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 prunes..so 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.