Sunday, April 25, 2010

mincing garlic with a mincing board

If you hate mincing then you absolutely need this tool in your kitchen! This cutting board is typically used to mince fresh herbs but I've found it especially useful for mincing garlic too. A special thanks to my co-worker who gave this to me as a gift!

As a side note, remember to let your garlic sit for 5-10 minutes before using it to reap its health benefits.

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broccoli and cheese sauce

Put away the Cheese Whiz and make the real stuff! I'll admit that making this sauce is sometimes a challenge. The key is constant stirring, especially when adding the flour. Make sure you steam the broccoli rather than boiling it. Studies show that steaming does not reduce the anti-cancer compounds found in broccoli like boiling does.

Here's what you'll need for 4 servings:
  • 3 cups broccoli florets, chopped
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 cup 2% milk (or skim)
  • 1 1/2 cup medium cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/4 tsp mustard powder
  • sea salt
  • white pepper or fresh ground pepper
Prep work (about 5 minutes):
  1. Chop the broccoli.
  2. Grate the cheese.
Here's what to do (about 10 minutes):
  1. In a small skillet over medium heat, melt the butter.
  2. Slowly add flour while stirring.
  3. After all flour has been added and blended, add milk.
  4. Stir until heated and then add cheese, mustard powder, salt and pepper
  5. Keep the cheese sauce warm at medium-low heat while the broccoli is steaming.
  6. Serve as a side dish.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

italian sausage lasagna with baby spinach and mushrooms

This recipe is a bit more involved than other recipes I've posted but it definitely takes a few shortcuts from the traditional method of making lasagna. For example, I've simplified the ricotta cheese layer which typically requires mixing eggs and herbs into it. I've also used only sausage instead of both sausage and ground beef. Since the sausage is already quite salty, you can reduce the amount of salt you might normally add. There are lots of fatty ingredients in lasagna so use light or reduced fat cheese wherever possible - you won't even notice the difference.

One of the great things about lasagna is that you can make it hours ahead of time allowing you to spend more time with your guests instead of in the kitchen. Enjoy!

Here's what you'll need for 6 servings:
  • 500 g mild or spicy italian sausage
  • 3 tbsp grape seed oil
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 package fresh lasagna sheets
  • 1 tub light ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup parmesan or asiago cheese, shredded
  • 500 ml tomato sauce, plain
  • 1 cup white mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • sea salt
  • fresh ground pepper
Prep work (about 25 minutes):
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. In a large pot over medium-high heat, add the grape seed oil. When heated, grill the sausage, turning frequently to prevent burning.
  3. While the sausage is cooking, mince the garlic, dice the onion, slice the mushrooms, and wash the spinach.
  4. Grate the mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
  5. Grease a large casserole dish with olive oil.
  6. When the sausage is nicely browned on all sides (about 15-20 minutes), remove from pot, slice and place into a food processor. Set ground sausage aside.
  7. Wash the pot to remove grease
Here's what to do (about 40 minutes):
  1. In the same large pot used to cook the sausage over medium heat, saute the garlic and onions in olive oil until the onions are soft. Add tomato sauce and ground sausage.
  2. When the sauce is heated add mushrooms, salt, and pepper. Lower heat to medium-low. Stir occasionally and allow to simmer for at least 30 minutes. If you have more time then allow to simmer for an hour.
  3. When sauce has simmered, put a very small scoop of the sauce in the casserole dish and spread to a thin layer (prevents the bottom of the lasagna from getting dry).
  4. Place first lasagna sheet into casserole dish (you will likely need to cut the lasagna sheets to fit your casserole dish).
  5. Spread ricotta cheese and add half of grated mozzarella on top.
  6. Add another lasagna sheet.
  7. Spread half of the sauce on top and then all of the spinach.
  8. Add the last lasagna sheet.
  9. Spread the remaining sauce on top and then top with the remaining mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
  10. Tent the top of the casserole dish with a sheet of tin foil.
  11. Bake for 25 minutes, remove tin foil, then bake for another 25 minutes.
  12. When finished, allow lasagna to set and cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.