Saturday, 30 June 2012

Hot 'N' Spicy Chicken Lasagna

Preparation time 30 minutes
Cooking time:  15 minutes
Baking time:  40 minutes
makes:  10 servings

8 lasagna noodles (not oven ready noodles)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 crushed garlic cloves
1 onion, finely chopped
1 red or green sweet pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped
1 1/2 cups spicy salsa
1 1/2 cups spaghetti sauce
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
475 g container ricotta cheese
2 eggs
1/4 cup chopped coriander or italian parsley
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 1/2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
4 cups cooked cubed chicken

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a full rolling boil.  Add lasagna noodles and boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until al dente.  Check recommended cooking time on package; they usually take about 12 to 14 minutes.  Drain well and rinse under cold water.  Lay drained wet pasta in a single layer on a piece of waxed paper.  Cover with another piece of waxed paper.
  2. Meanwhile, to prepare sauce, heat oil in a large wide frying pan set over medium low heat.  Add garlic, onion and sweet pepper.  Saute until onion is soft, about 5 minutes.  Then, stir in salsa, spaghetti sauce and cumin.  Taste and add more cumin, if necessary.  Increase heat to medium high and bring mixture to a boil.  Then cover, reduce heat to low and simmer to allow flavours to develop, about 5 to 7 minutes.  Turn sauce into a bowl and set aside.  
  3. To prepare filling, place ricotta, eggs, chopped coriander and jalapeno pepper in a food processor fitted with a metal blade.  Whirl until mixture is evenly blended.  Scrape down sides of bowls occasionally to ensure an even puree.  Turn filling into a bowl and set aside.  Or combine ingredients in a bowl and mash with a spoon until smooth.
  4. Stir grated cheese together in a small bowl and set aside.
  5. Preheat oven to 375F.  Lightly cover bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with about 1/2 cup of sauce.  (It will be a very thin coating of sauce.) Completely cover bottom of pan with a single layer of noodles, about 4 noodles.  Spread half of sauce evenly over noodles, then dot with half of ricotta mixture, followed by half of chicken then half of grated cheese.
  6. Add another layer of noodles.  Repeat layering ending with cheese.  Then bake, uncovered, in centre of preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until lasagna bubbles around sides and top is golden.  Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Roasted Red Pepper, Pesto and Mushroom Lasagna

A nice Veggie dish

Preparation time:  45 minutes
Cooking tome:  30 minutes
Baking Time:  40 Minutes
Makes 8 to 10 servings

12 lasagna noodles, not oven ready noodles
4 sweet red peppers
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 crushed garlic cloves
1 lb (500 g ) mushrooms, preferable a mix of button, shiitake and brown, about 8 cups sliced
28 oz can whole tomatoes, well drained
5 1/2 oz can tomato paste
1 tsp dried leaf oregano
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp each of Tabasco and freshly ground pepper
475 g container ricotta cheese
1/2 cup pesto
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 cups grated mild provolone or mozzarella cheese, about 12 oz (340 g)

  1. To cook noodles, place a large pot of salted water over high heat.  Meanwhile place peppers on a foil lined baking sheet about 4 inches from preheated broiler.  Broil until peppers are blackened and blistered on all sides, turning occasionally.  Then place peppers in a paper bag.  Close and let sit until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes.  Then peel away all skin.  Core and seed peppers, saving juices if possible.  Slice into long strips, about 1/2 inch wide.
  2. When water boils, add noodles and cook, uncovered, according to package directions, until al dente, about 12 to 14 minutes.  Drain noodles and rinse under cold water.  Lay drained wet pasta in a single layer on apiece of waxed paper.  Cover with another piece of waxed paper.
  3. Heat oil in a large deep frying pan or wide bottomed saucepan set over medium-high heat.  Add onion, garlic and mushrooms.  Saute, stirring often until onion softens, about 5 minutes.  Stir in drained tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, salt, Tabasco, black pepper and drained juices from peppers, if any.  Bring to a boil, breaking up tomatoes with a fork.  Then lower heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring often, until very thick, about 15 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 350F.  Spread a thin layer of sauce in bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.  Top with 4 lasagna noodles, overlapping edges as needed.  Dot with half of ricotta cheese and half of pesto.   (Do not spread cheese and pesto).  Sprinkle with half of sweet pepper strips, 1/4 cup Parmesan and 1/2 cup provolone.  Drizzle with 1 cup sauce.  Then, cover with 4 noodles, overlapping as needed.  Repeat with remaining ricotta, pesto, peppers, Parmesan and 1/2 cup provolone.  Drizzle with 1 cup sauce.  Top with remaining 4 noodles and sauce, then with remaining cheese.  Bake, uncovered in centre of preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until cheese is golden.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Italian Sausage Lasagna

A lot of flavour here!

Preparation time:  45 minutes
Cooking time:  50 minutes
Baking time: 40 minutes
Makes:  8 servings

12 lasagna noodles (not oven ready noodles)
3 onions
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
4 crushed garlic cloves
5 1/2 oz can tomato paste
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp dried leaf basil or 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 cup red wine
2 (28oz) cans whole tomatoes, including juice
2 lbs (1kg) Italian sausage
2 sweet peppers
2 zucchini
1 cup grated Asiago cheese about 125 g
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese, about 125 g

  1. Cook lasagna noodles in a large pot of salted boiling water, according to package directions, until al dente, about 12 to 14 minutes.  Drain noodles and rinse under cold water.  Lay wet pasta in a single layer on waxed paper.  Cover with another piece of waxed paper.
  2. Meanwhile, finely chop onions.  Heat oil in a large saucepan set over medium-low heat.  Add onions, parsley and garlic.  Cook, stirring occasionally , until onions are soft, about 10 minutes.  Do not let onions brown.
  3. Stir in tomato paste and seasonings.   Continue stirring mixture for 2 more minutes.  Stir in red wine.  Add tomatoes and juice, breaking up tomatoes into bite-size pieces.
  4. Cover and bring to a boil over medium and simmer, uncovered, stirring often, for about 30 minutes.  This sauce can be made up to 2 days before preparing and baking lasagna.
  5. Meanwhile, pierce sausage casings several times.  Place whole sausages in a large frying pan set over medium heat.  Cook, turning often until well browned, about 15 minutes.  Cut sweet peppers into 1 inch pieces and slice zucchini into 1/4 inch rounds.
  6. Cut cooked Italian sausages into large bite size pieces.  Stir sausage pieces, sweet peppers and zucchini into simmering sauce.
  7. Preheat oven to 350F.  Lightly coat bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with about 1 cup sauce.  Arrange a single layer of noodles over sauce.  Spoon one third of sauce over noodles.  Sprinkle with one third of asiago cheese.  Repeat layers twice.  Top lasagna with mozzarella cheese.
  8. Bake immediately or cover and refrigerate.  Lasagna can be refrigerated for up to 1 day.  Bring to room temperature before baking.  Bake, uncovered, in preheated oven until golden, about 40 to 45 minutes.  Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Banana Pepper and Cilantro Salsa

A great summer salsa!

2 large hot banana peppers or 6 jalapenos
4 to 5 large tomatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp white vinegar
1/4 tsp each of salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander

Seed and cut peppers into thin julienne strips or finely chop and place in a bowl.  Cut tomatoes in half and squeeze out all seeds and juice.  Chop and add to peppers along with oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.  Stir until evenly coated.  Stir in coriander. Serve right away or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Quick Chili

1 1/2 lbs (750 g) round or sirloin steak
1 to 2 tbsp butter or olive oil
4 onions, chopped
6 large crushed garlic cloves
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp each of cinnamon and dried leaf oregano
1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper
1/4 tsp cloves or allspice
28 oz can diced tomatoes
7 oz can tomato sauce
10 oz can beef broth, plus 1/2 cup water
6 sweet bell peppers, preferably red, green and yellow
1 bunch fresh coriander or parsley
2 (19oz) cans red kidney beans, drained

  • Cut steak into 1/2 in cubes.  Melt butter in a large wide saucepan set over medium high heat.  Add meat and stir often until browned.  Add onions, garlic and seasonings.  Stir frequently until onions have softened, about 5 min.  Stir in tomatoes, sauce, broth and water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer until beef is tender, about 20 to 30 min.  Stir often.  Meanwhile, coarsely chop peppers and coriander.  When beef is tender, stir into chili along with beans.  Taste and add salt if you wish.   Continue cooking, uncovered, until peppers are cooked as you like, about 10 to 15 min.  Chili can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Pumpkin Harvest Cheesecake


3/4 cup chocolate wafer crumbs
1//3 cup finely chopped pecans
3 tbsp butter, melted
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
3 eggs at room temperature
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp each ground ginger and nutmeg
3 pkgs cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch

CRUST:  Heat oven to 350 F.  Combine first three ingredients and press onto bottom of a 9 inch springform pan.  Bake 10 minutes.

FILLING:  Whisk together pumpkin, eggs, brown sugar and spices.  Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese, sugar and cornstarch; blend in pumpkin mixture.  Pour over crust.   Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until centre is just set.  Remove from oven and run knife around rim of pan.  Cool thoroughly at room temperature.  Refrigerate overnight.

**drizzle chocolate over cheesecake for a pretty effect.

Banana Bread

A wonderful loaf with chocolate chunks!

2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup mashed ripe bananas
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup milk
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
8 squares semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Heat oven to 350F.  Stir eggs, banana, oil and milk until well blended.  Add flour, sugar, baking powder and salt; stir just until moistened.  Stir in chocolate and nuts.  Pour into greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.  Combine brown sugar and cinnamon.  Sprinkle on top of batter.  Bake for 60 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in centre comes out clean.  Cool 10 minutes.  Remove from pan; finish cooling on rack.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Sauteed Chicken Breasts

2 tbsp all purpose flour
1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 can Condensed Italian Style Tomato Soup
1/2 cup water

  1. Combine flour and pepper.  Coat chicken lightly with flour mixture.
  2. In large skillet over medium high heat, heat oil.  Brown chicken 5 minutes on each side.  Remove chicken from skillet; set aside.  Pour off fat.
  3. In the same skillet, combine soup and water.  Bring to boil.  Return chicken to skillet.  Reduce heat to low.  Cover; simmer  minutes or until chicken is no longer pink, stirring occasionally.
Makes 4 servings.

Killer Guacamole

This is a great dip!  For a healthier version I substitute the mayonnaise with Greek Yogurt.

2 ripe medium avocados
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp lime juice (use fresh if you can - it makes a difference)
1 clove garlic, minced

Blend all ingredients until smooth and serve with pita chips or fresh veggies.  Also not bad on a hamburger.