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Dinner

Butternut Squash and Kale Lasagna

March 15, 2013

Happy Almost St. Patrick’s Day! We are headed up north for spring skiing, and have a corned beef and cabbage boiled dinner to eat up there, but I wanted to at least give you an Orange, Green and White meal for the weekend. Butternut Squash and Kale Lasagna!

 

 

I first tried this recipe from Cooking Light.  The recipe below is SEVERELY edited from their version which is much healthier I am sure. (You can find their recipe here if you are interested.) I was making it and I was like, what? 6 pieces of lasagna? How does it even stay together? Dry veggies? With no fats or salt? What? Soooo, as you can imagine, I had to tweak this.  This is the comfort food version. Complete with Mario Batali’s Béchamel sauce.  It is worth this extra step, but if you are in a pinch for time Alfredo sauce works (I almost can’t believe I am saying that, but if it gets dinner on the table faster, ok).

 

Kale and Butternut Squash Lasagna (for printer version click here):
Ingredients:
1 Butternut Squash, cubed (or 1 12-oz package pre-chopped fresh squash)
½ c. water
3 cups chopped kale
2 T. olive oil
2 T. minced garlic
3 cups Béchamel Sauce (recipe below)
6 oz. Gruyere cheese
4 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
S & P
Cooking Spray
12 Lasagna Noodles (No-Boil or already prepared al dente according to package)
3 tablespoons chopped pecans or walnuts (Warning: My kids disliked these, I loved them, so skip them or only put on half if serving to munchkins.)
Ingredients for Béchamel (from Mario Batali at www.foodnetwork.com):
5 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups milk
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Directions for Béchamel:
In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over medium-low heat until melted. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Over medium heat, cook until the mixture turns a light, golden sandy color, about 6 to 7 minutes.Meanwhile, heat the milk in a separate pan until just about to boil. Add the hot milk to the butter mixture 1 cup at a time, whisking continuously until very smooth. Bring to a boil. Cook 10 minutes, stirring constantly, then remove from heat. Season with salt and nutmeg, and set aside until ready to use. Yields 3 cups.Directions for Lasagna:

Pre-heat oven to 450:

Place butternut squash in microwave safe dish. Add water, cover with plastic wrap tightly, then pierce 2 or 3 times to let steam escape. Microwave for 5 min. or until tender. Drain.While squash is microwaving, heat up oil on medium high heat in large pan. Add garlic and cook for 1 min. until fragrant. Add kale, seasoning with ½ t. salt and dash of pepper and saute for 3-4 min. Add butternut squash and stir to combine, set aside.

Make bechamel sauce. While still hot, add half or Gruyere and all of the Parmesan cheese to sauce, stir until melted.  Reserving other half for top of lasagna.

Coat Baking dish with cooking spray, then spread 2/3 c. bechamel sauce on bottom. Lay 3 noodles on top, then top with ⅓ of squash and kale mixture, then 2/3 c. bechamel sauce. Repeat two more times, ending with noodles and remaining sauce on top. Cover with foil; bake at 450 for 15 min. Remove foil, sprinkle remaining Gruyere on top with nuts. Bake uncovered at 450 for 10 min. or until lightly browned and sauce is bubbly.  Let stand 5 min. before serving.

 

Wishing you the happiest of St. Patrick’s Days!!! xoxo Katie

 

Crock Pot Pork Ribs

February 6, 2013

The grilling season is a long way off, and after feeling the warmth of Florida sun last week on our trip to Disney, it feels like even spring is taking foorreeeeverrrrr.  (No doubt my impatience is even more acute waiting for baby and not being able to ski.)  But I do have some sunshine to share with you:

Ribs you can make in your crock pot!

 

 

These are not just ANY ribs though.  They are smothered in one of the best secrets in my recipe box.

Eileen’s BBQ Sauce. 

When I was first married, there were a few things I craved that my mom (aka Eileen) made, and this was one of them.  It is such a perfectly balanced sweet/acidic/tangy combination that it makes you dream about it in your sleep.  My mom makes the sauce when she cooks ribs in the oven and the sauce becomes thicker, which is yummy, and if you want to know how she does this I tacked it on at the end.  But I was craving more then the skinny ribs with sticky sauce. I wanted fall-off-the-bone-meaty pork ribs.  So I decided to try them in the crock pot, and I used country style ribs instead of a rack of ribs.

Turns out they were heavenly. Think pot roast tender.

 

Even more sunshine for you: this dish is super easy.  First you make the sauce.  I should warn you that I constantly doctor these ingredients to suit my taste.  I am looking for the ZING factor on my tounge, but as I mentioned it is best when balanced with the sweet.  So play around a little.  These amounts should get you close. And don’t stop at ribs – this sauce is good on chicken,  smothered over meatballs, pulled pork, a cardboard box…

Eileen’s BBQ Sauce: 

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 celery ribs, finely chopped

2 T. olive oil

1 c. ketchup

2 tbsp. cider vinegar

2 tbsp. brown sugar

1 tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce

1 tbsp. yellow mustard

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 c. water

Directions:

Heat oil in pan on medium heat.  Sautee onions and celery for 5 min, until tender.  Then add the rest of the ingredients, stir to combine.  Be sure to season to taste, then bring to a boil and then let simmer for 10 min. if using in the crock pot, 30-45 min if using in oven or on grill.

Crock Pot Ribs:

Take 3 pounds country style pork ribs and lay in bottom of crock pot, cutting to fit if necessary.  Season with salt & pepper.  Pour 1 batch of BBQ Sauce over, set on low heat and cook for 3-4 hours.

Oven Ribs: 

If you prefer stickier ribs, select not country style but babyback ribs (or any ‘rack’ of ribs with the word back in the title).  Remove white membrane off back, then set oven to broil and broil in oven for 10 minutes each side.  Then set oven to 300 degrees.   Lay the ribs on large piece of foil, baste generously with BBQ on each side, seal up the ribs in foil, then cook for 2 hours. Baste again generously with the sauce and cook uncovered (remove top foil) for 1 hour more until sauce is nice and thick. (If you have any sauce left over you can serve on the side, yum!)

Serve with a Corona or Margarita and pretend it is summer. (Virgin Margaritas work for me until baby Curtis comes and I can have the real thing!)

 

 

 

Crock Pot Buffalo Chicken

January 24, 2013

Buffalo Chicken, Beer and the Patriots are the Super Bowl trifecta in our house.

This year I won’t be having the beer (25 weeks, yay!).

 

And the Patriots will not be attending. (Moment of silence:                                            )

 

But there can still be Buffalo Chicken.

And it can be ridiculously easy too.

This is especially important if you have a desire to actually WATCH the game (ok, chat with everyone who came over to watch the game and discuss the commercials) and not slave away in the kitchen while it is on.  And when you factor in that this is actually pretty healthy, as opposed to the wings you can order and promptly go up a pant size after eating, this might be the most perfect Super Bowl Recipe ever.  Besides Buffalo Chicken Dip, see here.

First, I throw three chicken breasts (about 1/2 per person) in the oven with a pat of butter and some salt & pepper on each for 30 min. at 350.

 

Then after they have cooled for 20 minutes or whenever  I get around to it, I slice them on the diagonal and toss them in a crock pot set on low.

Then I pour one bottle of this on top:

If you can’t find their Buffalo Wing Sauce, the regular Frank’s Red Hot works perfectly.

Let it cook for 2-4 hours on low, and then when it is done, it is melt in your mouth, falling apart goodness:

 

Serve with crisp Boston or Romaine lettuce, Marie’s Blue Cheese Dressing (love the Lite version), and a bun or Hoagie Roll.

Since Buffalo Chicken is a very personal thing, I am sure you can come up with ways to tweak this all your own (chop up celery and mix with dressing? Add crumbled blue cheese or tomatoes? Sounds perfect. Knock yourself out!  My husband often makes his into a salad. He thinks his carbs taste better in beer).  I know this is so easy it doesn’t even need a recipe, but for all you cut-and-pasters out there, here you go:

 

Crock Pot Buffalo Chicken: (serves 6)

3 cooked chicken breasts

1 bottle Frank’s Red Hot

Rolls

Lettuce

Blue Cheese Dressing

Directions:

Slice Chicken and cook on low for 2-4 hours. Serve on rolls with lettuce and dressing.