Monthly Archives: June 2013

Corn and Basil Lasagne

sliceI should warn you, I’m a little crazy about basil. The smell of it holds such strong associations of summer that I automatically go to my happy place whenever I pick a few leaves and rub them between my fingers. Lately I’ve been making some of my classic basil-laced dishes like the indispensable chickpea salad since basil is so plentiful right now. Here on this page I present to you a sort of summer lasagne that makes use of a healthy dose of basil alongside sweet corn, another staple of summer eating. Lemon zest makes it interesting.

One of the things I love most about making this recipe is that  the directions are to: a) put everything in a food processor b) layer with the no-boil noodles and c) top with cheese. Bake. Although I admit I baked it at night and ate it the next day because it was so hot and humid yesterday that I would have been happy serving up popsicles for dinner.

  • 3 cups corn, either from canned or frozen then thawed
  • 1/2  cup heavy cream
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1 ½  cups grated pecorino romano cheese
  • grated zest of 1 large lemon
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ¾ cup packed fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 ½ cups shredded provolone
  • 6 no boil lasagne sheets
  • olive oil for drizzling

wholePreheat the oven to 375˚ Grease an 8”x8” baking dish with vegetable oil.

In a food processor blend the corn, cream and garlic until chunky. Add the mascarpone cheese. Add 1 cup of the perconino-romano cheese, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth. Add the chopped basil and pulse just until blended.

Spread one-third of the corn mixture on the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with one third of the provolone cheese. Add 2 lasagna sheets on top. Repeat two more times. Sprinkle the remaining ½ cup romano on top and drizzle lightly with olive oil.

Bake 25-30 minutes until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

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Peachy Jam Bars

peachyjam_webThings started going awry early on today. I woke up before my son and even felt rested. This made me hopeful that I could accomplish stuff. I wanted to cook a few things before it got too hot and these Peachy Jam Bars were high on my priority list. We haven’t had a proper dessert in the house in ages and I don’t count the juice on a stick in my freezer as a proper dessert. I took a shower, got myself and the boy dressed and fed. We took the dog for a walk. When we got back I started to make the bar batter  but halfway through the mixing of ingredients I realized I would never get them out of the oven in time to make it to the playdate at the park. In fact, I really didn’t have time to finish mixing it all up, get a park snack together and get out the door. Shortly after 10am and I’m already feeling rushed and lagging. Citing the overnight batter rule and how it makes cookies better, into the fridge went the unfinished batter and out the door we went to the park. Once we arrived back home all I had to do was mix in the oats and assemble everything in the pan.

I used peach preserves here but in the past I’ve used raspberry jam and blueberry preserves. Both taste great. Try it with your favorite jam but you may want to use cinnamon as a substitute for the ginger.

  • 1 13oz jar peach preserves
  • 1 ¾ cups all purpose flour or all purpose gluten free flour
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • 1 ¾ cups old fashioned rolled oats – NOT instant
  • 2 sticks butter room temperature
  • 1 large egg beaten room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • vegetable oil or butter for greasing the pan

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease an 11×7 baking dish. Line it with parchment.

In a large bowl whisk together the dry ingredients; flour, ginger, salt, baking soda. Stir in the oats. Mix in the butter, egg and vanilla just until absorbed. If you are using a stand mixer, beat on low about 1 minute.

Press half the mixture into the prepared pan. Using a large spoon or spatula spread the filling over the crust but leave a half inch border from the edge. Cover with the remaining mixture. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 45 minutes. Cut into bars and store.

Baked Rigatoni

Sometimes I get really hungry

Sometimes I get really hungry

Sometimes I get hungry. Really hungry. And when I do I want the good stuff, the comfort food that will please my primal eating urges and leave me satisfied.  I want pasta, I want meat and I want it all covered in and filled with cheese.

This Baked Rigatoni has similarities with lasagna but I find it much easier to make. It has the tomato sauce, the noodles and the parmesan but this is all tossed together in a mad mixture instead of all those fussy layers that lasagna requires. This is probably a metaphor for my life; a toss-up of all the things I need in a messy pile as opposed to the neat order of  layering. I once met a mom who said that she had “categories” of diapers which she organized in her baby’s drawers. I said that I too had categories for diapers: Clean and Dirty. My baby clothes also have order- they are either in the laundry or in the drawer. I am (proudly) Not One of Those Moms who folds baby clothes. If they’re clean, in the drawer they go! If you are not a compulsive folder, layer-er, or organizer I’ve got a dinner idea for you.

Using a store-bought tomato pasta sauce makes life easier here (as opposed to making your own) and you can choose your favorite.  Because it is not fussy, this dish stores well in the freezer for future meals. What you don’t eat the first night you can parcel out into containers and store for later.

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 24oz jar pasta sauce
  • 1 cup pitted black olives rinsed and chopped
  • 1 lb bag rigatoni (regular or brown rice)
  • 15 oz Ricotta cheese
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 and lightly oil a 2 ½ quart baking dish. In a large frying pan over medium high heat warm the olive oil then add the sausage and sauté until it is browned. Drain any excess from the pan and stir in the tomato sauce and olives. Season with salt & pepper then set aside.

Meanwhile, fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add the pasta with a teaspoon of salt and cook about 2 minutes less than the package directions, you want it to be al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water, rinse again.

Once it is completely drained, return the pasta to the cooking pot. Stir in the tomato sauce mixture and the ricotta. Spread the mixture in the prepared dish and sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake about 25 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

Fresh Salsa

Fresh salsa with blue corn tortilla chips

Does anyone know what happened to spring? Summer is swiftly bringing its hammer of oppressive heat down here on the east coast. Last weekend was a high temp reminder of how hard it can be to cook a meal when the temp is on the 90s with enough humidity to make you loose your will to be in the kitchen. My husband is the Grill Master in our house so I stick to making the sides if we are cooking outdoors. This salsa can be used as a condiment, which goes well served over grilled steak. Or it can just be eaten with chips.

This is not a hot salsa. The lemon and lime juices help break down the red onion to bring out its sweetness. After sitting overnight you may find it to be quite juicy. Feel free to drain off some of the liquid after it has had the chance to do its thing. The corn you use can either be canned, frozen, or if you are really ambitious, sliced off the cob.

Fresh Salsa

  • 1 pint basket cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup corn
  • 1 red bell pepper chopped
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • ½ a medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed with a garlic press (or minced)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1 lime

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Bring to room temperature before serving.