Friday, December 2, 2011

December 2, 2011

One of the reasons why I love this blog project so much is because I am actually trying out so many recipes. I have binders full of clippings going back to 1999 that I have collected, plus recipes that other people have given to me. For example, our PTO was having a bake sale as part of a Craft Fair this weekend, so I made 2 treats to donate, some seasonal rice cereal treats and some really cute Santa inspired cookies that I clipped from a magazine back in November 2003! And I am cleaning out the binders as I go along - if the recipe didn't earn "keeper" status, it gets tossed into the recycling bin.

It must be the time of addition to cleaning out the recipe binders, I have also begun a project to clean out the pantry and the freezer. I am finding recipes that use the various ingredients that are unopen or partially used but have no clear future use. I had some frozen puff pastry that I used for a dessert turnover. We'll see what recipes earn "keeper" status this coming week while I continue the pantry/freezer organization.

The other 2 recipes that I've shared here this week are Wilted Rainbow Chard and Manicotti. The manicotti recipe was so fun to make - Hannah and Liam really enjoyed helping me make it, and we all loved the finished pasta. As a group we agreed that the sauce wasn't our favorite, so next time we are going to use my homemade sauce. But I absolutely suggest you give this recipe a try, but use whatever sauce you love. And as for the chard recipe, we've been watching Chopped with the big kids lately, and they occasionally use ingredients we've never heard of, but often use ones we've never tried. We've seen rainbow chard a few times so we decided to pick some up and give it a try. We enjoyed it and will be making it again. You can use this recipe with Swiss chard as well.

Enjoy the recipes this week. 'Tis the season to cook up a storm, so why not try a few new recipes this week? You just may find a new favorite!

New Recipes
Wilted Rainbow Chard
Seasonal Bake Sale Treats
Nutella, Peanut Butter and Banana Turnovers


Ingredients for Cheese Filling and Pasta
* 3 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
* 4 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 cups)
* 8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese (about 2 cups)
* 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
* 3/4 teaspoon table salt
* 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
* 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
* 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
* 16 no-boil lasagna noodles
* Use the sauce of your choice

Directions for Cheese Filling and Pasta
1.For the cheese filling, combine ricotta, 1 cup Parmesan, mozzarella, eggs, salt, pepper, and herbs in medium bowl; set aside.
2. Pour boiling water into 13 by 9-inch oven safe baking dish, then add noodles one at a time. Let noodles soak until pliable, about 5 minutes. Remove noodles from water and place in single layer on clean kitchen towels; discard water in baking dish and dry baking dish.
3. Spread bottom of baking dish evenly with 1 1/2 cups sauce. Using soup spoon, spread 1/4 cup cheese mixture evenly onto bottom three-quarters of each noodle (with short side facing you), leaving top quarter of noodle exposed. Roll into tube shape and arrange in baking dish seam side down. Top evenly with additional sauce, making certain that the pasta is completely covered.
4. Cover manicotti with aluminum foil. Bake at 375 until bubbling, about 40 minutes, then remove foil. Remove baking dish, adjust oven rack to uppermost position (about 6 inches from heating element), and heat broiler. Sprinkle manicotti evenly with remaining 1 cup Parmesan. Broil until cheese is spotty brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Cool 15 minutes, then serve.

We loved the pasta, but thought the sauce less than perfect, so in the future I will use our traditional sauce that I make and freeze. The pasta was fantastic, so I do suggest you give these a try, and they were really fun to make!
Next time I make these I may split them into two trays. The manicotti can be prepared and topped with sauce, covered with a sheet of parchment paper, wrapped in aluminum foil, and refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month. If frozen, thaw the pasta in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days. To bake, remove the parchment, replace the aluminum foil, and increase baking time to 1 to 1 1/4 hours.

Seasonal Bake Sale Treats: Santa Cookies and Festive Rice Cereal Treats

Santa Cookies

* 12 ounces white chocolate chips (save 36 chips)
* 1 package (1 pound) Nutter Butter sandwich cookies
* red colored sugar
* 72 mini chocolate chips
* 36 red candies (we used mini M&Ms)

General Directions
1. In a microwave, melt white chocolate chips at 70% power for 1 minute; stir. Microwave at additional 10- to 20-second intervals, stirring until smooth.
2. Dip one end of each cookie into melted chocolate, allowing excess to drip off. Place on wire racks. For Santa's hat, sprinkle red sugar on top part of chocolate. Press one vanilla chip off-center on hat for pom-pom; let stand until set.
3. Dip other end of each cookie into melted chocolate for beard, leaving center of cookie uncovered. Place on wire racks. With a dab of melted chocolate, attach mini chips for eyes and a red candy for nose. Place on waxed paper or cooling rack until set.

Festive Rice cereal treats
To make quick festive Rice cereal treats, I bought a bag of red and green marshmallows and separated them. Then I followed the directions for the rice cereal treats, halving it and using the green and red marshmallows separately. I did add a little red food coloring to made the red "redder". I made the treats side by side in a large 15 x 10 pan, then cut them and placed them on top of each other. adhering with a little vanilla frosting. The regular batch I made I just sprinkled seasonal mini M&Ms on top. Great for a bake sale!

Wilted Rainbow Chard

* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 2 cloves garlic, smashed
* 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
* 1 bunch Rainbow chard or Swiss chard, ribs removed and chopped, leaves roughly chopped
* Kosher salt to taste
* juice of half of one lemon

1. Heat the oil to a large saute pan with the garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook over medium heat until the garlic turns golden. Remove the garlic and discard.
2. Add the chopped chard ribs and saute until soft, about 4 minutes.
3. Add the chard leaves and season with salt, to taste. Cook until the leaves are wilted. Stir in the fresh lemon juice, and serve immediately.

I used the rainbow chard because the kids were intrigued by the vibrant colors, which included bright yellow, orange, pink and red. I will say that the colors did mute a bit while cooking, but were still fun to see on the plate! The kids helped make this dish, and were excited to try it. They thought it was good, Ryan and I loved it, so all in all we have a new vegetable in the rotation!

Nutella, Peanut Butter and Banana Turnovers

* 1 square of puff pastry – thawed
* 1 egg
* 2 tablespoons water
* 1/3 cup Nutella
* 1/3 cup peanut butter
* 1 banana – sliced
* cinnamon sugar

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Roll out thawed puff pastry to a square. Cut into 8 equal parts. Set aside onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
3. Beat egg and water together until mixed. Set aside.
4. Mix Nutella and peanut butter together. Place equal amounts of Nutella peanut butter mixture in the middle of each piece of pastry.
5. Place slices of banana onto the Nutella peanut butter mixture (I got 2 or 3 slices per pastry).
6. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush sides of pastry with egg wash. Fold over to make a pocket and press sides together.
7. Brush the top of the turnovers with egg wash and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
8. Put into the oven and cook for approximately 10-12 minutes, until the turnovers are golden brown.

I used 1/2 package of Pepperidge Farm puff pastry. Also, let the pastries cool a bit before eating, as the filling will be very hot - don't burn the roof of your mouth!