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Monday, January 2, 2017

Recipe Review from 12/26/2016

This post will wrap up the the new recipes for 2016.  All in all, I am very satisfied with the dishes tried this year - as usual, there are some I'd love to return to, but I've learned I generally don't go back.  An admittedly strange little quirk I have.

photo from

I already have the first dishes of 2017 picked out and I'm looking forward to another great year of tasty food!  Stay tuned for more reviews, comments, and pictures...

The Meal Plan:
Sun (Merry Christmas!)  (L) Leftovers  (S) Lasagna, Caesar salad, garlic bread
Mon (yoga/out)  leftover lasagna
Tues - leftover lasagna
Wed - Cuban-style slow cooked Pork
Thurs (yoga)  leftovers
Fri - leftovers
Sat, Dec 31!   (L) Hot wings  (S)  Marinated Artichoke Hearts for potluck

Lunches - leftovers from week previous;  butternut squash soup

Lasagna (modified from America's Test Kitchen TV Show Compilation) 
For a lasagna, this was remarkably easy to pull together and tasted fabulous.  I did do a couple of substitutions (when don't I?) - hot Italian sausage for the "meatloaf" mix, and dried Italian mix for the fresh basil (supermarket was out), and I used the full carton of ricotta (because I hate having leftover ricotta).

This uses no-boil noodles, and as I was doing final assembly, I was greatly concerned there wasn't enough liquid in the sauce.  My worry was for naught - it was perfect.  Now, if you like your lasagna a bit more "saucy" I would add a tich of liquid, OR, don't reduce the sauce as much. 

I would make this again, and I would make it for company.  Recommended!

1 lb hot Italian sausage  (I used1.33 lbs - was the smallest package I could find)
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup half n half
1 tbsp garlic, chopped
1 28oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1 28oz can tomato sauce
1 lb grated mozzarella
1 15oz tub whole milk or part skim ricotta
grated parmesan
2 tsp dried Italian herb mix
(OR, 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil)
1 box no-boil lasagna noodles

1. Saute onion until fragrant and starting to soften.  Add garlic, cook 1-2 minutes.  Add sausage, cook until just starting to brown but still a bit pink.  Add half and half, reduce.  Add tomatoes and tomato sauce, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer.

2.  Combine ricotta parmesan and 2 tsp dried herbs (or fresh basil).  Set aside.

3. Spray a 9x11 lasagna pan with cooking spray.  Coat bottom of pan with 1/2 cup of sauce - trying to avoid using the meat.  Layer in 3-4 noodles.  Spread 1/3 of ricotta mixture over noodles.  Spread 1/3 of mozzarella over ricotta.  Spread 1/3 sauce over cheese.  Repeat layers until ending with mozzarella.  Light spray sheet of aluminum foil with cooking spray, tightly seal.

4.  Bake covered for 30* at 375*.  Uncover and cook 15-20 minutes more, or until cheese is golden and bubbly.  Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Squash and Apple Soup (Ckng Lght, Oct 2016)  gluten free, vegetarian

I'll admit up front, I didn't assemble this.  Husband had some time off and he was able to make it during the day.  Reports are he didn't measure/weigh the squash, and everything else was the same.  We did drop the whole flavored pumpkin seed bit  and used plain toasted instead.

Husband thought this tasted like an Indian dish - reminiscent of the far east.  The cinnamon flavor is definitely subtle enough to give that impression.  I thought this turned out very tasty - recommended!

2 tablespoons olive oil
photo from
2 cups chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, chopped
4 cups (1/2-in.) cubed peeled fresh pumpkin or butternut squash (about 1 lb. 2 oz.)
1 large Granny Smith apple, cut into 1/2-in. cubes
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
3 cups unsalted vegetable stock (such as Swanson)
2 tablespoons raw hulled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 cup apple cider

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat; swirl to coat. Add onion; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; cook 2 minutes. Add pumpkin, apples, cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook 5 minutes, stirring often. Add stock; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 25 minutes or until pumpkin and apples are tender.

2. While soup cooks, combine pepitas, sugar, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook 7 minutes or until sugar melts and pepitas are toasted, stirring often. Transfer to a plate; cool completely, breaking up any clumps.

3. Place half of pumpkin mixture in a blender, remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape). Secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters); blend until smooth. Place soup in a bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining pumpkin mixture. Pour in apple cider, and reheat in pan if needed. Divide soup evenly among 8 bowls; sprinkle evenly with pepitas.

Slow cooked Hot Wings (ATK Slow Cooker Revolution)  gluten free!
This dish will become a repeat in our household.  We love wings, but I've struggled to find an easy, tasty make-at-home recipe that meets what we think is "great wings".  This fit the bill.  The sauce is easy to assemble, wings are tossed in the slow cooker with some of the sauce, and the long slow cooking allows the fat to melt out (I HATE fatty wings, bleh!).   Wings are pulled out, brushed with the remaining sauce, and broiled.  Easy peasey, great wings, perfect recipe.   An added bonus - these are gluten free!  No dried seasoning packets involved.

Just a couple of notable comments:  I used regular Franks Hot Sauce and I skipped the cayenne (I wasn't sure how "hot" this was going to end up).  This made for a mild wing.   I also only had about 3 lbs wings, and even a pound short, I didn't have a lot of extra sauce.  Don't worry about running short.


6 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup hot sauce (I used Franks Redhot, the original)
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp sweet paprika
2 tsp chili powder (I used Penzey's regular)
1 tsp cayenne pepper (skip if you want "mild" wings)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
3-4 lbs whole chicken wings, wingtips discarded and wings split

1. Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat.  Whisk in hot sauce, 4 tsp sugar, and vinegar.  Transfer 1/2 cup sauce to slow cooker; reserve remaining sauce separately.

2.  Mix paprika, chili powder, remaining 2 tsp sugar, cayenne, 1 tsp salt, and t tsp pepper together, then rub mixture evenly over chicken wings (I used ye ole shake n bake method - put chicken in large zip lock, sprinkle spice mixture over, shake well).  Put chicken into slow cooker, cover and cook about 4 hours on low.

3.  Position oven rack 10" from broiler element and preheat.  Place wire rack in aluminum foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and coat with vegetable spray. Transfer chicken to prepared sheet, discard braising liquid from slow cooker.

4.  Brush chicken with reserved hot sauce and broil until lightly charred and crisp, about 10-15 minutes.  Flip chicken over, brush with remaining sauce, and continue to broil until lightly crisp and charred on second side (about 10-15 minutes).  Watch closely at that 10 minute mark - chicken can go from lightly crisp to burnt very quickly.  Serve with your favorite wing toppings!

Marinated Artichoke Hearts with Olives and Feta  (ATK Slow Cooker Revolution Vol 2)  gluten free, vegetarian
I needed something for a potluck with a very diverse group of people and tastes.  This was PERFECT!  This can be assembled one to two hours ahead of time, then kept warm for a couple of hours.  I had some french bread to put the mixture on top of, but I noticed some folks were eating sans bread.  By the end of the evening, there was hardly any left.

One notable - I used three (9oz) boxes of frozen artichoke hearts, everything else stayed the same.  I did think 1 cup of olive oil was way to much (and that was with extra 'chokes), and would recommend cutting back.  I didn't waste money on fresh thyme this time of year, and sprinkled 1/2 tsp dried thyme over the top while everything cooked.

I have this book marked for future potlucks - this was repeat worthy.   If there are some lactose intolerant folks, or vegans, serve the feta on the side.  A very versatile dish.

18-27oz frozen artichoke hearts, thawed, patted dry, and halved if necessary
2/3-3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup pitted, halved kalmata olives
3/4 tsp lemon zest
2 tbsp lemon juice  (oops! I just realized I forgot this bit...)
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed (I used two, and microplane grated them)
1/2 tsp dried thyme (2 sprigs fresh, if handy)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1 (4oz)  feta cheese crumbles

1.  Combine all ingredients except feta in slow cooker.  Cover and cook until heated through, 1-2 hours on low.

2.  Discard thyme sprig if using.  Sprinkle with feta crumbles.  Serve. 

3.  Dish can be kept on warm for an additional hour (I had mine on "warm" setting for closer to two hours).  

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