Thursday, April 24, 2014

#TBT: Danish Day

One of my favorite all-time shows is Gilmore Girls.  I own every season on DVD and can pretty much quote 90% of the episodes (especially seasons 1-4). That leads into today's #tbt recipe: danishes!  If you're a fan of the show, you know that the clip above is from the episode where Luke & Lorelai are fighting and she refuses to go into the diner to get her usual coffee and danish on "Danish Day".  She sends her daughter in to do her dirty work and Luke will only sell her one coffee and one danish, knowing Lorelai is waiting outside.

"So you guys had a fight, big deal. You know you're gonna make up anyway, and what better day to make up than Danish Day, the happiest of all days. The day when we all say, 'hey, let's forgive and forget over a nice Danish and a cup coffee." - Rory (Gilmore Girls)

Hear, hear! I agree, a morning that starts with danish is quote possibly the happiest of all days.  With that in mind, here is one of my favorite recipes for danish.  It's super-simple and originates from Ina Garten.  Happy Danish Day everyone!

Classic Cheese Danish


8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
2 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
2 tablespoons ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
2 sheets (1 box) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Thaw out the puff pastry (about 45 minutes before using). Combine the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and cream them together on low speed until smooth.

With the mixer still on low, add the egg yolks, ricotta, vanilla, salt, and lemon zest and mix until just combined. Don't whip the mixture, you want it nice and creamy not light and fluffy.

Unfold 1 sheet of puff pastry onto a lightly floured board and roll it slightly with a floured rolling pin until it's a 10 by 10-inch square. Cut the sheet into quarters with a sharp knife. Place a heaping tablespoon of cheese filling into the middle of each of the 4 squares. This is also where you can add a small scoop of jam or fruit filling to the cheese if you like.

Brush the border of each pastry with egg wash and fold 2 opposite corners to the center, brushing and overlapping the corners of each pastry so they firmly stick together. Brush the top of the pastries with egg wash. Place the pastries on the prepared sheet pan. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry and refrigerate the filled danishes for 15 minutes.

Bake the pastries for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan once during baking, until puffed and brown. Let cool slightly before eating.  The danishes will keep in an airtight container for 2-4 days.

Printable Version

Continue Reading...

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Pesto Chicken Lasagna Rolls

One of the questions I get asked all the time is what to do with leftovers. Not many people want to just re-heat leftovers from the night before in their original form. Leftover roast chicken has to be one of my favorite things to re-work because it can be so versatile!

This recipe for lasagna rolls was a huge hit in our house, it has great flavor and comes together quickly for a great weeknight dish. I used a prepared pesto because its too cold to start growing my basil yet here in the East Coast and if I bought enough at the grocery store to make as much as I needed it would have been more expensive than the prepared stuff.  I'm looking forward to making this later in the spring/summer when I have fresh basil growing, the flavor of the fresh stuff is just amazing!

If you don't have leftover roast chicken lying around, just do a quick poach of boneless skinless chicken breasts in a mixture of half chicken broth and half water and whatever seasonings you like (for this recipe I'd sprinkle in a little salt, dried oregano and dried basil).  Let the water simmer gently and add in the chicken until fully cooked.  Let it cool a little and then shred it to use in the recipe.

Pesto Chicken Lasagna Rolls

7 oz container of refrigerated pesto (I use Butoni brand)
10-12 lasagna noodles
1 lb. shredded chicken
15 oz. part-skim ricotta cheese
Salt & pepper
1 egg (lightly beaten)
1/4 cup freshly shredded Parmesan
2-3 cups of your favorite tomato sauce (try my homemade marinara sauce)
1 cup shredded Mozzarella
3 tbsp. Panko breadcrumbs
Cooking spray

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the lasagna noodles according to the package direction.  In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spread 1 cup of the tomato sauce in the bottom of a 13x9 baking dish and set aside.

Combine the ricotta, a good pinch of salt and pepper, the egg and Parmesan in a medium-sized bowl.  When the noodles are done, drain well.

Working with 1 or 2 noodles at a time, lay them flat and spread with the pesto (about 1 tsp. per noodle), then ricotta (about 1 1/2 tbsp. per noodle) and top with shredded chicken.  Roll and place on top of the sauce in the baking dish.  Repeat until all the rolls are made.

Cover the lasagna rolls with the remaining sauce (1-2 cups depending on how saucy you like it) and sprinkle with the shredded Mozzarella cheese and Panko.  Mist the top with nonstick cooking spray and bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes until the cheese is completely melted and the breadcrumbs are toasted.

Printable Recipe

Continue Reading...

Monday, April 21, 2014

How To Customize Your Dinner: A Hatred of Olives

I've said it before and I'm sure I'll say it countless more times: the best thing about cooking is being able to customize any dish to your own taste! This recipe is a perfect example.  My husband and I love fresh tuna and I wanted to present it in a little bit of a different way, so I found a recipe for a basic seared tuna nicoise salad.

Unfortunately we hate olives.

I know, it might be an unpopular admission in the food world, but I've tried so hard to like them!  I think they taste awful and I've tried green, black, stuffed, unstuffed, etc.  I just can't seem to fool my palate into liking them.  This presented me with a problem, not because I couldn't leave out the olives (which I did), but because the dish is named after nicoise olives, so what do I call it?

Hence the Unnamed Seared Tuna Salad was born.  Enjoy!  I plan on customizing it even more the next time I make it, using fresh asparagus instead of green beans.  What are some of your favorite food swaps?

Unnamed Fresh Tuna Salad

4 large eggs
1 lb. small red potatoes (quartered)
1 heaping cup trimmed fresh green beans
2 tuna steaks (about 6 oz each)
Salt & pepper
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes (halved)

Hard boil the eggs.  My no-fail method is to place them in a saucepan and cover with about an inch of water. Bring to a boil then immediately cover and remove from heat.  Let sit for 10-15 minutes then drain and let the eggs cool in an ice bath for 10 minutes.  Refrigerate until needed.

Add the potatoes to a large pot and cover with cold water.  Add salt to season the water (about 2-3 tbsp.) and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat slightly and let the potatoes simmer for about 10-12 minutes.  Add in the green beans and cook for 4 minutes, then transfer the beans to an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Drain the potatoes and set aside.

Now is a good time to peel and halve the eggs.  Heat a large cast-iron skillet or grill pan over medium high heat.  Add in a splash of vegetable oil or nonstick cooking spray.  Season the tuna steaks well with salt and pepper on both sides, then add them to the pan.  Cook 2-3 minutes on each side and let rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

Combine a pinch of salt and pepper, 2 tbsp. olive oil, vinegar and mustard in a small bowl.  Whisk together until smooth and toss about 3/4 of the mixture with the tomatoes.  Set the rest aside to use as additional dressing for the potatoes or beans if anyone wants it.

Divide the eggs, potatoes, tuna and beans among plates and top the tuna with the tomato mixture.

Printable Recipe

Continue Reading...