Archive for March, 2011

Spinach Lasagna Roll-Ups


It’s been an odd week. Even though I took a day off work this week, I haven’t cooked anything really special. My best dinner of the week was at my friend Jean’s house, where she served chicken strips in panko crumbs with dipping sauces, a wonderful mixed vegetable salad, and some tasty boiled new potatoes. (I forgot how good those always taste.) Jean always says she hates to cook, but she serves some of the best stuff ever.

Another good meal was lunch at Hanabi this afternoon. It’s not one of my favorite places because I sort of overdosed on sushi last year, and now I don’t even like looking at it, pretty as it is. But today I had the shrimp and vegetable tempura plate, which is beautiful and delicious, and hey: tempura. Deep fried. Oh, my yes.

So this week I’m going to share a favorite recipe that I did make, though just not this week. Probably many months ago, but it’s a keeper. It tastes great, it’s easy to make AND it’s pretty. You can’t ask for much more than that.

(If you leave them in the oven too long, they will go flat. They’re still tasty, but not as pretty as the picture above. So if you’re waiting for guests, just eat without them. That’ll teach them a little something about ‘fashionably late.’)

Spinach Lasagna Roll-Ups (Prepare these one day ahead)

1 10-oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

1 cup (4 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese

1 cup (8 oz) small curd 2% cottage cheese

3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

1 egg, lightly beaten

6 lasagna noodles, cooked and drained

2 cans (15 oz each) seasoned tomato sauce for lasagna (I think I used spaghetti sauce instead. Probably from a jar.)

In a large bowl, combine the spinach, mozzarella, cottage cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan and the egg. Spread a heaping 1/3 cupful over each noodle. Roll up and secure with toothpicks.

Place the rolls seam-side down in an 11″ x 7″ x 2″ baking dish sprayed with cooking spray. Cover and refrigerate overnight. (I did not measure my baking dish. Sheesh!) Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Pour the tomato sauce over the roll-ups. Cover and bake at 350° for about 35 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese. Discard the toothpicks before serving. (Please!)

I found this recipe in an issue of “Simple and Delicious” dated Jan/Feb 2007.

Next week I’ll really cook something new to me. Promise.

A Recipe a Week


Last time I wrote about a new recipe, I said I was going to make barbecued ribs in the crock pot. And I did. And they were simply awful.

I like the idea of a crock pot, but I have never cooked anything in my crock pot that made me think yeah, this is a keeper! The ribs were no exception. I also made cole slaw to serve on the side, and dinner that night was, you know, cole slaw.

In theory, a crock pot is a great idea. I especially like the notion of coming home on a cold winter night and smelling an aromatic dinner ready for the table (or possibly four fire trucks next to the curb) but the crock pot I own makes everything taste horrid. Like pre-vulcanized rubber. It’s possible the heating element is too hot, or something else has malfunctioned, but I hate the thing and I’m not inclined to buy a new one.

Thus I spare you the embarrassment of serving those ribs I talked about last week. Unless your family is partial to hot vinegar and rubbery pork, they would not have enjoyed them.

So I decided to try another recipe, using stuff in the freezer. And by the way: Don’t wrap stuff in foil unless you mark it well. You might think you’re taking some meatloaf to work for your lunch, but then you’ll be unpleasantly surprised to open it up and discover it’s actually banana bread. But I digress.

I decided to make a chicken pot pie since I had almost all the ingredients at home. I only had to shop for pie crusts and a jar of pimentos.

The recipe is easy enough, and very tasty. The pot pies of my youth had crusts top and bottom, and so that’s what I did, but next time I think I’ll just go with a top crust. The bottom crust was a little soggy, and it seemed excessive, too, unless you rolled it out very thin. Or use puff pastry, which would be good, too. This recipe is from the Kraft Foods web site.

Creamy Chicken Pot Pie

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces

2 cups frozen mixed vegetables thawed and drained (I only used peas and carrots)

1 tub (10 oz) Philadelphia Savory Garlic Cooking Creme

1 refrigerated pie crust (or make your own)

To this recipe I added a 2 oz jar of pimentos for color and flavor. I didn’t know if they are supposed to be drained or not, so I didn’t drain them, and it worked out just fine.

Heat the oven to 400°. Cook and stir the chicken in a large nonstick skillet on medium heat 5-6 minutes or until lightly browned. Add vegetables (and pimentos, if you wish) and cook 1-2 minutes more, until heated through. Stir in the cooking creme; spoon into a 9-inch deep dish pie plate.

Cover with the crust, seal and flute the edges or use a fork to press edges down. Cut several slits in the crust to allow steam to escape. Place pie on baking sheet. (Just now noticed that instruction. I didn’t do that.)

Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

(I couldn’t get the top crust to brown, though I left the pie in about 10 minutes longer than necessary. I decided I’d rather have a pale crust than dried up chicken, so I took it out. Pale or not, it was goooood.)

Spring is coming, so next week I want to try something a little lighter. I’m looking around for good ideas.

Here’s one last look at my “keeper” concoction.

PS: I am no photographer.

Things I Don’t Understand, #134


1. Crockpots. Nothing I have ever cooked in a crock pot was worth eating. I don’t know why I keep it. I don’t know why I keep trying the same thing yet hoping for different results. I should donate my crockpot to a local shelter, though I suppose they have problems enough. Next time I go over the High Bridge, I will pitch it into the waters below. It deserves no less.

2. The parking system at Canal Park. If you don’t park in the big lot, you seem to have to park and then find one of those parking payment boxes. I can’t figure that out. I think it would be simpler to pay the impound fee.

3. Chopsticks. I have never been able to figure them out, though they seem deceptively simple. Maybe I have a learning disability, or a genetic hand problem. I have practiced at home but now I give up. I am in debt to a friend who, when offered chopsticks in a restaurant, said “No thanks. I was born in America.” It freed me of much guilt. Goodbye, chopsticks!

4. A sign in someone’s yard near my home. I had to park next to it to be able to read it, as it is rather crudely written and propped in a snowbank against a tree: “We have many children, but none to spare.” I have no idea what this means. Perhaps it is the new “Slow Children” sign for neighborhoods, or maybe these people were giving away children at one time, but now decided to keep the last of them. It baffles me.

5. Shoes. I have worn shoes for more than 60 years, so this current turn of events (no pun intended) is puzzling to me. Why are the toes of shoes now turned up? Have you noticed this? I kept seeing it in shoe displays around town, but figured my eyes were getting bad. Then I went online the other day to look at shoes at Zappos, and I see that many women’s fashions are shown with the toes turning up. What the heck? Today I did a search for men’s dress shoes, just to see how their feet were faring, and lo and behold, they’re even worse off than us women. I can’t figure this out. I stood sideways in front of a full length mirror and I see that my toes are still parallel to the floor. But look!

I remember pointed toes (ouch, but they were so cute) and square toes (more comfy but boxy looking) but I don’t get the upturned toes. Do you?

Maybe we’re all turning into pixies.

A Recipe A Week


For someone who owns approximately 150 cookbooks, I tend to eat the same things over and over, and I tell you this: I’m tired of it. So I came up with a plan to actually crack the spine on some of those books and try one new recipe a week. This is only week 2 (so far nobody’s died) and I’ll fill you in on the details.

I found this first recipe in a “Taste of Home” magazine in the lunchroom at work. It’s pretty good, but I’m gonna say this: There is no earthly reason to put a sweet potato in this recipe. I think someone had a really good recipe, and someone else said oh, everyone makes that, and the other person said “Not with a sweet potato, they don’t!” Glad she didn’t add cabbage or tuna, but you can safely leave out the potato, which adds nothing except, well, potato.

I couldn’t find an acceptable picture of this dish, so I am going to use one of this handsome guy in a sombrero instead. When in doubt, you can’t go wrong with a handsome guy in a sombrero. Right, Ignacio?

Riiiiight, bay-bee.

Sweet Potato Enchilada Stack

1 large sweet potato, peeled, cooked and cut into small chunks
1 lb ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 –15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1- 10 oz can enchilada sauce
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3 flour tortillas (8 inch size)
2 cups (8 oz) shredded cheddar or Monterrey jack cheese

In a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until hamburger is cooked through. Drain. Stir in the beans, enchilada sauce, chili powder, oregano, cumin and sweet potato, and heat through.

Place a flour tortilla in a greased 9” deep dish pie plate or casserole dish. Put 1/3 of the hamburger mixture on top; top with 1/3 of the cheese. Repeat this twice more. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes or until bubbly.

Serve with sour cream and/or guacamole, if desired.

Leave room for dessert. Heh heh.

* * *

My sisters and I could probably live on chicken alone. It’s versatile and relatively inexpensive, and we remember Dad’s deep fried chicken or Grandma Swor’s baked chicken on Sundays or Aunt Kay’s chicken pot pie, and it sends us into our kitchens to create something tasty.

But sisters can not live on chicken alone, although God knows I’ve tried. In my second week of “One New Recipe Every Week” I turned to chicken for 2 reasons: I had some in the freezer (a shocking revelation, I know!) and I wanted to try the new Kraft Philly Cooking Creme.  I was going to create a wonderful chicken pot pie with their savory “creme,” but couldn’t find that so I bought the Garlic and Herbs kind and came up with this. (Duluth people: It’s hard to find that stuff since it’s relatively new, but you can get it at Mt Royal Finer Foods, AND get the $1.50-off coupon that’s hanging right in front of it, too.)

This picture is a sad representation of something that actually was pretty good. I think Jerry would say you could add pimentos, too, for a really good flavor.

Unimaginative Woman’s Chicken Dish

A few chicken breasts cut into chunks
1 medium onion, chopped
Red, green or yellow pepper chopped up
1 cup frozen green peas (You can cook them first but I just put them in a sieve and run hot water over.)
1 10-oz container Philadelphia Garlic & Herb Cooking Crème
Salt and pepper to taste
Cooked noodles or rice.

Sautee the chicken, onions and chopped peppers in a little olive oil until the chicken is cooked through. Drain. Return to heat and add the frozen green peas and the Cooking Crème. Heat through. Serve over hot noodles or rice.

So that’s it for now. Two easy and tasty dishes. Next week: Ribs in the slow cooker.

Unless more chicken shows up at my house.