Saturday, October 31, 2009

Lacey's Chipotle Acorn Squash Sauced Enchilada's


2009 is the first year I've ever experimented with any kind of winter squash. I grew up on zucchini, yellow squash and my all time favorite patty pan's, but winter squash? Well...I can barely handle one sliver of pumpkin pie much less eating a winter squash as the main thing on my dinner plate. Ew. But this year however, I've rocked the winter squash. I made a ton of butternut squash and bleu cheese raviolis which are to die for good. This recipe though, this is one of the best things I've made in a very long time. Not. Kidding. (And it's not something to be baked really, so it was a shoe-in that I wouldn't fuck it up!)

Ingredients for the Enchilada Sauce:
1/2 baked acorn squash pulp- I love that you can buy them and pretty much ignore them for a month and they are still going to be good, unlike most veggies.
1/2 can Chipotle Peppers in Adobo sauce
1 garlic clove
1/2 yellow onion
sea salt to taste
1 tbsp butter (organic)
1 tbsp evoo (organic)
1/4 cup cream (organic)
3/4 cup chicken or veggie broth (organic)
Put this all in a food processor and blend the heck out of it till its creamy and smooth. It will be thick. You can thin it out if you prefer by adding more broth. A note here about the cream, you could use milk I suppose, but I had dipped my finger in the adobo sauce and it was super spicy. Cream helped tone down the spiciness of the sauce while keeping the richness of the squash intact. That is what I wanted. Milk=less calories. Cream=creamy goodness and better flavor. You choose.

At this point you could choose to use hamburger or turkeyburger, etc. but this sauce ain't your mama's enchilada sauce in a can. No Ma'am. Get buck wild! Go in a different direction.
1 precooked chicken breast (yes, organic)
1ish cups of Chantrelle mushrooms (no I didn't go out and pick them myself. Costo people!)
2 cups fresh spinach chopped (organic)
Cayenne powder to taste
1/4 cup enchilada sauce
Saute everything together in a pan until the mushrooms are just cooked and spinach is wilted.

As we are a family of three, one of whom is 3 years old and has Hand Foot and Mouth Virus at the moment (talk about a total freaking nightmare), I used 8 corn tortillas and saute'd one side of the tortilla in the enchilada sauce and evoo to soften them up.
I grated up 2/3's cup of 3 year old smoked gouda (Costco), filled the tortillas with meat, mushrooms and spinach mixture and layered the enchiladas into a cookie sheet. Down the middle of the enchiladas I spooned more sauce on top of the shells, sprinkled the gouda and put in the oven to bake for 15-20 minutes. I didn't spread the sauce all over the tortillas because I wanted the outside edges to be crispy deliciousness. And they were, they were!
There is nothing not to love about these enchiladas. They are creamy. They are spicy and rich. They are fantastic!

Credit where credit is due, I got this idea from my mom. Mom called to tell me about seeing Emeril make some enchilada dish with a squash this week on tv. So credit by way of mom by way of Emeril this sauce is an inspired delicacy.
As my husband and I were sitting at the table munching our enchiladas (more like inhaling them!), we came up with another idea for this sauce. Because it is thick and spicy and rich already, I am adding 1/2 cup of peanutbutter to it tomorrow night and using it over rice noodles, al dente veggies and shrimp for a thai peanut sauce!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Melissa's Drunken and Smoked Up Fudge

Drunken & Smoked Up Fudge

Sounds like this fudge has a bit of a substance abuse problem! All I can say is after one taste of this decadent fudge, you may walk away with an addiction of your own...IF you can still walk!

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
16 ounces Ghiradelli Chocolate
1 cup chopped Smoked Almonds
1 1/2 tablespoons Chambord Liquor
1 1/2 teaspoons Creme Fraiche
1/2 teaspoon almond extract


Butter an 8-inch square baking pan and line with plastic wrap. Combine 4 tablespoons butter, sugar, cream, and salt in a saucepan. Over medium heat, bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Continue boiling, stirring frequently, to a temperature of 230 degrees F. This will take about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate with a whisk until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Add 1 cup chopped almonds and the liqueur and flavorings; stir to blend. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 2 to 3 hours. Remove the top layer of plastic wrap and flip the pan upside down on a cutting board or platter. Let stand at room temperature for a few minutes then cut into small pieces.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Lacey's Jameson Soaked Raisin Bread Pudding

First and foremost: Heat up the left over coffee in a mug, pour a knuckles worth of Jameson's in, add some cream and sugar and get yer drink on. Drinking Jameson's while using it to cook is a must. A must.
Second, put 1/2 cup of raisins in a bowl and pour enough of the same Whiskey over them to just drown them. Cover with cellophane and set aside on counter for 48ish hours. Keep drinking those Jameson's and coffee (aka Irish Coffee). They are good and good for ya. I know from personal experience.
Jameson family motto "Sine Metu" - Without Fear. In other words -this Irish Family does not fuck around with their booze making. Drink it at home. At least that way you can stumble to your own bed if you drink too much of it. It can hit you hard and fast and you won't even know it. The good thing about this recipe is that the alcohol bakes off (I think), so it's safe to eat at for breakfast or bring to a potluck. (Slip a flask of the whiskey in your pocket and you're golden).

In a bowl mix the following:
2 cups milk
1 cup cream
3/4 cup sugar (I prefer brown but only had white at the moment)
3 eggs
3 tbsp melted butter
1/2 sliced and diced peach (optional)
Jameson soaked raisins and the whiskey they marinated in
Another pull of whiskey (optional, but come on! Do it!)

Cut up half a loaf of french bread and dice it into cubes no bigger than an inch. Dump the bread in the bowl with the liquid and stir it up so bread is evenly coated.

Pour bread mix in a casserole pan. Mine is a pretty green deep set dish that will have to cook longer. I believe this much woulf fit into a 9x9 pan. (At this point I prefer to put the casserole pan in the fridge for 24 hours before I cook it so the milk miture really soaks into the bread and becomes more custard like, but I didn't have time for it today). Bake it for 35ish minutes on 350 degrees. Once the top is crusty and golden it is done.

If you don't have any Jameson's in the house and don't want to spend $25ish for it, you can buy a cheaper brand of whiskey, bourbon or even rum to use. If you don't drink simply leave the alcohol out all together.
I've never met a person who didn't like bread pudding in one form or another. Personally savory bread puddings are my favorite to make and eat, but this was a nice change. And since I had my parents over night it worked out perfectly to serve for breakfast!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Booze Week!!!!!!


“Scuuuuse me occifer *hiccup*…I didn’t MEAN to drive *hiccup* (while swaying) into the back of your cruuuuusier…I certainly HAVE NOT been drinking…I just had one too many Irish Crème brownies or maybe too much Irish Creme IN my brownies…*hiccup*”

Brownies you say? Yes, brownies. Or whatever food we may whip up with a little booze.

Last week, 3 of the 4 cake recipes were cake-zasters. Maybe we should’ve gotten a little liquored up before we started. Anyway…we love cooking with alcohol. Sometimes, we even put it in the food.

Liquor and liqueur can add a distinctive flavor to both savory and sweet recipes without making you tipsy. There are a vast number of wonderful recipes which use some form of alcohol as an ingredient in sauces, marinades or as a main flavor ingredient. In general, the main reason any alcoholic beverage is used in a recipe is to impart flavor. Alcohol causes many foods to release flavors that cannot be experienced without the alcohol interaction. Beer contains yeast which leavens breads and batters. Some alcoholic beverages can help break down tough fibers via marinades. Other dishes use alcoholic content to provide entertainment, such as flambes and flaming dishes.

Our recipes this week will feature some sort of booze in them. Check back and see what we can do with a little alcohol

In the meantime, click here to enjoy the drinker’s alphabet. Drinker's Alphabet

Now GO!!!! Get ya drink on! (Or your brownies...)

Melissa's Mexican Chocolate Pound Cake

Mexican Chocolate Pound Cake

Who doesn't love a good pound.....cake? I do. Pound cakes are one of my specialties. But again, my role here is to evoke and encourage you to step outside your comfort zone...push yourself to new culinary heights...bake a pound cake like one has never been baked before! So, this will NOT be your grandmother's traditional, sissy pound cake nibbled with tea or coffee. Oh no, THIS will be a masterpiece of epic proportion....WE ARE USING MEXICAN CHOCOLATE WITH CAYENNE! Yes, we are. YES, you ARE. ....and you will like it!

***WARNING: If you are not familiar with baking pound cakes, I will advise you they are highly temperamental. Do not run, jump, shut a door, walk through your home, have any type of physical relations, turn on the water, multi task of any sort, yell, hell whisper for that matter, or breathe heavy. Your best best is to leave your home from the time you place the cake in the oven until it's time to come out. I am not kidding. I have lost many a pound cake to a good solid Carolina Gamecocks Touchdown. (Think I'm, no.) If you do any of these things the cake WILL know. It will fall...Just to prove a point. Pound cakes will throw a two year old temper tantrum and you will be stuck with a pan of half baked, half fallen, half

So with that said, let's get baking!

1 cup butter
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
3 cups sugar
6 eggs
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup Mexican Cocoa with Chilis
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. cayenne (YES that says Cayenne...TRUST ME!)
In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and shortening with sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Combine flour, baking powder, cocoa and cayenne. Add flour mixture alternately with milk and vanilla to the butter mixture. Mix well. Pour into greased tube pan without removable bottom. Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until cake tests done. Cool 15 minutes before removing cake from pan. Cool on wire rack.

Now comes the best part. You HAVE to taste test while it's warm. If baked correctly you'll have a nice crispy top crust with an amazing chocolate flavor heightened by the cayenne. This will not burn you a new asshole as one might think, as long as you only use the amounts given.

I will tell you this...I entered this cake in the state fair this year and boy THAT cake gave Judge grandma quite a surprise!!! Bon apetit'!

PS: Unlike my counterparts, this is a successful cake recipe you can absolutley try at home!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Lacey's FML Rainbowish Lemon Drop Cupcakes

So..Cake week was supposed to be fun. I mean, its cake! I even bought a box of organic cake mix thinking to myself "it's boxed, I cannot screw this up!" Unfortunately sweets+baking=a whole lot of cussing reared its ugly head again and guess what? We tasted the rainbow, but the cupcakes looked more like a crusty rain puddle. Now I cannot say I didn't have fun while making these as I had my 3 year old daughter Gracie help me and she loves to cook, (or mostly get in the way, but who's complaining? I definitely don't want to discourage the girl) but still. I want pretty cupcakes. Not blown out holes in the middle cupcakes!

If you look up rainbow cupcakes on the internet you find these gorgeously colored cupcakes with blues, reds, yellows, etc. and pretty piped frosting on top. They look like a dream and I couldn't wait to make them. So we get our ingredients layed out...boxed organic cake, three eggs, two tbsp melted butter, vanilla, food coloring, lemon drops crushed up in a baggie, cupcake liners, etc.

We mix the boxed cake, eggs, candy, butter...divide the batter up into four bowls, add food coloring to each and stir it up. Next, line the cupcake tin and start spooning in the colored batter in the liners color by color. Pop them in the oven for 12 minutes at 350. Dunzo.
At 12 minutes I look in the oven and see that the cupcakes have WAY overstepped their cupcake liner bounds and are jumping OUT all over the damn place. But they look wet still, shiny. So I let them cook for another two minutes. I mean at this point, what does it matter. They are gonna look like colorful chantrelle mushrooms rather than the perfectly formed visions I saw on the internet.

Apparently the shiny was the three eggs the organic cake mix called for! After thinking about it, WTF is that all about? I've never seen a Betty fucking Crocker call for 3 eggs! Now my cupcakes are cookie on top, cupcake on the bottom. Okay.

I whip the whip cream with sugar and vanilla, add in a ton of the crushed lemon drops and whip some more, so its really stiff. I put all of that into a baggie, cut the tip off and squirt it out onto the cupcake. I was going for a dreamy creamy look, but honestly it looks like soft white dog poop on a colorful chantrelle mushroom on a plate. FML. Gracie wants sprinkles, so we dress the poopshroom up with some purple and pink sugar and eat up.
I gotta say, the cupcake tasted pretty damn good for what they looked like. I am going to buy this boxed cake again to make batter as listed on the box and then make cookies with it. I mean, surely I could do that right? It involves over baking and all...right?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Nikki's Fabulous Weight Loss Mini Carrot Cake Cupcakes!!!

"Gauranteed to make you lose weight"
*disclaimer, you will only lose weight if your only food option is Nikki's Fabulous Weight Loss Mini Carrot Cake Cupcakes*

I've made carrot cake layered in cream cheese icing several times and am quite convinced that while carrot cake is good, cream cheese frosting was invented by angels who, in their infinite generosity, deigned to share their gloriously luscious creation with us mere mortals who are entirely undeserving of its magnificence... in other words: cream cheese frosting is YUM! However I am attempting to be healthy and have been thinking about making a healthified version of carrot cake for awhile. Also I love anything in miniature, there's something about bite sized foods that make my heart go pitter pat... maybe its the fact that I can eat THREE bite sized brownies/cookies/cupcakes/perogis for every ONE normal size one... and three is way better than one... right? So, I geared up to create the most amazingly delicious desert that anyone had ever tasted. I had already invisioned myself handing out the beautiful little confections to my friends and coworkers, being ever so modest as they showered me with compliments, sharing in their astonoshment that these dainty morsels of ambrosial perfection were actually *gasp* HEALTHY!

yeah... it didnt quite go like that...

I started with my basic carrot cake recipe that has never failed me before, it calls for such fattening delights as buttermilk, oil, butter, cream cheese and above all SUGAR! I started editing from there and decided that I could sub out applesauce & mashed banana for the oil, and since those are so sweet on their own I surely wouldn't need sugar. I replaced the buttermilk with greek yogurt and replaced some of the white flour with a Bob's Red Mill high fiber cereal. I guess I should have sensed that this wasn't going to work out after my new gadget didnt work... I found this mandoline style slicer/grater thingy for only $3.99 at my local discount store... yes I do realize that if its $3.99 there's a reason... and its not that the benevolent manufacturers created such an amazing product that they just HAD to share it with the world with no concern about profit... anyway it was plastic and POSSIBLY would be good for grating something really soft... like velveta... although that might still be to hard... but never fear I have my black & decker handy chopper and although it took several batches to come up with 2 cups of carrots they were perfectly evenly pulverized... I added all my ingredients (seriously they tasted so bad I'm not going to bother giving you the breakdown... you don't want to know it!) and tasted the dough... it wasn't bad... it wasn't a dainty morsel of ambrosial perfection yet... but hey my regular carrot cake isn't really that amazing uncooked either.

So I lined my mini muffin pan with cheerful rainbow liners and filled them with the dough, popped them in my oven and sat back to wait for the magic to happen... They smelled amazing which I decided was a preliminary indicator of their impending magnificence. After checking them several times I decided they weren't going to fully set no matter how long they baked so I pulled them out, let them cool a few minutes and (slighlty giddily) took the first bite... and almost spit it out... This couldnt be! My perfect little treats were... BITTER?!?!?! I tasted another one (yeah yeah I know they all came from the same bowl of dough, if one is nasty they all are gonna be... but a girl can hope right?) that one was gross too so that batch went in the trash. After agonizing consideration I decided that I should add some sugar... not a lot, just 1/3 cup to balance the bitterness a bit... enough that I was already feeling the first twinges of failure though... these would not be the perfectly healthy delights I had envisioned... That didnt work either and I finally gave up for the night. I froze the remaining dough just in case I come up with a blast of inspiration on how to fix it (suggestions? anyone?) cleaned up the mess and got a glass of wine to console myself... I take culinary imperfection very personally...

I won't go into detail on how I managed to screw up the cream cheese icing... suffice it to say it wasn't much better than the cupcakes...

Friday, October 16, 2009


Cupcakes, birthday cakes, spiced cakes, fondant cakes, boxed cakes, scratch cakes, Cake the band. Millions of kinds of cakes. It’s sweet, it’s fluffy, it’s delicious. Sometimes it's even nutritious. Wedding cakes, anniversary cakes, better-than-sex-cakes and now divorce cakes. There are Beefcakes, piece of cakes, and loving you like fat kids love cakes. We heart cakewalks. And we let them eat cakes! Ode to CAKE!

Up next week: Alcohol! Yeay us!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Nikki's Savory Sausage Squash Casserole

Ok a quick disclaimer: you're going to see me do a LOT of cooking with italian sausage. Aside from the fact that every girl loves a bit of sausage (wink wink) italian sausage is an EXTREMELY easy ingrediant to cook with, its pre-seasoned, you can serve it whole, slice it into chunks or squeeze it out of the skins and use it as ground meat. It also adds a lot of flavor for a small cost to everything from soups to burgers to casseroles. I don't have a ton of discretionary income for fancy spices and I'm perpetually either running late home from work or making dinner in the middle of finishing up work (hubby's not such a fan of the air card that enables me to access work email 24-7... sorry babe, a girls gotta stay connected in the corporate world!) so I need easy ingrediants that give a ton of flavor for minimal effort & cost.

Now that thats out of the way, ON TO THE COOKING! woo hoo!

Now aside from my love of sausage, I also love finding alternative healthier ingrediants for really filling foods. Most casseroles call for things like cream of chicken or mushroom soup (holy high sodium!), potatoes or pastas, what I'm going to share with you today uses squash with just a little milk & eggs to bind it all together. If you've never had squash before or have and weren't a fan, stay with me here, I gaurantee this is going to taste 1,000 times better than what you're imagining right now!

Oh and before I start I'll add a disclaimer for any vegetarians out there, this dish can very easily be converted to veggie-friendly by replacing the suasage with mushrooms. Keep in mind though that I'm using the sausage for much of my flavor so you'll want to add more seasings. I'd recomend 1-2 tsp each italian seasoning, cumin, salt & pepper, and double the chili powder & red pepper flakes that I'm using.

You'll need one small or half of a large butternut squash. Cut the squash in half and scoop the seeds out of the bell part. If you're one of those that shouldn't be trusted with sharp objects (you know who you are!) please have a loved one handle this part... Now put the squash cut side down into a baking dish with about 1 inch of water and stick it in the oven at 375 for 40-45 minutes or until you can very easily pierce it with a fork.

While the squash is baking you can start on the rest of the casserole. You'll need about a pound of hot italian sausage. Normally I go for turkey but the regular pork sausage links were on sale this week so thats what I'll be using. Squeeze the meat out of the skins and put in a big skillet (if you're using turkey I'd recommend spraying with Pam first!) and break into chunks. Cook over medium-high heat continuing to break apart until there's no more pink. This sausage is a bit greasy so I'm putting it on a plate with some paper towels to soak up some of it.

Pour off the excess grease then put 1 small onion, diced, into the skillet to cook over medium-high heat. I didn't clean out the skillet so that I wouldnt need to add any more oil & so the onions would absorb some of the flavorings. If you're using turkey the you'll need to add some oil. Add about 1 tablespoon of diced garlic and allow to cook.

While the onions cook dice up 3-4 sweet bell peppers (you want about 1 cup). Now I'll share my top secret way to cut peppers with ease... I think I saw it on some Food Network show... anway:
1) slice off the very top of the pepper (don't worry if the stem is still attached)
2) turn the pepper and slice off the very bottom
3) make a cut straight down the side
4) peel the pepper away from the seeds & stem and discard
5) vioala! you now have a nice sheet of pepper that is rediculously easy to slice into strips :)
Toss the peppers into the onions and add 1 cup of frozen corn. Cook over medium heat until everything is heated through and add 1 tsp chili powder & 1 tsp red pepper flakes and toss the sausage into the mix. Remove from heat and set aside while you deal with the squash.

In a medium sized bowl combine two egg whites with two whole eggs and mix them up well.

At this point the squash should be done baking (can you easily stick a fork in it?) carefully take it out of the oven and scoop the insides out. When I say carefully... I really mean it... its HOT! Put a very little bit of the hot squash guts into the eggs to temper them (if you dump all the squash in at once it'll start cooking them and you'll have chunks of scrambled eggs in your casserole... which you might like... however its not what I was going for... Anyway add just a little bit at first then dump the rest in and mix it up. You can use a hand mixer, however I just LOVE any opportunity to use one of my FAVORITE cooking gadgets: the pastry cutter!!! (cue angels!). Now I'm not sure that I've ever used the pastry cutter for actual pastry cutting... however its EXCELLENT for making chunky mashed potatos or sweet pototo soufle... and it looks like an impressive cooking tool... Mix the squash & eggs together and add about 1/4 cup milk (I used 1%) then add the meat & veggies, give them a stir and dump them out into a casserole dish (pre-sprayed with Pam). Top with about 1/2 cup shredded low fat cheese & another tsp of chili powder and stick that bad boy back in the oven at 375 for 20 minutes and you have dinner!

One of the things I love about squash is its versatility, this recipe was adapted from a similar one that called for potatoes (it also tripled the cheese & added cream of chicken soup but we won't go there today) If you're watching your carbs & calories squash is a GREAT tradeoff and can be used in a TON of different things. Squash has half of the calories & carbs as potatoes and in this recipe if you didnt know the squash was there all you'd notice is a orangey color that most would attribute to more cheese. Don't get me wrong now I love potatoes in all of their baked, fried & smushed forms, and potatoes DO have twice the protein & potassium, but to shave off some extra calories I'll gladly make this swap :)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Melissa’s "Q+FM”

Is your curiosity peaked? Are you wondering? Do I have your undivided attention? Hmmm? I mean anything goes in THIS column, right? Sounds like a bad word doesn’t it? …or something you’d create in the bathroom, not the kitchen. (She giggles.) Well, this week, you’re safe…this IS in fact, created in the kitchen, with all natural, (hehe), EDIBLE, ingredients. What were you thinking? Jeez…

Over the weekend, we welcomed friends from out of town to our home. While planning for their visit, I was also planning this week’s casserole column. I thought what better way to welcome our friends down south, and combine my two tasks at hand, than with some ole’ fashioned southern comfort food! (They’re Yankees. We forgive them for that.) To me, comfort food=casserole = none other than Mac N Cheese! I mean really guys, what else?

Wait! What? The Gourmet is going to make…macaroni and cheese? Absolutely! Macaroni and cheese has gotten a bad crap wrap since the invention of the crap in a box…no offense Kraft. Trust me, in this recipe you will not find a cardboard box, or any packets of cheese like powdered substances. You KNOW any old mac n cheese, simply will not do here. What we need to do is add some pizzazz! We need umph! We need to be creative and let our real, unprocessed, cheeses flow! WE are going to create a masterpiece of pasta and cheese, an adulterous affair of beautiful, sexy, flavors…we are going to create…drum roll please… Quattro+ Formaggio Macaroni.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1-inch thick piece pancetta, cut into small dice
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cans evaporated milk
3 eggs
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh chives
1 teaspoon paprika
2 1/2 cups freshly grated Asiago cheese , plus more for the top
1 1/2 cups New York Cheddar
1/2 cups Shropshire Blue (Or your favorite Bleu Cheese)
1 cup grated Fontina cheese, plus more for the top
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus more for the top
½ cup Grated Percorino
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound elbow macaroni, cooked
1/2 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Preheat your oven to 350 and butter your bottom…of the dish. Although that does give me some ideas for later…Heat your oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat and brown the pancetta until crisp. Place your pancetta on a separate plate reserving your cooking oil to begin your roux, a fancy name for crap that will thicken your mac n cheese. Whisk the flour into the reserved oil and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Then whisk in your evaporated milk, increase your heat and continue whisking constantly until your mixture is thickened. You now have a roux. Next, whisk in the eggs until incorporated and let cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the herbs and seasonings, and all of the cheese until completely melted. If you want to add some cheese to the top, reserve about ½ cup for that purpose. If not, throw it all in.
Place the cooked macaroni in a large bowl, add the cheese sauce, pancetta and parsley and stir well. Next put the mixture into your buttered bottom dish. If you reserved cheese for the top, add it now. Bake your mac n cheese until the top is lightly golden brown, 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and enjoy!

Now there is the REAL way to enjoy REAL macaroni with REAL cheese. Now that you have no excuses on how to prepare or enjoy REAL mac, n REAL cheese, please don’t let me catch you with any cardboard boxes in the future. It could get ugly. Save those for the recycling plant!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Lacey's Mixed up Vegetarian Lasagna Casserole

I don't make many casseroles, but when I do I make them on Sunday night so all I have to do when I get home Monday is pop them in the oven to cook. I don't know what it is about Monday nights but by the time I get home I am dead ass tired and want nothing more than to sit down and not move until it's time to go to bed. I've got a few casseroles up my sleeves that I can make on a dime, but for this week's blog posting I really wanted to try something different. Plus I had a major hankering for lasagna but did not want to go to the trouble of making it.

Casserole = Yummyness in a pan, easy and quick. Lasagna = Delicious, not easy and definitely not quick. Oh and to make a lasagna usually means spending about $25ish in cold hard cash. Luckily this time I had every single ingredient already in the fridge or my garden. Another thing I look for in a casserole is the "one stop meal" effect. I don't want to have to make anything else with it. I want all the food groups covered in that one pot. This recipe fits that bill nicely.

I perused the internet and found a recipe by that blonde mogul everyone loves to hate even though we all use her recipes and products. She calls it Pasta Cake. Since I'm not flipping mine out of a springform pan onto a cake plate for a dinner party, I'm calling mine a casserole. So take that Bitch! Ha!

My recipe is a bit different than the one on the internet, here it is:
Pasta - I used left over fresh scraps from raviolis I made a week ago. I'd say it was about 3 cups worth.
Ricotta cheese - I had fat free, the smaller container
Parmesan cheese - 1 cup grated (I used Grana Padana) -keep 1/4 cup aside for topping the casserole
Eggs - three organic
Fresh Tomatoes - 6-8 chopped up (from my garden)
Eggplant - one..or you can use zucchini (from my garden)
Spinach - chopped. Three cups if you were to stuff it into a measuring cup
Garlic - 6-8 cloves chopped into chunks
Onion - one whole chopped
Evoo as needed for pan
Spices - italian seasoning, salt, pepper
(An even easier version of this recipe would be to substitute out the fresh veggies for canned diced tomatoes, and hamburger, turkey burger or sausage).

I also had some butternut squash left over and chunked it up and added it to the mix - don't. It was too dry after cooking. (I'm just adding this because you might see it in the pics below).

Turn oven on 425, chop up tomatoes, onion, garlic and eggplant. Toss lightly in evoo, spread over a cookie sheet and roast for about 25 minutes.

Boil your pasta in water and about 1 tbsp salt (trust me, it really does make all the flavor difference if you add alot of salt) and 1/4 tsp evoo so the noodles don't stick together.

In a large bowl, mix eggs, ricotta, about 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper and 1 tbsp italian seasoning. Once the veggies are done roasting, add them and the pasta to this bowl and mix everything together. Coat a 9x12 pan (or a large round one like I've got), dump all the ingredients in and spread out flat. Sprinkle the rest of the Parm on top and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until bubbling and golden brown.

Once out of the oven, let the casserole sit for about 5-10 minutes to both cool and set up. Slice it up and let your family dig in. Not only have you saved time, you will probably have left overs for lunch the next day or another dinner later in the week.