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Sweet corn, basil and ‘color-boost’ lasagna
Vegetable oil cooking spray
3 cups frozen corn, thawed
1/2 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup (8 oz) Mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups grated Pecorino Romano cheese
grated zest of 1 large lemon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 packed cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1 1/2 cups (6 oz) shredded sharp Provolone cheese
6 no-boil lasagna sheets
Olive oil for drizzling
No-boil lasagna sheets (**key to quick dinner)
Olive oil for drizzling
1 cup packed spinach and or arugula
2 medium hot house tomatoes, sliced thinly
***I increased all of the ingredients by about 1/3 and made this a little larger in a 9 X 13 pan – just as fast, more lasagna to share!***
Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray an 8-inch square glass baking dish with vegetable oil cooking spray. In a food processor (**a second key to quick dinner), blend corn, heavy cream, and garlic until chunky. Add the Mascarpone cheese, 1 cup of the Romano cheese, the lemon zest, sea salt to taste and pepper. Blend until smooth. Add the basil and pulse until just combined. Spread one-third of the corn mixture on the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with one-third of the Provolone cheese. Place 2 lasagna sheets for square pan on top. Here’s where I couldn’t resist adding some color, flavor and nutrition by layering spinach, arugula and thinly sliced hot house tomatoes to the layers. Repeat twice with the remaining 1/2 cup Romano cheese on top and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Cool for 10 minutes. Cut into 6 pieces and serve.
Putting a healthy and delicious dish on the table doesn’t have to take all night or become a major construction project. This is a good, green go-to from my “Weeknights with Giada” cookbook, a Christmas gift that keeps on giving. (Thanks, fellow foodie Amanda Harper!) Tonight’s fare – Ricotta Cheese, Lentil and Brown Rice Rolls.
Here’s what they look like in progress. Me and my new baking bestie Giada love that dark green good-for-you color of the Swiss chard leaves that form the wraps for this easy to put together palette please-r. No need to keep you waiting. Here’s all you need to know:
5 large Swiss chard leaves
1 15-oz can cooked lentils, rinsed and drained. Another option. I cooked my own lentils, which took an entire 10 minutes. Sort, rinse, boil, done.
1 1/2 cups ready cooked brown rice Or – I am madly in love with my rice cooker and use it every weekend, so ready cooked brown rice? Done.
1/4 cup (4 ounces) whole-milk ricotta cheese, at room temperature
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/3 cup plus 2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 packed cup (1 ounce) baby arugula leaves, chopped. This is when I miss my garden most.
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint. Again, the garden missing.
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon Kosher sale
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 jar (26 ounces) marinara or tomato-basil sauce I used about half this much and was happy with the results.
Place oven rack in center of oven. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter an 8 X 8 baking dish and set aside. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Remove the thick stem from the center of each chard leaf. Trim the ends to make each leaf half about 7 incheds long and 4 inches wide. Here’s where I improvised a bit, having chard that didn’t seem to care how wide or long it was. Add the leaves to the boiling water and cook for 10 seconds. Seriously. This recipe says 10 seconds. Not sure what kind of an oven timer you have, but mine goes off by the time I set it for 10 seconds. I say, ‘boil quickly or until leaves become slightly limp’. So, after you boil them, rinse them with cold water and let them drain on paper towels.
In a medium bowl, mix the lentils, brown rice, ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese, 1/3 cup olive oil, arugula, mint, garlic, salt and pepper. Spoon 1 cup of the marinara sauce on the bottom of the prepared pan. Spoon a heaping 1/3 cup of the filling onto the end of each leap and roll up like a burrito, tucking in the sides as you go. Arrange the rolls, seam side down, in a single layer on top of the sauce. Spoon the remaining sauce on top and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil.
Slide the baking dish into the oven an bake for 25 minutes or until the cheese begins to brown and the rolls are heated through. Cool for five minutes are serve.
Nothing warms your body and your soul like a great bowl of soup! That’s the power and the story behind the largest fund raising event of the year for God’s Kitchen, Soup’s On for All. It’s not just about amazing soups made by some of the best chefs in the area. It’s an effort that involves thousands of people from kids in classrooms like Mrs. Tolly’s fifth and sixth graders at Forest Hills Central Woodlands to professional potters who lend their craft and skills to benefit the cause. Painting bowls in a classroom or at Gallery 303 is a good opportunity for a Grandma on the Go to connect with grand kids and give back at the same time.
Here’s the recipe from the Soups On For All cookbook for you to try from WOTV4 Women’s Maranda. Enjoy!
Recipe for Cream of Asparagus Soup
by Maranda, WOTV4 Women & WOOD TV
Serves 4 – 6
1 pound fresh asparagus, chopped
1/4 cup onion, chopped
2 cups chicken broth, divided, plus additional, if needed
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1 Tablespoon lemon juice, fresh
Fresh ground black or white pepper to taste
Freshly chopped chives for garnish
Place the asparagus and onion in a large covered saucepan; add 1 cup of the chicken broth, or enough to barely cover the asparagus. Simmer over medium heat until the asparagus is just tender. Place the mixture in a blender and blend until smooth, adding additional chicken both, if needed, to liquefy. In a medium saucepan, cook the butter until melted; whisking for one minute. Stir in the remaining cup of chicken broth and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. Stir in the asparagus puree and milk. Place the sour cream or yogurt into a medium bowl; ladle in about a 1/2 cup of the hot mixture to temper it and then slowly whisk this mixture back into the saucepan; add the lemon juice. Simmer on low heat, about four minutes – do not boil – or until warmed through, stirring frequently. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve each bowl topped with a sprinkle of fresh chives, if desired.
Not only is this soup a beautiful Spring green color, but it’s equally delicious when served chilled. It’s quite easy to turn this soup into a low-fat meal simply by substituting 2% milk and either low-fat sour cream or low-fat yogurt. Take the time to ‘temper’ the sour cream by whisking in a little of the hot mixture first, as the recipe indicates, to avoid the possibility of curdling the soup.
When the leaves fall and the season’s chill sets in, nothing satisfies like a nice, hearty bowl of chili. My Crock Pot fills up just about every weekend and chili is what fills it most often. Whether it’s red made with beef or white made with chicken, spicy, sweet, savory or just full of beans and veggies, every bowl served gets emptied in a hurry. Let’s get right to the recipe so you can give this a try before the next big game or impromptu family gathering. I’m sure I’ve never made the same chili twice, so this recipe is just as close as I can get. Every batch depends on what I have on hand. Experiment, stir and enjoy!
Joy’s Traditional whatever’s-in-the-cupboard Chili
1 lb. ground round or ground chuck
1 onion, big as you want
1/2 green pepper
1/2 red pepper
4 stalks celery
2-4 cloves garlic, chopped
Sautee all of the above ingredients together over low to medium heat in a large, deep sautee or fry pan until meat turns from pink to brown. Add the following seasonings to taste. I never measure any of these seasonings. I guess I go by what looks right and, occassionally, I’ll taste some of the meat-veggie mixture to see if it’s right. Let’s call these ‘close estimates’:
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground pepper
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp galic pepper mix
1 tsp Jane’s Crazy Salt
Cilantro – Fresh is essential for me, but dried or the squeezy stuff in the tube is better than none
Sprinkle the meat-veggie mixture with all of the above seasonings and mix. Let this cook down while you prep your Crock Pot with beans and tomatoes. I admit it, I use canned goods in this step. Of course, you can sort, soak and cook ‘real’ beans and chop lots of fresh tomatoes, too. Remember, this is my whatever’s-in-the-cupboard variety. You use what’s in yours. Here are some of my favorite additions, but it really is never the same thing twice:
14 oz can Bush’s Chili Beans in Medium sauce (these are my favorite)
14 oz can chopped tomatoes with green chilis
14 0z can Kuner’s Southwestern Chili beans with cumin and cayenne
14 oz can Garbanzo beans (you can use great northern or navy beans)
14 oz can refried beans (secret ingredient)
Open and dump all of these into your Crock Pot on low to medium heat. This needs a little loosening, so here’s my little trick. Add water to the empty Bush’s and Kuner’s cans and swish it around to get all the good stuff. Add that swished water to your Crock. When you add the refried beans, stir them up to loosen them and they will thicken your chilli. Stir the seasoned, sauteed meat and veggies into the Crock mix. Take a look and see if you want to add a few more tomatoes, fresh or canned. Let this sit in that Crock as long as you want. When you are ready to serve it up, top each bowl with chopped onions, fresh cilantro, tomatoes, avocado and shredded cheese and a whole lot of Charley’s Chips or El Matdors on the side. Enjoy!
It’s garden bonanza time! On my latest trip to the Fulton Street Farmer’s Market, the stands were packed with just picked produce, some of the area farm’s finest, just waiting to become another great meal. I went with some kind of salad in mind for a weekend family gathering and came away with a bunch of beets, bulbs of kohlrabi, bright green broccoli, crunchy carrots and a few other staples like onions and peppers of all varieties and some nearly end of the line blueberries and raspberries, too. When I got home the beets seemed like the obviously place to start since they’re hearty enough to travel and get along so well with all the other veggies. Besides, any member of the same flowering family of plants as the bougainvillea is beautiful to me. They’re also low in calories, fat & cholesterol and loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber and anti-oxidants. By mixing them up with a variety of more popular garden favorites, they will bring even the biggest beet-basher to the bright side. In the a recipe I came up, I added kohlrabi for a more atypical crunch. Kohlrabi is kind of a cross between a turnip and a cabbage with a thick outer layer that’s best when it’s peeled away. The insides can be cooked or eaten raw. There’s no need to discard the greens, either. They can be eaten as kale or collard greens would be. For the recipe I came up with, I just used the bulb. This can be served as a crunchy, sweet salad or a pretty side dish for whatever you have on the grill. Enjoy!
Beet Broccoli Bleu Cheese Kohlrabi Salad
5-6 beets, washed with the ends trimmed off
1 large or 2 medium kohlrabi bulbs, thick ‘woody’ outer coating peeled away
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 broccoli stalks with bulbs and stems, both chopped bite size or smaller
1-2 medium carrots, sliced julienne or chopped in small pieces
1 cup raisins
1 cup walnuts or pecan, toasted if preferred
1 cup bleu cheese
2- 4 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1-2 Tbs white wine vinegar
1 Tbs honey
1 tsp. sea salt
Prepare the beets to your liking. They can be boiled, which is what I did. I just put them in a pan of water as my grandma used to and boiled them for about 20 minutes, until they were just tender, not mushy. The peels slip right off with a sharp knife when they are cool. Beets can also be roasted, microwaved, sauteed, steamed or charcoal roasted. To prepare the kohlrabi, cut away the thick, woody outer layer. Slice then julienne the bulb, discarding tough stem area pieces if necessary. Thinly slice the red onion, adjusting amount to your taste, depending on how strong the onion is – some have quite a bite! Wash the broccoli and trim the woody end of the stem away along with leaves on the stem. Chop the flowers and stem alike into bite slice or smaller pieces. Peel and julienne a nice sized carrot or two, or dice them into small pieces. Toss all the veggies in a large bowl gently with the raisins. Add 1 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans, raw or toasted. For the pecans I added, I first put them in a Ziplock baggie with dashes of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and a pinch of cayenne pepper and shook them to coat. Next I tossed them in a hot frying pan with a bit of sizzling butter and toasted them, turning often. I have also done this in the oven or on the grill. When they cool off, toss them into your salad mixture. For the dressing, I’m really guessing at the measurements here. You can combine the vinegar (use your favorite flavor for this – different vinegars can change the intensity big time), extra virgin olive oil (a lemon infused one works perfectly here) and the honey. Taste the dressing first and adjust to suit your palette. Add the salt in the same manner. When you have the right combo, gently toss your salad with your dressing. I add the bleu cheese very last, and some would prefer waiting until just before serving. This salad ‘sits’ very well with the flavors meshing nicely over time in your fridge. It’s light and inviting enough as a first course and satisfying enough to fill your plate next to a nice steak, salmon or chicken leg, fresh from the grill.
It sounds a whole lot more decadent with that title, but this recipe is really quite healthy – and delicious! All summer, WOOD TV8 and WOTV 4 Women have been sharing eight easy ways for West Michigan to Live Healthy. One of the challenges is to change a recipe to make it healthier and an eightWest viewer came up with a delicious way to do just that. Robin Husted of Carson City wrote on our eightWest facebook page, ” I took advice I saw and substituted apple sauce for butter in a recipe, also decided to cut back on sugar and added fresh fruit to my zucchini chocolate chip muffins and came up with Zucchini Raspberry Chocolate Muffins. Need I say YUMM!” After whipping this up for a tasty start to a Sunday morning, I’m saying YUMM, too, and THANK YOU for the fantastic healthy switch! Here’s the recipe for you to try – don’t expect these to last for long!
Zucchini Raspberry Chocolate Muffins
2c whole wheat flour
1/2c white flour
1/4c unsweetened dark cocoa powder
11/2 tsp baking soda
3/4c unsweetened apple sauce (I always make my own by just cooking peeled apples in a little water – delish!)
3/4c white sugar
1 tsp van. Extract
1/2 c buttermilk
2c shredded zucchini
3/4 c dark Choc. Chips
6oz fresh raspberry
Preheat oven 350 degrees. Grease muffin tin or paper liners.( you can also just pour into a greased cake pan for squares).
Mix together flour, cocoa, baking soda. Set aside. Beat applesauce, sugar till well mixed. Add eggs one at a time blending well before adding the next. Add vanilla. Alternate adding flour mix and buttermilk mixing each time. Fold in zucchini, raspberries, and dark chocolate chips. Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full. Bake about 20 min or till toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for 8-10 min before removing. Serve with more fresh fruit and watch the smiles appear!
The sweet taste of summer starts with home-grown Michigan strawberries and maybe a mojito on the side! Strawberries are the first of the fruits to ripen each year and West Michigan growers tell me this year’s beauties are sweeter than ever. I picked up a batch at The Fulton Street Farmers Market in Grand Rapids from Farmer Case of Visser Farms. Every week, he and his family bring a wide variety of fruits and veggies grown at their Zeeland farm where they invite anyone to come strawberry picking and take a wagon ride tour . If you can’t get out there before the berries are all picked, stop by The Fulton Street Farmers Market which has added evening hours on Wednesdays this summer. They now accept Bridge Cards, WIC benefits, Project Fresh and Market Fresh voucher and they offer incentives through the Double Up Food Bucks program of the Fair Food Network to help more people get their daily doses of fresh produce in their diets. A Kid Approved Healthy Snacks Guide from the Michigan Nutrition Network is available on site for you to pick up and get good ideas for eats for those student-sized appetites that are home for the summer. To put together all of the goodness summer has to offer in one dish, give my Mojito Fruit Salad a try. Here’s how I put it together:
Lots of lovely, fresh picked Michigan strawberries
Half of a small cantaloupe
Half of a small honeydew
Half of a seedless watermelon
One magnificent mango
fresh mint leaves
hint of white rum, if desired
Fresh lime, squeezed
Clean, chop and mix together strawberries, melon, peeled kiwi and mango. Tear washed, fresh picked mint leaves in small pieces or use smaller whole leaves. Squeeze half or all of the lime over the fruit. I love lime so I use it all! Fold the leaves gently into the combined fruit. Sprinkle a desired amount of raw sugar, or white sugar if you prefer, over fruit mixture. I used only a teaspoon for an eight cup bowl of fruit because the fresh produce I found at the farmers market was so sweet and delish! Sprinkle the same amount of white rum, more or less, over the fruit, if desired. This mixture can be enjoyed immediately or refrigerated for use within a couple of days. Sit back, relax and savor summer!
Just about the only place I love to spend time more than a favorite grocery store is at a fine farmer’s market. With spring in the air and summer approaching fast, the produce options are multiplying daily, even in my own container-garden adorned back yard. What caught my eye and appetite on a recent trip were some big, beautiful beets, a favorite of my Polish husband and father in law. I had some crispy cabbage already and lots of lovely herbs growing nearby, so I put what I had together to come up with a sensational summer salad to share. This one’s for you, beet and cabbage fans! Enjoy.
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
5 tablespoons Meyer Lemon Olive Oil
3 large raw beets, peeled, coarsely grated
1 medium to large tart apple – Granny Smith, Ida Red or Honey Crisp are my favs
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
5 tablespoons walnut oil
6 cups thinly sliced green cabbage
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
Whisk vinegar and mustard and walnut oil in large bowl, then mix in beets and apples. Season with coarse salt and fresh ground pepper.
Whisk vinegar, low-sodium soy sauce, and sugar in another large bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Mix in cabbage, raisins, walnuts and mint. Season with coarse salt and fresh ground pepper.
Let both salads stand for at least a half-hour and up to a couple of hours at room temperature to blend flavors, tossing occasionally. Serve salads side by side, one at a time or mix them both together and serve as one sweet, crunchy, sensational flavor blast. It’s low-fat, packed with nutrition, and a pretty nice color, too. Take it to your next picnic and be prepared to share the recipe.
When it’s shaped like a bunny (sort of), a cake can be a memory in the making. I’m not sure when the tradition started, but as long as I remember being a parent, no Easter has gone by without an attempt to make a cake shaped somewhat like a bunny. Many years, it’s far less than a masterpiece…matted frosting fur, lopsided too-long ears, a missing marshmallow tail…not the most delicious dessert at the dinner table. But the bunny cake always brings family together. The tiniest hands place each M&M eye and jelly bean nose. A glob of frosting usually sits where the always eaten tail is supposed to be. Over the years, we kept that rabbit from harm – or at least tried to – placing it on top of the fridge when the dog was far too curious, out of reach from those little hands that helped create it until the Easter Sunday dinner was served. Some Bunny Cakes like this one pull double duty wishing a Happy Birthday to eightWest photojournalist and editor Amanda Harper from her mom Sheri Harper, and a Happy Easter, too. Now it’s time for the next generation to get in on the act. It all starts with a white cake which can be a mix or ‘the real thing’. The from scratch recipe below comes from a cookbook given to me by my best friend and her mom, Cathy and Vernie Ann Kelly, more than thirty years ago. Best friends are really family, too.
Sandy’s What A White Cake
1/2 c. shortening
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 c. flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 c. plus 2 Tbls. milk
Stir shortening and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs one at a time, beating after each egg. Add flour, salt and baking powder alternately with milk a little at a time. Bake at 375-degrees for 24 minutes. It’s a very moist and hearty cake!
Making a Bunny Cake
You will need:
9″ round baking pan
White cake mix or prepared from scratch white cake
Frosting – prepared or from scratch (I use the Fluffy White stuff for a fluffier bunny)
Jelly beans, M&M or other preferred candy decorations
Large marshmallow for the tail
Poster board and non-toxic crayons to make ears
Green food coloring
Prepare baking pan with cooking spray and a light dusting of flour or reserved cake mix. Mix cake and fill baking pan half way. Use the rest of the batter for a second bunny cake or cupcakes. Let cake cool completely. Cut the top off the cake to even up the surface. Frost the top half (cut surface) of the cake lightly
Cut the cake in the center creating two half circles. Fold the two halves together with frosting in the middle to adhere the halves and place on a serving platter cut side down. The cake now resembles a half moon shape on the plate. Frost the entire cake with white, fluffy frosting or chocolate if you want a brown bunny. Pick out candies for the eyes and nose and place them on one end of the bunny cake. Place a large marshmallow for the tail on the other end of the bunny cake. Cut out two ears and color as you like. Fold the bottom corners of the ears today and place in the cake where the bunny’s ear belong. Decorate the platter around the bunny with ‘grass’. Create this by sprinkling coconut with a couple of drops of green food coloring – stir to mix. Add a few jelly beans on top of the coconut just for fun.
Sweet and spicy shrimp kabobs & peaches – what says, ‘Hello, Spring’ better than that? With the weather cooperating and Easter still a short time away, it’s a good time to try a new twist on the Friday night Lenten Fish Fry. Here’s a summer grill favorite with a little sugar and spice via peaches and barbecue. Serve it up with some rice and a leafy green salad and you’re ready for a fresh, healthy meal in less than half an hour. Enjoy!
Barbecued Shrimp & Peach Kabobs
What you’ll need:
12 metal or bamboo skewers
(If using bamboo skewers, soak in cold water at least 30 minutes to prevent burning.)
1 Tbls. packed dark brown sugar
1 tsp. ancho chili powder
1 tsp. sweet paprika
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground red (cayenne) pepper
1/4 freshly ground pepper
1 lb. shrimp (16 – 20), peeled and deveined
3 medium peaches, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 bunch green onions, dark green parts trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces
Lime wedges for serving
Prepare outdoor grill for direct grilling on high. Combine brown sugar and all of the spices in a large bowl. Add shrimp peaches and onion and toss until well coated. Thread shrimp, peaches and onion alternately onto skewers. Grill 3 to 4 minutes or until browed and shrimp becomes opaque throughout, turning once. Serve with lime wedges.
The good news:
Each serving (4 total) is about 135 calories, with 4 g. protein, 18 g. carbohydrates, 2 g. total fat and 0 g. saturated fat, 3 g. fiber, 112 mg. cholesterol, 665 mg. sodium