Monday, May 29, 2006


I tried two appetizer type recipes last week and both were winners around our house!
The first was a dip I have been wanting to try for a while. It comes from Giada de Laurentis cookbook, Everyday Italians, and received rave reviews from those who tried it.
Now I know why! This dip has the perfect balance of creaminess and flavor. The white beans have a delicate flavor and smooth texture, both characteristics that paired with the lemon juice and parsley turned into a delicious and tasty concoction. I loved this one and will definitely repeat!
My favorite dip is hummus, and this recipe now comes in a close second on my list!
I served the dip with baked pita chips that I made, a delicious contrast of crispy and crunchy chips with the creamy dip.
The dip is also good served with crunchy veggies on the side, I like carrots, cherry tomatoes and red bell peppers too!
The second recipe I tried was a Mini Quiche. I attended a baby shower in which we were all supposed to bring in a dish, and since I was assigned to a savory one, I opted for this one.
I actually came up with a recipe myself, after reading through several other ones. The crust was great, and actually my favorite part here! It was extremely easy to work with and came out very tasty and crispy. I enjoyed this crust a lot and will definitely use it again when making this kind of tartlets. I even think they would be good in sweet little tarts, I guess omitting the salt and adding some sugar to the dough would work well here (but make sure to use unsalted butter!).
For the filling I basically used what I had in the fridge, and it worked out quite well.
I made it into mini quiches, so that it would be easy to eat, but I guess it should work just as well if baked into a quiche pan. Just be sure to adjust the baking time.
Everybody liked the mini quiche at the baby shower, and I was very happy to hear they were a lot better than store bought ones!
Two new recipes to try, and if you like creamy foods as I do, be sure to try the dip, it is really good!

White Bean Dip
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil, plus 4 tablespoons
1/4 cup (loosely packed) fresh Italian parsley leaves
Freshly ground black pepper

Place the beans, garlic, lemon juice, 1/3 cup olive oil, and parsley in the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is coarsely chopped. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer the bean puree to a small bowl.
For the pita chips I simply cut the pita bread into pieces, season them with salt, pepper and olive oil, and bake at 350 for about 5 minutes. Talk about easy and good!

Mini Quiches

1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup cold butter, cut into small pieces (1 stick)
3 ounces chilled cream cheese, cut into small pieces

Mix everything together in a bowl. Using a pastry blender, or two knives (as I did!), cut the butter and cream cheese into the flour until it resembles coarse meal. With your hands form the dough into a ball, shape into a log and wrap with plastic wrap. Chill for about 1 hour. (You can use a food processor here; I guess it would be a lot easier if I had one!)
Cut the log into 24 pieces and press then into 24-cup mini muffin pan. While you make the filling put these on the freezer to firm up.

3/4 cup grated white cheddar cheese

¼ cup ham, chopped finely

2 eggs

1/3 cup heavy cream (or half-half)

Chopped herbs (I used fresh oregano)

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine grated cheese and ham in a small bowl. In another bowl mix eggs, heavy cream, salt, pepper and herbs. Sprinkle the ham/cheese mixture into the muffin tins, then spoon in the egg mixture into the shells.Bake it at 350 F for about 30 minutes.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Strawberry Muffins!
As you already know, I love baking muffins, so in order to use up some of the strawberries we picked last weekend I decided to make one of the boys favorite baked treats: Strawberry Muffins!
Although definitely not my favorite, the boys really like these muffins and always wait for me to make them during the strawberry season. A couple years ago I adapted a recipe from a cookbook I had (after making it as the original and not liking it much) and came up with this one.
These muffins are very moist and have a nice pink hue to them. They are very easy to make and also simple in its complexity. To improve the flavor you can add grated orange rind, as the strawberry-orange combo is a pretty nice one. However, I was out of oranges yesterday and ended up leaving it out, but the muffins came out ok!
The original recipe called for all-purpose flour; I normally use whole-wheat flour in my baked goods, but opted for a combination of the two here, as these muffins are quite delicate. I also added about ½ cup oats to the batter, as it always seems too liquid to me, and it worked well, it was just enough to get the batter together without adding heaviness to it (with a bonus of some added nutrients too!)
I find this a little on the sweet side, but the boys (Matheus and the Husband) enjoy it just like it is! I decreased the sugar amount from the original recipe, and you can add or take out based on your own taste.
Hope you enjoy this one, and it seems we will have some more strawberry goodies, as there are still some strawberries around (and we are already planning to go pick some more!).


Strawberry Muffins 

1 2/3 cup fresh strawberries, halved 
2 eggs
1/3 cup grape seed oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour (I use 1 cup whole wheat, ½ cup all-purpose)

1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350
Line muffin tin with baking cups or grease with coconut oil, reserve.
In a large bowl mash strawberries with a fork, add sugar, oil, egg and vanilla and mix well.
Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt and mix well just until all incorporated.
Pour batter into muffin cups and bake at pre-heated oven for about 18 minutes.
Makes 11 to 12 muffins depending on the size of your muffin tins.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Strawberries Anyone?!?!?!

Just a quick post to show some of the strawberries we picked at a nearby strawberry farm! Aren't they gorgeous?! Sweet and Juicy too!! Yum!
We froze most of them, for future use and smoothie making, but some of them are in the fridge, and I know they won't last long...
Watch for some strawberry recipes coming up soon!

Savory Ricotta Pie

I had some ricotta to use up last week before we headed out for the beach and came up with this recipe. Savory Ricotta Pie was a spur of the moment creation and ended up being a very good dish!
I used a store bought whole wheat pie crust that I had in the freezer, and mixed together the filling in a matter of minutes, making this a very quick and satisfying dinner all in one!
We all liked this a lot, which means it will probably be repeated here. Which is a good thing, because this recipe is so basic that the possibilities for variations are endless. You can add basically anything you like, different cheeses, a variety of veggies, really, you can make up your own pie using the base I used for the ricotta filling. Just make sure you don’t use any wet ingredients, so the pie won’t be soggy.
I used diced fresh tomatoes that I seasoned with salt, pepper, olive oil and oregano, put them on a sieve and let them drain while I pre-baked the crust and made the filling.
The pie filling was very tasty; the ricotta was moist and did set up nicely. The tomatoes and oregano just complemented the whole thing bringing a lot of flavor to the dish. Basil would be great here too!
One combination I love is ricotta and spinach, so I will most likely be trying that one next.
Oh, and the ricotta I used here was the one I made with the recipe I posted here before (I know, I know… I am working on a recipe index, it will make our lives easier to look for previous recipes, but please be patient!!).
Hope you enjoy this one as much as we did!

Savory Ricotta Pie

1 9-inch piecrust (store bought or your favorite recipe)

2 cups ricotta

2 eggs

¼ cup grated white cheddar cheese

2 teaspoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

2 small roma tomatoes, diced

Sprigs of fresh oregano (or a teaspoon of dried)

Pre heat oven to 350 F.
Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper to taste, put them on a sieve and let it drain while you mix the filling.
Bake piecrust for about 10 minutes, remove from oven and let cool. (If desired you can brush the inside with egg white, just to create a protective coating to the crust, so it doesn’t get soggy)
Mix together the ricotta, eggs, grated cheese, olive oil, fresh oregano, and salt and pepper to taste (I usually season the ricotta first, so I can adjust the amount of salt and pepper according to my tastes without having to taste the raw egg).
Pour about ¾ of the filling into the cooled piecrust, add the tomatoes and top with remaining filling.
Bake at 350 for about 30 - 40 minutes, or until set and golden on top. Let cool before serving.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


No posts this past couple of days, but it was for a good cause. We went to the beach for the weekend and that was a lot of fun! The weather was nice, it was sunny and Matheus had a good time between playing in the sand and swimming in the pool at the hotel. Definitely one of the best trips we had around here!
As I mentioned in a previous post, the play date we were having last week (the one I made the cookies for) was rescheduled, so we decided to make a different treat for the new date. This one was even easier to make and just as good as the cookies. After all, who doesn’t like brownies, huh?!

Well, we do! And although I prefer my brownies on the simple side (with a scoop of ice cream is nice too!), this one didn’t disappoint.
With a little addition to the top, Cheesecake Brownies bring some improvement to the brownie world. These were yummy, and being the cheesecake fan he is, the Husband loved this one!

Brownies were fudgy in the middle, just as I like, and the cheesecake topping really gave them an extra twist, something to definitely consider trying if you have not had it yet!

I actually developed my own topping recipe based on others I had seen, and to be practical (and use up the box that was sitting in the pantry for a while) I used a brownie mix, but you can use your favorite recipe, it will work just the same. The picture is not that pretty, since I had to cut it while it was still a little warm, but if you wait until completely cool you should be able to get nice clean cut squares out of them.

Hope you all like it, and come back for some savory recipes this week, I have been making too much sweets lately, haven’t I?!!


Cheesecake Brownies
1package brownie mix, or your favorite recipe
4 ounces cream cheese
½ egg (yes, I thought 1 egg would be too much…)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons flour
¼ cup sugar (more or less to taste)

Prepare the brownie mix accordingly to the package instructions. Pour the batter on a 8x8 square baking pan, reserving about ¼ cup of it, set aside. In a small bowl combine all the other ingredients until well mixed and smooth. Pour the cheesecake mixture over the brownie batter, dollop with the remaining ¼ cup of reserved brownie mix. Gently run a knife into the batter to make swirls. Bake at 350 F for about 30 minutes. Do not to over bake, so start to check it at 25 minutes to see if it is not ready yet. Let cool before slicing.
Notes: if your brownie recipe yields a 9x13 baking pan, then you should double the cheesecake batter, and reserve about ½ cup of the brownie batter to dollop on top and make the swirls.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Another Turkey loaf …

I have posted a recipe for meatloaf here before, but I tried a different recipe last week (which I saw on a new TV show) and it was so good that I had to come and post it here. I actually liked it so much more than the previous recipe, that this one is now declared my favorite.
Meatloaf is not a gourmet dish by any means, but I like the way it tastes and even more the ease of preparation, and home cooking is basically this: healthy food made with love, that taste good and is easy to prepare, right?!
There is no work involved in making meatloaf other than mixing and putting it into the oven, pretty easy but tastes so good! And is versatile too, as you can shape it in any form, bake it in individual portions (using muffin or mini loaf tins), and add anything you like to it from a variety of veggies to cheeses, some people even add whole cooked eggs inside them, making it look prettier when cut through.
I usually make mine plain, sometimes adding grated carrots or zucchini; they make it moister and taste it even better.
This recipe is no different from the others, however it produced a extremely moist loaf, and better than that, it was made entirely with ground turkey breast (which usually tend to be dry).
The different ingredient here is oatmeal, it really added to the moistness of the meatloaf, and believe me, you cannot taste it at all. The one thing I added extra to the recipe was a 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese, as I think it adds a lot of flavor to this type of dish.
This now became a favorite and will definitely be repeated many times here! Give it a try!

Turkey Meatloaf
1/3 cup oats
¼ cup milk
½ onion, peeled and grated
1 pound ground turkey
¼ cup chopped red bell pepper
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (which I ommited, did not have at home)
2 tablespoons ketchup (I used tomato sauce, as I didn't want sugar added to the loaf)
¼ teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
Ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated cheese
4 ounces tomato sauce

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a small bowl, stir together the oats and milk. In a large bowl combine the turkey, oat mixture, onion, bell pepper, eggs, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, grated cheese, salt and a few grinds of pepper. Mix just until well combined.
Transfer the mixture to a loaf pan. Pour the tomato sauce over the meatloaf and sprinkle with sliced onions (if desired). Bake for about 50 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees.F.
Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 to15 minutes before slicing.
(Recipe adapted from Healthy Apetite by Ellie Krieger)

And more cookies…

We were going to have a play date last week and since we were in a chocolate chip cookie mood we decided to make some more to share with the friends. This time though I choose a slightly different recipe, with peanut butter in the dough, as I had some in the fridge that needed to be used up.
Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cookies is basically your usual recipe for chocolate chip cookies with a couple tablespoons of peanut butter added to it. I actually upped the peanut butter, adding an extra tablespoon (as I said, needed to use up the peanut butter and I wasn’t going to leave one tablespoon in the fridge anyway…), I also added and extra tablespoon of butter to it, as some people that made the cookies commented on it being a little on the dry side.
Well, ours were not dry or crumbly at all; they were actually perfect, crispy bottom, crunchy edges and chewy middle, very delicious! There were not much peanut butter flavor to it, a very subtle taste, but it definitely added to the texture of the cookies, and since I used natural peanut butter there were those tiny little pieces of ground peanuts through out the cookies, which made them taste even better!
Matheus and the Husband really liked it, and I was very pleased with the results on this one (I am not a huge fan of chocolate chip cookies…), which has already been added to our list of favorites!
If you like chocolate chip cookies do give it a try, cause these are really good!
Oh, and by the way….the play date was rescheduled and we ended up eating all the cookies ourselves during the weekend, yum!

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cookies
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg white
3/4 cup regular oats
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.
Lightly spoon all-purpose flour into a dry measuring cup, and level with a knife. Combine flour and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Place the granulated sugar, brown sugar, butter, peanut butter, vanilla extract, and egg white in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 2 minutes). Add flour mixture, 3/4 cup oats, 1/2 cup raisins, and 1/2 cup chocolate chips, stirring until ingredients are well combined. Cover and freeze cookie dough for 10 minutes.
Divide cookie dough into 30 equal portions, shaping each one into a ball. Place the dough balls 2 inches apart on baking sheets coated with cooking spray, and flatten dough balls with the bottom of a glass. Bake the dough balls at 350° for 15 minutes. Remove the cookies from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.
Yield: 30 cookies
Cooking Light, April 2004


One week without postings… I miss porting in the blog, but last week I was just not in the mood for neither cooking nor eating much. I had such a bad episode of sinus and ear infections, that food literally lost it taste for a few days. I was so congested that I could not smell or taste well the food I made. And this does not help when you like to cook and is already feeling tired with all the viruses going on inside your body.
Oh well, a week of antibiotics later and I am feeling much better! Which is good, because we are going to spend the weekend at the beach and I definitely want to be feeling good then.
Not much cooking, but Matheus and I managed to make some cookies last week. It’s been a while since we did a weekly treat for the class, so he wanted to make cookies and take to school to share with his friends.
It seems that everybody’s favorite there is chocolate chip cookies, so that is what he chose.
Bev’s Chocolate Chip Cookies is my favorite recipe for this kind of cookies. I love oatmeal and chocolate, put the two together and it cannot end in something bad! This cookies are healthier the other versions, but just as good, we all love it at home, and it was also a big success at school! Matheus came home all happy telling me all his friends liked the cookies too!!

Bev's Chocolate Chip Cookies
3/4 c rolled oats
1 c whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 c butter -- softened
1/4 c canola oil
1/3 c sugar
1/3 c packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 c chocolate chips

Grind oats in a blender or food processor. Transfer to a bowl and stir in flour, soda, and salt. Beat butter in a large bowl until fluffy. Add sugars, oil, egg, and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add dry ingredients and beat until just combined. Stir in chips. Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls onto pan. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until cookies are firm around the edges and golden on top. makes 30 small cookies.
(Recipe from Eating Well Magazine)

Sunday, May 07, 2006


The Husband sort of had a craving for Flan this weekend, so I made it yesterday for our dessert today. It was super easy to make, yet it produced a very tasty and creamy dessert! No major appliances needed for this one, just a couple ingredients, that you probably already have on hand, and you got yourself a delectable end for any meal!
I would say that the hardest part of this is making the caramel, and being fast (and careful) enough to divide it up into the ramekins before it starts to set. After that it is just mixing and pouring, popping into the oven and waiting for it to chill (which sometimes is also hard, huh?!).

Very yummy, creamy but also very light, we liked it and I already got requests to repeat this one!


½ sugar
3 eggs
2 cups milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ cup sugar (or more, to taste)

In a sauce pan heat the ½ cup sugar until it caramelizes. Divide it into 6 individual ramekins (or custard cups).
Mix the rest of ingredients in a bowl with a whisk. Divide mixture into prepared ramekins.
Put ramekins into a big baking dish, add water to the baking dish and bake the custards in a water bath at 325 for about 45 minutes. Let it cool, chill in the refrigerator. To serve, run a knife around the edge of the cup and invert onto a plate. Yum!

Friday, May 05, 2006

The ricotta, and my favorite squash

As promised, here am I with a dish using ricotta cheese, and this one was very yummy! I looked through a few recipes for Butternut Squash Lasagna and sort of came up with my own.
When I made the lasagna, I did not measure much, so I tried to figure quantities for the ingredients. Below I am sort of giving the directions as how I made mine, but you can use more or less of the ingredients, to suit your own taste. You can also make it with white (Alfredo) sauce instead of the marinara sauce, which I actually am going to try next, as I believe it may be even better than this one.
I made ours in individual bowls as I wanted to do individual portions, but a Pyrex dish will work just as well. And since the bowls were small I didn't do many layers, but in the pyrex you can do as many layers as you want. (some people like their lasagna to be "taller"!)
It was a very good and yummy dish, everybody liked it a lot at home, so I will probably be making this one again in the fall this year!
Hope you like it too!

Note: I forgot to mention in the recipe, I also added a few chopped sage leaves to the butternut squash puree when I seasoned it. I like the combination of squash and sage!

Butternut Squash and Ricotta Lasagna
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups ricotta cheese
cups butternut squash puree
about 3
cups Marinara sauce (or another pasta sauce you like)
lasagna noodles
rated fresh Parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese for topping

Season the butternut squash puree with salt and pepper, set aside. Mix the ricotta with the mozzarella cheese, set aside (you can season this mixture too if you like).
Coat the bottom and sides of a (8-inch-square) baking dish with cooking spray. Spread some sauce in the bottom. Arrange noodles to cover the bottom over sauce; spread ½ of the ricotta cheese over noodles. Arrange 1cup squash over cheese mixture; spread 1cup sauce over squash.
Arrange more noodles over sauce; spread remaining cheese mixture over the noodles, and then 1cup of the sauce over it.
Make another layer of noodles over sauce; spread remaining sauce evenly over noodles. Sprinkle with Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses, cover baking dish with aluminum foil. Bake at 35o° for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 20 minutes.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Homemade Ricotta

I tried this recipe for Homemade Ricotta a while ago and just fell in love with it. Homemade cheese is totally different from the store bought ones, especially ricotta. The one I found at grocery stores around here are very thin and a lot sweeter than the cheese made at home. Some Italian markets do carry nice and fresh cheeses, including good ricotta, but the store bought ones don’t even get an inch close in flavor and quality as the homemade version.
This is super easy to make, there is no way you can go wrong. I have been making it basically every week since I first tried it and after a couple times I didn’t even needed the thermometer to know it was at 190 F anymore.
I have made ricotta a couple different ways already, using milk and lemon juice, using whey (from fresh cheese I make) and rennet, even using a combination of milk and whey, but none of them was as good as this one, made with milk and buttermilk.
The ricotta’s soft curds are rich and creamy, with a nice milky taste to it, not acidic or sweet as some I have had. This was the perfect cheese to me!
And it can be used it in many different recipes, both savory and sweet. I have flavored mine with kosher salt, pepper and olive oil and used as a dipping for crispy veggies and crackers, creamy and delicious, so good!

It can also be used in sweet recipes, from a simple sweetened ricotta and fruits parfait to a delicious cheesecake, or even a lighter version of tiramisu (I have a delicious recipe for tiramisu that uses ricotta for part of the mascarpone). Oh, and I don’t add the salt to my ricotta, so I can use it in any recipe I want.
Very versatile, and better of all, delicious and good for you! Calcium rich too!! Hehehe!!
Tomorrow I will post a recipe for a Butternut Squash Lasagna that I made with the ricotta and was really good!

Homemade Ricotta

1 gallon 2% reduced-fat milk
5 cups low-fat buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

Line a large colander or sieve with 5 layers of dampened cheesecloth, allowing the cheesecloth to extend over outside edges of colander; place colander in a large bowl.
Combine milk and buttermilk in a large, heavy stockpot. Attach a candy thermometer to edge of pan so that thermometer extends at least 2 inches into milk mixture. Cook over medium-high heat until candy thermometer registers 170° (about 20 minutes), gently stirring occasionally. As soon as milk mixture reaches 170°, stop stirring (whey and curds will begin separating at this point). Continue to cook, without stirring, until the thermometer registers 190°. (Be sure not to stir, or curds that have formed will break apart.) Immediately remove pan from heat. (Bottom of pan may be slightly scorched.)
Using a slotted spoon, gently spoon curds into cheesecloth-lined colander; discard whey, or reserve it for another use. Drain over bowl for 5 minutes. Gather edges of cheesecloth together; tie securely. Hang cheesecloth bundle from kitchen faucet; drain 15 minutes or until whey stops dripping. Scrape ricotta into a bowl. Sprinkle with salt; toss gently with a fork to combine. Cool to room temperature. Store in refrigerator up to 4 days.

Yield: About 3 cups
Cooking Light, April 2005

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Pasta on Wednesday?

As you know the usual “pasta day” around here is Sunday. Since I am not a big fan of the noodles I don’t usually make it on weekdays, but pasta is my boys favorite food, so over the weekend we always have some sort of macaroni around.
However, I saw a pasta dish on a TV show the other day that looked amazingly good, with lots of vegetables and some interesting cheeses, smoked mozzarella being one of those.
The husband was working from home today, so the dish seemed appropriate, as I could get a one-dish meal with all of our favorite flavors in it. And it was a hit!
We liked the Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables a lot! The dish is chock full of yummy roasted veggies (my favorite!!), marinara sauce and three kinds of cheese. I loved the flavors of the vegetables, the combination of roasted squashes, red pepper, onions and mushrooms was just perfect, I could have had just that for my lunch! Hehe!
The marinara sauce added body, and even the peas were delicious, but the smoked mozzarella definitely lends the most flavor to the dish. We could taste it in every bite, not in an overpowering way, but in a very delicious and tasty way, it sort of flavored the tomato sauce. We all agreed it was a very nice dish with the smoked mozzarella flavor, which is something we don’t eat very often.
I made half-recipe and served it with sautéed chicken breasts (carnivores here…otherwise it would have been a nice vegetarian meal). Also, I used white cheddar in place of the fontina (did not find it), and forgot to dot the top with butter. For the first 15 minutes I baked it with foil on top, then removed it for the final 10 minutes of baking (just in case, I didn’t want the top to get dry)
Now I have to find some other dish with smoked mozzarella, to use up what I have left. Any suggestions?!

Baked Penne With Roasted Vegetables
(Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis)

2 red peppers, cored and cut into 1-inch wide strips
2 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 summer squash, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1-inch cubes
4 cremini mushrooms, halved
1 yellow onion, peeled and sliced into 1-inch strips
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 tablespoon dried Italian herb mix or herbs de Provence
1 pound penne pasta
3 cups marinara sauce (store bought or homemade)
1 cup grated fontina cheese
1/2 cup grated smoked mozzarella
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus 1/3 cup for topping
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
On a baking sheet, toss the peppers, zucchini, squash, mushrooms, and onions with olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and dried herbs. Roast until tender, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook for about 6 minutes. Since you will be cooking the pasta a second time in the oven, you want to make sure the inside is still hard. Drain in a colander.
In a large bowl, toss the drained pasta with the roasted vegetables, marinara sauce, cheeses, peas, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Using a wooden spoon, gently mix, until all the pasta is coated with the sauce and the ingredients are combined.
Pour the pasta into a greased 9 by 13-inch pan. Top with the remaining 1/3 cup Parmesan and butter pieces. Bake until top is golden and cheese melts, about 25 minutes
Yield: 6 servings

Monday, May 01, 2006

Cinnamon Rolls

Even though he had never tried it before, Matheus asked me to make Cinnamon Rolls. He saw it a couple weeks ago in a stand at a hockey game and simply got curious to know how they tasted. He asked if I could make some for him and so we did over the weekend. (Oh yes he helped, and we had lots of fun!! Not to mention a “flour-covered kitchen”! Hehe!!)
I chose a recipe that was easy to make and also very convenient, as we made it Friday night and let it rise in the fridge overnight. Saturday we woke up and just popped them into the oven, after 22 minutes the house smelled wonderful and we had a very yummy and comforting breakfast! Matheus simply loved the rolls!
It was definitely a nice way to start my birthday!

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls (adapted from
1 cup milk
1/3 cup butter
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 eggs

3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon melted butter

Heat the milk in a small saucepan until it bubbles, remove from heat, add the butter and stir until melted; let cool until warm.
In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in the milk mixture. Add the sugar, the whole-wheat flour, 2 cups of the all-purpose flour, salt and eggs; stir well to combine. Add the remaining all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and supple, about 8 minutes.
Lightly oil a large mixing, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a 10x 14 inch rectangle. Lightly brush the dough with melted butter. In a small bowl combine the cinnamon and 3/4 cup brown sugar and sprinkle over the rectangle. Roll up the dough into a log and seal the seam.
Cut the dough into 12 equal pieces; place the pieces in a greased 9x13 inch baking pan, or 12 inch deep dish pizza pan. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to rise overnight.
The next morning, preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Take the rolls out of the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Bake the rolls for 25 minutes or until golden, serve warm.

Happy Birthday…

to me!!! Not that I am happy to be getting older, but it was my birthday last weekend, and with a 4-year old at home there was no way I could go through the day without a birthday cake! And being the chocoholic I am, I opted for a yummy chocolate one, which ended up pleasing everybody else at home.
I had this recipe on my to try pile for years, and I am glad I finally decided to try it. Dark Chocolate Soufflé Cake is delicious and yet quite simple to make. The cake rises well during baking, but falls on itself after cooling, just like a soufflé. However, it did not tasted like one. It had a rich chocolate taste and a very light texture at the same time.
We all enjoyed it at home, and since it was a pretty nice cake we did not need anything else with it, apart from a few berries and some powdered sugar for decoration! Yummy cake, worth trying at any time!
As usual I made a few changes… I used only semisweet chocolate (4 oz total – it was what I had at home), and only ½ the sugar asked in the recipe. Also, I did not add the Kahlua, because unfortunately I did not have any (subbed 2 tbsp milk – gotta buy some liqueur here!). The sweetness was just perfect to us, but if you prefer your desserts on the sweeter side then maybe you should keep the sugar as it was.
All in all, I had a good cake and a very happy birthday!

Dark Chocolate Souffle Cake
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon instant espresso or 2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
2/3 cup Dutch process or unsweetened cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons Kahlúa (coffee-flavored liqueur)
3 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sifted cake flour (such as Swan's Down)
6 large egg whites (at room temperature)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1/4 cup raspberries (optional)
Chocolate curls (optional)

Preheat oven to 300°.
Coat bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, water, and espresso in a large saucepan; stir well and bring to a boil. Remove from heat; add cocoa, salt, and chocolates, stirring with a whisk until chocolate melts. Stir in Kahlúa and egg yolks. Stir in flour; cool to room temperature. Set aside.
Beat egg whites and cream of tartar at high speed of a mixer until foamy. Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Gently fold one-fourth of egg white mixture into chocolate mixture; repeat procedure with remaining egg white mixture, one-fourth at a time. Spoon into prepared pan. Bake at 300° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out almost clean. Cool completely on wire rack. Remove sides from pan; sift powdered sugar over cake. Garnish with raspberries and chocolate curls, if desired.
Note: A substitution of 1/4 cup all-purpose flour may be used in place of 1/3 cup cake flour.

Cooking Light, November 1997.