Hey Mambo…

…Mambo Italiano!

Last Friday afternoon Cristina and I were trying to plan out how to start the weekend right. The answer: Embark on a semi-involved, multi-faceted dinner adventure! 

We called turned to our tried and true culinary bible, also known as Myra Goodman’s Food to Live By and decided to tackle the “Farm Stand Spinach Cannelloni”. We made a few adjustments, such as adding browned ground turkey, mushrooms, and mozzarella. We are SO glad we did. The cannelloni were much heartier and not drowning in ricotta. We also had leftovers for dayssss (which is in no way a bad thing).

Farm Stand Spinach Cannelloni 
(from Food to Live By)


8 lasagna noodles (10 inches in length)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup minced shallots or yellow onion 
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 pound (about 12 cups) fresh baby spinach, coarsely chopped 
1 3/4 cups (15 oz) ricotta cheese
1 large egg
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesean cheese
1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus coarsely chopped parsley for garnish
3 cups Marinara Sauce 

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the lasagna noodles and cook according to the package directions until just tender. Do not undercook the lasagna noodles because they will not continue to cook in the oven. Drain the noodles well and lay them out flat on a clean dish towel (not terry cloth) so they do not stick together.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large, preferably nonstick, skillet over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, basil, and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and cook, stirring frequently, 1 minute.



3. Add about a quarter of the spinach to the skillet and cook, turning frequently with tongs, until it wilts, 2 to 5 minutes. Continue adding spinach until all of it has wilted. Drain the spinach mixture in a strainer, pressing down on it to extract the liquid. Transfer the spinach mixture to a medium-size bowl and let it cool.

4. Place the ricotta cheese, egg, nutmeg, pepper, and the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt in a bowl. Add 1/2 cup of the Parmesean cheese and the minced parsley. Stir to combine. Add the cheese mixture to the cooled spinach and stir to combine.

5. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F.

6. Spread 1 cup of the marinara sauce on the bottom of a 9 by 13-inch baking pan.

7. Cut each lasagna noodle in half crosswise to make 16 pieces, each 4 to 5 inches ong. Place a piece of lasagna noodle on a work surface. Spoon 1/4 cup ofthe spinach filling along the short edge of the noodle and roll it up to encose the filling. Repeat with the remaining pieces of noodle and filling. Arrange the cannelloni in the baking pan, side by side, seam side down, fitted closely together.

8. Cover the Cannelloni with the remaining 2 cups of marinara sauce and sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of Parmesean cheese on top. Prepared up to this point, the cannelloni can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 2 days. They can be frozen for up to a month; wrap the baking pan tightlly in several layers of plastic wrap before freezing (there’s no need to thaw the cannelloni before baking, but you will need to increase the baking time by 30 minutes).

They were really delicious. Really, really delicious.



Smells Like Heaven

"OH MY GOSH, it smells like Heaven when you walk into this house!"

That was Cristina’s first reaction to the pie-frenzy that took place thispast weekend. It all started when I was invited to an intimate dinner of 4 and was encouraged to contribute the dessert. Swamped for time, I planned on making some sort of fast, easy, cliche classic (brownies, chocolate chip cookies, etc). However, there was a small problem: the guest of honor of the dinner is currently studying at the Culinary Institute of America. I felt the need to go a tad above and beyond in order to catch this cook’s eye, so I frantically made a pie. I felt I couldn’t go wrong - everyone loves pie! It was a great success, and I’m happy to say I’ve made it three more times since. 

I made a few changes to the original recipe, but the pie was still delicious. Cranberries are called for, but they are nearly impossible to find out of season so I substituted a small amount of strawberries instead. Also, I added golden raisins and dried cranberries to the filling. They plumped up nicely and added the tanginess that was lost by the lack of fresh cranberries. I also added lemon juice to the filling. 

Here’s the recipe as initially intended by Myra Goodman in Food to Live By.

Harvest Pie

Sweet Pie Crust (Here’s a good recipe: Alton Brown’s Crust)

Filling:

3 crisp apples (Fuji, Gala, or Granny Smith) cut into ¼-inch-thick slices                      

1 large ripe pear cut into ¼-inch-thick slices                                                                

1 ½ cups coarsely chopped cranberries                                                                  

1 tsp lemon zest                                                                                                          

2/3 cup granulated sugar                                                                                                

2 Tb unbleached all-purpose flour                                                                                  

1 Tb cornstarch                                                                                                              

¼ tsp nutmeg

Streusel Topping:

½ cup old-fashioned oats                                                                                            

1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour                                                                        

1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar                                                                            

1/3 cup chopped walnuts, pecans, or almonds                                                              

½ tsp ginger                                                                                                                

1/3 teaspoon nutmeg                                                                                                    

4 Tb unsalted butter

1. Make the crust and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes

2. Preheat oven to 375 and preheat a baking sheet.

3. Place the apples, pear, cranberries, and lemon into a large bowl and stir to combine. Add raisins if you so desire.

4. Place granulated sugar, flour, cornstarch, and nutmeg in a small bowl, combine, and sprinkle over the fruit. Toss to combine.

5. Make the topping; place the oats, flour, brown sugar, walnuts, ginger, and nutmeg in a medium-size bowl. Using your fingers, blend the butter into the topping mixture until it resembles coarse meal.

6. Place the fruit filling in the pie crust and cover the filling with the streusel topping.

7. Place the pie on the baking sheet and bake it until the juices start to seep and bubble along the edge and the topping is golden brown, 50 minutes to an hour.

8. Let the pie cool on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes before serving. The pie can be refrigerated, covered for up to 3 days. Let it return to room temperature before serving.  

Hurrah for pie!


Welcome back Pumpkin Muffins!

Hello again everyone! We took a little break of blogging our SLO cookin over summer partly because we weren’t in SLO so it wouldn’t have made any sense! Another school year has come which makes us big bad JR’S!!! This is a very scary thing think about..so im not going to anymore and i’ll start on the muffins!

Since were are coming into the fall season pumkin muffins seemed perfect to make on a rainy night! I found a recipe on food network website and i made some minor adjustment to it =)

What you’ll need:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (I just use a little bit of cinnamon,nutmeg & cloves..b/c its what we have and its pretty much the same thing)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (normal milk it just fine…dont get crazy and buy extra stuff)
  • 1/4 cup STAR Extra Light Olive Oil plus more for oiling muffin pan
  • 1 egg (used 2 whipped egg whites instead)
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans (i didn’t use them because they are too expensive..college pshh)
  • chocolate chips…as much as you want =)
  • coco powder if desired
  • 2 tsp ginger if desired

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In large bowl, whisk flour with baking soda, pie spice and salt.

In another bowl, combine sugars, pumpkin, buttermilk(normal milk), oil and egg(s). whisk until well blended.

Stir in dry ingredients just until completely incorporated. Fold in pecans.(if you have them)

Now this is where Kate and i got a little crazy!…we made 4 different types of muffins. For four of the muffin we left plain, then in one group we added chocolate chips, in another group we added some ginger and extra cinnamon, and in the last group we added coco powder. (the best one was chocolate chips!)

Spoon batter equally into 12 oiled muffin cups and bake 20 to 25 minutes or until muffins spring back when lightly touched in centers. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Enjoy because you deserve it =)


midnight cinnamon rolls

After a long day of fun adventures when my boyfriend Austen who was in town, he decided that we needed to make homemade cinnamon rolls and have it with a big glass of cold milk! There was one minor set back I had no yeast! So with he wonders of google i simply typed in cinnamon roll recipe without yeast and this is what i found..  

Ingredients

Dough

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking power
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup milk

Filling

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon

Glaze

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk

Directions

  1. For the filling, in a small bowl combine softened butter, brown sugar and cinnamon to form a crumbly mixture
  2. Sprinkle 1/2 of the mixture over the bottom of a 9x9 pan.
  3. In a large bowl mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Cut in softened butter (sometimes your hands are the best tools).
  5. Stir in milk to form a soft dough.
  6. Roll out dough on a lightly floured into a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. (I didn’t have a roller and hand work just as good! Just a bit messy!)
  7. Spread the remaining filling on the rolled out dough.
  8. Roll up the rectangle, with a sharp knife slice into how many rolls you would like.  
  9. Bake for 20-25 min at 400°F.
  10. For glaze, combine powdered sugar and milk in a small bowl and stir until smooth.
  11. Once rolls are finished, drizzle on glaze and serve warm.

VERY YUMMY! It was quick and easy; makes for a great snack for the next day too =) 


Dinner Tonight: Salmon with Roasted Asparagus

Yesterday I was exhausted from a combination of swimming laps, an overdose of sun, an intense Zoology study sesh, and a healthy amount of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia reruns. Understandably, I was famished but didn’t want to put a whole lot of effort into dinner. Good thing creating a delicious, nutritious meal doesn’t require a whole lot of work!

Salmon with Roasted Lemon-Rosemary Asparagus

For the Asparagus:

            1 bunch pencil asparagus

            2 Tb. olive oil

            1 & ½ Tb. fresh  rosemary, roughly chopped

            1 Tb. lemon zest (plus a little juice)

            2 cloves garlic, sliced

            salt/pepper

Preheat your oven to 375. Wash the asparagus and remove the woody ends. Using a baking pan or casserole dish (my choice), toss the asparagus, oil, rosemary, and lemon zest and arrange the pieces neatly in rows. Place the slices of garlic over the asparagus. Cook the asparagus for about 15 – 20 min until fragrant and soft.

For the Salmon:

            1 fillet, thawed

            1 Tb. olive oil

            salt/pepper

(Since the cooking the fish takes a shorter amount of time, I’d start this step after you’ve put the asparagus in the oven).

Using a medium-sized skillet, cook the fish over medium heat until it flakes apart easily and is opaque all the way through (about 3 min on each size, depending on the thickness of your fillet).

There you go! An easy, healthy meal to wrap up a day of sun-drenched activities. I really like how the lemony asparagus complimented the simple fish. I had a ton of asparagus left over which could easy be refrigerated and eaten over the next few days.


Super Fudgey Brownies

If you hate all things chocolate, rich, savory, or even related to fudge, I advise you to stop reading immediately.

Omnomnomnom

Cristina had been craving brownies all weekend long, so we decided to make some from scratch! No box mix, no cocoa powder, no pre-made anything. What does this entail? Double boilers, melting chocolate, ice baths, and a lot of waiting. The result, however, is an amazing bunch of dense chocolately glory. Nothing could beat curling up with these beauties paired with a giant dollop of vanilla ice cream and a tall glass-o-milk.

Fudgey Brownies (adapted from Baking Bites)

8 tbsp unsalted butter (1/2 cup)

4 oz bittersweet chocolate

1 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp salt

2 eggs

1/2 cup all purpose flour

2/3 cup walnuts or pecans (optional) 

Preheat the oven to 400F and line and 8-inch square metal baking pan with foil.
 Melt the butter and the chocolate together, on top of a double boiler or in the microwave, stirring often until smooth. Stir in sugar, vanilla and salt. Add eggs one at a time, followed by flour.

Mesmerized!

Stir until very smooth, about 1 minute. Add nuts, if using. 
Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake at 400F for 20 minutes.

Austen: Happy Customer

Meanwhile, prepare a water bath. Fill a large roasting pan with water and ice about 1 inch deep.
When the brownies are done – and they will look a bit dry on top – take them immediately from the oven and place in the water bath. Add more ice to the water if necessary.

"Chillin" in the ice bath (HA, PUNNY)

Allow to cool completely in the bath before removing the pan and cutting the brownies.

Austen approves

Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.



Simple Sauté


I have a new love: MUSHROOMS. How did I never seem to like these tasty morsels before?! I bought them on a whim and my life is now changed forever.

Anyways, this week I threw together some mismatched veggies that seemed near expiration…they turned out to blend together beautifully and made a neat dish you could easily eat over with barley, rice, or any grain of your choice! Personally, I just ate it with some chicken-flavored tofu strips. Trust me, they’re great.

Zucchini & Mushroom Sauté

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion diced

4 cloves garlic minced

5 large mushrooms, diced

1 large zucchini, diced

1/2 teaspoon thyme

salt & pepper

Heat olive oil in a large skillet and add in onions. Saute for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Once it’s softened, add the garlic and cook a few minutes more. Add in your remaining vegetables and continue to cook down. Sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper. Toss occasionally. When you’re happy with how much the veggies have cooked you can serve it over whatever you want! 



Strawberry Sconesss

So this morning before I left to settle down in the library, I offered to bring my friend Daniella some snacks to power our Chemistry study sesh. It then dawned upon me…I have no real savory, nutritious, fueling snacks to bring. The answer: whip up a batch of scones! My darling mother recently sent a package down to me that included Myra Goodman’s Food To Live By. She had marked a Raspberry Cream Scone recipe that seemed entirely feasible in my short time allotted. The original recipe calls for heavy cream and butter, but feeling the need to “make it healthy”, I substituted High Mountain nonfat vanilla yogurt for the heavy cream and Trader Joe’s unsweetened applesauce for the butter. I changed the flour ratio to be half white and half whole wheat. Overall, they were delicious! Another appropriate substitution: Strawberries instead of raspberries.

Strawberry Scones:

1 cup all-purpose white flour

1 cup wheat flour

1/3 cup sugar (plus more for sprinkling on top)

1 Tb. baking powder

2 tps. Grated lemon zest (I used lemon and orange, it worked fine)

¼ tps. Salt

1 tps. Cinnamon

Pinch-O-Nutmeg

4 Tb. chilled applesauce

1 large egg

½ cup nonfat vanilla yogurt

1 tps. Vanilla extract

1 cup chopped frozen strawberries (about the size of a marble?)

Preheat oven to 400F. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, zest, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Add the chilled applesauce and mix until crumbly.

Combine the egg, yogurt, and vanilla extract in another bowl. Gently add this mixture to the flour mix until barely combined. Then, carefully fold in the strawberries. The less you handle the dough, the better!

Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and pat into a disc that’s 1 ½ inches thick. Then, cut the dough into 6 pie-shaped wedges and place them on a buttered baking sheet.

Sprinkle the scones with sugar (generously, in my opinion) and bake until golden brown and firm to the tough, 20 – 25 min.

Then, remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Serve them asap!

[There might be a few minor adjustments needed for this recipe. Since the applesauce and yogurt are so wet compared to the butter and cream, the dough seemed thicker and stickier. I’ll experiment with the dry ingredients and baking temp/time to remedy this. Still awesome though!]


Fiesta Friday

After a long week of school work nothing sounds better than a nice hardy homemade meal…and what’s better than a delicious Mexican meal..not much! So Kate and I started to plan for this meal on Friday morning by defrosting 4 pieces of chicken breasts. Around 1:00 I put together the chicken or what we call Poly Pollo! What you need is…

  • A crock pot
  • however much chicken you want ( I used breast 1 per person)
  • about 1 cup of your favorite salsa (mines is jack’s salsa from Costco)
  • salt and pepper

Put the chicken in the crock pot on med/low heat. Pour salsa over until the chicken is covered and add in some salt and pepper and put the lid on. Let cook for about 5 to 6 hours.

Once that was on its way, kate and i went along with our days studying and we also took a walk to the cal poly stables and saw the cutest colts!! After that we ran to the market and we got the rest of the ingredients for the fiesta!

For the Spanish Rice…

  • 2 cups of the 5 minute rice
  • 2 cups of Chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup of tomato paste
  • 1 tsp of taco seasoning
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 of loosely chopped cilantro
  • the juice of one lime

Boil the chicken broth then add in the rice stirring frequently. Meanwhile, sautee the onion with about 2 Tb of olive oil in a pan until brown (about 10 min). Add minced garlic and cook a minute longer. Add tomato paste and taco seasoning to the pan (you might need to add in 2 Tsp of the chicken broth if rice looks a little dry.) Then, add the tomato mixture to the rice along with the lime juice, and cilantro. 

Pico de gallo

  • 4 chopped tomatoes
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 Chopped jalapenos (we took out the seeds so its not super hot!)
  • 1 cup of loosely chopped cilantro
  • the juice of one lime

Add in all the ingredients into a bowl and stir and its ready to go!

Refried beans

  • One can of refried beans

We literally just heated up the beans over the stove and sprinkle some water on it to keep it from drying out

Other yummy things:

  • grated cheddar cheese
  • tortilla chips
  • corn tortillas

After everything is done put it all together and you will get a wonderful plate that looks like this..

Kelly about to enjoy the meal!!

We also had left overs that made a wonderful lunchfor our trip down to Santa Barbra the next day for a day of shopping and the UCSB Extraganza!


Lemon Hearts

We like say say thanks to our fans here at SLO Cookin’, and one of our biggest fans is my (Cristina) sister Jackie, so we decided to send her favorite dessert/snack. A little story about Jackie: She traveled far away from home to attend a place called Ohio State, where she is on the 2 time collegiate winning synchronized swimming team! So obviously she’s awesome…but not so much in the kitchen. She is the person who persuaded us to make SLO Cooking so that she can learn how to cook!! Anywaysss…I made her lemon bars and mailed them her! =) Here it is..

Preheat the oven to 350. Butter an 8 by 8 inch baking dish

ingredients

  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 cup of chopped walnuts ( i didn’t use b/c jackie is allergic!!)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 table spoon fresh lemon juice

^me making the the zest…i just chopped the skin as small as i could make it

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with 1/2 cup sugar until light and creamy. Add the egg yolks(the yellow part), one at a time. Add the lemon zest , salt, and vanilla and mix until combined. Slowly add the flour and 1/2 cup of walnuts. Spread the mixture in the baking dish. Bake for 20 min. remove from the oven, but leave the oven on.

Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff ( I didnt have a egg beater so this was really hard!..just try you best) Gradually beat in the remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Fold in the lemon juice and remaining 1/2 cup of walnuts. Spread over the hot baked layer. Bake for 25 mins, until lightly browned. Cool completely before cutting. ( I used a heart cookie cutter) then sprinkled with powder sugar