My Comfort Food:: Meatless Lasagna

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This meatless lasagna is something I love to make for friends and family. It’s the quintessential comfort food, especially during cold winter days. If you’re looking for a few easy meals to prepare for large groups in the coming weeks, give this one a try. It’s a crowd pleaser!

Meatless Lasagna
Serves 12-14

You will need:
– 1 package lasagna noodles (you will need 12 noodles)
– 3 tablespoons olive oil
– 2 cloves of garlic finely minced
– 2 cups mushrooms cut into thin slices
– 6 cups Spinach
– 1 16.oz ricotta ( low fat is fine)
– 2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese (reserve 1 cup for the topping)
– 1 egg
– 1 teaspoon dried oregano
– 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese (reserve ½ cup for the topping)
– 1 16 oz jar prepared marinara sauce (or your own sauce recipe)

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To prepare noodles:

Preheat Oven 400 degrees F

Prepare noodles according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Note: once the noodles are cooked, I like to rinse them in cool water and then leave them in the water until I am ready to layer the pan, this makes them not stick together.

To prepare filling:

Combine the ricotta, 2 cups of mozzarella cheese, and the 1 cup Parmesan cheese, oregano and egg in a bowl and combine until smooth. Set aside.

In a saute pan, add oil, garlic and mushrooms. Saute until browned, then toss in the spinach and saute the spinach and mushrooms until all the moisture in the pan has evaporated. You want the mixture as dry as possible.

To layer:

Separate the noodles in the water some of them may have stuck together, then drain in a colander. I like to line up my fillings and the noodles.

In a lasagna pan (9”x13)” lay in the layer of noodles, 3 to 4 is perfect. Then add the sauce about (1/2 cup), the spinach mushroom filling, and then dollops of the ricotta filling (about 3 tablespoon dollops), finishing off the layer with a sprinkle of shredded Mozzarella ( about 1/2 cup). Repeat this process 3 times, each time starting with the noodle layer. The top layer should be the noodles, sauce and the 1 cup of Mozzarella and ½ cup of Parmesan make sure to cover the entire top layer.

Bake in the oven for 40 minutes at 400 degrees F. Let it set up for 15-20 minutes before serving.

xx Annette

 

 

 

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Make Ahead Holiday Dessert:: Salted Chocolate Pots de Crème

PotsDeCreme

One thing that’s super important when it comes to hosting is to be a stress-free hostess. A key to remaining calm and collected is to make a few dishes ahead of time. Pots de Crème are a lovely way to end a meal, and they happen to be a great make ahead dessert choice. In fact, these can be made up to two days in advance! It’s an elegant, indulgent dessert that’s sure to wow your guests. Let me know if you give them a try; I’m confident you’ll love it if you do!

Salted Chocolate Pots de Crème
Serves 6-8

You will need:
1 ½ cup whole milk
– 1/2 cup whipping cream
– 5 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
– 1 teaspoon sea salt, or flake salt
– 6 large egg yolks
– 1/3 cup sugar
– 1 cup whipped cream for topping

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 325°F. Bring milk and cream just to simmer in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat. Add chocolate and salt; whisk until melted and smooth. Whisk yolks and sugar in large bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in hot chocolate mixture. Strain mixture into another bowl. Cool 10 minutes, skimming any foam from surface.

Divide custard mixture among six 3/4-cup custard cups or soufflé dishes. Cover each with foil. Place cups in large baking pan. Add enough hot water to pan to come halfway up sides of cups. Bake until custards are set but centers still move slightly when gently shaken, about 55 minutes. Remove from water. Remove foil. Chill custards until cold, about 3 hours. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and keep chilled.) Top with whip cream, and serve.

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Hanukkah is here! Time for Latkes!

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Every year my kids look forward to our Hanukkah meal. We light the candles, say a prayer, open little gifts and then sit down together for our traditional meal. I roast free range chicken, and I make homemade sweet potato + yukon potato latkes with homemade applesauce. I also usually toss together a sweet and savory salad with a balsamic vinaigrette. It’s a meal that incorporates all the flavors while bringing back warm memories from the years we’ve enjoyed this celebration of light together.

If you’re celebrating Hanukkah this year, give my yellow and gold latkes recipe a try, and don’t skip the apple sauce. It might be the best part.

Yellow and Gold Latkes
serves 4 to 6
You will need:

– 3 medium size sweet potatoes
– 3 medium size yukon gold potatoes
– 2 eggs
– 1/4 cup matzo meal
– 1 small yellow onion diced
– salt and pepper to taste
– 1 cup olive oil
To prepare:

Prepare a paper towel lined cookie sheet for finished latkes.

Hand grate potatoes, so they are shredded. Add salt and set aside for 10 minutes.

By hand, squeeze liquid out of the potatoes, transfer to another mixing bowl.

Add eggs, matzo meal and diced onion and mix.

Note: if the potatoes still have some water, it’s fine to add 1 more egg and more matzo meal to bind.

In a large skillet put 1/4 cup oil and heat. Drop in latke mix with a spoon forming small pancakes.

Fry in the oil until golden and crispy.

Place cooked latke pancakes on the towels to drain oil, and continue to fry the latkes and drain. You will need to continue to add oil to the skillet as you continue to fry the latkes. Place the cooked, and drained latkes in the oven on low until guests arrive.

Serve with homemade applesauce and sour cream, or non fat plain greek yogurt.

Homemade Applesauce
You will need:
– 3 to 4 lbs of peeled, cored, and quartered apples
– 4 strips of lemon peel – use a vegetable peeler to strip 4 lengths
– Juice of one lemon, about 3-4 Tbsp
– 3 inches of cinnamon stick
– 1/4 cup of dark brown sugar
– Up to 1/4 cup of white sugar
– 1 cup of water
– 1/2 teaspoon of salt

 

To prepare:

Put all ingredients into a large pot. Cover. Bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Remove from heat. Remove cinnamon sticks and lemon peels.

Mash with potato masher.  Place in the fridge. It should last for 2 weeks in the fridge.

Latkes photo by Stephanie Meyer for Food & Wine 
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Poached Pears in Mulled Wine

Mulled Wine Poached Pears

Poached fruit is a simple yet sophisticated dessert that will wow your guests this holiday season. It is, in fact, a little trick I use when I don’t want to make a complicated dessert. It’s so easy to just grab apples or pears and poach them in wine which is something I always have on had.

These mulled wine poached pears are the perfect classic dessert for fall and winter. Your guests will be impressed with the presentation, and the flavor is subtle and light which after a heavy meal can be just the perfect finish. Top them with homemade whipped cream for a festive end of meal treat.

Mulled Wine Poached Pears
Serves 8

You will need:
– 8 pears
– 1 bottle of Red Wine (I like to use a Merlot, or a Pinot Noir)
– 3/4 cup sugar
– 1 teaspoon cinnamon
– 3 star anise
– 1 cup whipping cream and 2 tablespoons sugar

To prepare:

Peel the whole pears leaving the stem in tact.

In a large cast iron pot, empty the bottle of wine, add the sugar, cinnamon, star anise.

Place the peeled pears on their side, then simmer them in the wine for about 15 minutes, occasionally with a large spoon roll the pears to evenly cook them. Turn off the heat, and leave the pears to macerate in the wine (this literally can be all day). Again occasionally turning them to evenly coat the pears. The pears will become a beautiful pink color from the mulled red wine.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk, add the whipping cream and sugar whip until stiff peaks form about 5 minutes.

To serve:

Warm the pears through about 3 minutes and place the warm pears in a bowl with 3 tablespoons of the mulled wine. Add a dollop of whipped cream and serve.

NOTE: This is the perfect make ahead dessert, and it will truly impress your guests! 

xx Annette

 

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Last Minute Recipe:: Kumquat Cranberry Sauce

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Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope you’re spending today surrounded by friends and family eating an incredible meal.

A staple at our Thanksgiving table is cranberry sauce, but I always like to put my own twist on it. Cranberry sauce is a perfect complement to Thanksgiving turkey, but instead of opening a can, give this easy recipe a try instead. Even though the end product is luscious and luxurious, cranberry sauce can be whipped up in a matter of minutes, and this kumquat cranberry sauce is perfection.

Everyone will love the citrus flavors paired with the tart cranberries, and you’ll be the star of the meal. This cranberry sauce is especially good once the flavors come together which makes it perfect for leftovers. I like to serve mine from a jar; it gives it a wonderful homemade quality and is a pretty look for the table. Let me know if you give it a try and what everyone thinks!

Kumquat Cranberry Sauce
You will need:
– 2  cups water
– 1 cup sugar
– 12 kumquats cut into circle slices (cut the kumquat across to create pinwheel like slices)
– 1 tablespoon grated orange peel
– 1 teaspoon cinnamon
– 1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
– 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
– 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
– 1/2 teaspoon cloves
– 2 12-ounce bags fresh or frozen cranberries

 

To prepare:

Combine water, sugar, orange peel, kumquat slices and ginger in heavy medium saucepan. Bring mixture to simmer over medium heat. Simmer 4 minutes to blend flavors.

Add cinnamon, salt and clove and simmer 2 minutes. Add cranberries and simmer until berries burst and sauce is thick, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat.

Refrigerate cranberry sauce until well chilled. (Can be prepared 3 days ahead. Cover and keep refrigerated)

Photo by Stefania Crudeli on Unsplash

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