Turkey, Mushroom, and Spinach Lasagna with Herbed Breadsticks

With the caveat that there is nothing new under the sun, this is likely the closest thing to an original recipe I’ve posted on here.  I put it together based on looking at different lasagna recipes online, incorporating ingredients I had on hand, etc… and was really pleased with how it turned out.  The best part was that since I made my own lasagna noodles, it was much easier to cut them to fit the 8 by 8 baking pan.  Aaron and I both love lasagna, but not for 4-5 consecutive meals (which is what we’ll usually get from a 9 by 13 pan).

You’ll need:

  • 1 lb ground turkey (plus olive oil for frying, depending on how nonstick your frying pan is)
  • 1 chopped onion
  • About 1 cup sliced white mushrooms
  • Seasonings to taste (I used salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, and La Grille Lemon and Fine Herbs seasoning.)
  • 1 14 oz can tomato sauce, or equivalent amount of homemade sauce (I used Hunts Four Cheeses Tomato Sauce)
  • 1/2 of a 500 g bag of frozen chopped spinach
  • 1 cup durum semolina
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 small container ricotta
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups grated mozzarella, divided

Fry up the turkey with the seasonings, onion, and mushrooms on medium heat.  Once the meat is cooked through, add tomato sauce and spinach.  Stir until spinach is thawed and mixed in.  At this point, you may wish to leave the sauce to simmer so the flavours can blend, but if you’re pressed for time you can skip this step.  Next you want to make your own lasagna noodles.  Pour the semolina into a mixing bowl, then in a measuring cup whisk together the egg, oil, water, and salt.  Pour into the semolina, and mix until incorporated.  Roll out the dough as thinly as you possibly can, and cut out 8 8 by 3 inch rectangles.  You don’t even have to pre-boil these, since they’re fresh.  Next, mix together the ricotta, egg, and most of the parmesan (you can reserve some for sprinkling overtop the lasagna, if you like).  Now you’re ready to assemble the whole thing.  Spread 1/3 of the tomato sauce on the bottom of an 8 by 8 pan, followed by 4 lasagna noodles, half the ricotta mixture, half the grated mozza, another 1/3 of the tomato sauce, the rest of the noodles, the rest of the ricotta, the rest of the tomato sauce, and the rest of the grated mozza.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes until bubbly.

You can also make herbed breadsticks to go along with this (they’re really good for soaking up the lasagna sauce).  I adapted these from the Company’s Coming Fondues book.

You’ll need:

  • 1/8 cup warm water
  • 1 rounded teaspoon yeast
  • 3/8 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • Salt, rosemary, thyme, and oregano (dried or fresh) to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • olive oil

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water.  Meanwhile, in a microwave-safe mixing bowl, heat the milk and butter on high for a minute and a half.  Add sugar, seasonings, and 1/2 cups of flour, then mix in yeast mixture.  Add remaining flour 1/4 cup at a time and knead until dough reaches desired consistency.  Let rise, covered in a warm place, until doubled in size.  Divide into 16 portions and roll into oblong breadstick shapes.  Place on a cookie sheet or pan brushed with olive oil.  Cover again and let rise another 20 minutes.  Brush with olive oil, and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

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Mushroom Ravioli

I had the day off work today, which made it the perfect day to try a labour-intensive recipe I hadn’ t tried before.  The only homemade pasta I’ve made before is spaetzle (which, delicious as it is, only half counts since it’s not Italian).  So I thought I’d give this recipe (from the Perfect Pasta and Sauces Company’s Coming) a try.  It takes a bit of time, but it’s not terribly difficult.  The amounts given below serve 4, but I cut the recipe in half since our fridge is already swimming in leftovers.

You’ll Need:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika (or more, to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cooking oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped fresh white mushrooms (you could increase this somewhat, just make sure to decrease onion and/or pepper accordingly)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped red or green pepper
  • 2 teaspoons al-purpose flour
  • Garlic powder. Italian seasoning (I substituted La Grille Lemon and Fine Herbs seasoning), salt, and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup Ricotta
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • Italian seasoning (this time I substituted oregano), salt, and pepper to taste

Mix flour, paprika, and salt.  Beat first amount of eggs together with water and olive oil.  Add to flour mixture, and knead until dough forms a ball.  Cover with plastic wrap and let stand 30 minutes.  During this time, prepare the filling.  Fry mushrooms and onions in cooking oil 5-10 minutes until onion is translucent.  Add peppers, second amount of flour, and spices and cook an additional 3-5 minutes.  Mix in the Ricotta and let stand.  Once the pasta dough is ready to roll out, divide in half and quickly roll both halves into 16 x 12 inch rectangles (or some approximation thereof) on a lightly floured surface.  Lift dough and sprinkle more flour on work surface to prevent sticking.  Then let stand 10 minutes, sprinkle dough with flour, turn it over, and let stand 10 minutes more.  Cut both sheets of dough into 2 x 2 inch squares (I don’t always have the steadiest hand, so I placed the sheets one on top of the other to cut them, to make sure I always had two squares exactly the same size.)  Place ~1 teaspoon filling on half the squares, brush the edges of the squares with beaten egg, and cover with remaining squares.  Pinch edges to seal tightly and squeeze out excess air.  To cook those ravioli, set some salted water (about 3 litres) boiling in a large pot.  Once it has boiled, cook the ravioli in it for 5 to 8 minutes (depending on the size of the pot, you’ll want to do this in 2-3 batches).  Remove the ravioli with a slotted spoon and place in a sieve to drain.  Meanwhile, melt butter in a small saucepan, mix in flour, add milk and spices, and stir until thickened.  This makes a cream sauce to go with your ravioli.
Et voila.  It’s not a quick meal to prepare, but if you have the time it’s not terribly difficult.

Nacho Cupcakes!

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I’m a big fan of desserts that are cute but require a minimum of artistic talent to decorate, so when I saw this recipe online a few months back I was definitely up for giving it a try.  I got my chance to give it a try yesterday, when my sister Johanna came over for the day.  This was a lot of fun (and super easy) to make together.

You’ll need:

  • A dozen cupcakes (I made them chocolate, but you could make pretty much any kind, really)
  • A container of frosting (or some homemade buttercream frosting), plus enough red and yellow food dye to tint it roughly the same shade as nacho cheese
  • A flour tortilla sprayed with cooking spray, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, and cut into corn-chip-sized triangles.  Bake these at 425 for 5 minutes.  You’ll likely want to use parchment paper.
  • Some raspberry or strawberry jam or preserves
  • Green straw candy (I used Twizzlers) thinly sliced

To assemble, simply squirt icing generously onto each cupcake (it doesn’t even have to be terribly neat, as you’re approximating squirt cheese).  Then stick a few tortilla wedges into each cupcake to approximate corn chips.  Spoon some preserves overtop to resemble, salsa, and sprinkle with your candy “jalapenos.”  Enjoy 🙂  You can even arrange the cupcakes on a platter to approximate a plate of nachos.

Shortbread

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I’ve been in a bit of a less-than-frugal mood lately, so I’ve been allowing myself to try baking a few desserts that called for real butter, so I decided to try shortbread (the old-fashioned way, rather than individual cookies).  Aaron’s verdict?  “Well, it’s short and it’s bread.”  Quipping aside, though, he liked it and so did I.  It’s incredibly rich, though, so you’ll want to cut it into small wedges.  I got my recipe from Jean Pare’s Holiday Entertaining book (in the Company’s Coming series).

You’ll need:

  • 1/2 lb butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream the butter and sugar together, add the vanilla, then add the flour.  Then press it into a shortbread mold if you have one, or just do what I did and make an ~8 inch disc on an ungreased pizza pan or cookie sheet.   Prick the shortbread with a fork a few times, and flute the edges any way you like (I just used the tines of the same fork).  Bake at 300 F for 45 minutes.  Enjoy 🙂

Slow Cooker Roasted Potatoes

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I made a happy discovery today, thanks to Stephanie O’Dea.  You can make quasi-roasted potatoes in the slow cooker.  And they’re pretty good!  Oven roasted ones are slightly better, IMO, because they retain less moisture than ones cooked in the crock pot, but this is still an awesome discovery for two reasons:  1) it lets me make good potato sides without turning on my oven, which will be a total boon in when July and August hit and 2) you can leave the kitchen without worrying about these burning, which is a good thing when your smoke alarm is as sensitive as ours is and goes off when you so much as make toast.  One minor drawback–the cooking time for these is only 2 hours on high or 4 on low, so they’re really only an option if you’re home all afternoon or all morning.  They won’t do for days when I’m working.  For Sundays and days off, though, it’s great 🙂

You’ll need:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Seasonings to your liking (I used salt, pepper, rosemary, and minced garlic)
  • 1 1/2 pound potatoes, cut (and peeled if you wish.  I had some great red ones, so I just scrubbed them).

You mix the oil and seasonings in your slow cooker, then throw in the potatoes, and cook on high for 2 hours or low for 4.  And there you have it, slow cooker roasted potatoes 🙂  I made these with a side of sausages, and they went really well together.

Lime and Toasted Coconut Sugar Cookies

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When a classmate posted a link to this recipe last week, I knew I had to try it.  Lime-inspired desserts are awesome (maybe even on par with chocolate) and coconut complements the lime flavour so well!  They did not disappoint.  I’m almost hoping Aaron won’t like them, since it leaves more for me, but that seems improbable.

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup butter, softened (I splurged a little and used the real deal, but I expect they’d still be good with margarine, and that would make them dairy-free).
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Zest of one lime (I omitted this as I’m not a huge fan of zest)
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice (I upped it to four, which made the cookies nice and tart)
  • 1/2 cup toasted coconut (couldn’t be easier; you just scatter it on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, and bake for about 5 minutes at 350 F, tossing once or twice)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (I omitted this, as the butter I used was already salted)
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350 and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper (or silicone sheets).  In a large bowl, mix butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add egg, vanilla, lime zest, and juice.  Stir in toasted coconut, then stir in baking powder, baking soda, and salt, making sure everything is well-combined.  Add flour and stir until the dough forms.  Don’t overmix.  Shape ~1 inch balls (depending on how big you want the final product to be), roll them in sugar, and place 1 1/2 inches apart on parchment paper.  Bake 8-10 minutes (I went for the shorter amount, as I like my cookies nice and chewy).

And there you have it: one of the most delicious variants on sugar cookies I have ever tasted.  Enjoy 🙂

Welcome

My name is Christina, and I love cooking and baking.  I also happen to own an ungodly amount of cookbooks, and have personally challenged myself to try at least one new recipe every week.  I’ll be chronicling some of my attempts here.  Fair warning, though, I suck at taking pictures (and there are no windows in my kitchen and dining room either, so the lighting won’t be great).  Like good food, good recipes are for sharing, and I hope that you’ll enjoy these as much as my husband and I have.