Winter Squash, Pine Nut, and Golden Raisin Lasagna

>> Monday, October 31, 2011

 think that this recipe originally came from Weight Watchers, but Joe has made some magically delicious modifications. The result is an unusual and hearty winter dinner that we also like to serve at fall dinner parties.

Serves 4-6.


1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups fat-free evaporated milk
2 medium garlic clove(s), minced
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 tsp table salt, or to taste
1/8 tsp black pepper, or to taste
10 oz dry lasagna noodles, cooked al dente (about 12 noodles)
10 oz cooked winter squash, thawed if frozen
1 cup shredded fat-free mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup golden seedless raisins
1/2 cup pine nuts


Preheat oven to 350°F.

Place flour in a small saucepan and very gradually whisk in milk and garlic. Warm over low heat, stirring constantly, until sauce simmers and is thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.

Spread 1/4 cup of cheese sauce over bottom of a 9 X 13-inch glass or metal pan and cover with 3 lasagna noodles; top with 1/3 of squash and 1/2 cup of cheese sauce. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup of raisins.

Cover with 3 more lasagna noodles and spread with 1/3 of remaining squash and 1/2 cup of cheese sauce; sprinkle with 1/4 cup of raisins. Cover with 3 more lasagna noodles and top with remaining squash and raisins; cover with last 3 lasagna noodles, pressing sheets firmly down. Top with remaining cheese sauce; sprinkle with pine nuts and remaining mozzarella cheese.

Cook for 30-45 minutes, until golden brown on top and bubbly.


Dancing Chicken (Whole Chicken Grilled with Beer and Greek Seasoning)

>> Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Joe: "I had been making this recipe for quite a while before I heard my friend Jeff Marian call it 'Dancing Chicken'. His title is much better than mine, 'Chicken with a Beer Can up its Butt'."

1 4-6 pound whole fryer chicken
1/4 cup salt
2 lemons
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 can of beer
salt and pepper to taste
1 can of beer
1 tablespoon Joe's Greek Seasoning

Set up your grill for the indirect method. On a gas grill, turn half the burners to medium, leaving the others off. On charcoal grills, place an aluminum drip pan on the bottom grate. Pile the coals on either side. Light the coals and allow to burn.

Remove the giblets and rinse the chicken inside and out. Dissolve salt in a bowl of water and soak the chicken for30 minutes. Drain and pat dry.

Squeeze a lemon into the cavity. Squeeze the juice of another lemon into one tablespoon of olive oil into a cup. Add salt and pepper and brush on the outside of the bird.

Open a beer can (not a bottle) and drink or pour out one quarter of it. Punch two small additional holes in the top of the can.
Put one teaspoon of Joe's Greek Seasoning into the can. Sprinkle two teaspoons over the chicken. Insert the can of beer into the cavity all the way, without bending the can. The bottom of the can and the two legs serve as the base of a tripod, with the chicken sitting, upright, on the grate. Close the lid of the grill.
Grill for 75 to 90 minutes, or about 20 minutes per pound. Once done, remove chicken from grill to cool. The best way to remove the can is to lift the chicken firmly with tongs, insert a long spoon down the neck and push the can out. Slice up the bird and enjoy!


Beth's Easy Cheesy Potato Soup

>> Friday, October 14, 2011

When my younger sister finished high school, she came to live with me and my little girls for a time, and she brought with her a lively interest in food. One of the many easy, cheap, and delicious recipes she invented was this cheesy potato soup. It's perfect First Apartment Food: it costs nearly nothing and takes 30 minutes to make, and it's very filling. In fact, I made the soup one night when my parents were visiting and we had less than an hour to cook and eat before leaving for a charity event. My stepdad was stunned at how quickly I whipped it together!

Like many good soup recipes, it lends itself to all kinds of variations. Have fun with it and make it your own!

5 large russet potatoes, scrubbed
1 medium onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups fat free milk
1 cup sharp cheddar or swiss cheese
Salt and Pepper
1/4 cup chopped green onions

Dice potatoes and onions. Simmer on high heat with garlic in chicken stock until fork-tender, about 20 minutes. Pour in milk and cheese. Heat until cheese is melted. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with salad and bread, and top soup bowls with green onions.

Makes 4 main dish servings.


Jessie's Chicken and Feta Rollups

>> Friday, October 7, 2011

Angela: "I have always loved having daughters. First it was playing with them, then trading clothes and jewelry, and now sharing recipes. Jessie gave me this recipe recently,  She didn't have a meat tenderizer, so I think she flattened the chicken breasts with a hammer. Her boyfriend Erich even likes this recipe, though they are both somewhat picky eaters.You're going to love this one, I promise."

  • 6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 4 oz. crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, snipped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 6 tablespoons roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
  • 1 1/4 cup seasoned croutons, crushed (or bread crumbs)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 12-18 large spinach leaves
  • 6 oz. thinly sliced deli ham
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butterfly each breast by cutting lengthwise through the chicken breast, almost to the opposite side. Spread chicken open flat. Place between parchment paper or plastic wrap, and pound to 1/4 inch thickness.

In a bowl, combine cheeses, herbs, and pepper. Blend well. Chop red peppers. In another bowl, combine milk and egg and whisk until mixed.

Cover each chicken breast with a layer of spinach leaves, a scoop of cheese mixture spread evenly, and 1 tablespoon of peppers. Roll up, jelly roll fashion, tucking in ends where possible. Place seam side down in pan.

Bake 35 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear.

Serves 4-6.


Ragu di Carne (Tuscan Meat Sauce)

>> Saturday, October 1, 2011

Joe opening a bottle of Brunello di Montalcino wine
We spent part of our honeymoon in a lovely isolated villa in the tiny Tuscan town of Creti. Our hosts owned a thriving agriturismo, which is a working farm as well as a sort of Bed-and-Breakfast inn. Creti is close to the town of Cortona which was made popular by the novel "Under the Tuscan Sun" by Francis Mayes. This photo is of our villa at Rosa dei Venti. We recommend this place highly to anyone who wants to stay in an authentic Italian villa but be close enough to all the major attractions of Tuscany.

Angela is in the orange sweater
We signed up for cooking classes on our last afternoon in Tuscany, but came back late from a wine-tasting in nearby Montepulciano due to a lack of Italian road signs and Angela's difficulties with reading a map. The rest of the guests, from New Zealand, Belgium, and Poland, were already cooking the dinner we would share that night. Even though we kept explaining that Angela was the photographer and Joe was the cook, they addressed all the cooking comments to Angela. Nonetheless, we learned an amazing, hearty recipe for pasta sauce that we often make in the fall and winter.

We have converted as closely as possible from metric to American weights and measures.

3 large finely chopped carrots
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup marjoram, chopped
1 cup fresh basil, chopped
Pinch of salt and pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
2 chicken livers
2 rabbit livers (the agriturismo farm raised rabbits and served a stewed rabbit dish as a main course ("secondi piatti"); if you're not serving rabbit or can't find rabbit livers, substitute 2 additional chicken livers)
8 large plum tomatoes
1 cup dry white wine
  1. Saute vegetables and herbs in olive oil.
  2. Stir in beef and pork and cook until brown and crumbly.
  3. Cut the membranes from the livers and finely dice them.
  4. Add liver to meat mixture and cook until foamy, about 30 minutes.
  5. Pour in wine and simmer 10 minutes.
  6. Puree tomatoes and add to ragu. Simmer for one hour.
Serve over a hearty pasta such as rotini or farfalle and a big Tuscan Red wine such as a Barolo or Brunello.
Serves 4-6.

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