A few days ago I made some homemade mozzarella and ricotta. Since these cheeses are best used while they are fresh I decided to make another one of our favorite lasagnas, pesto-spinach. I adapted a recipe I found on the epicurious.com web site. I made two small 8×8 lasagnas so I could freeze one. They freeze beautifully.
First make a white sauce:
2 Tbsp butter
¼ cup flour
2 ½ cups dry white wine
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk for one minute. Add milk and wine and whisk until smooth. Cook until the sauce thickens and comes to a boil, whisking constantly. Remove from heat. Whisk in Parmesan cheese and salt.
For the spinach:
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cup chopped onions
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
2-10 oz packages of frozen spinach, drained well
Heat the oil in a separate pan. Add onions and garlic.
Sauté until the onions are soft, about 2 minutes. Add the spinach stir until well mixed. Mix in 1 ½ cups of the white sauce.
For the lasagna:
28 oz of fresh ricotta cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg
2 cups fresh mozzarella cheese
Cook the noodles according to the package directions. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13x9x2 inch-baking dish (or use two 8×8 pans).
Mix ricotta and Parmesan together. Mix in egg.
Spread ½ cup white sauce thinly over the bottom of the dish. Spread half of the spinach mixture over and sprinkle with1/3 of the mozzarella. Top with noodles and half of the ricotta mixture. Sprinkle half of the pesto mixture evenly over the ricotta. Continue layering with noodles, remaining spinach mixture, 1/3 cup mozzarella, noodles, remaining ricotta mixture and then remaining pesto. Top with the last noodles. Spread remaining white sauce over the top, sprinkle with mozzarella. Cover the dish with a piece of buttered foil.
Bake lasagna until heated through and bubbling at the edges, about 50 minutes. Remove from oven and remove the foil.
Remove foil. Broil lasagna until top is browned in spots, turning dish occasionally for even browning, about 4 minutes. Let stand a few minutes to set up.
Serve and enjoy.
Recently I’ve been getting questions regarding canning. As we gear up towards the time of the year when people tend to do more canning I imagine I will be getting more questions. If you have a question, feel free to post it in the comment section.
People have been canning for generations. Although it is no longer a necessity to can our food it is an opportunity to take control of the food you and your family consume. Abundant fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, poultry, and seafood can be enjoyed all year. You’ll always be certain of the quality and freshness of the food in your pantry. You can take advantage of the growing season when fruits and vegetables are fresh from harvest and fill your pantry with your own canned produce.
The key to successful canning is understanding the acidity and spoilage factor of food you wish to can, as well as the acceptable methods to process those foods. There are two types of food, categorized as low acid (vegetables, meat, poultry, and seafood)
and high acid (fruits and tomatoes).
Pressure canning successfully cans both. Pressure canning is the only method recommended safe for canning low-acid foods according to the United States Department of Agriculture. The boiling water method is another recommended way of processing, however this method is only acceptable for some foods. Always follow the processing method stated in the recipe.
Invisible microorganisms are present all around us. Vegetables, meat, poultry, seafood and fruits naturally contain these microorganisms. They are not a problem unless food is left to sit for extended periods of time, causing food spoilage.
There are four basic agents of food spoilage – enzymes, mold, yeast and bacteria. Canning will interrupt the natural spoilage cycle, so food can be preserved safely. Molds, yeast, and enzymes are destroyed at temperatures below 212 degrees F, the temperature at which water boils. Therefore boiling water processing is sufficient to destroy these agents.
Bacteria, however, are not as easily destroyed. The bacteria, Clostridium botulism produces a spore that makes a poisonous toxin, which causes botulism. This spore is not destroyed at 212° F. In addition, bacteria thrive on low acids in the absence of air. Therefore, for a safe food product, low-acid foods need to be processed at 240° F. This temperature can only be achieved with a pressure canner.
The question I received was whether or not a Portuguese Soup with sausage could be processed in a water bath canner. Portuguese Soup would be considered a low acidity food. So the answer is no, anything with meat in it or even beans must be processed with the pressure canner.
Feels like winter has returned to Vermont. I feel sorry for all the bulbs that have pushed their way to the surface and the little leaves that are popping. Anxious as I am to get out in the garden I am going to have to be patient. I do have some seedlings to transplant so that will have to do. In the meantime enjoy this video. I thought it was worth sharing. I hope I will still be gardening when I’m this age. Ruth is a real inspiration.
Kale Chips have been around for a while but I never tried them until yesterday. They are so delicious! I am definitely going to try them again, soon. They are very easy to make and in just a short amount of time you can have a bowl of kale chips to munch on. And they are much healthier for you than potato chips!
Take one bunch of curly kale.
Tear the leaves off the thick stems into bite size pieces. Set the stems aside for your compost or for your chickens.
Soak the leaves in a bowl of water to clean and then dry off in a salad spinner.
Spread the leaves out on cookie sheets. Spray with some oil (I used spray Pam). Sprinkle with salt or any seasoning of your choice, we have a favorite seasoning called “Nantucket Secret Spice” which I used.
Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes, until the edges are brown and the kale is crisp when moved in the pan.
Enjoy‼ My husband even said “Hey these are GOOD!”
This post is linked to: NourishingTreasures, Frugal Tuesday Tip.
This recipe is light, quick and easy – and so good! Feel free to use any other vegetable if you are not an asparagus fan.
1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
4 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
¼ cup water
3 Tbsp cornstarch
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp soy sauce
½ tsp rice wine vinegar
Bring a small pan of water to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook until crisp tender, about 3 minutes. Drain in a colander. Rinse under cold water, drain and set aside.
In a separate pan bring the chicken broth to a boil. Whisk together the water and cornstarch in a cup until smooth and whisk into the broth. Simmer until the mixture thickens slightly, about 2 minutes.
Reduce the heat until the broth barely simmers. Slowly drizzle the lightly beaten eggs into the soup, while stirring in a circular motion. Cook about 1 minute. Gently stir in the soy sauce and vinegar. Add the asparagus and serve.
Makes about 4 servings.
This post linked to Frugal Food Thursday.
I debated whether or not this would actually fall under the category of Prudent Pantry. However just as it is important to keep a well stocked pantry in is also prudent to keep an eye on our finances. In this world where identity theft is an ever-growing problem and can take years to clear up if it happens to you, it is a good idea to keep a close eye on your credit reports. You should request a copy of your credit report periodically and review it for accuracy. Most experts recommend an annual review.
There are three major credit report companies you can request a free report from each of them every year.
The three companies are:
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374
P.O. Box 2104
Allen, TX 75013
Consumer Disclosure Center
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022
You do not need to pay for this service so beware of companies that try to charge you. A good way to keep a steady eye on your credit report is to request a report every four months from one of the three companies. That way you have three different reports coming in during the year and can quickly notice if anything is amiss. If you want your credit score you will have to pay a nominal amount. Your credit report is free.
Go to this web site for your free report: www.annualcreditreport.com
On the first page you come to you will have to enter your state and then click the button that says, “request report”. On the next page you will have to fill in information that verifies who you are, including your social security number. On the following page you will have the choice to pick one or more of the following nationwide consumer credit reporting companies to request your free credit report. As I mentioned I do this three times a year, every four months and each time requesting from a different company.
If you find errors in the report, notify the credit bureau in writing, including evidence to support your claim if possible. The credit bureau then has 30 days (a general rule) to correct its report if the information you provide is confirmed.
Good credit reports can open doors for you. A bad credit report can close them. It’s that simple and that important. Most information older than seven years automatically drops off your credit report and is replaced by new information. Seven years is along time to have negative information on your credit report, and it is often difficult to re-establish credit.