Filed under: Main Course, Soups | Tags: Lasagna, Parmigiano-Reggiano, tortellini
Once again my husband was away on business and I’ve mentioned before that when he’s gone I take the opportunity to try a recipe that I know he would not want to try. When I saw this recipe for lasanga soup by Liz on Blog is the New Black, I knew I had to try it! I did want to make it for my husband as well, after all, lasagna is one of his favorite meals, but when I mentioned it to him, I think his exact words were, “Don’t go messing up something that’s already good. If you want to make lasagna, make lasagna. If you want to make soup, make soup, but please don’t try to mix them.” Well, he missed out because it was soooo good.
I took a bit of a short cut by using store bought stuffed tortellini, but it was worth it. I suppose every country/region has their take on other international cuisines. Like, if you get Chinese food from the States, it may not taste like what you would get in China. Well, I have to admit, I’m not a big fan of the Italian food here. Now, I could eat buckets of hummus all day long, but the pizzas and pastas aren’t usually to my liking. Beef pepperoni just isn’t the same. But there is one grocery store that carries lots of European brands and they have a great cheese and fresh pasta counter. So, long story short, that’s why I used the store, bought tortellini, because it was the good stuff.
I also made a bit of a mistake in cooking my stew. You see, it was supposed to be a soup, but I put it in the electric pressure cooker for too long because it got very thick and the parmesan rind I threw in for extra flavor still had a bit of cheese on it and it stuck to the bottom and burned. At first I thought I’d have to toss it and order kabobs (for the fifth time this week) but when I tasted it, it was rich and the burned cheese was just like the crispy brown cheese on top of lasagna. It was a mistake I was glad I made! The stew was like if a hearty tomato soup and lasagna had a love child, this would have been said child.
After two bowls (what, I had no one to share it with, my husband was gone and my kids were already in bed by the time I sat down to eat) I decided that I would make this again for my husband, but just not tell him it’s Lasagna Stew, so then he will eat it (and I know love it too!) This was a great make ahead meal because you let the soup base simmer for hours (or one hour if you used an electric pressure cooker like me) and then throw in the tortellini at the end and it was so much easier than all of the work of lasagna, but still had the entire flavor.
4 cups chicken stock
8 oz. tomato sauce
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 parmesan rind
1 10 oz package ricotta and spinach tortellini
Combine the first five ingredients in a heavy bottomed pot or electric pressure cooker. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmering. Allow soup to simmer, covered, for 4-5 hours in a pot, one hour in the pressure cooker. Right before serving, remove the parmesan rind and add the tortellini. If you didn’t already make my mistake, add some freshly grated parmesan cheese to the top of each bowl and brown the cheese under the broiler.
p.s. one of these days, I will actually be able to post this on a Monday, but life happens 🙂
Filed under: Snacks | Tags: Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pepperoni, Pizza, Popcorn, tomato powder
Pepperoni pizza popcorn, pepperoni pizza popcorn, pepperoni pizza popcorn. Try saying that ten times fast!
For my husband’s birthday last weekend, he wanted nothing more than to lay around the house, watch movies as a family and play bored games. He also wanted to order pizza from a new spot nearby. I’d been eating lasagna and birthday cake, so I didn’t want to splurge on the fat and calories in a pepperoni pizza. However, I couldn’t let everyone else have all the fun, so I thought I’d try to recreate pizza in the form of popcorn.
I should preface this recipe with the fact that this was my first time making popcorn that didn’t involve a bag and a microwave. Yes, that’s right, I made popcorn on the stove and it was pretty easy (I only burnt half of the first batch!) I have to say that the methodology of this recipe may take some tweaking to get the pepperoni/cheese/spice mixture to stick to the popcorn better, but it really did taste like a pepperoni pizza and popcorn had a love child.
Before I made this, I did a Google search to see if this had been done before, and what method was used. The only results I got were seasoning popcorn with oregano for a “pizza flavor” but I wanted the full experience, the tomato, the cheese, and the spices. I found a recipe (or rather a method) for making tomato powder here but I’m sure such a thing could be found online or at a gourmet store. I used freshly grated parmesan cheese because I don’t like the powdered stuff (but if you do, it would probably work better here.)
I wrote the recipe as I made it, but I think if I would have tossed the hot popcorn with more melted butter and the topping immediately, it would have stuck better.
Pepperoni Pizza Popcorn
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons tomato powder
1 tablespoon each, oregano and basil
1/4 cup mini pepperoni
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes (optional)
To make the popcorn seasoning: Mix the tomato powder, spices, pepperoni, and parmesan cheese. Set aside.
To pop the popcorn: Place oil in a wide, heavy bottomed pot with a tight fitting lid. Heat on medium-high heat. Add one or two kernels of popcorn. When they pop, you know the oil is hot enough to add the rest of the kernels. Place the lid on immediately (unless you want popcorn all over your kitchen.) Pop for 3-5 minutes, or until the kernels pop only every 2-3 seconds. Remove from heat and toss with butter, then spice and cheese mixture. Serve immediately.
Filed under: Main Course, Soups | Tags: carmalized onion, Crouton, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Roasted Tomato Soup, Soup, vegetarian
Last week, I mentioned that I didn’t think I could do Mexi-Monday’s anymore. With the way our schedule has picked up, I really need to have some meals that can be prepared in the morning, and are fresh and waiting when we come home in the evening. So Mexi-Monday must now be make-ahead Monday; but necessity is the mother of invention, right?
After indulging all weekend for my hubby’s birthday, I wanted to make something healthy, but would still be filling after a long day. I know I made soup last week, but I’ve been seeing so many really great soups lately. It’s still hotter than the dickens (is that how the saying goes) so I know it makes me a little crazy to be making soup in 100 degree weather, but my internal clock is telling me it’s fall.
I love to dip a grilled cheese in a soup like this, but since my meal needed to be done earlier in the day, I thought I’d do grilled cheese in crouton format. When my sister first read my blog, she asked if she could put in a request for me to make a grilled gruyere and caramelized onion sandwich…HEY “J”…she also asked for a shout out, so there you go! This was my make-ahead version. I had some caramelized onion bread that I picked up on my many trips to the market over the weekend and topped it with parm. The croutons on their own could have been a meal for a carb-lover like me!
This soup, with the croutons, was a great way to get back to healthy food without feeling like we’re going without.
Roasted Tomato Soup with Caramelized Onion and Parmesan Croutons
6 large, ripe tomatoes, quartered
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 small onions, chopped
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried basil
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 cups vegetable stock
4 tablespoons tomato paste (optional, but I like a really tomato-y soup)
1 loaf caramelized onion bread
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
Salt and black pepper to taste
To make the soup: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a roasting pan, combine tomatoes, onion, garlic, dried spices, and oil. Toss to coat and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20-30 minutes or until vegetables brown and crisp slightly. In an electric pressure cooker*, combine roasted vegetables, with juice, chicken stalk, and tomato paste. Cook on high for 30 minutes. Puree soup to desired consistency with an immersion blender. Adjust seasonings.
To make the croutons: While the soup cooks, cube the loaf of bread. Toss the bread with olive oil and roast for 10-15 minutes, turning occasionally, until all the cubes are golden brown and crispy. Remove from the oven, and while still hot, toss with parmesan cheese.
To serve: Ladle the soup into bowls and top with croutons. Eat immediately.
*If you do not have an electric pressure cooker, this can be done in a heavy-bottomed pot for 45 minutes to one hour.
Filed under: Main Course | Tags: Italian sausage, Lasagna, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Ricotta, Tomato sauce
I mentioned in my previous post that this weekend is my husband’s birthday. I asked him weeks ago what he wanted me to make, and I shouldn’t have been surprised by his request: lasagna and a lemon cake with chocolate frosting. Ordinarily, this is a simple request. I should have known after the last three months in our host country that I wouldn’t be able to make a quick trip to the grocery store to get all the ingredients. It took me 6 trips to 5 different stores to get everything I needed. First, it started with the pork sausage. In the States, getting pork sausage, of many varieties is no big deal. In a country where most of its residents don’t eat pork…..let’s just say it was tricky. I tried 3 different kinds, from three different stores and still wasn’t totally satisfied. Oh, and then there was the cheese. Two stores looked at me like I was crazy when I asked if they carried ricotta. When I did find it, the price was staggering, but what is money when it comes to love?
However, once I finally got everything together, my little sous chefs and I had a nice morning putting together the lasagna. If nothing else, it was a labor of love.
I did have grand plans for the cake. My husband asks for a lemon cake with chocolate frosting every year, as it was what his mother made for him as a child. I was going to make the best lemony layer cake with rich butter cream frosting. But that darn lasagna took so much out of me, that I just didn’t have the energy. As much as I love to cook and spend time in the kitchen, I didn’t want to spend the whole day devoted to this meal and neglecting the birthday boy. So once I got the lasagna in the oven, I thought, I’ll just dress up a box cake mix. Of course, that was easier said than done. Three trips to two stores to find a simple lemon cake mix and chocolate frosting. Needless to say, the cake fell way short of what I had envisioned, but my husband still enjoyed it and the effort that was put forth (I think!)
Manly, Meaty, Birthday Lasagna
1 pound Italian sausage, casings removed
4 cups tomato sauce (I used the same recipe from my chicken meatballs)
1 cup mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1/4 cup black olives
1 package oven ready lasagna noodles
14 oz. part skim ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded parmesan cheese, divided
1 tablespoon each basil, oregano, thyme
1 cup mozzarella cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brown and crumble the sausage over medium high heat. Drain grease and stir in tomato sauce, mushrooms and olives.
In a bowl, mix ricotta, parmesan, herbs, and egg. Add salt and pepper to taste.
To assemble the lasagna: place a small layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of lasagna pan. Add an even layer of noodles. Spread a thick layer of tomato and sausage. Add another even layer of noodles. Spread cheese mixture, then noodles. Repeat until all the sauce and cheese are used. Top with mozzarella cheese and parmesan.
Cover and bake 45 minutes, or until lasagna is set. Remove cover and bake an additional 15 minutes, or until cheese on top is browned and slightly crispy.
Remove the lasagna from the oven and rest for 15 minutes before serving.
Filed under: Fish, Main Course, Pasta & Rice, Sides | Tags: Asparagus, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Risotto, salmon
I thought about trying to find a recipe for some amazing, crazy, salmon. But as I looked, I came to the realization that I love the taste of salmon. I don’t need to cover it up with sauces, rubs, marinades, etc… For me a piece of salmon with a little salt, pepper and lemon juice is perfection.
I’ve seen these baby asparagus in the market, and a few weeks ago I picked some up. I’m not a huge fan of asparagus, but roasting these tiny green veggies makes them crisp, and they have a more mild flavor. And while risotto can be a little labor intensive, I think the final product is so worth it. My husband thinks he hates risotto, or as he calls it, “soupy rice” but every time I make it, he inevitably asks for more of, “that cheesy rice stuff.” I like this risotto because it feels like it’s so indulgent, but it’s fairly healthy. I don’t add cream, and just a bit of sharp parmesan cheese makes all the difference.
Salmon with Roasted Asparagus and Parmesan Risotto
2-3 fillets of Salmon
Juice of one lemon, plus more for serving
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 cups rice (I used basmati because that’s what I had in my pantry, but arborio is probably a better choice)
5 cups chicken stalk, preferably homemade (You may or may not use this much, but it’s better to have more than you need then less)
1 small onion
1/4 cup white wine, plus extra for drinking whilst stirring risotto (I used Sauvignon Blanc, again because that’s what I drink, so that’s what I had on hand 🙂 )
1 lb baby asparagus
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
To roast the asparagus: Preheat the oven to 400. Rinse and trim asparagus. Dry and place on a tin foil lined baking sheet. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast in oven 10 minutes, or until asparagus is cooked, and slightly crispy.
After the asparagus is roasted, remove from baking sheet and set aside. Add salmon to the baking sheet and pour on lemon juice and sprinkle liberally with salt and black pepper. Roast the salmon 10 minutes, or until it’s cooked to preferred doneness.
While salmon is roasting prepare the risotto. Bring chicken stalk to a simmer. Saute onions in another pot until translucent and soft. Add the rice and stir to incorporate the onions. Pour in the wine and stir rice until all the wine is absorbed. Add chicken stalk, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring continuously until liquid is absorbed before adding more. When rice is soft and creamy (takes approx. 20-30 minutes, that’s why you need some extra wine handy 🙂 ) stir in asparagus and parmesan cheese. Add salt/pepper as needed.
To serve, place risotto on plate and a few curls of parmesan. Top with salmon. Serve with lemon wedges.