October 6th, 2014 — 12:54pm
I just realized that I’ve never posted my excellent pasta salad recipe. Here ya go:
ingredients from Trader Joe’s:
about 1 1/2 lbs pasta
1 can black olives (I cut them in half)
1 jar marinated artichoke hearts
1 bag sun-dried tomatoes
1 chopped fresh tomato (or two if they’re small, or a bunch of cherry tomatoes)
1/2 bag frozen peas
1/2 bag “melange a trois” frozen red, yellow, and green pepper strips, or a chopped fresh pepper
1 bottle Tuscan Italian Dressing
Rinse the frozen veggies in warm water to melt off any ice. Cook the pasta, drain, rinse, combine with everything in an enormous bowl. It probably tastes best if you let it sit in the fridge for a couple hours before you eat it but I can never wait that long.
You could probably add some fresh herbs if you have any, or pine nuts, or green olives, or anything that sounds good. Cold cooked greenbeans or asparagus might be nice. This was the first time I put in the artichoke hearts and peas. Those little marinated fresh mozzarella balls would probably be amazing.
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November 22nd, 2013 — 3:37pm
Adapted from the recipe on Serious Eats:
This was my first try and I used what I had handy. Next time I’ll add some
Toss 10 oz bag of shredded cabbage (Trader Joe’s) with 1 tablespoon salt and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Let it sit for five minutes or so while you make the
1 tablespoon of vinegar (I used the last of my rice wine vinegar. Next time I’ll use balsamic ’cause that’s what I always have)
3 tablespoons mayo (next time I’ll cut back the mayo to 2 or 2.5 tablespoons)
1/2 tsp mustard
1/2 tsp sugar
Ok now the cabbage should look all wilty and wet; the salt and sugar have been breaking down its cells and drawing out moisture. Rinse thoroughly and spin dry. Toss cabbage in dressing. Done.
I made my coleslaw just before I came down with this horrible virus so it sat in the fridge for a couple of days before I remembered to try it. It’s REALLY good — just a tiny bit too mayonnaisy for my taste. The texture is excellent: tender from its salt/sugar treatment, but still with lots of crunch.
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November 20th, 2011 — 7:32pm
I’ve been having a lot of fun cooking and baking in my new, big, bright kitchen, especially on days like today when I didn’t have to drive anywhere and I felt relatively energentic. Today I made Jason’s Tear and Share Cheese and Onion Loaf, which I saw him bake on the Great British Bake-Off. (We all LOVE the Great British Bake-Off!!!) It was one of the most delicious-looking things of the whole series and I’ve wanted to make it ever since.
Here’s the recipe:
And here’s a photo of mine:
it’s a basic white bread dough, which you divide into 19 pieces. You flatten each piece, fill with a bit of sauteed onion and grated cheddar cheese, then seal each roll and place them on a baking sheet so they form one loaf. And then sprinkle with more cheese before baking.
It was very time-consuming but not at all difficult; however, I never remember how long it takes to make bread, so I’ve always got the timing wrong and dinner is ready while the bread still has to rise one last time. Because of this poor timing, I didn’t let the loaf double in size before baking — I let it rise a bit but I was impatient to serve the lovely beef and veggie soup I’d made, so I went ahead and popped the bread in the oven early.
Despite this, it turned out just beautiful — soft, flavorful, delicious! Wow! Everyone loved it.
Thanks, Jason, for posting this fabulous recipe!
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February 26th, 2011 — 6:44pm
Invented a simple tuna casserole last night. Dan gave it a big YUM and had two helpings!
- Fix a box of Trader Joe’s mac-n-cheese, but also chop up a couple stalks of celery and drop into the boiling water after the mac has cooked a minute or two.
- Mix prepared mac-n-cheese-n-celery with two cans of tuna fish (drained) and a glug of cream.
- Stick into a buttered casserole dish and top with a sprinkle of garlic powder and some grated cheese (I used sliced colby-jack, which I chopped into ribbons).
- Bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit or until the cheese is melted and the whole thing is nice and hot.
It would be great with a salad and buttered french bread, if you have some. I didn’t, so we just ate casserole.
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December 10th, 2010 — 12:15am
After much experimentation, I think I’ve created the world’s simplest, least-fussy recipe for Eggplant Parmesan. (Eggplant = Aubergine, my non-USA friends.) I have found that you don’t need to bother with the salting-waiting-pressing step, nor the breading and frying, nor any pre-cooking at all. You don’t even have to grate the cheese if you don’t want to.
To feed 3-4 very hungry people, buy:
Two medium eggplants
One brick of mozzarella cheese (Full-fat, please, let’s not skimp. I think they typically weigh one pound)
One jar of your favorite tomato sauce
A lump of parmesan cheese, or some of the pre-grated stuff if that’s how you fly. I won’t touch the pre-grated stuff, but that means I have to do a bit of grating. Up to you.
Pre-heat oven to 350F
Ok. Slice up those eggplants, peel and all, into rather thin slices, maybe 3/8 of an inch thick. Less than half an inch, anyway. Let’s call it a centimeter. That’s less than half an inch, right?
Slice up the mozzarella similarly. Grate up some parmesan cheese if you’re snobby like me.
Dump a little bit of sauce into a fine large casserole dish with a lid. Layer about a third of the eggplant slices on top of the sauce, overlapping as necessary. Layer about a third of the cheese slices (this will not even remotely cover the eggplant. That’s fine. It will spread out as it cooks), then about a third of the remaining tomato sauce. Repeat eggplant/cheese/sauce layers, then sprinkle a generous handful of grated parmesan cheese on the very top.
Cover and bake for a LONG LONG TIME. I think I ended up baking mine for about 2 hours. Test after about 1.5 hours and see if the eggplant in the center is tender yet. Pull some out and taste it. Raw eggplant is revolting. Bake a while longer if you’re not sure. Take the lid off for the last half-hour or so. Let it cool just a few minutes before serving.
This is so freaking tasty, and easy too! And it doesn’t make a big greasy mess in the kitchen. And it smells so good while it’s baking. Yum!
Oh, you can throw in some slices of fresh tomato between the layers, if it happens to be summer and you happen to have a lovely ripe flavorful tomato handy.
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September 8th, 2010 — 4:53am
Can’t sleep, so I might as well write something.
Monday was Chloe’s birthday. Happy birthday, Chloe! She requested a very light cake with fresh strawberries and real whipped cream. My cakes never turn out light, so I did some googling and decided on a chiffon cake. I used this recipe for the cake:
http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Lemon-Chiffon-Cake/Detail.aspx. We replaced some of the water with lemon juice, following a suggestion from one reviewer. Next time I would add even more lemon juice. I bought actual cake flour and fresh baking powder, just to be sure, and I really did let the eggs come to room temperature before starting.
We baked it in my two round glass cake pans, at 325 degrees for 40 minutes, though 35 would have been fine, I think. The recipe tells you not to grease and flour the pans — that was nerve-wracking, but I was able to pry the cakes out of the pans when they were cool. *whew* Next time I might try greasing just the very bottom of the pan.
For filling between the two layers, I whipped heavy cream with a little sugar and mixed that with chopped strawberries. We topped the cake with more whipped cream, and then Dan decorated it with sliced berries.
When Bob and Chloe came over to watch Mad Men, we devoured almost the whole thing. It was way better than any store-bought cake I’ve ever had, including my fancy bakery birthday cake! We sent the last slice home with Chloe for later.
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April 18th, 2010 — 5:59pm
Susan asked me to post my oatmeal-chocolate chip cookie recipe. I vaguely remembered putting it on the web, so poked around in my home directory, and finally found it at http://nyip.net/~kara/cookies.html. Looks like I originally posted it before I bought my own domain :)
2 cups white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons ginger
1/3 cup sugar (brown or white)
1/2 cup molasses
1 stick butter (1/2 cup), softened
3 tablespoons hot water
Mix all dry ingredients well in a large bowl. Then add sugar, butter, molasses, and water. Mix well. If the dough seems too wet, add a few sprinkles of flour until it is quite stiff. Chill the dough, then roll out on a floured board and cut into shapes. Arrange cookies on tinfoil, place foil on a cookie sheet, and bake at 400 degrees for 8 minutes–do not overbake!! Cookies will still be soft when they come out of the oven, but will harden as they cool. You can fill a new piece of foil with cookies while the first batch bakes.
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip (or Raisin) Cookies:
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
3 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 bag chocolate chips (or one cup raisins)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in egg, water, and vanilla. Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then add to batter. Add chips or raisins. Drop by spoonfuls onto tinfoil, flattening slightly. Bake 12 minutes. Cookies will be soft when removed from the oven but will firm up when they cool. Prepare a second batch while the first batch bakes. Enjoy!
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March 15th, 2010 — 9:45am
Yesterday (3/14) was Pi Day, so I baked a pie. We loved the apple-
blackberry boysenberry pies we bought in Julian last weekend (did I tell you we drove up to Julian in the pouring rain and walked around and had lunch and bought wine and pie and had a lovely time?) and I wanted to make something similar but couldn’t find fresh or frozen blackberries boysenberries so bought raspberries instead.
I made the pie similar to my regular apple pies but left out one apple, added an entire bag of frozen (thawed) raspberries, and skipped all the spices.
So: five apples peeled and chopped, one bag of raspberries, mixed with a cup of sugar (this made a VERY sweet pie, could probably cut back on the sugar), a half-cup of flour, a half-teaspoon of salt (or so).
Pour into pie crust (I use a Trader Joe’s frozen crust). We like crumb topping: 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup flour, a bit more than an 1/8th cup cold butter. Cut everything together as if making pie crust; sprinkle all over pie.
Bake at 425 F for 15 minutes, then for an hour at 350. Cover with foil towards the end so it doesn’t burn.
It turned out AMAZINGLY delicious.
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July 13th, 2009 — 6:26pm
By popular demand: instructions for cold-brewed coffee, which is always smooth and non-acidic and yummy!
You need a jar with a lid. I use an old spaghetti-sauce jar.
Put a scoop of high-quality ground coffee into your jar, and add, oh, a cup or two of cold water. I don’t measure, I just fill the jar about a third full. Put the lid on and give it a good vigorous shake. Leave it on the counter or the window sill until tomorrow.
Next morning, give it another shake and pour the coffee through a filter of some kind. I use an Aeropress but you could put some cheesecloth or a napkin in a sieve, or use one of those single-cup filter thingies, or whatever.
Your coffee will be rather strong, so you can thin it to your taste. I add about an equal amount of cold water, and if it’s a cold day I microwave it till it’s nice and hot. In summer I leave it cold or even add a few ice cubes. Then it needs a big spoon of sugar, and a good glug of heavy cream. Yummmm!
Now don’t forget to start tomorrow’s coffee in your jar!
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October 28th, 2008 — 1:38pm
I invented this vegetarian enchilada casserole thingy last week when Henry and I were craving something spicy. It was so good I made it again a few days later!
A dozen (or so) corn tortillas
2 cans of black beans (or equivalent)
A big zucchini, chopped (or other vegetable)
A big onion, chopped
Half a 15 oz can of tomato sauce (or equivalent, whatever you have handy that’s tomato-y)
3 teaspoons chili powder (or to taste)
1 teaspoon cumin (or to taste)
grated cheese, quite a bit, whatever kind you like
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Saute the onion in a saucepan for a while, then add the zucchini and cook till everything starts to soften. Drain one can of beans and add it to the pan, then add the other can UNDRAINED. You want lots of nice moisture. Add the tomato sauce, spices, and salt/pepper. Cook uncovered for a while longer so the veggies are nice and soft.
Butter a big casserole dish and put 4 corn tortillas in it. It’s ok if they overlap in the middle. Pour in about a third of your nice bean/veggie mixture and spread it around, then sprinkle on about a third of the grated cheese. Keep layering, ending with cheese on the very top. (I only had ten tortillas so I broke the last two in half for the last tortilla layer.)
Cover the casserole and bake for, oh, half an hour or so, till beautifully hot and bubbly… let it sit a while, then serve with sour cream, sliced green onions, and a few slices of avocado if you can get your hands on one!
MEATY VERSION: This is actually how I made it the first time, and then I made the vegetarian version so my cousin could have some too :) Replace the drained can of beans with some ground or shredded meat, whatever kind you like. Cook the meat first, then add the onions, etc.
This will serve four hungry people and you might even have leftovers. It would probably be wonderful with some corn or leftover brown rice added, too! Experiment!
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May 31st, 2008 — 5:57pm
I love a good potato salad, but it’s nearly impossible to find a perfect one. I don’t want eggs, or too much GOOP, and it shouldn’t be very sweet, but it should have a bit of crunch and tang. I combined elements from a few different recipes and created a perfect potato salad:
Kara’s Perfect Potato Salad
about 2.5 pounds of red potatoes (I buy a 5-pound bag of organic reds and use about half per batch)
4 or so green onions, thinly sliced
1 or 2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of dried dill (you might want less but I like MegaDill)
1/2 c sour cream
1/2 c mayonnaise
2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar (the kind used to make sushi; it’s slightly sweet.) NOTE: I accidentally used three tablespoons last time and it was even better
Boil up the potatoes gently so they don’t fall apart. Don’t overcook them! Cool and chop into nice little bites.
Mix everything else in a bowl to make a nice dressing, and then gently mix the dressing with the potatoes. Salt and pepper to taste. Chill, and then eat for every meal till it’s gone.
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January 12th, 2008 — 11:34am
CaroleKnits posted her mother’s recipe for Sour Cream Coffee Cake. It’s a bit hard to find in her archives, so I’ll repost it here:
Sour Cream Coffee Cake
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, vanilla and sour cream to butter and sugar then add sifted dry ingredients.
Prepare nut topping as follows:
1/2 cup chopped nuts
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar
Pour 1/2 batter into greased tube pan and sprinkle 1/2 nut mixture on top. Add remaining batter and top with remaining nut mixture. Bake at 350º for 45 minutes.
I made it last night, and it is truly an amazing cake. Instead of the nuts/sugar/cinnamon filling, I spread some boysenberry jam in the middle. Also, I don’t have a tube pan so I used a loaf pan and increased the baking time by ten minutes, which wasn’t quite enough — the top center was still kind of gooey, but 90% of the cake was perfect :) It’s easy to make, too, and doesn’t require any unusual ingredients, so as long as I keep sour cream handy I can make it any time. Ohhhh yes.
edit: the second time I made it, I added 1/4 cup cocoa powder and skipped the filling. YUM!
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December 31st, 2007 — 8:36pm
Woke up at 6am this morning, so I got pretty tired as the day wore on. Henry and I went to the zoo for a while in the morning, said hello to Sunny the Komodo Dragon and wandered through the Children’s Zoo, which we hadn’t seen in forever. They’ve got a new insect house with many truly stomach-churning insects and a wonderful zookeeper explaining their horribleness in great detail. The otters were playing and swimming, and we also saw a beautiful ocelot. We watched him for a long time. Henry said that although Sunny is is overall favorite, the ocelot was his favorite of the day.
Came home, did laundry, cleaned the kitchen, etc. Returned the shower head we bought yesterday and got a different one. Dan and Henry played Super Mario Galaxy a lot. They love it! I haven’t had a turn yet but it looks great. For dinner I made a chicken and cauliflower thing that everyone likes, which I invented.
Thaw out some chicken and cut it into more-or-less bite-size chunks. Saute in a large pan until it’s just about done. Then add about half a jar of good tomato sauce and an entire cauliflower, broken into bite-size florets. Add salt/pepper/whatever to taste. Stir it around and cook gently until the cauliflower is juuuust tender. You can serve it over rice or just plain. Grate up some good parmesan cheese and sprinkle it on top of each serving. I had a half a bag of Trader Joe’s Soycotash hanging around so I threw that in while the chicken was cooking and it added a nice touch and made it go a little further.
I wanted something nice and fruity for dessert but very simple so I checked allrecipies.com for something to make with frozen strawberries and heavy cream, and I found something yummy: Chilled Strawberry Cream! I used a whole 12-oz bag of strawberries and half a cup of granulated sugar. My blender didn’t enjoy grinding up a whole bag of strawberries, so I did them a few at a time with a splash of milk. Next time I’ll let them thaw for a little while before blending. It was fantastic! Hmmm, I think it would work with frozen peaches, too.
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December 13th, 2007 — 8:48pm
By popular demand (Lena!), my recipe for Dan’s favorite soup. Sorry I don’t have any specific amounts — use more of the things you like and less of the things you don’t.
A crock pot
A handful of green beans
A handful of baby carrots
A sweet red or green bell pepper (or both)
A couple of stalks of celery
A can of Roma (Italian) tomatoes
Beef of some sort. I get whatever looks good and doesn’t cost more than $3/pound. Get anywhere from one to three pounds, depending on how beefy you want your soup and how much you want to make.
A thing of good beef broth
Salt, pepper, thyme
(Other optional veggies — cabbage, mushrooms, whatever you like)
Ok. Cut up your veggies and toss them into the crock pot. Trim the fat off your beef, cut it into bite-size chunks, and brown it, a handful at a time, in a little oil in a big skillet. As it browns, add it to the pot. Cut up the Roma tomatoes and pour them with their juice into the pot. Now add some of the beef broth but NOT TOO MUCH, maybe to an inch or so below the top of the things in the pot. The veggies will cook down and everything will get wetter, and if you start with too much broth it’ll be a very thin soup. Add salt, pepper, and a few pinches of thyme. Cook it all day on low, or for maybe 5 or 6 hours on high, depending on your crock pot. When the green beans and carrots are nice and soft, it’s done.
This freezes very well so make lots! I usually make this on Monday so Dan can look forward to a few more servings through the week. I prefer my veggie/barley soup, so I tend to make that on Friday so I can eat it all weekend :) We both like soup!
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September 29th, 2007 — 9:10pm
I love soup, I really do. I’d eat soup every night if I could. Not canned soup, good homemade soup. The soup I made tonight turned out so good that I’m going to write the recipe down so I can recreate it again soon.
Put 1/2 cup of barley in a pan of water and bring it to a boil. Turn off the heat and let it soak for a couple of hours. Drain and rinse.
Chop up half an onion, two potatoes, two celery stalks, a chunk of bell pepper, a handful of green beans, and a handful of baby carrots. Gently saute the veggies in a big lump of butter until they turn bright colors, then add a 32-oz carton of good beef stock, a pinch of salt and pepper, and a pinch of thyme. I had an open can of Italian tomatoes in the fridge, so I diced one up and threw it in with a bit of the thick tomato juice from the can. Simmer gently until veggies are tender. Oh man, it was a good rich soup. Man oh man. I try always to make enough soup to eat for the next few meals.
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August 30th, 2007 — 6:30pm
If only I’d remembered to take my benadryl last night, I would have slept great, ’cause Dan turned off the AC! As it was, I woke up at 6:30, wide awake, but because the room was so nice and quiet I was able to go back to semi-sleep till after 8am!
Last week I got a book called “No Need to Knead” from the library and it taught me how to make fantastic Italian-style bread. You really and truly don’t need to knead if you make a nice wet dough and let it sit around for a while. And the bread has a fantastic texture, light and chewy with a perfect crumb and crust.
Here’s the basic idea, my own slight variation that creates a loaf just the right size for my family to eat in one day:
Take a cup and a half of warm water. Whisk in a package of yeast. Stir in almost three cups of flour and a teaspoon of salt. This will make a very sticky wet dough that will just barely want to creep away from the edges of the bowl and almost form a ball. It’s completely un-kneadable, so don’t even try. You don’t have to!
Now, cover the bowl with a plate and refrigerate overnight or leave it alone for an hour or two on the counter. With the fridge method, take the dough out in the morning and let it come to room temperature. Smack the dough with the back of a spoon till it deflates somewhat, then let it rise again. After the dough has again risen in its bowl for a while, pre-heat the oven to 500F and then pour the dough into some kind of pan (I use my smaller cast-iron skillet, greased). You don’t have to worry about forming the dough in any particular way, just glop it gently into your pan and pop it into the oven. Turn the oven down to 450F and bake until the bread smells heavenly. Sorry, I don’t know how long, maybe half an hour or so. But check it when it starts to smell really good. The crust should be golden brown. Take it out of the oven, turn it out of the pan, and let it cool before cutting. Don’t give in to temptation! You really do need to wait or it’ll be a gummy mess.
I prefer the rise-on-the-counter method. I mix up the dough in the morning and bake it in the early afternoon. The fridge method lets the yeast develop a bit more of a tangy flavor. Try it both ways and see which you prefer!
I have baked a lot of bread in my life, but never never never have I made anything this good with so little work. It’s just as good as the fancy Italian bread from Trader Joe’s! You can learn lots more variations and techniques from the book, so run out and beg/borrow/buy a copy right now!
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July 31st, 2007 — 6:50pm
We don’t have much food left in the house (must grocery shop soon!) so I made a things-we-still-had-hanging-around soup:
Put a half-cup of rice on to boil in a pot with a few cups of water (this gives the rice a head start). I used Trader Joe’s brown rice/barley/radish seed medley.
Dice three very small russet potatoes and a handful of baby carrots. Put them in a big stock pot with some vegetable oil and saute for a while. Then add a tetra container of vegetable broth and about 3 cups of water. By now the rice should be softening, so drain and add it to the soup. Cook until the veggies are almost soft. Add one can of black beans, drained, and one can of roma tomatoes plus their juice. Chop them up a bit. Cook a little more, add salt and pepper and a handful of rotelli pasta. Don’t get carried away with the pasta — add too much and your soup will become thick and gluey. Keep stirring while the pasta cooks, and add a little more water if it seems to be absorbing all the broth. When the pasta is juuuuust al dente, turn off the heat and eat with some freshly grated parmesan on top.
I would have added an onion or two along with the potatoes and carrots if I’d had one.
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January 12th, 2007 — 1:52pm
I made Really Good Soup for dinner last night. I always crave soup when it’s cold. I usually improvise soup, but this one turned out so good I decided to write it down:
Chop up an onion and cook it slowly in a big stock pot in a nice lump of butter and a bit of olive oil, until it is soft. Add three diced potatoes (Russets, of course) and a couple of stalks of celery, chopped. Cook everything around in the butter for a while, and then add water or broth. I used frozen turkey broth that I made from our Christmas turkey — about 1.5 quarts, I think. Open a big can of Italian tomatoes and add them and their juice, and chop up the tomatoes into bite-size pieces. Add a bit of salt and pepper and paprika. Cover and cook slowly until the potatoes are soft enough. Drain a can of kidney beans and add them to the soup. Serve with a spoonful of sour cream stirred in. Oh LORD it’s good.
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November 13th, 2006 — 1:10pm
I started making my own salsa recently. It’s so good — I’ll never buy ready-made salsa again. We don’t like spicy things, so if this salsa seems bland to you, add some hot peppers or something :)
- Fresh cilantro
- fresh ripe tomatoes
- an onion (you only need a little bit)
- a lime or a lemon
- dash of salt
Mince up a bit of onion, very fine. Separate the leaves and tender upper stems of cilantro from the tough bottom stems (throw the bottom stems out). Chop coarsely. Chop a bunch of tomatoes. Mix all this together in a bowl or an empty cottage cheese container or something. Add a good squeeze of lime or lemon, and salt to taste. If it needs more of something, add more of something :) So good, so good. I keep a container of this salsa in the fridge at all times.
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November 11th, 2006 — 1:00pm
By popular demand – my lasagna recipe!
Warning: this is a Kara-style, why-bother-to-measure, improvisational recipe. Find some other recipe that gives explicit instructions if you’re a new or nervous cook, and then come back and try this one when you’re ready :) You’ll use raw noodles and spinach in this recipe but don’t worry — it’ll all turn out ok!
- Dry lasagna noodles in a box. Not fresh, not pre-cooked — just regular.
- A 15-oz tub of ricotta cheese. This will make a generous family-size dish. Use two tubs if you want a mega-lasagna with leftovers for days.
- a bag of fresh, clean, salad-style spinach (you won’t need the whole bag, so you can make a nice spinach salad to go with your lasagna)
- a bag of grated mozarella cheese, or grate your own.
- a tub of nice fresh grated parmesan cheese, or grate your own. Please don’t use the sawdust in the green can!
- about 2 jars of good pasta sauce. You might not need it all, but better too much than not enough. You’ll probably need a third jar if you’re making a mega-lasagna. When I use a can of Roma tomatoes for some other recipe, I save the thick juice to make the sauce go further when I make a lasagna.
- an egg or two
- Italian herbs — basil, oregano, whatever you’ve got handy
- an onion, chopped
- several cloves of garlic, chopped
- Assorted fresh vegetables: red and/or green bell pepper, fresh mushrooms, zucchini, sliced carrots, whatever you like. I use a box of fresh mushrooms and a red bell pepper as a start, and add other things if I feel like it. The more you use, the bigger your lasagna will be, obviously. Chop everything into appropriately-sized chunks.
- ENTIRELY OPTIONAL: some kind of meat. I used uncooked sweet Italian sausage once, cut into chunks and cooked with the veggies. It was great! You could use ground beef or turkey, or chunks of chicken, or whatever. Just make sure your meat is thoroughly cooked before you assemble the lasagna.
Ok! Heat up some olive oil in a nice big pan. Cook your onion and garlic for a little while, until it starts to get slightly soft. Add the rest of the veggies (hard/solid things like carrots should be added before soft/quick-cooking things like zucchini). Add meat, if you’ve got meat. Add herbs, generously. Cook until it’s all done and smells most sentimental. It’s better if the veggies don’t turn to mush, of course. But make sure that meat is done. It’ll cook more in the oven but why take a chance?
Dump your ricotta into a big huge bowl. Add several handfuls of raw spinach and mix it around with a wooden spoon. Remember that the spinach will shrink a lot, so why not add some more? Add a few spoonfuls of parmesan. Dump in the cooked veggie mixture and mix it all around. Taste, and see if needs salt. I usually add several good shakes. Add an egg or two.
Ok now get your pan. I use a deep 9″x9″ casserole dish with a lid for family-size lasagna, and a 10″x14″ pan for mega-lasagna. Put a layer of RAW lasagna noodles in the bottom. Dump in about half (or a third, depending on how much you made) of your cheese/vegetable mixture. You want a nice even layer. Sprinkle on a generous layer of mozarella and a few spoonfuls of parmesan, and then a good thick layer of sauce. This is no time to be stingy! Repeat these layers until you run out of stuff. End with sauce. You want a LOT of sauce.
Cover and bake (preheat the oven!) at 350 degrees fahrenheit for an hour. Let it rest for 10 minutes or so before you serve. YUM!
I love this recipe. The noodles turn out perfectly al dente and absorb all the extra liquid, so you don’t get that yucky runny juice in the bottom of the pan. And you don’t have to fiddle around with slimy half-boiled lasagna noodles and big gobs of cooked spinach oozing all over the cutting board. Freeze the leftovers. They reheat deliciously. Let me know if you come up with an awesome new ingredient or variation!
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