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New Food Friday Flash – Lasagna with Mustard Greens and Garbanzos

19 Dec Tall Lasagna Slice

There are a lot of lasagna recipes out there and many of them have spinach as an ingredient. I didn’t have spinach on hand but I did have mustard greens growing in my vegetable garden as of November 1, 2014. The question was would their strong, peppery, mustard flavor overpower my lasagna? I was up for the challenge. My lasagna with mustard greens is the New Food Friday Flash recipe for this month. They may not be new foods, but they are a new combination! Its red and green colors make for a festive holiday dish!

 

Lasagna is a great dish loved by all and there are many versions of it such as lasagna with sausage, with zucchini, with precooked noodles, with spinach noodles, with cottage cheese instead of ricotta cheese, with meatballs, and the list goes on. The problem with a basic lasagna recipe is that there is little fiber in it. Vegetable lasagnas help Americans who eat little fiber. I wanted to create lasagna with a good amount of fiber.

 

I had two jars of tomato meat sauce with garbanzos in it in my freezer. The reason I put garbanzos in the sauce was for when I got tired of putting the sauce on pasta. By just adding a few tablespoons of chili spice I could easily make a chili out of the garbanzo meat sauce! I did and it was wonderful! I had plans for the two remaining 8 oz jars of meat sauce with the garbanzos. They were going into my lasagna!

 

I went out into my vegetable garden after we had a mild frost and picked a bowl of all the baby-sized mustard greens. They looked good! I rinsed them carefully and put them in a pan with about ½ cup of water and cooked them until the water evaporated. Then I minced them. I gave them a taste expecting a strong flavor. To my surprise, there was hardly any flavor! Maybe the frost had something to do with the lack of flavor, maybe because the leaves I picked were all small, maybe my taste buds went on strike – who knows? I knew the mustard greens wouldn’t overpower my lasagna. The combination of garbanzos and mustard greens added a good amount of fiber to this dish. All the cheeses added a good amount of calcium.

Lasagna with bits of Mustard Greens and Garbanzos

Lasagna with bits of Mustard Greens and Garbanzos

 

Ingredients

8 oz of regular cooked lasagna noodles (1/2 box)

16 oz ricotta cheese

1 egg

1/3 cup minced mustard greens

1 ½ cups grated parmesan cheese

8 oz mozzarella cheese sliced

2 8 oz jars of tomato meat sauce

1 cup (8 oz) tomato sauce (for bottom and top of dish)

1 teaspoon sugar

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

salt & pepper to taste

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix ricotta, minced mustard greens, egg and spices until smooth.

 

Pour ½ cup of the 1 cup tomato sauce on bottom of an 8” x 8” baking pan. Cover sauce with a layer of cooked lasagna noodles; a layer of the ricotta mixture; a layer of the sliced mozzarella (about 9 thin slices); a layer of the meat-garbanzo sauce. Repeat until all the ingredients are used. The top layer should be your remaining ½ cup of the 1 cup of tomato sauce and the parmesan cheese. This makes a 5-layer lasagna. It weighs a ton! Bake 35 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes for easier serving. This dish stays hot for about an hour and stays warm for several hours. It slices better the next day. It serves 6.

Lasagna Topped with Grated Parmesan

Lasagna Topped with Grated Parmesan

 

Meat Sauce Recipe

My meat sauce recipe is never the same so I can only give you a basic recipe. I use two 32 oz cans of Dei Fratelli tomato puree. If there is a sale on Carmelina San Marzano canned tomatoes, I will substitute it with one of the Dei Fratelli cans. You can taste the difference. I don’t eat beef and instead use ground turkey and brown it the same way you would beef in a little olive oil. Sometimes I add diced carrots, celery, onions, sometime not. Usually I add one clove of minced garlic. Sometimes I add bay leaves, or dried basil leaves and/or dried oregano. Sometimes I add thyme from my garden. If I have red wine on hand, I will add ½ cup to deglaze the browned meat. Usually I add a teaspoon of sugar, ½ teaspoon salt, some black pepper, and a dash or two of cayenne. Sometimes I add a chopped Serrano pepper. The main difference this time was that I added a can of rinsed garbanzo beans. They don’t add any flavor but they are creamy in texture and high in fiber.

 

Note to novice cooks: I once went to a potluck where a man brought homemade lasagna. He didn’t know that there was such a thing as pre-cooked lasagna noodles and regular noodles. He bought the regular noodles and didn’t boil them first. He put them in the lasagna dish and needless to say, it ruined the dish. The noodles were hard and the dish was inedible although some did their best to eat it so as not to hurt his feelings. I wasn’t one of them! Make sure you look at the packaging. The pre-cooked  noodles are less work, but you have to make sure you have a lot of sauce (extra) on hand because they absorb more liquid than regular lasagna noodles. The regular noodles have to be boiled and are slippery to work with. Sometimes they stick together so be sure to stir the pot often when they are boiling. I drained them and then rinsed them with cold water and left about ¼ cup water in the pot. I had no problems with sticking. I didn’t add any oil. I’ve used both types of noodles for lasagnas and don’t have a preference.

 

I divided the lasagna in portions and put three of them in the freezer for future meals. It freezes well and makes all the effort and pots worth it!

Tall Lasagna Slice

Tall Lasagna Slice or, The Leaning Tower of Lasagna

 

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Tags: cooking, recipes,baking , vegetables, mustard greens, garbanzo beans, fiber, calcium, lasagna

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Halloween!

31 Oct Pie pumpkins are cute!
Pie pumpkins are cute!

Would you like to be the pumpkin in my pumpkin pie?

This little pumpkin is called a pie pumpkin. It is the perfect size to make a pie and I’m going to do just that!

Make my day by not eating too much candy and making sure you eat your fruits and vegetables!

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High on the Stress List: Divorce, Moving, Job Loss, and Death (of your Refrigerator) Part II

24 Sep https://marcellarousseau.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/whirlpool-estate-6-shelve-options-crisper-meat-drawer.jpg

When I had bought my Whirlpool Estate eleven years ago, the instructions said to wash the inside of the fridge before storing the food. My new Frigidaire instructions didn’t say anything about washing it but I did it anyway. I hated to take the time to do it, knowing that all my food was melting, but it was easier to do it then than later! Plus, while wiping it down, I found particles of white plastic in the freezer so I was glad I took the time to do it. The outside of the fridge still had some Styrofoam particles on it so I wiped the outside of the refrigerator too. I can’t tell you how many times I wiped and mopped up the floor which was still sticky in spots for days!

 

I was lucky in that I had finished the caramel swirl, chocolate chip ice cream the day before my refrigerator went out on me. Wouldn’t that have been a lovely mess! I was also lucky in that I decided to pull the fridge out from the wall for the umpteenth time Wednesday morning to check the drip tray. It was filled to the brim. If I hadn’t checked, the delivery men would have likely spilled it all over. That would have been a nightmare. I got an old towel and a bucket and drained it dry.

 

The new Frigidaire had tape everywhere! It was worse than a crime scene! The shelves were shrink-wrapped in plastic. What a pain when you’re in a hurry! I was afraid I would break the shelves getting the tape off. Since I was working as fast as I could, I didn’t get every drip off every food item so some things went in the fridge moist. That was a mistake. The next day, I noticed I had water in my crisper drawers. I was hoping the new fridge wasn’t malfunctioning already and thought it might be from the wet items on the shelves so I mopped up the crisper drawers with a paper towel and dried off some of the foods on the shelves. I still had to cook the defrosted meats because I didn’t want to throw them out. Who wants to cook at a time like this?

 

I had some Coho Salmon that defrosted, previously purchased from the fish counter so it was well-wrapped. I just threw that in a frying pan with some butter and ate it before anything else. It was very good! I also made a bag of previously frozen shelled edamame to go with it – the kind you just put in the microwave and steam. Easy and quick was all I could handle Wednesday night.

 

On Thursday morning, I was up early because it was going to be the coolest day of the week and I needed to mow the backyard. It was actually pleasant with a mild breeze. We had been having hot, sweltering, muggy, rainy, humid weather in the high 80’s. Even though I had long pants on and a shirt with long sleeves, and enough mosquito repellant on to make me cough, I still got bitten when I mowed! Only one bite this time though; I am like fillet mignon and strawberry shortcake to a mosquito.

 

Thursday afternoon I made meatballs of the defrosted ground turkey, fish sticks from the cod fish, and chicken nuggets from the chicken breast. I realize I didn’t have to be fancy when trying to save these meats and fish, but I do love to cook and although the flouring, egging, and breading was time-consuming, the end result was worth it and delicious! (I was determined to get something good out of this experience!) I found a great tartar sauce recipe from a Martha Stewart DVD that I got from the library the week before. I ate like a Queen with my newly working refrigerator!

 

Friday morning I mowed the front yard. It began raining so I had to stop after only doing 1/3 of the yard. I went to the library and then the grocery store and picked up some of my favorite things: spinach dip, blue corn tortilla chips, white flesh nectarines, watermelon, bread and butter pickles, and a bottle of red wine. After the week I had, I deserved it! When I came home from the store, I finished mowing. It was the sloppiest mowing job I’ve ever done but I didn’t care! I just wanted it all over with so I could relax!

 

Saturday I forced myself to do nothing. It wasn’t easy but I needed the rest. I was exhausted Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Today, as I write this, is Sunday the day of rest, but I continued cleaning up and organizing things. The new fridge had caused a chain reaction: items got rearranged in the kitchen, put away, washed and wiped; baseboard trim that had separated from the wall behind the fridge got hammered into place and sealant was squeezed onto spaces between it and the wall and the floor; wall paper that had come away from the walls in the bathroom and the bedroom got re-cemented with wallpaper glue, and so on. It was like I was just moving in! I was stuck in “drive” gear and couldn’t get out! However, now that it’s all done, I feel pleased and I don’t feel exhausted anymore. Who knew a dying refrigerator could be so much work? And it could have been so much worse! All along I kept thinking about people who suffer through flooding disasters. I don’t know how they continue to stay in their home afterwards .

 

So, in all, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. I learned a few things that could help me if a future catastrophe happens and maybe you could learn from my experience too. None of the food made me sick – I was worried about that. All my yogurt containers were good. Even my homemade meatball calzones that I had in the freezer which defrosted, I ate and they were good! I guess I did a better job with the bags of ice than I realized! I always wondered why some people needed a second fridge in their garage. I’m beginning to see the benefit now! Imagine life without a refrigerator? Do you remember your grandparents having an icebox?

 

I’m glad I am in good physical condition because it helped me to rebound quickly. It also helped me to move my fridge, pack my food in containers and place a 7 lb bag of ice on each one. All the more reason to work out ladies so you can tackle household emergencies without injuries or mental breakdowns! Fitness rules!

 

It’s interesting that all of this happened the week before the Labor Day Weekend. Now I know why they call it Labor Day!

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Valentine’s Day Cream Cheese Danish Heart

14 Feb Iced Cheesecake Heart

Every once in a while people who exercise and watch their weight want a little dessert. My favorite dessert is this Cream Cheese Danish Heart. It’s perfect for Valentine’s Day and easy to make for your sweetheart.

 

This recipe is very delicious and versatile. If you don’t want to use cream cheese for the filling you can substitute any of the following: apple, pineapple, lemon pudding, cherry, plum, almond paste, or walnuts. I’ve never tried any of the substitutions but these substitutions are from the list of the original recipe. Unfortunately, I don’t know where I got this recipe or I would gladly give credit for it! It is a winner in my book!

 

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour

¼ cup sugar

1 envelope rapid rise yeast

½ teaspoon salt

¼ cup water

½ cup sour cream

¼ cup butter

1 large egg

 

Filling

1 8-oz pkg cream cheese room temperature

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

(Stir all until smooth)

 

Powdered Sugar Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar

2-3 Tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

(Stir all until smooth)

 

Directions

In a large bowl combine ¾ cup of the flour, sugar, yeast and salt. In a pan, heat the water, sour cream and butter until warm. Gradually add the warm mixture to the flour mixture. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed scraping bowl occasionally. Then add the egg and 1 cup of the flour and beat 2 more minutes at high speed. Finally, stir in the remaining ¼ cup flour to make a stiff batter. Cover tightly and refrigerate 2 – 24 hours.

Cheesecake Heart that expanded too much!

Cheesecake Heart that expanded too much!

 

I’ve made this dessert many times. In the photo above, my yeast expanded too much and it lost the heart shape so try to form your heart on the thin side like this:

Unbaked Cheesecake Heart

Unbaked Cheesecake Heart

When you are ready to bake, roll out the dough to 16” x 8” and spread the filling at the long end. Roll up tightly as you would for a jelly roll. Pinch seams closed then shape with your hands into a large heart.

 

Place on a greased sheet. With a sharp knife or razor, cut 1/3 of the way through the heart at 1” intervals, alternating from side to side. Cover and let rise 1 hour. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes.

Baked Cheesecake Heart

Baked Cheesecake Heart

 

If I have them, I add slivered almonds on top of the heart before I bake it. Otherwise, you can leave them off and glaze with the Powdered Sugar Glaze Icing.

Iced Cheesecake Heart

Cheesecake Heart with Almonds and Icing

 

This dessert goes well with coffee or tea. I’m sure your loved one will appreciate it!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

P.S. Make sure you exercise the day you’ve eaten a slice of this delicious dessert to work off the calories!

Cheesecake Heart Slice

Cheesecake Heart Slice

 

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New Food Friday – Chicory and Pomegranate

20 Dec Pomegranate

Right around this time of year, I make a special salad with chicory, pomegranate, grapefruit and orange slices. It’s very pretty, festive, and good for you! It’s called a Sicilian Salad and it’s perfect for this New Food Friday.

A Sicilian salad is very simple to make. Just tear up washed chicory leaves and put in a pretty bowl. Then, section one pink grapefruit and place the slices around the top of the chicory.

sxc.hu-Grapefruit-86484

Grapefruit (sxc.hu-Jason Merrill)

Do the same with an orange.

oranges (sxc.hu-Neil Gould)

Oranges (sxc.hu-Neil Gould)

The hardest part of making this salad is separating the pomegranate seeds from their nesting pockets! Either wear old clothing or an apron that covers you well. Pomegranate seeds squirt!

sxc.hu-Pomegranate-430625

Pomegranate Seeds (sxc.hu-Rick Hawkins)

The health benefits of Pomegranate

According to the Harvard Medical School Health publication, two recent studies suggest that pomegranate juice may help fight prostate cancer. Pomegranates may also have beneficial effects on cardiovascular disease. Results from two small clinical studies show that carotid artery thickness decreased and cardiac blood flow improved in pomegranate juice drinkers. However, preliminary research also suggests that pomegranate juice may interact with certain medications, much like grapefruit juice does. For further information click here.

A word about chicory.

Chicory tastes just like escarole. It’s a somewhat mildly bitter green. The difference between the two is that chicory has very curly leaves.

Chicory

Curly Chicory leaves torn into bite-sized pieces

Escarole has wavy leaves.

Escarole

Wavy Escarole leaves before being torn into bite-sized pieces

The Citrus

When you section the citrus, you have the option of slicing the sections so that there is no membrane on them. I wanted to keep them in their “skin” so that the dish would have the most fiber. I also didn’t want to lose any of the juices. But it’s up to you. It may be prettier if you section off the slices.

Sicilian Salad before Pomegranate Seeds

Sicilian Salad before Pomegranate Seeds

This is the finished dish before pouring on the dressing. 

Sicilian Salad with Pomegranate Seeds

Sicilian Salad with Pomegranate Seeds before salad dressing

You can add as much or as little pomegranate seeds as you like. I used about 1/3 of the pomegranate. You can prepare this the day before. It keeps very well as long as you don’t pour the dressing on.

The Salad Dressing

The dressing is made of freshly squeezed orange juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.Very simple! Use proportions that you like. I don’t measure, I just squeeze the juice on and then drizzle on the olive oil. I like it that way. In fact, that’s how I make all my salads. I like the separate taste of the oil on some bites and the separate taste of vinegar, or in this case, orange juice. It’s up to you.

Sicilian Salad is delicious! It’s good for you! It’s pretty! It’s Christmas-y! Try it on your guests this Christmas. And have a Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday Season!

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The Itsy Bitsy Spider….is not so Itsy Bitsy!

30 Oct Black and Yellow Spider

For about a month now, a black and yellow spider has camped out in my vegetable garden. He gives new meaning to the words, “spider plant.”

I’ve seen it spin it’s web

Spider Web

Spider Web (sxc.hu –Tinneketin)

around prey and I’ve noticed the spider grow in size (much to my dismay). I’ve never seen a spider like this before and I thought about getting rid of it, but it’s just so pretty!

I have no idea if it’s poisonous or not. It seems to stay in the same place, behind my house, in the backyard, in the vegetable garden.

Halloween Night

Halloween Night in my Backyard (sxc.hu –nvadim)

 

Soon I will have to remove all my withered, spent tomato plants (where Mr. Spider is hanging out as you can see from the photo below).

Black and Yellow Spider

Black and Yellow Spider in my Garden!

Does anybody have any idea how to remove a spider?

Maybe I’ll just let him stay and I’ll be the one to move!

Witch on a Broom

Witch in Flight (fleeing a spider perhaps?) (sxc.hu – angood)

Jack O' Lantern

Jack O’ Lantern (sxc.hu –xRaDx)

                                    

HELP!!!  Spiders are not for my good health!
Happy Halloween!

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Winter Scenes Can Make You Relax

24 Dec Fireplace

There is nothing more beautiful than snowy, winter scenes. Oh yes, the ice and slick streets can be treacherous when you have to drive on them, but let me take you instead on a relaxing tour of gorgeous scenes of snow and ice.  Winter Scene

All you have to do is scroll; driving is not necessary. Grab a sweater because the scenes may make you chilly.Winter Scene

It is cold enough and therefore safe to go ice skating,  Have you ever been ice skating outdoors?Snow on the Lake

The sun has warmed up this lake. Can you feel the winter sun’s warmth? There is something about snow scenes on a lake that is so peaceful.

At a time when the holidays bring stress to so many, it’s good to take time out and appreciate mother nature’s beauty.Winter Willow Trees

Click this photo  with the Weeping Willow trees to see all the birds on the lake. They liked the scenery so much that they forgot to fly south for the winter. Winter in Hamburg

Nighttime brings out a different feeling in winter scenes.

Winter NightThe snow has muffled all sounds except for our breathing. I can almost see my breath in the air! Can you smell the pine trees?

Hot DrinkWe have arrived at our destination. Time to warm up with a hot drink.

Fireplace & TreeAnd maybe a nap in front of the fireplace.

Stay safe and warm this holiday season.  HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL!

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HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

22 Nov Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey

I am thankful for my followers, for all your comments, and for your “likes.”

I hope all of you have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.

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