Monthly Archives: October 2010

The Lasagna That Beat Ohio State

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It was the big Wisconsin vs. Ohio State game last weekend. Naturally, instead of going to the game only two hours away from home, I decided to watch it at my house with a romantic dinner for two. My sporty-est friend (let’s just call her Raquel to protect her identity), came over for a hearty meal of vegetable lasagna. She walked over right before the game started (did I mention she lives three houses away from me?) with a container of fresh mushrooms in tow- and they were pre-sliced too. Raquel is so thoughtful sometimes.

Anyways, I turned on the TV in my living room as the cooking began. Don’t even ask- we only have up to channel 28 in my kitchen. We like a challenge in my house. And the cooking began. I’ve had this recipe in my files for months and never had the chance to make it. With carrots from the farmer’s market and tons of free time that Saturday, I knew this was one time-intensive recipe I would finally get the chance to make.

I skimped a little on the cheese. We all have our regrets.

Vegetable Lasagna
Adapted from For the Love of Cooking

  • 8 oz mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 3 large carrots, sliced
  • 2 zucchini, sliced
  • 2 yellow squash, sliced
  • About 3/4 box of lasagna noodles
  • Olive oil, butter, basil, salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Arranged the sliced vegetables on Roast the sliced carrots and zucchini for 20 minutes. Flip the vegetables after ten minutes. Meanwhile, boil water in a tall pot and cook the lasagna noodles. While the veggies are roasting, saute the onion and mushroom in about a tablespoon of butter. The butter will give it a nice, rich flavor, but you can also use olive oil if you oppose.

Then mix them together like so. But don’t eat them even though you’ll want to ( I won’t tell if you sneak a carrot or two).

This is why you need an assistant. Thanks again, Raquel, you were a real star. I made my tomato sauce from scratch- but you can really use a store-bought version. Mine was just better.

Marly’s Really Good Really Easy Tomato Sauce

  • 1 large can of tomatoes (it doesn’t really matter what kind, but I wouldn’t recommend buying them whole because you’ll have to puree the sauce)
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • Basil, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste

Don’t be too jealous of our musical note spoon holder.

Saute onions in a separate pan, until brown and amazing smelling. Combine all ingredients in a pot, seasoning at the end to taste. Simmer on low until ready to use.

Raquel’s Rockin’ Ricotta Sauce

  • 1 16 oz container of low-fat ricotta cheese
  • About 3 tbsp mozzarella cheese, grated
  • About 4 tbsp parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 egg
  • Dried basil, oregano, salt and pepper to taste

Mix it all together. That’s pretty much it. Drink some wine while you do it. You’ll have a lot left over from the tomato sauce.

Stir it, girl.

Now that you’ve got everything ready, you’re ready to assemble. Put a layer of sauce on the bottom of your pan (I used a 9 X 13, and I would suggest you do the same). Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and spray your pan. Put a layer of marinara on the bottom, then a layer of noodles. Spread half of the rockin’ ricotta and half the veggies. Top with noodles and marinara. Then spread the rest of the cheese and then the veggies. Finish it off with the last layer of noodles and marinara, and a heaping portion of grated mozzarella and parmesan cheeses.

It was a good lasagna, and an even better game. Wisconsin beat Ohio State, the fans rushed the field and my dinner date even stayed to help me clean up (note: this dinner requires a LOT of dishes). We also made enough lasagna for maybe 25 people, so this meal might be something you would want to invite your friends for. Raquel and I have really come a long way from watching TRL and eating chips with guacamole after school (despite her name and interests, Raquel is not of Hispanic origin, although she is one crazy party chica…that was her screen name in 8th grade for a reason).

On your next date, make this lasagna for dinner. But only if you like them a lot because it takes so long to make. ┬áThe bottle of wine will help with the awkward silences- I know it did with me a Rachel. Shoot, I gave her name away. And her rockin’ recipe. Well, Rach, next time I’ll have to make you dinner.

The Best Cookies. Ever.

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Waiting this long to write another blogpost has to warrant something good. Really good. And these English toffee cookies definitely have “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” potential.

So what have I been so busy doing, aside from making amazing cookies? I just got a freelance job writing food and dining reviews for AOL City’s Best in Chicago. My first piece – the best hidden sweet treats (obviously I came up with that one myself). Be on the lookout for the launch of the Chicago site sometime soon.

I don’t think I’ve ever made just regular cookies unless they have some element to make them extraordinary. And I knew right when I saw it that the English toffee from The Bent Fork would make my cookies extraordinary. The crunchy nuts, sweet chocolate and salty-sweet toffee gives the cookies an incredibly addictive aspect that’s just…Wow.

They’re so good, you’ll want to lick the bowl. And that’s not just an expression. I really did. I may have eaten two whole cookies worth of raw cookie dough. I don’t regret it at all. And I didn’t get salmonella either, Mom.

English Toffee Cookies
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract, or a bit more if you’re feeling generous
1 egg
1 egg yolk
As much fresh English toffee as you can find

Check out the toffee chunk in that cookie. Good one.

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and spray cookie sheets. You’ll need extra cookie sheets because these cookies spread a lot when baking.
  2. Combine flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together melted butter and sugars.
  3. Pour the vanilla and eggs into liquid combination.
  4. Pour dry mixture in, and mix just until combined.
  5. Crush about half of your toffee with a mallet in a sealed bag. Crumble the other half by hand, breaking it into small chunks. Gently mix toffee into cookie dough.
  6. Refrigerate dough before baking. This will prevent the edges from burning. Then drop spoonfuls of dough on to cookie sheet.
  7. Only after you’ve already formed the cookies, use a spoon (or your hands) to eat the leftover dough in the bowl. If you do this before #6, you risk eating all of the dough before it’s baked. Good for you, not so much if you are making the cookies for someone else.
  8. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until slightly golden around the edges.