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Vegetable Lasagna

10 Apr

Who says lasagnas must be meaty and cheesy? While lasagnas are undoubtedly delicious meaty and cheesy, I wanted to make a healthier option. You know, spring is here, summer is approaching, I know you are also watching your waistline. Don’t lie.

So I roasted some vegetables- onions, zucchini, and eggplant, layer on whole wheat lasagna, top with a little mozzarella, ricotta, and homemade marinara sauce. Of course it tastes delicious. Warm, gooey, a little cheesy but light. With this recipe, I don’t think I want to go back to meaty lasagna if I have to.

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Ingredients:

1/3 cup olive oil

salt & pepper

2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional

1 medium eggplant, sliced

2 zucchini, sliced

1 small onion, sliced

Lasagna Pasta

3 cups marinara sauce- homemade or store bought

1 cup shredded mozzarella

1.5 cup ricotta- skim, whole, your choice.

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place sliced onion, zucchini , and eggplant on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and toss. Once all the veggies are evenly coated, place the sheet into the oven for about 20-25 minutes.

2. In a 9 x 12 baking sheet, layer 1 cup of marinara sauce . Layer a layer of lasagna pasta, then vegetables on top, then dot some ricotta, then a thin layer of mozzarella. Repeat this rotation until all the ingredients run out. It should be enough for 3 thick layers.

3. Bake in the oven with aluminum foil on top for 30 minutes. Take off the top and bake for another 15 minutes, until top is golden brown.

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Enjoy!

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Blueberry Crumb Cake

19 Mar

So crumb cakes, eh?

I love crumb cakes. They are light yet scrumptious, fluffy yet buttery. Do you know what I mean?

For some reason, crumb cakes always remind me of summer days down the shore. It makes the best breakfast, summer or winter, paired with coffee or hot tea. Oh, and it’s also a dessert, and snack, I guess.

I found this Ina Garten recipe for blueberry crumb cake. I had to make it. I love the role blueberries play in this delicious good. Sweet yet tart, combined with the heavenly crumbs with a hint of cinnamon. It’s quite perfect.

IMG_6194Ina Garten’s Blueberry Crumb Cake

Ingredients:

For the streusel:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

For the cake:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature (3/4 stick)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2/3 cup sour cream
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup fresh blueberries
Confectioners’ sugar for sprinkling

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9-inch round baking pan.

For the streusel:
Combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl. Stir in the melted butter and then the flour. Mix well and set aside.

For the cake:
Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high speed for 4 to 5 minutes, until light. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla, lemon zest, and sour cream. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Fold in the blueberries and stir with a spatula to be sure the batter is completely mixed.

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Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and spread it out with a knife. With your fingers, crumble the topping evenly over the batter. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely and serve sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar.

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Irish Soda Bread

14 Mar

In case you care, I am not Irish. However, I decided to channel my inner Irish and made some Irish Soda Bread. Perfect timing for St. Patrick’s Day!

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To be honest, I have only had Irish Soda Bread once; the Shoprite kind. Yup. I know. So truthfully, I really don’t know or remember what it is supposed to taste like. The version of Irish Soda Bread that I made were quite okay in my opinion. The crust was actually the best part- crumbly, light, with a hint of citrus. The inside of the bread was thicker than I typically like, but not too bad. This recipe turned out pretty good in my non-Irish opinion!

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I followed my girl Ina Garten’s recipe for the most part. I did made some alterations based on what I did/did not have. For example, instead of buttermilk, I used half buttermilk, and half sour cream. I replaced orange zest with lemon zest. Lastly, I used dried cranberry (Craisins) instead of dried currants.

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Copied and Adapated from Ina Garten’s Irish Soda Bread

Ingredients:

4 cups all-purpose flour

4 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 cup cold buttermilk

1 cup sour cream

1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1 cup dry cranberries

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour.

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3. With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, sour cream, egg, and lemon zest together in a measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Combine the dry cranberries ith 1 tablespoon of flour and mix into the dough. It will be very wet.

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4. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf. Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated knife. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. When you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow sound.
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5. Cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

IMG_6181Hope you enjoy this recipe and Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

 

Spinach and Goat Cheese Pasta

7 Feb

Do you like goat cheese?

If you do, you’ve got to try this recipe. It takes less than ten minutes and it’s absolutely delicious! Creamy, cheesy, thick, garlicky, yet not too heavy. If you are a goat cheese lover, it doesn’t get much better than this dish!

This recipe is an adaptation of Giada’s Penne with Spinach Sauce. I’ve made Giada’s recipe a few times, it’s amazing, but I decided to use what I had on hand to make this dish work!

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Ingredients:

1.5 cloves garlic

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

1 ounce goat cheese

3 ounces of spinach (I used a spinach mix since I didn’t have full spinach)

1/2 pound pasta (to make it healthier, I used organic brown rice pasta)

Grated parmesan to finish

Directions:

1. Cook pasta according to its directions. Save pasta water!

2. In a blender/food processor, blend in all the ingredients together with 1/3 cup of pasta water.

3. Mix in the pasta and sauce. Top the dish with grated parmesan on top. THAT’S ALL!

It’s THAT easy! You try it now!

Smoothies!

4 Feb

I noticed that I gain about 3-5 pounds throughout winter every year. It’s cold outside and despite my busy schedule, I still eat constantly and often don’t have the motivation or energy to work out like I do during other seasons of the year. Even when I do work out, I don’t see the results in terms of losing weight. It’s a struggle.

Another problem I’ve been encountering is that I don’t eat enough veggies. This is an all-year round problem.

A few weeks ago, I decided to make smoothies to lose a few pounds, and also to enhance my veggie intake. It’s not extreme. I make a green smoothie for breakfast and have it throughout the morning to keep myself full, I may occasionally have an additional smoothie at night or in the late afternoon when I am hungry for a snack. I have been consuming so much veggies and with working out, I have lost a few pounds!

The smoothie experience has been positive. I go to the local farm/grocery store and buy any veggies/fruit they have, preferably organic. I also bought ground flaxseed to add in extra fiber (be careful though, they add extra calories if you put in too much!). Blend with some almond milk, add a little agave nectar extra sweetness, and the smoothie is done! Veggies that I like to buy are- kale, spinach, mache, celery, tomatoes, cucumber, green peppers. In addition, I sometimes also add in frozen blueberries, banana, orange, or whatever fruit I have on hand. The fruits add sweetness so the smoothies are extra yummy!  I even add a few leaves of mint or parsley in the smoothies sometimes to brighten up the taste a bit.

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There really isn’t a recipe for these smoothies. The only problem I can envision people have is getting used to drinking the veggie smoothies. Someone I worked with said to me the other day, “it smells like a garden…” and I thought it was so funny because I absolutely have no problem consuming the green smoothie, but it may be something to get used to for other people who don’t like vegetables.

If you are one of those people who don’t like the smell of vegetables, you can certainly put a scoop of peanut butter or cocoa powder in your smoothie to get a creamier taste. Or if you want to go all fruit, they can’t go wrong either, you can still get good nutrition from an all-natural smoothie.

You see, I am not a nutritionist. I don’t fully know what makes a green smoothie good in terms of vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, etc. All I know is that veggies are good for my body, and I feel great after drinking the smoothies. That’s enough for me! I hope to keep this good habit up for a while. You should try it too!

Nutella Banana Brioche Bread Pudding

5 Dec

photo

This, is the only picture I have.

I am sorry.

I was in such a hurry when I made it that I only took a picture with my phone. On Instagram.

That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t make it though. Because you are going to love this scrumptious dish. For breakfast, for brunch, for dessert. Hell, you can even eat this for lunch and dinner. Make sure you refrain yourself because you might indulge in a lot of pieces. Then you wouldn’t feel too good about it afterwards. I am sorry.

This Nutella banana brioche bread pudding will make you very happy about life. It will make you forget all the sorrow from your past and make you think everything will be a-okay in the future. Cloudy, sweet, creamy, custardy, warm. It’s the best day-after holiday brunch.

I must say, though, that the budget can be a bit high when you add things up. Between the egg challah($6), bottle of hazelnut liqueur($20), cream, whole milk, 8 eggs. You might have to be mentally prepared yourself to spend a bit with this dish. But it will be worth it. You will make your family very happy on Christmas day, indulging this goodness while opening presents in the morning.

So, what more can I say? Just make it. The recipe is here.

Healthy Hot Pockets

29 Nov

Before we discuss hot pockets, I just want to let everyone know that my fingers are so stiff from the cold… I type so much slower due to the stiffness… the joy of living in the Northeast…

Moving on. Let’s talk hot pockets! So how did I start this random craze for them? Well, I visited a friend a while ago and he offered me a Hot Pocket. Like, a real Hot Pocket with all the fakeness and “ham” and liquidy yellow cheese hot pocket. It.was.delicious.

I wanted more. I wanted more hot pockets. But, I don’t want the fake stuff. I am into whole foods eating, so I really try not to indulge in artificial processed food… Let me clarify… I am a fat kid at heart. Like, a very fat kid. If I could eat bacon and carbonara for dinner every night, I would. At the same time, I am not trying to die young. So I do indulge when I can, but I am mindful when it comes to everyday food.

So long story short, I decided that I am going to make my own hot pocket/Stromboli/calzone, whatever you call them. They were so easy, not to mention they are guilt-free. They’re awesome!

I went with the broccoli, mushroom, onions, and mozzarella combination.. .just because I had those things on hand. The basic broccoli and cheddar are next though. I can’t wait to make those.

Ingredients:

1/2 head broccoli, chopped

3 tbs cooking oil

1/4 cup diced onions

1/2 cup mushroom, cubed

1 cup mozzarella, shredded

1 pound pizza dough (I used whole wheat but you may use plain)

salt & pepper

egg wash from one egg

Directions:

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil, throw in the broccoli and let it cook for about 5-7 minutes, until semi-soften.

2. In another pan with oil, cook onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. Put in the mushroom and saute for about 4 more minutes. Add in salt & pepper, toss in the cooked broccoli and stir.

3. On a floured surface, divide pizza dough into four balls. Roll out each ball to about 1/2 inch thick.

4. Scoop out the broccoli/mushroom mixture and layer on top of pizza dough, about 1/2 cup,  leave about 1.5 inches around the edge. Top the mixture with 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese.

5. Seal the edges of the pizza dough on all sides. Turn the pockets over and brush with a thin brush of egg wash. (Feel free to sprinkle cheddar cheese on top of the pockets at this point if you wish).

6. Bake in the preheated 375 degree oven for about 18 to 20 minutes, until the top is golden.

Liv Hambrett

An Australian Writer in (North) Germany

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