Sunday, April 30, 2017

Vegetarian Lasagna

Let me forewarn you: this lasagna is a LABOR OF LOVE. There are so many pots and bowls required for this recipe. It's usually a deal breaker for me, but this is a GREAT dish. I make sure I reserve this dish for a Sunday dinner - when I have a lot more time to prep dinner. If you have a family of 4 or 5, you will be rewarded with leftovers abound. And, we all know that lasagna is even better the next day!

I read America's Test Kitchen's Cook's Country from cover to cover religiously. In the last issue, they perfected a recipe for Hearty Beef Lasagna. My crew likes lasagna, but I don't eat meat. We can make this work! I substituted finely chopped mushrooms for the ground beef. I added tomato paste for some more meaty, umami flavoring. The mashed sweet potato was for no other reason than I love sweet potatoes! They add a richness to the lasagna and make it even heartier. I was a little wary about the "no cook b├ęchamel" because cottage cheese isn't a favorite and it was a little runnier than I was expecting. During the cooking process, the cottage cheese loses its "curd-ines" and the sauce melds nicely with the cheese and tomato sauce.

The 5-year old is notorious for asking, "What's for dinner?" "Lasagna? I hate lasagna. What's lasagna?" My crew has an adventurous palette, but only when they don't know what's in the dish to begin with. I served them the lasagna without disclosing the mushrooms, sweet potatoes, and cottage cheese and they Ate. It. Up! A win for the home team.

This is certainly a time-consuming dish to make. If I do make this dish for you, you will know that I like you very much!

Vegetarian Lasagna
Adapted from Cook's Country, Feb/Mar 2017 issue

12 lasagna noodles
3 c shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
2 T butter
2 T milk

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz mushroom, finely chopped
2 T tomato paste
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1 14-oz can tomato sauce
1 T dried oregano
1 t red pepper flakes

Cream Sauce
1 c cottage cheese
2 c grated parmesan cheese
1 c heavy cream
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cornstarch

1. Cook the sweet potato in a pot with butter and milk for 30 minutes until tender. Mash and set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray 9x13 pan with vegetable spray. Set aside.
3. Cook noodles as per directions on package (add 1 T oil to water to prevent noodles from sticking to each other). Drain noodles and set aside.
4. Heat oil in dutch oven over medium/high heat. Add onions and mushrooms cooking until mushrooms give up their juice (about 10 min).
5. Scrape up down bits on bottom of pan and add garlic. Cook for 1 minute until fragrant.
5. Add tomato paste, mix into vegetable mixture, and cook for another 2 minutes.
6. Add diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Stir, reduce heat and let simmer for 5 minutes.
7. For the cream sauce, whisk all ingredients together in a bowl.
8. Cover the bottom of the baking dish with noodles. Using a table knife or offset spatula, cover the noodles with half the mashed sweet potatoes.
9. Spread 1.5 c of marinara sauce, then 1/2 cup of the cream mixture, then 1/2 c mozzarella over the noodles.
10. Repeat steps 8 & 9.
11. Lay 3 remaining noodles on top, cover with cream sauce, and then remaining mozzarella and parmesan.
12. Spray a piece of aluminum foil with vegetable spray, cover baking dish, and bake for 30 minutes.
13. Remove foil and cook for an additional 25-30 minutes until top is brown and bubbly.
14. Allow lasagna to cool and set up for 30 minutes before slicing and serving.

To save for later, end at Step 11. Cover with greased aluminum foil and refrigerate. When cooking, bake as directed above, but increase covered baking time to 55 minutes.

If you want to freeze the lasagna, follow the entire recipe. Allow the lasagna to cool completely, then double wrap in foil, then plastic wrap, and freeze. Allow lasagna to thaw in the fridge. Then bake at 375 until warmed through and bubbly.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Bagel Dogs

Bagel dogs are fun. They are a neat little package. And, kids love them. These bagel dogs were so good, the five-year old couldn't wait for them to cool down before taking a huge bite. Ouch! The baking soda in the boiling water helps to put a nice crust on the outside of the bagel. The exterior crisps up in the oven while the inside of the "bagel" is tender.

I use Hebrew National hot dogs, and there are only 7 dogs in the package. I made 5 little pretzels out of the extra ropes. Bonus!


Bagel Dogs
from Circle B Kitchen

4 cups bread flour

2 1/4 tsp (1 pkg) active dry yeast

1 3/4 cup warm water

2 tsp sugar
 1/2 tsp vegetable oil 

2 tsp salt

8-10 hot dogs
1/4 c baking soda

1 T poppy seeds (or chia seeds)
1 tsp sesame seeds
1 tsp petzel salt

1. In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sugar, warm water and yeast.  Let sit for 3-5 minutes.  Stir in the flour, salt and vegetable oil.  Mix the dough thoroughly until it comes together in a large ball.  Knead either in the mixer or by hand for about 10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let rise for an hour.
2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
3. Set a pot of water on the stove to boil.
4. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
5. Divide the dough into 12 pieces and keep them covered until you are ready to use them.  Roll the first piece into a strip about 1" x 11".
6. Working with one piece at a time, lay your hot dog at an angle at one end of the dough.  Roll the hot dog up the strip of dough and then pinch the ends really well to seal.  Place the bagel dogs on a floured board or piece of parchment paper and cover with a kitchen towel while you assemble the rest.
7. Let the bagel dogs rest 5-10 minutes. Add baking soda to boiling water, then place them in boiling water (in batches) for 2 minutes.  Turn over after 1 minute.
8. Place on prepared baking sheet. Combine the seeds and sprinkle the bagel dogs with the seed mixture. Bake for 15 minutes.  
9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool briefly before eating.   To freeze for later, let them cool completely and then place in ziploc bags and freeze.

To reheat, let them come to room temperature and then place in a 350 degree oven for 5 to 10 minutes.

Week 366 menu

Sunday: Vegetarian Lasagna
Monday: Chicken nuggets
Tuesday: Mac and cheese
Wednesday: Breakfast for dinner (bacon, eggs, toast)
Thursday: Chicken pot pie (Ina Garten recipe)
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Out

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Week 365 Menu

Sunday: Blue apron
Monday: Meatballs and marinara
Tuesday: Chicken nuggets
Wednesday: Lettuce cups
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: BFD (eggs, toast, bacon)
Saturday: Out

Friday, April 14, 2017

Week 364 Menu

Sunday: Dinner at a friend's house
Monday: Parmesan chicken
Tuesday: Indian burrito (TWFD)
Wednesday: Blue apron
Thursday: Individual pizzas
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Out

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Week 363 Menu

Sunday: Springtime bulgur wheat salad
Monday: Orange beef and rice
Tuesday: Yorkshire Pudding and cranberry sauce
Wednesday: Taco bake and chips
Thursday: Baked chicken thighs and green beans (ATK recipe)
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Out