Easy Make Ahead Meal

Hi Everyone! It’s Nicole, Annette’s web manager and friend. I don’t know about all of you, but I’m pretty tired of cooking, and I am ready for a bit of a break. I’ve been thinking about what I can make ahead to last me a few days and give me some much-needed downtime, and it dawned on me that there is nothing better than make-ahead lasagna. And lucky for me, I have Annette’s archives right at my fingertips.

She has shared the below recipe for meatless lasagna before. Let us know if you give it a try.

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)

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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Annette’s Latkes

Hi everyone! It’s Annette’s web manager and friend, Nicole. Yesterday, I met two fellow writer friends (hi Lia and Caroline!) for brunch. When we started tossing around ideas of where to meet, I immediately suggested The General Muir, an Atlanta New York-style Jewish delicatessen. Mostly because I had one request: latkes.

While it *is* Hanukkah, I love any excuse for latkes. The General Muir has excellent ones (ask for their Hanukkah menu if you visit this week! They also have jelly doughnuts…), and Trader Joe’s even has a frozen variety that I have on good authority are also worth their weight. However, there’s never going to be anything like homemade latkes. Today, I’m sharing Annette’s recipe. Take her advice and serve them alongside homemade applesauce, sour cream, or nonfat plain greek yogurt. You can also add caviar for a luxurious bite!

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 or All purpose flour
– 1 small yellow onion diced– salt and pepper to taste

– 1 cup canola oil, add more as needed for frying

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 the 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, sour cream, or non fat plain greek yogurt.

Latkes photo by Stephanie Meyer for Food & Wine

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Give it a try: make a loaf of bread!

Have you ever felt intimidated by baking bread? I feel like it’s one of those foods that worry people. However, fear not! There are some awesome bread recipes out there that make baking a breeze, and this is one of them!

Let me know if you tackle your bread fears by baking this olive bread. It makes the most delicious late afternoon snack. Because this bread recipe can make 4 small loaves, it’s also a great gift for neighbors! Make a batch to kick-off fall which is just around the corner.

Olive Bread
makes 4 small loaves or 1 large one

You will need:
– 3 cups all-purpose flour
– 2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 2 tablespoons sugar
– 2 garlic cloves, minced
– 1 teaspoon crumbled dried rosemary
– 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
– 1/2 cup drained and chopped sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil  (available at specialty foods shops and some supermarkets), reserving 2 tablespoons of the oil
– 2 large eggs
– 1 1/2 cups milk
– 1/2 cup chopped pitted Kalamata or other brine-cured black olives
– 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley leaves (preferably flat-leaved)
– 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan

To prepare:

Into a bowl sift together the flour, the baking powder, the baking soda, the salt, and the sugar.

In a small skillet cook the garlic with the rosemary and the pepper in the reserved oil from the sun-dried tomatoes over moderately low heat, stirring, until it is softened and fragrant but not brown.

In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, the milk, butter, and the garlic mixture, add the flour mixture, and stir the batter until it is just combined. Stir in the sun-dried tomatoes, the olives, the parsley, and the Parmesan. Divide the batter among 4 buttered and floured loaf pans, each 5 3/4 by 3 1/4 by 2 inches, and bake the breads in the middle of a preheated 350°F. oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.

Remove the breads from the pans and let them cool, right sides up, on a rack. The bread keeps, wrapped well in plastic wrap and foil, chilled for 1 week or frozen for 1 month.

(Recipe adapted from Gourmet Magazine)

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It’s Fig Season:: Let’s make a tart!

Hey everyone! I’m Nicole, Annette’s web manager and friend, and I’m excited to share an end-of-summer recipe with you.

A few years ago, my grandparents gifted my husband and me a fig tree. After nursing it inside during a harsh winter, we eagerly planted it and have watched it grow from a sapling to a fruit-bearing tree. This year is the first year we’ve been able to harvest any figs that the squirrels haven’t eaten which has me on the lookout for all the fig recipes I can get my hands on.

Of course, that meant turning to Annette’s trusty and knowledgeable blog. The funny thing about figs is that their season is very short, and once you’ve plucked them from a tree, you have to eat them pretty quickly. That’s why something like jam or a tart, like I’m sharing today, is such an effective way to use your figs!

Below, find Annette’s fig advice along with her incredible recipe for a fig tart!

Choose your figs by looking for ones that are slightly soft and give to a little pressure, but aren’t mushy. Store them in the fridge, but be sure not to wash them until you’re ready to use them.

Figs are incredibly delicate, so be careful when you wash them. Never scrub figs or use anything harsher than your fingers. Instead, gently rub any dirt you see away from the fig’s surface. Remove the stems by twisting gently until they come off. Pat them to dry.

I have to say, this tart is wonderful; it actually tastes like a gourmet fig newton!

Fig Tart
serves 8

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

For the crust:
– 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
– 1 tablespoon sugar + 2 tablespoons sugar
– 4 tablespoons cold butter cut into 1 inch cubes + 1 tablespoon butter
– 1/4 cup olive oil ( I got mine from a local press, 2 blocks away, gotta love Italy)
– pinch salt
– 1/2 cup ice water

To prepare: 

In a Cuisnart or Kitchenaid, put in flour, sugar, salt and 4 tablespoons butter + oil. mix on medium speed until it becomes a crumby mixture.

Slowly add ice water until the dough pulls together. Place in the fridge and start on the figs.

For the fig filling:

Slice the figs into quarters, roll out the dough, and place into the tart pan, arrange fig quarters on the dough in a fan pattern.

Sprinkle 2 tablespoons sugar + 1 tablespoon cubed butter on top of the fig arrangement.

Put into a 400 degree oven for 1 hour, or until the figs and dough are nicely browned, they should be a nice shade of caramel.

Cool and serve.

Enjoy xx

Photos by Annette

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Parmesan Crisps:: Quick Summer Appetizer

These lovely little two-bite parmesan crisps are savory and salty with a crunch—perfect to serve with a chilled glass of prosecco or rose. It’s a quick appetizer that uses parmesan cheese with a combination of tomatoes – tomato jam to be exact.

The tomato jam is the star of the show, but you’ll love the addition of mozzarella and basil too. These bites make a great addition to any menu for a summer soiree.

Two Bite Parmesan Crisps
Makes about 32

For the Tomato Jam:


You will need:
– 3  tablespoons olive oil
– 1 garlic clove, chopped
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 4 large heirloom tomatoes, coarsely chopped
– 3 tablespoons sugar
– 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

To prepare:
Place ingredients into a medium pot over medium heat for 15 minutes, set aside to cool. This step may be done a couple of days in advance and placed in the refrigerator in a sealed container until ready to use.

For the Parmesan Crisps:


You will need:
– 8 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 4 cups)
– Place 2 tablespoons of Parmesan on a cookie sheet fitted with a silpat.
– Arrange the spoonfuls about 3 inches apart as they will spread to form round crisps.

To prepare:
Place in a 350 F degree oven for 3-5 minutes until golden brown. Remove and allow to cool before assembling the appetizer.

To assemble:
– 1 (8-ounce) ball fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
– 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves

Place a dollop of jam on top of the crisp, and add cubes of mozzarella and garnish with a basil leaf.

From my book Picture Perfect Parties RIzzoli NY

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