caramelize Onions:
In a heavy fry pan or dutch oven, melt butter on med-low heat and add sliced onions. Cook over slow, low heat for 20 minutes (or while you prepare the rest). Add sugar when when onions are just beginning to sweat. These can cook slowly for up to 1 hour.
Saute Veggies:
In a small frying pan, over medium heat saute mushrooms, garlic, broccoli and carrots until softened. Remove from heat and set aside.
Make Sauce:
In large saucepan, brown turkey in 2 tbl olive oil until cooked through and no longer pink. Add sauce and simmer on low until ready to use.
Make Ricotta Mixture:
In a large bowl, combine ricotta, eggs, 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, 1/4 c Parmesan cheese, spinach, salt, pepper, oregano and parsley. Mix until well combined.

Preheat oven to 375

In large baking dish or lasagna pan ladle 1 cup meat sauce. Place one layer lasagna noodles. Scoop 1 cup ricotta mixture and spread to cover the noodles. Toss 1/3 of the vegetables followed by 1/4c mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers 2 more times. (sauce, ricotta, vegetables, sprinkling of cheese). At the last layer add the caramelized onions with the vegetables top with sauce and the remaining mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese to cover. Top with tin foil tightly and bake for 45 mins until bubbly. Remove foil and bake for 15 more minutes until lightly browned.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Baked Sweet GA BYES (Potatoes)

Ok, so this recipe isn't brain surgery or rocket science for that matter. It's fairly basic and simple but if you are like me, it's one you probably KNOW how to do, but sorta forget you know it- therefore, forget to make it!

Allow me to digress a bit: let me tell you about my son, Miles. Miles is 19 months old and LOVES french fries. He LOVES them. I tried so hard to keep him away from such foods and eating green things as long as I could, and overall, the kid is pretty good. He will eat roasted chicken and spinach stuffed pasta and edamame like its going out of style. But give him a plate of french fries and game over. No other food will be consumed. The best is what he calls them. GaByes. GAAABYES GAABYES (those would be how he screams when he sees them..) I know by now he probably can say french fries pretty well..but I just want to keep him a baby a bit longer so I call them GaByes too..

Sweet Potato Fries are a great way to satisfy the french fry craving but - healthier than their white cousins! More vitamins and more fiber and more filling too.

Preheat oven to 425.

Peel 4 small sweet potatoes or 2 large ones. Cut pointy ends off so they don't burn in the oven. Slice potatoes approximately 4" long and 1" wide.
Put 1/4 cup olive oil in a ziplock bag.

Add: 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tbl kosher salt, 1 tsp black pepper and 1 tsp paprika.
Place sliced potatoes in the bag and shake well until combined.

Spread potatoes on a foil lined baking sheet and spread apart with a spoon.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, tossing once while cooking until browned.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Happy Purim - Hamentashen/Hamantaschen ..whatever you call it

What is with Jewish words that can be spelled 11 different ways? Is it Chanukkah or Hanukkah? Hamentashen or Hamantaschen? Ahhh, who cares. What matters here is the recipe not the wording, right?

So its Purim..."what is Purim" and "what does it have to do with Hamantashen", you ask? Well, I'll let my Hebrew School trained children get into the nitty gritty details but basically there was this evil dude, Haman (insert loud noisemaker here), who wanted all the Jews dead and he wore a pointy triangular hat and now, Jews everywhere eat his hat. Well, not his hat, but cookies shaped like his hat. Why? I have no idea - I think that Jews find every excuse to turn a story into food.

So my excited little 6 year olds were putting on the Jewish guilt to make Hamantashen with them (Darn they learn that Jewish guilt so young!) and because I am a recipe nut-case, I cannot just turn over a can of cherry filling and use THAT recipe (oh the horror!) I had to spend over an hour researching the perfect one.

I HATE hamantashen that is crumby, tasteless and dry. I think the key is a bit of a rugelach like taste (ok more on that cookie in a few months..) so that means- the addition of cream cheese. Hey, cream cheese never hurt anyone - just ask my friend Debbie who thinks you can add it to EVERYTHING..
Tradional hamantashen contains a prune (or Lekvar) filling but I took a chance and assumed my kids were NOT begging me to make Hamantashen because they had a hankering for we switched it up a bit and went with chocolate.
The result was buttery, flaky and deliciously chocolatey.

So, while it may make no sense as to why we eat this cookie or why its shaped like the guys hat or better yet, what a cookie has to do with persecution of Jews in persia- this cookie, with a glass of milk is a nice tribute to our people and our culture.
Enjoy and Happy Purim!

Dough: (adapted from smitten kitchen)

Preheat oven to 350

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese at room temperature ( I used whipped)
3 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs (1 for dough, 1 for brushing)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1 1/3 cups plus 4 teaspoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cream butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Add sugar and mix for one minute longer, then egg, vanilla extract, orange zest and salt, mixing until combined. Finally, add the flour. The mixture should come together and be a tad sticky. If it feels too wet, add an additional tablespoon of flour.

Form dough into two discs, wrap in seperate plastic wraps and put in freezer for 20 minutes.

To form the hamantaschen, roll out the dough on a well-floured surface until it is about 1/4-inch thick. Using a round cookie cutter (2-3" across) cut the dough into circles. Brush egg mixture on rounds, spoon a teaspoon of you filling (see below) in the center. Fold the dough in from three sides and firmly crimp the corners and give them a little twist to ensure they stay closed. Leave the filling mostly open in the center. Brush a bit more egg mixture on outsides. Bake on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Chocolate Filling (From Jewish Cooking)
1 14oz can Sweetened Condsensed Milk
3 oz unsweetened chocolate
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla

In a medium saucepan on med-high heat combine the condensed milk and chocolate until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and add salt and vanilla stirring well until shiny and satiny. Mixture will thicken as it comes to room temperature.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Meatballs and Spaghetti - for dessert

I am not a baker. I can bake, don't get me wrong but I am not a baker. I think a true baker is someone who can effortlessly whip up beautiful looking desserts that get oohs and ahhas as they hit the table. This is not me. My accolades, if they come, only are once the first bite is taken- my talents lie much more with taste than looks. Baking is really 50% visual, don't you think?
I have more baking cookbooks than I care to admit but I am always afraid to tackle those recipes which rely so much on the visual apperance of the recipe. I truly envy those bakers who have the time and patience to make their creations look so appetizing (dessertizing? that should be a word).

So(I do have a point here) last October, my 2 best friends and I went to the Gourmet Institute in New York. I won't go into a full review of the conference here, but basically, the highlight of the experience (other than hanging with my 2 best friends doing what we do best - eating) was the cupcake class we took. The class was taught by the author of Hello! Cupcake, the most adorable cupcake book you have ever seen. This is NOT a book with cupcake recipes, but rather cupcake decorating recipes. We sat down in the class and in front of each of us was- a plain, already cooked vanilla cupcake, a Ferrero Rocher chocolate in its wrapper, a little cup of strawberry jam and a ziplock with some frosting inside. When the class was completed- we had learned how to turn those ingredients into the cutest spaghetti and meatball cupcake you have ever seen.

It was really the first time I felt that the "outside" of something I had made could be just as good (and in this case even better) then the inside! I was so giddy with excitement to go home and practice my newfound decorating talents.

My first real-life attempt was a failure. Poor Maddie, she was my guinea pig. For her 6th birthday, after flipping thru the Hello Cupcake cookbook, she decided she wanted this colorful, tall cupcake cake for her party. After already one "spaghetti and meatball cupcake" under my belt, I figured "no problem! "

Well, the special liners cost me 35.00, I couldnt find strawberry stick cookies, the cupcakes all toppled when I put stacked them as the book explained. The frosting melted all over the place and the rainbow candies that were to outline each cupcake took hours to apply. The cupcakes tasted delicious but the cake looked like something out of Alice in Wonderland.

So that brings me to this recipe...I figured the only cupcakes I would attempt again with confidence was the original Spaghetti and Meatball ones I learned at the Gourmet Insitute. Since our friends hold an annual Balls N Sauce party this was the PERFECT dessert to bring along.

I can proudly say that it was not the total disaster Maddie's cake was- but not a total success either. The frosting didn't stay "spaghetti" looking for too long so it ended up looking like meatballs on a cupcake but nonetheless, they were cute and heck and tasty too.

So here is to stepping outside of your comfort zone and trying something new. And here is a second toast to knowing when to give up and what your true talents are. For me, Ill leave the fancy decorating to Publix bakery.

"Spaghetti and Meatball Cupcakes" - Hello Cupcake by Karen Tack

1 recipe of your favorite Vanilla cupcakes
(I used the yellow cake from Buttercup Bakeshop Cookbook)
1 can (16 ounces) vanilla frosting ( I made swiss buttercream from scratch but yes, you can use the can if necessary)
1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
3 drops yellow food coloring
11 hazelnut chocolates (Ferrero Rocher), unwrapped
3/4 cup low-sugar strawberry preserves (low-sugar has the best color)
2 tablespoons grated white chocolate, plus an additional chunk for garnish

1. Tint the vanilla frosting with the cocoa powder and yellow food coloring and spread a thin layer on top of the cupcakes. Arrange the cupcakes on a serving platter so that they are touching.

2. Spoon the remaining frosting into a ziplock bag. Press out the excess air and seal the bag. Snip a 1/8-inch corner from the bag. Pipe the frosting all over the cupcakes to make the spaghetti, piling it high and allowing some of the spaghetti to hang over the edges.

3. Place the hazelnut chocolates and the strawberry preserves in a medium bowl and toss to coat. Spoon some of the preserves on top of the cupcakes. Place 1 hazelnut chocolate on each cupcake and 1 on the platter. Top the cupcakes with the remaining strawberry preserves. Sprinkle with the grated white chocolate. Place the chunk of white chocolate on a separate plate with a small hand grater and bring to the table with the platter of spaghetti.