Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Lemon, Chicken and Orzo Soup

We found this recipe on tarteletteblog.com. You can view the recipe here. The soup came out very tasty. We will definitely make it again. For a side dish we toasted freshly made bread with mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, paprika, and pepper. We also bought olive oil potato chips with rosemary by Good Health Inc., which were pretty incredible.

Brian made this bread. It is mostly white flour with a smidgen of rye and whole wheat.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Brian’s Poultry-Italian Sausage Lasagna

This dish was inspired by a the Italian Sausage Lasagna recipe from Betty Crocker.


Lasagna Sauce
1 lb Poultry Italian Sausage (hot, mild, or a combination of the two)
1 medium onion (diced)
1/2 Green bell pepper (diced)
5 crushed cloves of garlic (more or less to taste)
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano leaves
3 tbsp of chopped fresh basil (more or less to taste)
1 tsp sugar
28 oz of diced plum tomatoes (skin and seeds included)
1 15 oz can tomato sauce

Ricotta Mixture
1 16oz container ricotta cheese
1/3 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano leaves
Pepper to taste

Remaining Ingredients
2 cups (or more as needed) shredded mozzarella

Lasagna Noodles
4 cups Semolina Flour (or Pasta Flour, whichever it’s called) plus more on reserve
3 eggs, beaten
1 ½ cups water (plus more in reserve)
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano

Cooking Method
Initial Step: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Lasagna Sauce
1. In a large pot, saute sausage, onion, garlic, and green pepper in EVOO on low heat until sausage is cooked through. Makes sure sausage is broken into small pieces.
2. Add sugar, basil, oregano, tomatoes and tomato sauce, then simmer, covered, about 45 minutes
3. Add parsley, salt, and pepper (to taste) then remove from heat

Ricotta Mixture
1. In a small bowl, mix ricotta, parmesan, oregano, and pepper until combined.

Lasagna Noodles
1. Thoroughly wash hands!
2. Add semolina flour and spices to a large bowl
3. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture using your hand
4. Pour the beaten eggs and water into the flour well
5. Gradually combine the dry and wet ingredients until a cohesive dough-ball is formed
6. Spread a handful of flour onto a clean surface in preparation for kneading the dough
7. Turn the dough ball out onto the floured surface
8. Knead the dough until the outer surface of the dough is smooth (5 to 7 minutes). The dough is properly formed if it does not stick to your hands at the end of kneading. 
9. When finished kneading, separate the dough into two equal parts
10. Set one part of the dough aside and roll out the other part of the dough into a 1/8-1/16 inch sheet, routinely flipping the sheet of dough during the flattening process and rolling on both sides
NOTE: I recommend dusting the surface of the dough with flour to prevent the dough from sticking to the rolling pin or the surface
11. Cut 3in x 12in noodles from the flattened sheet. You should get three or so noodles from this sheet
12. Repeat the rolling and cutting process with the other half of the dough
13. Combine all of the dough scraps into a ball and roll out to make additional noodles
14. If not cooking immediately, dry the noodles on a floured baking sheet. Place a clean kitchen towel between layers of noodles on the same sheet
15. To cook, boil 8 quarts of water then place three noodles, maximum, in the water at a time.
16. Cook the noodles until al dente, about 10 minutes
17. Set aside until ready to assemble lasagna

Lasagna Assembly
1. Grease a 13in x 9in x 2in baking pan
2. Spread ½ of ricotta mixture on the bottom of the pan
3. Add a layer of 3 noodles
4. Spoon sauce over the first noodle layer until the noodles are just about covered(be sure not to drown the noodles in sauce!)
5. Add a layer of shredded mozzarella in the same manner as you would a pizza
6. Add a second layer of noodles, followed by a layer of the remaining ricotta, sauce, and mozzarella
7. Add a final layer of noodles, a layer of sauce and a layer of mozzarella
8. Cover with foil and place on the middle rack in the oven and bake 30 minutes
9. Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes
10. Remove from the oven and let cook at least 15 minutes
NOTE: It is best to let the cheese set for a while before cutting so it holds together. The lasagna will remain hot for a long time after removing from the oven.

Fresh Blueberry Muffins

This recipe was from Baking Illustrated, published by America's Test Kitchen 2004.


2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
1 cup sugar
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 ¼ cups sour cream
1 ½ cups fresh wild blueberries

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350F. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin and set aside.

2. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl until combined.

3. Whisk egg in a second bowl until well-combined and light colored, about 20 seconds. Add sugar and whisk vigorously until thick and homogenous, about 30 seconds; add melted butter in 2 or 3 additions, whisking to combine after each addition. Add sour cream in 2 additions, whisking just to combine.

4. Add berries to the dry ingredients (step 2) and gently toss just to combine. Add sour cream mixture (step 3) and fold until batter comes together and barriers are evenly distributed.

5. Using large spoon sprayed with nonstick cooking spray divide batter among the greased muffin cups. Bake until the muffins are light golden brown and a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin come out clean, 25-30 minutes.

Red Quinoa-Avocado Salad

I found this recipe in Wegmans Menu magazine. The salad looked so good that I had to try it.

7 oz of red quinoa (Wegmans Food You Feel Good About)
12 oz corn
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup green onions
2 diced plum tomatoes
2 avocados (small cubes)
1/2 cup lemon vinaigrette
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Add cooked quinoa, corn, cilantro, green onions, tomatoes, and avocados to a mixing bowl. Add dressing until well combined. Season with salt and pepper.

Serves 10

Active time: 20 min

Matchstick Pasta with Pistachio Sauce

This recipe was introduced to me by my coworker and you can find it here.  The ingredients include  kale, pomegranate seeds, and pistachio sauce. The recipe asks for a whole grain linguine but this one was made with regular linguine. This is my favorite cold dish!

Key Lime Pie

I’ve tried to make key lime pie from different recipes but it never came out as good as this one. Thanks to Jess for the recipe, not sure where she got it.

  • 20 graham crackers (crushed into a fine crumb)
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter (melted)
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed key lime juice (4 limes)
  • 2 tsp lime zest

Crust: Mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter. Press the crust mix into a 9” pie plate. Bake at 350F for 10-12 min until lightly browned then let cool.

Filling: Beat egg yolks with a mixer until they are thick. Add condensed milk and mix on low speed. Add lime juice in small portions and mix on low speed. Lastly, add the lime zest and continue to mix until blended. Pour the mixture into the pie shell and bake for another 12 min (350F) to set the yolk and kill any salmonella.

NOTE: The pie filling may appear runny at first and still a little loose after coming out of the oven. The filling will set while cooling and should hold together just fine after completely cool. After it has cooled to room temperature, store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Stir-Fry with Scallops & Shrimp

It looks like Rochester, NY is having an early spring. The warm weather inspired us to make this stir-fry yesterday. We started off by dusting the scallops and shrimp in pan-searing flour then pan-fried until brown. The remainder of the stir-fry consisted of snow peas, broccoli, and red peppers seasoned with Wegmans Asian Classics stir-fry sauce. Additionally we made fried rice and onions using Kikkoman fried rice seasoning mix, which was pretty tasty.

We assembled everything together and voilà! Only thing missing was vino but we made jasmine tea instead in our lovely teapot from Leticia & Brian.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Spicy Chicken Tagine with Apricots, Rosemary, & Ginger

This was our first time cooking with a tagine. We followed the relatively simple recipe, added the ingredients to the tagine, and let it gently simmer for 35-40 minutes.

Meanwhile, we started cooking couscous and sweet potatoes to have on the side.

Finally, for the desert we made my favorite chocolate mousse, which was then chilled in the fridge, and the meal was complete.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Fruit Tart aka Tartalekta

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 stick of butter (softened)
  • 1 1/4 cups of flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda + 1/4 tsp vinegar
  • 7oz can of condensed milk
  • 1 stick of butter (softened)
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1 tsp jam (strawberry or preferred flavor) per tart
  • Fresh fruit (kiwi, strawberry, raspberry, etc.)
  1. Mix egg yolks and sugar until all sugar is dissolved
  2. Add softened butter and manually mix until combined (do not use electrical mixer from here on)
  3. Add mixture of backing soda + vinegar and mix until combined
  4. Add flour and mix until combined
  5. Now you are ready to start forming the dough in the tart pans (grease the pans). Press into the tart pan such that dough is 1/8 in thick on all sides
  6. Bake them for 375F for 15-20 minutes (until they are golden brown)

Cream: take softened butter and mix well in an electric mixer until it's fluffy. Next, slowly add condensed milk until thoroughly mixed.

Allow the tarts to cool in their pans and then remove them. Spread the jam on each tart, then add the cream. Lastly, add fresh fruit on the top.

Laury's Restaurant Charleston, WV

We went to Laury's restaurant for birthday celebration. We had french onion soup, Caribbean Bouillabaisse (Spicy Tomato Soup with Italian Sausage, shrimp, Scallop, Clams, and Mussels), leg of lamb, steak, vegetarian delight, and roasted duck.

As for the deserts they had quite a selection. We had Crème Caramel and Bananas Foster (bananas foster was prepared table-side).

Breakfast on the Deck

Breakfast defines your entire day. On a nice summer morning, we enjoy having breakfast on the deck. We usually have some soft boiled eggs, waffles, Canadian bacon, fresh fruit, and orange mixed with cranberry juice.