Saturday, February 09, 2013

Lasagna Soup

This winter we discovered our favorite soup: lasagna soup. It is from Our Best Bites and they have a great post with photos and instructions to take you through each step. I suggest you head over there to read it! What makes this soup extra special is a scoop of ricotta cheese mixture that is placing in the bowl prior to pouring in the soup. It really does give it a special lasagna taste and "feel." 

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/2 lbs Italian Sausage (* I used a 1 lb "roll" of sausage meat and it worked just fine)
3 cups chopped onions
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
optional: 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
28-ounce can diced tomatoes, preferably fire roasted
2 bay leaves
6 cups chicken broth
8 ounces fusilli pasta
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, or a heaping tablespoon dried basil
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

8 ounces ricotta cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
a few cracks of black pepper

optional: shredded mozzarella for sprinkling on top

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add sausage, breaking up into bite sized pieces and cook until browned and cooked through. Add onions and cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes.   If you’re using dried basil, add it at this point.  Cook for about a minute. Add tomato paste and stir well to incorporate.

Add diced tomatoes, bay leaves, and chicken stock. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  You can add the dry pasta to the soup in the last 8-ish minutes of cooking, or cook the pasta separately and add to individual servings. Right before serving, stir in fresh basil if you’re using fresh, and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, salt, and pepper.

To serve, place a generous dollop of the ricotta mixture in each soup bowl, add pasta if you cooked it separately, and ladle the hot soup over the cheese.  Let it sit for a minute for the cheese to get all melty, sprinkle mozzarella on top if desired and eat up.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder with Peach Sauce

This is a recipe I saw on Amercia's Test Kitchen. I love how that show takes a scientific approach to cooking to get the best results. And this pork roast was absolutely the best I've ever had. AMAZING. You must try it! The meat was the most flavorful and tender possible and the peach sauce took it over the top. Doug didn't care for the sauce so much - he's anti-vinegar and mustard. But you must try it!


Pork Roast
1 Bone-In Pork Shoulder (also referred to as Butt), 6 to 8 pounds
1/3 C Kosher Salt
1/3 C Light Brown Sugar, packed
Black Pepper, ground

Peach Sauce
10 oz. Peaches, frozen (cut into 1-inch chunks (about 2 cups) -OR- 2 fresh peaches, cut into 1/2-inch wedges)
2 C Dry White Wine
1/2 C Granulated Sugar
1/4 C Unseasoned Rice Vinegar, plus 1 T (* I used a pear-infused vinegar instead)
2 Sprigs Fresh Thyme (* I used a sprinkle of dried thyme)
1 T Whole-Grain Mustard

Pork Roast
1. Using sharp knife, cut slits 1 inch apart in crosshatch pattern in fat cap of roast, being careful not to cut into meat.
2. Combine salt and brown sugar in medium bowl then rub salt mixture over entire pork shoulder and into slits.
3. Wrap roast tightly in double layer of plastic wrap, place on rimmed baking sheet, and refrigerate at least 12 and up to 24 hours.
4. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and pre-heat oven to 325-degrees. Unwrap roast and brush off any excess salt mixture from surface.
5. Season roast with pepper.
6. Transfer roast to V-rack coated with nonstick cooking spray set in large roasting pan and add 1 quart water to roasting pan.
7. Cook roast, basting twice during cooking, until meat is extremely tender and instant-read thermometer inserted into roast near but not touching bone registers 190 degrees, 5 to 6 hours.
8. Transfer roast to carving board and let rest, loosely tented with foil, 1 hour.
9. Transfer liquid in roasting pan to fat separator and let stand 5 minutes.
10. Pour off 1/4 cup au jus; discard fat and reserve remaining jus for another use.
11. After resting, using sharp paring knife, cut around inverted T-shaped bone until it can be pulled free from roast (use clean kitchen towel to grasp bone).
12. Using serrated knife, slice roast and serve, passing sauce separately.

Peach Sauce
1. While the roast is resting, bring peaches, wine, granulated sugar, 1/4 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup defatted au jus, and thyme to simmer in small saucepan.
2. Cook sauce, stirring occasionally, until reduced to 2 cups, about 30 minutes.
3. Remove thyme and stir in remaining T of rice vinegar and mustard.
4. Cover and keep warm.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Cheddar Cheese Soup with Zucchini, Broccoli, and Carrots

2 Tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 medium zucchini, grated
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1/2 onion, grated
1 head broccoli, chopped into mini florets
3 cups chicken broth
2 Tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
2 cups grated cheddar cheese

In large saucepot, melt butter. Add garlic, zucchini, carrots, and onion. Saute until veggies are tender. Stir in broccoli and broth. Simmer until broccoli is tender. Meanwhile, melt butter in large pot. Whisk in flour and cook for a minute or two. Whisk in milk until smooth. Simmer until thickened. Whisk in cheddar cheese. Incorporate vegetable mixture into cheese sauce, whisking until smooth. Serve immediately.

Serves: 4

Orginally from: good (CHEAP) eats

Monday, February 04, 2013

Baked Ziti

Prep Time: 15 Minutes Cook Time: 45 Minutes Difficulty: Easy Servings:12

            2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
            3 cloves Garlic, Minced
            1 whole Large Onion, Diced
            1 pound Italian Sausage
            1 pound Ground Beef
            1 can (28 Ounce Can) Whole Tomatoes, With Juice
            2 cans (14.5 Ounce) Tomato Sauce Or Marinara Sauce
            2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning
            1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
            Salt And Pepper, to taste
            16 ounces, weight Ziti Or Mostaciolli, Cooked Until Not Quite Al Dente
            1 tub (15 Ounce) Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese
            1-1/2 pound Mozzarella Cheese, Grated
            1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
            1 whole Egg
            Fresh Minced Parsley
Preparation Instructions
Heat olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and saute for several minutes, or until starting to soften. Add Italian sausage and ground beef and cook until browned. Drain off fat, leaving a bit behind for flavor and moisture.
Add tomatoes, tomato juice, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes. Stir and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. After that time, remove 3 to 4 cups of the sauce to a different bowl to cool down.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a separate bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, 2 cups of the grated mozzarella, Parmesan, egg, and salt and pepper. Stir together just a couple of times (do not mix completely).
Drain the pasta and rinse under cool water to stop the cooking and cool it down. Pour it into the bowl with the cheese mixture and toss to slightly combine (there should still be large lumps.) Add the cooled meat sauce and toss to combine.
Add half the coated pasta to a large casserole dish or lasagna dish. Spoon half of the remaining sauce over the top, then top with half the remaining mozzarella cheese. Repeat with another layer of the coated pasta, the sauce, and the mozzarella.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until bubbling. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before serving.
(Sprinkle chopped parsley over the pasta before serving!)

Tomato Crostini with Whipped Feta

Tomato Crostini with Whipped Feta

2012, Barefoot Contessa Foolproof, All Rights Reserved
Prep Time:
30 min
Inactive Prep Time:
10 min
Cook Time:
6 to 8 servings


  • 6 ounces good feta, crumbled
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup good olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots (2 shallots)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
  • 2 tablespoons good red wine vinegar
  • 2 pounds ripe heirloom or cherry tomatoes, 1/2-inch-diced
  • 3 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves, plus extra for serving
  • 20 to 25 (1/2-inch-thick) diagonal baguette slices, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts


For the whipped feta, place the feta and cream cheese in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse until the cheeses are mixed. Add 1/3 cup of the olive oil, the lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and process until smooth.
For the tomatoes, up to an hour before you're serving, combine the shallots, garlic, and vinegar in a medium bowl. Set aside for 5 minutes. Whisk in the remaining 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add the tomatoes, stir gently, and set aside for 10 minutes. Stir in the basil and taste for seasonings.
To assemble the crostini, spread each slice of bread with a generous amount of whipped feta. With a slotted spoon, place the tomatoes on top. Put the crostini on plates and scatter with the pine nuts. Sprinkle with extra basil and serve.