Delicious Lasagna

I made this lasagna for my family when they came for Christmas 2016, and it was really yummy! I’d had it at book club and never forgotten it.
1 pound sweet Italian sausage
3/4 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup minced onion
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
2 (6.5 ounce) cans canned tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
12 lasagna noodles
16 ounces ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
In a Dutch oven, cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Season with sugar, basil, fennel seeds,
Italian seasoning, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, remaining parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). To assemble, spread 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Arrange 6
noodles lengthwise over meat sauce. Spread with one half of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with a third of mozzarella cheese slices. Spoon 1 1/2 cups meat sauce over mozzarella, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers, and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil: to prevent sticking, either spray foil with cooking spray, or make sure the foil does not touch the cheese.
Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Baked French Toast

I’ve made Overnight French Toast (also on this site) for years, but I’d heard about this recipe, and it sounded so good. I love the topping element of this one, and I will say it’s a great use of a stick of butter. I made it for my family when they came to our house for Christmas 2016, and it was a hit. 

Serves 8

FRENCH TOAST
1 loaf crusty sourdough or French bread
8 whole eggs
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 T. vanilla

Topping
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
1 stick cold butter, cut Into pieces
Warm syrup
1 cup fresh blueberries

For the French toast: Grease the baking pan with cooking spray. Tear the bread into chunks, or cut into cubes, and evenly distribute in the pan. Crack the eggs in a big bowl. Whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla. Pour evenly over the bread. Cover the pan tightly and store in the fridge until needed (overnight preferably). Or you can make it and bake it right away—delicious no matter what!

For the topping: Mix the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and some nutmeg in a separate bowl. Stir together using a fork. Add the butter and with a pastry cutter, and mix it all together until the mixture resembles fine pebbles. Store in a plastic bag in the fridge.

When you’re ready to bake the casserole, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the casserole from the fridge and sprinkle the topping over the top. Bake for 45 minutes for a softer, more bread pudding texture or for 1 hour-plus or more for a firmer, crisper texture.

Scoop out individual portions. Top with butter and drizzle with warm pancake syrup and sprinkle with blueberries.

Thumbprint Cookies

I’ve used the same thumbprint cookie recipe for years (also on this site – butter cookies two ways), but I decided to mix it up this year and use a new recipe that was very well-reviewed on Epicurious. They were great!

Makes about 2 dozen cookies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup jam such as raspberry, strawberry, or apricot
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and a second rack in the lower third then preheat to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar and beat on medium speed, scraping the bowl occasionally, until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until fully incorporated, about 1 minute. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture, and stir until just combined. Shape the dough into a disc, wrap it in plastic, and chill at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.

Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and arrange on baking sheets, leaving about 3 inches between cookies. Using your thumb or the round end of a small pestle, make a well in the center of each cookie. Using a teaspoon, fill each well with jam, being careful not to overfill the wells. Bake, switching the cookies between the upper and lower racks about halfway through baking, until golden, about 15 minutes. Cool the cookies on baking sheets for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Continue baking cookies on cooled baking sheets.

These cookies can be baked ahead and stored, in an airtight container at room temperature, up to 3 days.

Pistachio and Cherry Wedding Cookies

I made these for my 2017 cookie party, and I really liked them. Of course I love the cherry and pistachio combo, and I love wedding cookies. So they were sort of a shoe-in for me. This recipes is adapted from Epicurious.

2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar plus more for coating
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup shelled unsalted natural pistachios (about 4 ounces), chopped
1 cup dried tart cherries or dried cranberries
3 1/3 cups sifted cake flour
1 2/3 cups sifted all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 3 heavy large baking sheets. Using electric mixer, beat 2 cups butter and 1 cup powdered sugar in large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and salt, then pistachios and cherries. Using spatula, stir in all flour (do not overmix dough).

Shape dough by generous tablespoonfuls into football-shaped ovals. Place on prepared sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until bottoms just begin to color, about 16 minutes. Cool cookies on sheets 10 minutes before coating.

Pour generous amount of powdered sugar into medium bowl. Working with 5 or 6 warm cookies at a time, add cookies to bowl of sugar; gently turn to coat thickly. Transfer cookies to sheet of waxed paper. Repeat to coat cookies with sugar again; cool completely. do ahead Can be made 4 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

Mom’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

Mom’s recipe says it’s from Diane, but since I have no idea who that is, I’m just going to call these mom’s. I admit, I had to come to terms with using shortening instead of butter, but once I got on board, it’s been yummy cookies all the way! 

There are two tips I’ll share. New York Times says to make the dough 36 hours ahead of time. Who knew? Of course this requires a level of organization that I can’t even hope to have. But a girl has to have  a dream, right?

The other is about the chocolate. I love chocolate chip cookies, but sometimes, well they are almost too chocolate chippy. So I sometimes get chocolate bars and thinly chop them instead of using chips. It takes 2 minutes, and the results are thin chocolate ribbons going through the cookies, which I find more delicious than the lumps of chocolate. Don’t judge.

2 1/4 cups flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 t. vanilla
1 1/2 cup chocolate chips (or chopped up semisweet chocolate bar)
1 1/2 cup nuts (optional, or add some dried cherries for variety)

Combine flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside. Beat shortening and both sugars until very creamy, 5 minutes or so. Add flour mixture, vanilla, chocolate chip and nuts, and stir until just combined.

Frankenstein Bars

I saw the cutest recipe for Frankenstein Bars this weekend. We were on the way home from Six Flags (side note: you could not PAY me to go to their nighttime Fright Fest, where they pump in fog everywhere so their scary employees can jump out and get ya. No Thank You.).

But I digress.

I was reading the news  (People magazine) and thought just maybe I could pull off these cute bars.
Continue reading “Frankenstein Bars”

Brownie Roll-Out Cookies

cookiesThis recipe is from Smitten Kitchen, a blog I love so much I bought her cookbook. Some people say Ina Garten’s recipes are fail proof; I guess you could say Deb Perlman is my Ina. I made these cookies for the first time for my cookie party, which is a commitment. But they worked great, and I frosted them the exact same way as my sugar cookies, and they were a nice change of pace! 

Continue reading “Brownie Roll-Out Cookies”