Sunday, March 30, 2014

Easy Cheesy Lasagna Rollups

I kept seeing Lasagna rollups and have been wanting to try them, but then I end up making lasagna the traditional way. I think I did try it once and the noodles kept slipping around and I gave up. Then I read this blog and realized where I had gone wrong: you have to pat the noodles dry! Duh!
My recipe loosely followed her's but I utilized what I already had in my frig. When I looked at my finished product, my thought was how great it will be to serve up each portion without having all the filling ooze out. This way I will have 12 even servings that can be dished out, then the leftovers saved in perfect serving-sized portions. Hmmmm.

So we had a nice bag of spinach from SLO Veg, big curly leaves that needed a good chop. I added about a cup of chopped spinach leaves to a concontion of Ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, and Parmesan cheese. A little garlic salt and an egg later, and I had a decent cheese filling for my lasagna rolls. I thought about slicing a tomato to put into the rolls, but then I forgot again. Old age strikes again. I did put a couple of nice basil leaves into each roll, freshly picked from my living basil plant that I picked up at, from all places, Smart and Final, last week during our big grocery run. It had a small base with the roots attached, so I put it into a larger plastic tub and surround the planter cup with stones and added an inch of water. Its been there all week, looking fresh and green. Guess I had better put it to use. Might make some pesto real soon, too! We got some parsley in the veg tote this week so that would be good to mix into the pesto blend.

I made a quick sauce with some leftover marinara, a can of tomato sauce and some Italian seasoning. I spooned about a quarter cup into the bottom of the rectangular glass dish (9x13), and proceeded to make the rolls. They fit three across, four rows down for an even dozen. That's all the noodles I had, so it worked. I covered the rolls with marina and topped it with grated mozarella cheese. That makes four cheeses...pretty cheesy, I'd say!

Anyway, dinner is ready to bake and it's only 2 p.m., so I am going to go outside and get some sunshine while I do some yard clean up. Then when I am all tired later, I have a premade dinner just waiting to be heated up. My food tasters will have to weigh in afterwards and let you know if it was any good. Once they awaken from their cheese coma, that is!

My recipe is listed on Just A Pinch website:

Easy Cheesy Lasagna Rollups
added by Kathleen Curtis-Ames
These rollups make perfect portions that don't ooze out all over the place after you've cut the lasagna. I used three kinds of cheese inside and topped it with a fourth cheese for gooey deliciousness. Hope you like it!
Cook time: 40 Min  Prep time: 30 Min  Serves: 12 portions
12 lasagna noodles, cooked
1 tsp salt
1 c ricotta cheese, part-skim
1 c cottage cheese, small curd
1/2 c parmesan cheese
1 egg
1 tsp garlic salt
1 c spinach, fresh, chopped
1 can(s) tomato sauce, 15 oz
1 can(s) marina sauce, 15 oz
1 Tbsp italian seasoning
1 c mozarella cheese, shredded
4 basil leaves, fresh
1 Tbsp olive oil
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and lasagna noodles. Cook until al dente, then drain and rinse in cold water. Pat dry with paper towels.
2. While lasagna noodles are cooking, mix together filling ingredients: ricotta cheese, cottage cheese and parmesan cheese with the egg and garlic salt. Stir in the chopped spinach.
3. In a separate bowl, mix the sauce ingredients: tomato sauce, marinara sauce, and Italian seasoning.
4. Lay one noodle out on a flat mat or cutting board. Spoon cheese-spinach filling onto noodle and spread to about 1/8" thickness, covering entire noodle. Place 2 large, fresh basil leaves on top and roll up noodle lengthwise. Place seam-side down in a 9x13 glass baking dish that has been coated with a drizzle of olive oil and a 1/4 cup of the marinara sauce. I fit 3 rows across and four down for a total of 12 rolls.
5. Top rolls with the rest of the marinara sauce and sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese all over the top.
6. Bake at 350 degrees in the oven for 40 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes and serve one roll per portion. Actually, they might want two rolls!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Angry Shrimp from Self mag

I didn't know if I could make this recipe tonight using the ingredients I had on hand, mainly because I didn't have any Grand Marnier. Then I googled "what is Grand Marnier?" and found out it is Triple Sec, which I did have. Problem solved! We are having Angry Shrimp tonight on rice noodles. Sounds healthy, huh? 

I saw the recipe, along with several other delicious looking entrees, in my Self magazine. I looked at the exercises in this issue and passed, but the recipes looked totally doable. No hand stands or back bends required here! Maybe some yoga meditation moves, but that will be the extent of it. I had a bag of kale, already chopped, some frozen shrimp, raisins, dried cranberries (oh well, not cherries!), chipotle and cumin spices, fresh garlic, homemade chicken broth, and even some toasted pumpkins seeds (pepitas). It was destined to be!

Since this dinner cooks quickly, I prepped everything ahead of time and had it ready to cook when my hub gets home and takes a shower. I will cook it then and serve it piping hot as we sit down to discuss the day and watch the news. 

I did put the rice noodles in a pot of warm water an hour ago, per the package instructions, to hydrate them. Just before serving, I drained the noodles, then tossed them with a teaspoonful of sesame oil. I portioned the noodles into pasta bowls and ladled the kale-shrimp mixure on top. Orange slices and pepitas garnished the creation.

The dish garnered remarks like, "interesting" and "spicy". The guys thought the fusion of citrus and musky chili was different. The consensus it was pretty good. I will probably make it again. 

I followed this recipe from the Self magazine, with a few substitutions (noted):

Angry Shrimp

Fiery chipotle gives a kick, and the iron in shrimp keeps you high-energy.

Serves 6


  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins (I used black raisins)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3/4 cup diced white onion
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries, chopped (I used dried cranberries)
  • 2 teaspoons chipotle powder
  • 4 teaspoons chopped garlic, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup Grand Marnier orange liqueur (I used Triple Sec)
  • 20 oz low-sodium vegetable broth (I used homemade chicken broth)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 lbs medium-large shrimp, peeled and deveined, thawed if frozen
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 6 cups kale, stems removed, chopped
  • 3 cups cooked brown rice (I used rice noodles)


  1. In a small pan over high heat, toast pumpkin seeds, stirring constantly, until lightly brown, 1 to 2 minutes. In a food processor, puree raisins and 1/4 cup water 1 minute. In a large pan over medium heat, heat 1 tbsp oil. Add onion; cook until translucent, 5 minutes. Stir in raisin puree, cranberries, chipotle, 1 tsp garlic and cumin; cook 1 minute. Add Triple Sec and cook, stirring, until alcohol is cooked out, 1 to 2 minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer. In a bowl, dissolve cornstarch in 1 tbsp cold water. Gradually add cornstarch mixture to broth mixture to thicken; reduce heat and simmer 7 to 10 minutes. Add shrimp; cook until pale white, 5 minutes. Stir in zest; season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. In pan, heat remaining 1 tbsp oil. Cook kale and 3 tsp garlic, stirring, until kale starts to wilt, 3 to 5 minutes. Strain juices and combine with rice noodles. Divide noodle mixture, shrimp and seeds among 6 plates. I added slices of the orange on top just  for fun!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spinach Scramble from leftover meat loaf

Spinach Scramble breakfast
Bacon-wrapped Italian-style meat loaf

One of the great things about making a three pound meat loaf is that it makes more than just one meal. In this case, I got four meals out of it. The first night was Taylor's birthday, so we had, well, meat loaf, and garlic mashed potatoes, brown gravy, roasted broccoli and a deviled egg appetizer. Then there was the peanut butter frosted chocolate cake. See, with all of that we couldn't even finish the main course.

So the next morning, I sliced off two pieces of meat loaf, chopped it up and added some spinach to make a spinach scramble. Eggs are on sale this time of year, so we are eating a lot of them! It made a yummy breakfast. That afternoon we had meat loaf sandwiches before going to the Melodrama performance. There was still a little bit of meat loaf leftover, which I thought the kid might eat during the night or something...but he didn't. So two days later we had another spinach-egg-meat loaf scramble.

Spinach scrambles are my favorite way to eat scrambled eggs. I like it with just the spinach, maybe a little chopped onion, and the scrambled eggs.
Adding meat loaf or sausage or just plain old browned ground beef is a delicious breakfast, in my opinon. Of course, I used some of the fresh parsley from SLO Veg in my meat loaf creation. I was inspired by the meal loaf on Pioneer Woman's show.
It was wrapped in bacon and topped with chunky diced tomatoes with Italian seasonings.

Chopped parsley
I just happened to watch it the morning of my son's birthday, and it looked like the perfect meal for him for that special day. I also used the parsley in the mashed potatoes for the birthday meal, then I made potato pancakes later on. Some of our farm-fresh SLO Veg spinach went into the egg scramble, so it was fresh and green and flavorful, very fitting for a St. Patrick's Day breakfast two days later. We got our green on this past weekend, for sure! And finally, finally! the meat loaf is all gone. : )
Farm fresh spinach
Spinach Scramble Recipe:
6 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
daash of salt
1 cup left over meat loaf, broken up
1 cup fresh spinach
oil for skillet

So to make this scramble, just reheat some leftover meat loaf in a skillet with a dash of oil, chopping it up a bit. Add chopped spinach and heat through until it wilts. Scramble 6 eggs in a bowl, adding a sprinkling of salt and a dash of milk (I like to use coconut milk). Pour eggs over the meat-spinach mixture and let cook until set. Stir eggs and let cook some more until the eggs are cooked through. Spoon into serving bowls and sprinkle with your favorite cheese.
The birthday boy and his sweetie with the birthday feast
Deviled eggs with horseradish were a hit appetizer

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Potato Encrusted Bank Rockfish and Bok Choy

Thursday's delivery from SLO Veg always includes a pound of fresh caught ocean fish from our local fishermen. Our fish this week is Bank Rockfish. I saw a recipe earlier in the week on "Just A Pinch" website that I knew would be scrumptious, so I could hardly wait for the fish to arrive. "Just A Pinch" is a collection of recipes from real home cooks, like me, so I want to share it with you and hope you enjoy it too! The recipes are shareable, pinable and printable, if that makes sense to you.

I had two big russet potatoes that I precooked in the microwave and let cool off. The author of this recipe, Kathy, didn't mention this step, but I think shredded potatoes are best precooked, otherwise they get all gummy. I shredded the cooled potatoes with my favorite vintage appliance, my Oster Kitchen Center. It has a mixer, blender, chopper and food processor attachments. I used to have an ice cream attachment too, but that got lost in a zillion moves over the past 10 years or so. I don't know why the company discontinued these things, because I love it. I burnt out the motor on mine a few times and my father-in-law always ordered the parts and fixed it for me. I guess after he was gone, I had no one to fix it anymore, so I got rid of it. Then, when I met and married my husband Lee, he came complete with an Oster Kitchen Center, garlic press and four (that's right, four!) pizza cutters. Just a little bonus. It's missing the slicer blade, but it does have the grater and french fry blades. I look for parts whenever I am browsing through a thrift store.

I had two large filets and two smaller pieces. I did the steps of flouring, coating with egg and pressing on the shredded potatoes, then I fried them in a pan of hot oil for about 5 minutes on each side, until a nice brown crust formed. I had three oval ramekins waiting, so I put the browned filets with the two smaller pieces in one of the ramekins and the two larger filets in the other ramekins and popped the fish into a preheated 450 degree oven for a good 10 minutes. I wanted the fish to be completely cooked through, as well as the potatoes. While the fish baked, I prepared some bok choy using a recipe from the SLO Veg recipe site.

With a few olives as an appetizer, the Sugar Snap Pea slaw I made earlier today and a cocktail made just now by my husband using fresh squeezed grapefruit juice from the fruit from our SLO Veg box, I think we had a pretty well rounded dinner. Time to sit down and chow down with the hub. The third ramekin of fish can be his lunch for tomorrow or a late night snack for our young adult whenever he blows in.

Potato Encrusted Fish
added by Kathy Williams
Can use frozen shredded potatoes. just remove the excess water
Cook time: 10 Min  Prep time: 15 Min  Serves: 4
3 large russet potatoes, (precooked) shredded
1/4 c bread crumbs
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
4-6 oz fresh or frozen white fish such as cod or haddock, 1 inch or more thick
1 c flour
3 large eggs beaten
1. Preheat oven 450 f. Lightly coat a sheet pan with cooking spray. If using frozen fish make sure it is defrosted.
2. You will need a dish for the eggs, a dish for the flour, and a dish for the shreaded potatoes. (I use a 9x13 glass pan).
3. Toss together the grated potatoes, breadcrumbs, thyme, onion powder, salt and pepper.
4. In a fry pan, heat about a cup of oil about med-med high heat.
5. Dredge fish in flour, shake off excess then dip in egg and let excess drip off. Crust the fish in the potato mixture, pressing to adhere.
6. Add encrusted fish to hot oil. Cook to brown the potatoes to crispiness. Flip and brown the other side. Drain on paper towel.
7. Place browned fish on greased pan and bake in oven for about 5-8 mins. until cooked through.

Bok Choy by Lynn Adams 
Ingredients:1 cup chicken broth
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 lb. baby bok choy, trimmed
1/2 teaspoon Asian sesame oil

Bring broth and butter to a simmer in a deep large heavy skillet. Arrange bok choy evenly in skillet and simmer, covered, until tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer bok choy with tongs to a serving dish and keep warm, covered. Boil broth mixture until reduced to about 1/4 cup, then stir in sesame oil and pepper to taste. Pour mixture over bok choy. Purplekimchi- Very, very easy! Reduce butter to 1T add sliced ginger and 2 cloves minced garlic to the chicken broth. Increase sesame oil in the reduction to 1T - deelish! Tasted like the bok choy I've had in restaurants.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Sugar Snap Pea Slaw

Making a slaw with sugar snap peas.
I saw this slaw recipe for Sugar Snap Pea Slaw in my Better Homes and Gardens newsletter and thought, "Wow! I have almost everything for that recipe." Except an apple...Lee threw out our last two apples last night because they had gone all soft. But we got our new box from SLO Veg yesterday and it had sugar snap peas, fennel, and cabbage, so its perfect for the slaw. I have some carrots I can shred, or julienne, and maybe I will pick up an apple or two today and mix it in. I must add that when preparing these vegetables, I was not sure if I should julienne the snap peas lengthwise, with all the peas ending up on one side and just the pod on the other, or if I should cut them more diagonally. I did both, actually. The jury is still out on which way is best.

Oh, we also got HONEY in our SLO Veg box this week. Its a new item and its locally produced honey from Cuyama, California. In case you don't know the area, you head south to Santa Maria, but just before the river, you go left and head out Hwy. 166 til you are way, way, way out in the middle of the boondocks. That's the Cuyama area. Its a lovely drive when you want to get away from it all. I am not even sure if you can get cell phone service out there. Its also a lovely way to get to The 5 if you are heading down to LA and hate traveling in city traffic. Anyway, I like to use local honey because its supposed to be beneficial for seasonal allergies and so forth, which my husband and son suffer from in and out of season.

So I started to assemble my salad, sans apple. Oops, also sans Dijon mustard...I only had German hot mustard and yellow mustard, so I used the yellow. I just looked up the difference and learned something new. While I already knew Dijon mustard contained white wine, I did not know that yellow mustard was colored with turmeric. That spice is known for its medicinal qualities, therefore yellow mustard is healthy for you. Anyway, I used yellow mustard today and add a splash of white wine to my dressing to mimic Dijon mustard. I don't really know if white wine is healthy for you, but red wine is. Delaware! (That's what my husband yells when I stray off topic.) Here is the fascinating link regarding mustard:

Seasoning blends for Pumpkin Pie spice, etc.
I remember my mother substituting ingredients in her cooking creations when I was a kid, and honestly, it used to drive me nuts! I thought it was a travesty of justice to not follow a recipe exactly with all the specified ingredients. These days, I substitute ingredients all the time in cooking. I think its a matter of knowing more about flavors and how to make things from scratch. Also, my original Betty Crocker cookbook had a whole page of items to substitute in a pinch, like adding lemon juice or vinegar to milk to make it sour if you don't have any buttermilk. Over the years I have learned to make almost everything I cook from scratch, rather than using boxed or bottled ingredients. I also mix up a lot of my own seasoning blends using the variety of spices I stock in my spice cabinet. I have to notate here in Delaware that my mother also used to use instant mashed potatoes on a regular basis. I vowed never to use them in my house, unless I need them as a thickening agent. The Idaho brand instant mashed potatoes are actually decent, but I consider them emergency food.

Emergency substitutions are found in many cookbooks. I make my own spice blend mixes and put the recipe on the bottles for when I run low and need to mix up some more.

And now, here is the recipe and the original reason for this blog posting anyways...the dressing is delicious and I will let you know later if the slaw is better with or without apple, as I have not yet left the house. (I am still in California.)

Julienned, long or on a slant?
Sugar Snap Pea Slaw
2 cups sugar snap peas
2 medium carrots
1 small bulb fennel (6 oz.)
1 large apple
1 cup shredded red savoy cabbage or red cabbage
   (*I used green cabbage and a red onion) 
1 cup shredded napa cabbage
6 ounces plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
1 teaspoon snipped fresh tarragon
Ground black pepper 
  1. Cut peas, carrots, fennel and apple into julienne strips; place in a large bowl. Add cabbage; toss to combine.
  2. In a small bowl combine yogurt, apple cider vinegar, honey, mustard and tarragon. Add to vegetable mixture; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Rock Front Ranch's Black and Purple Sage Honey from Cuyama Valley, CA.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Bald Eagle Relish on a Brat

Mondays are chore days. We have to do laundry, empty the trash, refill the water bottles with filtered water, grocery shop, visit some doctor or another, wash the cars, and pick the kid up from school. We usually treat him to a Costco dog--not super healthy, but super cheap! We can feed our family of three for under five bucks! It's our guilty pleasure.

After a morning of running errands and purchasing bulk pantry staples at my favorite health-nut grocery store, New Frontiers, and after I finished folding laundry, my husband went upstairs to take a nap, and I, the woman who had been cooking and refilling my pantry in the kitchen all afternoon, decided to sit down and watch TV and browse the internet. Guy Fieri's show was on, "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives". I had some roasted garlic potato soup in the slow-cooker, and I was thinking of adding some grilled cheese sandwiches as an accompaniment to that for a complete dinner.

Then, in Guy's episode of "Burgers, Tacos and Dogs," I watched this guy originally from Jersey, Joe Fabrocini, making a "Bald Eagle Sauce" for one of his hot dogs at his diner in Reseda, CA. Cabbage, sweet relish, cider vinegar, Dusseldorf mustard...all stuff I just happened to have on hand! I mean, he used some kind of special mustard, but I had some German Lowensenf spicy mustard that I figured would do the trick. Actially, when I read the label on my mustard, it was made by Dusseldorf Lowensenf GmbH, so maybe it was the same stuff after all!

I needed to use up the head of cabbage hanging out in the frig, so I immediately hopped up and began pulling items out to make this relish sauce. So much for taking it easy. Then I backed up the TV feed and rewatched that part of the episode, writing down the ingredients. I checked the Food Network site for a recipe, but they only posted a different sweet and spicy onion relish from the Fab Hot Dogs diner menu. So I winged it!

I know its kind of redundant since we had our Costco dogs earlier in the day, but tonight we are having beer brats with the Bald Eagle Sauce. The ingredients are: sweet relish, shredded cabbage, shredded carrots, garlic, oregano, chili powder, diced onion, celery seed, cider vinegar and spicy yellow mustard. I have no idea of the amounts other than what I saw Joe Fabrocini dump into the bowl, and I am pretty sure I used twice as much cabbage and not as much chili powder as he did, but it turned out tasty. You can watch it and figure out the amounts for yourself, I guess. I wrote down my best guess for you.
I am trying out the "Just A Pinch" website for posting recipes with a printable feature for you. Let me know how you like it!

Here is the Food Network page:

This is a restaurant review from the PlateFull website: