Lazy Lasagna Bake

LazyLasagnaHungry for some lasagna? Not up for all that work?

Well, a bit of planning ahead will make this dish an easy no-brainer on a busy day. It doesn’t take long at all, and it will satisfy just as well as the more elegant stuff does.

So, next time you are making some spaghetti sauce, make a double batch, and freeze half. Then when the lasagna cravings start, you are already half way there.

This works great as a football day gathering meal centerpiece, so do consider it for Super Bowls and March Madness festivities.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 c rigatoni or other semi-large dried pasta, cooked and drained.
  • 1 lb Italian sausage hot or mild, or other sausage or kielbasa, removed from casings and either diced or broken into pieces and browned until done. Drain as well.
  • 1 16 oz container of ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 oz diced fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 3 cups of spaghetti sauce (can used bottled of course, but it’s never as good as homemade!)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Butter a large baking dish at least 10 x 14.
  2. Pour in the cooked pasta.
  3. Take 1/2 of the spaghetti sauce and stir into the pasta.
  4. Sprinkle half of the mozzarella over.
  5. Spread the meat in.
  6. Mix the ricotta, egg and Parmesan together and then spoon over the pasta.
  7. Spread remaining spaghetti sauce over all.
  8. Spread the rest of the diced mozzarella over this.
  9. Grate a half cup or so of Parmesan over the top.
  10. Cook uncovered  at 350° for one hour.
  11. Let rest for 15 minutes or so before serving.

Serves: 8 good servings.

 

Cream Cheese Olive-Pepper Spread

creamcheeseredpepperAre you a fan of that Kraft cheese spread that comes in a little-bitty jar? The orange stuff, sometimes with olives and sometimes with horseradish? Know what I mean? You slather it on celery? They call it pimento cheese spread or something.

Yeah, I knew you would remember.

Except you use it once, and the itty-bitty jar gets lost in the fridge, and when you next find it? It’s got that cast of blue fuzz on it?

So, I figured, I can figure this out, and I can make it much better than that old Kraft stuff anyway. So I did. And it is better. At least I think so. See if you agree.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature for an hour
  • 1 c roasted red peppers, drained and then minced
  • 1/2 c green olives, chopped up well
  • 2 TBSP sriracha hot chile sauce (or whatever type you like)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Whir it up in a food processor until smooth. Refrigerates for several weeks.

Serves: good for a party 8 people easily

NOTES: Serve with crackers, taco chips, or fresh veggies. Can leave out the red peppers and add horseradish.

 

Egg Nog Holiday Pound Cake

eggnog-cake-webOh I loved this cake.

It was perfect for the holidays, and refrigerated, just remained so moist and great right to the very last piece.

Best yet, for some reason egg nog is available here all year round, so this cake is perfect for any occasion.

I did have  awful time getting it out of the pan, even though I had greased it well, so I might make it in an angel food tube pan next time. You can glaze or not as you wish with the usual bit of melted butter and confectioner’s sugar cut with a bit more of the eggnog.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 c of a variety of dried fruit of your choice. Four types, a 1/4 c each. Vary with the seasons or holiday
  • 3 c flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt.
  • 1/4 c freshly grated nutmeg.
  • 1 c butter unsalted
  • 2 c sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp rum extract
  • 1 c eggnog
  • 1 c almonds, sliced and toasted

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Place the dried fruit in a bowl and sprinkle with 1/4 c water mixed with the tsp rum extract
  2. Grease a bundt pan or other large tube pan.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°
  4. Cream together the butter and the sugar, until light and well mixed. Add the eggs one at a time.
  5. Add the vanilla.
  6. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and nutmeg. Add in small increments to the batter, mixing well before the next addition, until all the flour mixture is incorporated in the batter.
  7. Slowly add the eggnog until it too is well mixed in the batter.
  8. Stir in the fruit with the liquid. Mix gently.
  9. Add the nuts and stir just until mixed.
  10. Pour into the baking dish.
  11. Bake for 55-70 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
  12. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, and then turn out onto a serving platter and cool completely.
  13. Add a glaze or not as you wish.

Serves: 14

NOTES: all the fruits are up to you. Raisins, cranberries, cherries, blueberries, mango, pineapple, papaya, and so forth. Figs and dates too. Also feel free to alter the nuts as you wish. Macadamias would be nice with a more tropical mix of fruit. Also real booze can be substituted for the extract. Use about 2 tbsp if you do. Recipe adapted from All Recipes.

Corny Sugar Cookies

cornmealThis was my surprise find cookie for the holidays. And because it is what it is, it works for any time of the year.

It’s a sugar cookie, but it uses some cornmeal which makes it so nicely crunchy and crumbly. I just loved it.

I adapted my recipe, from one at My Recipes.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 c butter, softened
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 c flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 c white or yellow cornmeal (not self-rising)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Beat sugar and butter together until smooth and light.
  2. Add egg yolks one at a time.
  3. Whisk together the flour, cornmeal and baking powder.
  4. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter/sugar mixture.
  5. Roll into a log, in plastic and refrigerate until ready to bake. At least an hour and up to say 4 days.
  6. Slice in 1/2 in rounds, and place on  a greased parchment lined baking sheet, about 2 inches apart.
  7. Bake in a preheated 350° oven for 10-12 minutes, or until edges begin to brown slightly.

Serves: 3 dozen

NOTES: This is a great dough to freeze, or freeze the baked cookies, so don’t be afraid to double this recipe. You can frost them of course–see our Sweet Sugar Icing. You don’t technically have to roll this into a log. You can if you wish roll it out and cut it with cookie cutters into cute shapes. Also you can dust with colored sugars or other sprinkles. Do this before baking.

 

 

 

Peppy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate-Chip-Peppermint-Cookies-2I do love cookies.

I am lazy.

I don’t eat a lot of cookies.

Except at Christmas time.

Then I make a bunch.

This great recipe comes from Juanita’s Cocina. Her site is fabulous by the way and on Sunday they have a big list of great recipes by participating Sunday Dinner offerings.  So check it out.

Anyway, this is sorta Christmasy, but I don’t think it NEEDS to be only made at Christmas time. You be the judge.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 1/2 c flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 c butter, softened
  • 1 c brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 c granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs, room temp
  • 1 1/8 c Andes Peppermint Crunch chips
  • 1 1/8 c chocolate chips

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Whisk together the flour, soda and salt.
  2. In a mixer, cream butter and both sugars until smooth.
  3. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until well combined.
  4. Add the flour mixture in parts until all mixed together.
  5. Add in both chips and mix just until evenly distributed.
  6. Divide the dough into quarters, shaping into a log and covering with Saran Wrap.
  7. Refrigerate overnight.
  8. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  9. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
  10. Cut the logs into about 1/2 inch slices, and place on baking sheet about 2 inches apart.
  11. Bake for about 10 minutes or until edges start to brown.

Serves: 3 dozen or so

NOTES: you can use peppermint candies and pound them up into pieces, but the cookie will be a whole lot crunchier. The Andes pieces are softer, and I like them a lot.

 

Sweet Sugar Cookies

sugar-cookiesIt would be hard not to like sugar cookies. They are so simple and unassuming. They are featured prominently during the Christmas season, but frankly, I find them great all year round.

This is the basic recipe. What I love about it is that you can either roll it out and play with the shapes if you are anal-retentive, or you can be like me, and simply roll it up in Saran wrap into logs, get it nice and cold and slice in rounds.

That makes for a very fast little recipe and still gives you a ton of  cookies. Since size of the cookie determines how many dozen, I’ll just say it makes several dozen nice size cookies.

So what are you waiting for?

Recipe:  adapted from Yummly

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1  1/2 c softened butter
  • 3 c white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 c flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixer until well blended. Beat in the eggs, one at a time and the vanilla.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add in small batches, mixing well until you have added it all.
  3. Chill the dough for at least an hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 400°.
  5. Roll out dough to 1/4 inch or simply cut in rounds from a dough log about 1/4 inch as well. Place on cookie sheet covered with parchment, leaving a good inch between.
  6. Bake for 5-8 minutes until edges start to brown. Cool on a rack.
  7. Frost if you wish with Sweet Sugar Icing.

Serves: about 4 dozen give or take

Notes: you can store the dough in the fridge for several days, or you can freeze it for later use. Probably up to three months.

Sweet Sugar Icing

strawberry cookies finished 2Sometimes you just want to frost that sugar cookie.

This is a simple, yet very nice icing that works well on any cookie.

So think sugar cookies for lots of occasions and just color the icing to fit the season. I promise you will find them gone before you know it.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 c confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tsp. milk
  • 2 tsp light corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • food coloring of your choice

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Mix the ingredients together in a small bowl until smooth. If too thick add a bit more milk. If too thin, just add a bit more sugar.
  2. Divide up into as many bowls as you want different colors.
  3. Spread with a pastry knife on cooled cookies.
  4. Lay on racks until the icing has had time to set up and become hardened. (2-3 hours)

Serves: about 1/2 cup

NOTES: Add other toppings as you wish, colored sugar sprinkles, chocolate sprinkles and so forth.