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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Holy Cannoli, that's good pie!


What to do with left over ricotta cheese from my incredibly tasty and healthy lasagna? Dessert! After a few days of ricotta cheese recipe searching, I settled on making a cannoli pie. Incredibly easy to make, the pie was a cross between angel food and cheese cake. Adapted from a recipe found on Food.com.

3/19/2011 UPDATE: I made this recipe again....using the correct measurements this time. The recipe calls for 15 oz of ricotta. Apparently, the first time I made the pie, I only used 8 oz of ricotta. Frankly, I prefer it with just 8 oz...that amount gave the pie angel food/cheese cake texture I spoke of above. When I used 15 oz, the pie was a bit gritty. So, the next time I make this, I will be scaling the ricotta back to 8 oz.

4 egg whites
1 cup confectioner's sugar
15 oz of ricotta cheese (drained through a cheese cloth for about 15-20 minutes)
1/3-1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1 pre-made graham cracker pie crust (I had a Keebler low fat version on hand)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in sugar, drained ricotta and chocolate chips until just combined and then spoon into prepared crust.

Bake 40-45 minutes until slightly browned and filling is set.
Allow the pie to cool completely and then refrigerate until time to serve.



The plural of lasagna is lasagne

Before the holidays, I did a Costco run and got sucked into buying 3 - 45 oz jars of Ragu Old World Pasta Sauce. I can't remember how much I paid, but I know it was a great deal at the time...So, between roasting chestnuts on an open fire and having Jack Frost nip at my nose, I kept thinking the only way I will use up even one of those 45 oz jars of sauce was to make a lasagna come the new year. The following recipe is adapted from the cookbook Canyon Ranch Nourish. The original recipe uses ground beef, oven ready noodles, fennel seeds, fresh parsley and fresh marinara sauce....I went with ground turkey, jarred pasta sauce, dried spices and skipped the fennel seeds and it was still amazing.

Meat sauce
1 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil
1 lb of ground turkey
3/4 to 1 cup of chopped onions (I used brown onions)
2-3 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons basil
1 teaspoon oregano
2 tablespoons parsley
2 cups pasta sauce (I used Ragu Old World Traditional)
--------------------------
Cheese mixture
2 cups fat-free ricotta cheese
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

3 cups pasta sauce
12 cooked whole wheat lasagna noodles
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray glass 9x13 pan with Olive Oil spray.

Brown ground turkey in heated 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil. Drain if necessary (the ground turkey really doesn't generate that much run off...).

Sautee onions and garlic in remaining 1 teaspoon of olive oil until onions are translucent. Add turkey and the spices listed under Meat Sauce (basil, oregano and parsley). Add pasta sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 15 minutes (or until sauce thickens).

In clean bowl, combine ricotta, egg yolks, granulated garlic, basil, oregano, salt and pepper.

Assembly
Spread 1/2 cup pasta sauce on bottom of 9x13 baking dish. Place 3 cooked noodles length-wise on top of sauce. Spread half the ricotta cheese mixture over the noodles. Top with 1 cup meat sauce and 1/4 cup of Parmesan. Repeat layering 2 more times, ending with 3 noodles on top. Cover top noodles with 1/2 cup pasta sauce, 1/3 cup mozzarella and 1/3 cup Parmesan (more or less according to taste).
Cover with foil and bake 45-50 minutes. Remove foil for last 5 minutes, if slight browning desired. Let cool a few minutes before cutting.


Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year!


Who doesn't love New Year's Day? January 1st always comes as a breath of cold refreshing air to shake off the holiday haze, wake us from a winter's nap and gently prod us back to business! And, of course, as we look forward, we tend to become reflective on the past...

Looking back, 2010 was a year of firsts: First year of marriage, first joint tax return, first time buying a new dishwasher, first broken oven, first really nice Canon camera. While the year had its ups and downs (as all do), Victor and I remain very fortunate to have loving families, good jobs, a place to live and food to eat.

Speaking of food (as that is the focus of SugarKrush!), a few discoveries were made in that area as well. None of these things are new to the world, but they were new discoveries to me...So, in no particular order, are a few of my favorite 2010 culinary discoveries:

1. Oro blanco - a delicious, sweet white grapefruit marked by it's thick skin. It was one of my favorite farmer's market finds this past summer.

2. Pignoli cookies - The word 'pignoli' is actually Italian for pine nuts which adorn the outside of this holiday cookie found at most fine Italian bakeries. The cookie itself is basically little more than almond paste, sugar and egg whites...but these few ingredients combine to make quite a treat.

3. Cake balls - Genius! Only made them once but will definitely make them again.

4. The Cupcake Craze - Sure, the cupcake craze has been in full swing for a few years now..and yes, I can be known to enjoy a cupcake here and there...but up until this year, I was pretty indifferent. My change in attitude was Cupcake Camp LA. I get it now. Cupcakes are fun! Each little cake provides you with a fresh opportunity to create a mini-culinary delight!

5. The tabletop convection oven - When our oven broke, I was super bummed at the thought of having to drop out of Cupcake Camp. The rules said you could buy cupcakes to bring, but really, where is the fun in that? The convection oven put me back in the game. While it sucks up more counter space than I would like, it is a great asset basically providing us with a "dual oven" kitchen.

6. Ebelskivers - Delicious sphere shaped Danish pancakes. I believe they would fall into the pop-over family. While in Solvang last Christmas, we become intrigued by a photo of these things on the window of a bakery. Since it was Christmas day, the bakery was closed...but we thought about them, wondered if they tasted as good as that picture. At the Torrance Farmer's Market we got a chance to sample them and yes, they were delicious. From my reading, it seems that sometimes they are filled with apples but the ones we had were served with heated strawberry preserves and powdered sugar. Trader Joe's just added them to their frozen breakfast treats repertoire so you can easily have them at home!

7. Tastykake's Pancake Krimpets - For the uninitiated, Tastykake Baking Company is a Philadelphia based snack company that turns out some really great cakes, pies and cookies. No, they are not like Hostess or Little Debbie cakes. Those products taste like chemicals while Tastykakes actually taste like real baked goods. In a few weeks, I will dedicate a whole post to the wonders of Tastykake...but for now know this: In 2010 they produced a butter flavored sponge cake that was topped with maple flavored frosting and filled with vanilla creme called the Pancake Krimpet. I read this was a limited edition item, so try it now while you can.

8. Corropolese Bakery's Sweet Pepper pie - Move over Tomato Pie, there's a new favorite in town! Corropolese has the Sweet Pepper pie listed under Tomato Pie on the menu but it has no tomatoes on it, so I am not agreeing with that categorization. Regardless, it consists of marinated sweet peppers with various pizza-topping spices and a little bit of olive oil baked onto a pizza crust served room temp. Since I don't have easy access to Corropolese in Los Angeles, I am going to have to try to replicate it here on the Left Coast...stay tuned!

9. Jersey Mike's Original Italian Sub - I grew up with Italian hoagies (also referred to as subs). Every neighborhood in Philly (sure, and Southern Jersey) has at least one hoagie shop. But, as I travelled to different parts of the US, it became apparent that many parts of the country are not so lucky. There are a few places in LA that sell Italian Subs (I haven't found any that refer to them as hoagies), but Jersey Mike's is our (current) hands down favorite. Yes, it's a chain but so is Lee's Hoagie House, right? If they can bring the amazing experience that is a great Italian Hoagie to hoagie/sub deprived areas, more power to them!

That's it for now....Happy New Year and Happy Eating!