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Grilled Cheese, in the style of Commonwealth November 30, 2010

Posted by Angela @ Making Food for Friends in dinner, quick meal, vegetarian.
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grilled cheese

Commonwealth is a small coffee shop that opened in downtown Birmingham a few months back.  By all accounts, their coffee is phenomenal, but having never been a coffee drinker (I think I’ve tried coffee once in my life), I cannot comment.  I can tell you, however, that their grilled cheese is DELICIOUS.  Ryan ate there for lunch one day, and couldn’t stop talking about the grilled cheese until we went there together so I could try it for myself.

They serve the grilled cheese on thick, soft-but-toasted bread, with at least three different cheeses inside.  We don’t know for sure, but think Boursin might be one of them.  There’s definitely grilled halloumi, and some sort of melty white cheese tying it all together.  It comes with a little cup of tomato soup, and it costs $9.  It’s worth the money, but considering we don’t leave around the corner, and the fact that two grilled cheeses costs about $20, we decided to make our own version, which I dare say comes verrrrry close to the deliciousness of the Commonwealth grilled cheese.  I served it alongside the best tomato soup ever, and it was a meal that I wished I could eat again and again and again and again.

Warning: this is not the healthiest thing I’ve ever posted on this blog.  But it’s worth it!

Grilled Cheese with Boursin, Halloumi, and Muenster

grilled cheese

Ingredients:
4 slices of bread (we used Trader Joe’s sourdough)
A little bit of butter
1/2 block of halloumi
Boursin cheese
2 slices of muenster cheese

Method:
You’ll want to grill your halloumi first.   Cut it into 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick slices and grill it either on a grill pan, or just in a skillet.  You don’t need to spray or oil the pan before putting the cheese on it.  It has plenty of oil in it to cook properly!

Once that is done, assemble the sandwich using Boursin cheese as a spread on both piece of bread.  Layer the halloumi on one slice, muenster on the other, sandwich together, butter the outsides, and grill it up!

Getting Fresh: Root Veggie Shepherd’s Pie November 23, 2010

Posted by Angela @ Making Food for Friends in dinner, good for a group, vegetarian.
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root vegetable shepherd's pie

Hello!  My second food column is up at the Ferndale Patch.  Just click on the link or the photo above to see a recipe and write-up for a root vegetable shepherd’s pie.  It’s delicious!

Roasted Root Vegetable Macaroni & Cheese November 8, 2010

Posted by Angela @ Making Food for Friends in dinner, good for a group, vegetarian.
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root vegetables

I had a rutabaga sitting on my kitchen counter for almost two weeks.  A friend had made rutabaga chips with curried mayo at our recent Cooking Club, and I bought the rutabaga with the intention of making chips out of it, but as the days and weeks passed, I knew I just had to use it up or it’d go bad.  Same with the parsnip slowly losing it’s crisp in my fridge.  It was now or never for these guys.  I threw together a macaroni and cheese, subbing cubed and roasted root vegetables for half of the pasta.  The result was a nice smoky, savory dish with the earthiness of the vegetables nicely balanced by the creaminess of the melted cheese.  Top it with a little hot sauce, and it was outstanding.

Roasted Root Vegetable Macaroni & Cheese

root vegetable mac & cheese

Ingredients:
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 large parsnip, peeled and diced
1 rutabaga, peeled and diced
8 oz dried pasta
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups shredded cheese (I used a mix of swiss, Gruyère, and cheddar)
2 cups reduced fat milk
3 tablespoons flour
1 small onion
Salt & pepper
Smoked paprika (optional, could sub cayenne pepper)
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 400F. Start by roasting your vegetables.  Peel and cube all of the veggies you are using.  I used parsnip, rutabaga, and carrot, but you could also use celery root, sweet potato, squash, or other winter vegetables. Cut them up into even-sized pieces.

diced vegetables

At this point, they looked like cheese cubes, and I kind of wished they were.

Put them in a large roasting pan, stir in a tablespoon or two of olive oil, liberally sprinkle with salt and pepper, and put them in the oven for about 30-40 minutes, or until tender.  You’ll want to stir them up about halfway through the cooking time.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Boil your pasta when it is ready, just until it is al dente.

While the water is coming to a boil, start your cheese sauce.  Dice an onion, and saute it in 1 tablespoon of butter for about 5 minutes.  When it is soft, add the flour to the pan and stir it up.  Slowly add the milk, whisking the whole time.  Reduce heat to low, and keep it warm, stirring occasionally.  After you put the pasta in the boiling water, add the cheese to the saucepan with the milk, onion, and flour.  Stir the cheese in slowly.  Add your spices now, too.  Salt, pepper, smoked paprika, cayenne, thyme–anything you might like.

When everything is ready, drain the pasta, and add it to a large casserole dish along with the roasted vegetables.

Pour the cheese sauce on top, stir it up, and top with breadcrumbs and parmesan. Bake for about 20-30 minutes, or until the top has started to turn golden brown.

Soy Ginger Turkey Burger November 5, 2010

Posted by Angela @ Making Food for Friends in BBQ, dinner, meat.
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I can’t believe I’ve been writing this blog for 6 months and haven’t yet posted the recipe for our much-loved turkey burger!!  This turkey burger has been hugely popular whenever we make it, and although I cannot vouch for it myself (being a vegetarian), I have heard enough people rave about it to know that this recipe is a keeper.  The ingredients list might seem strange but just trust me on this one–orange juice and soy sauce go together better than you could’ve ever imagined.  Ryan and I make this together–I prepare the mixing bowl with all of the ingredients that go into the turkey burger, then he mixes in the meat and grills the burgers to perfection while I make myself a veggie burger.  It’s nice teamwork.  🙂

Soy Ginger Turkey Burger

turkey burger

Ingredients:
16 oz. ground mixed turkey
3 tablespoons no-pulp orange juice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 scallions, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Thoroughly mix all ingredients except turkey in a large bowl.  Mix in the turkey.  Form the meat into four even-sized patties, and grill over medium-high heat until the middle of the burgers reach at least 165F. 

Gnocchi with Shiitake Spinach Cream Sauce November 2, 2010

Posted by Angela @ Making Food for Friends in dinner, quick meal, vegetarian.
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Sometimes, the best meals come from raiding the fridge and throwing a bunch of odds-and-ends together.  That’s how this meal was born, and WOW was it good.  Comfort food to the max (stick-to-your-ribs potatoes and cream!) but if comfort food isn’t appropriate on a chilly fall night, then I don’t know when it is. Plus, I used half-and-half instead of heavy cream and threw in a cup or so of chopped spinach at the last second, so those were my concessions toward healthy cooking for this recipe.

Ryan said this one’s going on the menu for sure—the ever-growing list of recipes that we’d serve at the restaurant we’re opening only in our imagination.  I would have to concur.

Gnocchi with Shiitake Spinach Cream Sauce
(Printable Recipe)

mushroom gnocchi

Ingredients:

1 package potato gnocchi (I had a package of mini-gnocchi in my pantry that were great in this)
4-6 oz. shiitake mushrooms
1 1/4 cup vegetable broth, warmed
1/2 tbl butter
1 shallot
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp thyme
Salt & pepper
1/4 cup half-and-half
1/4 cup parmesan
1 cup chopped fresh spinach (or just a few handfuls)

Method:

Melt the butter in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper and saute for 2 minutes. Add the shiitake mushrooms and saute another 3 minutes.  Add 1 cup warm vegetable broth and simmer at medium-high heat until it is reduced by half, about 10 minutes.

mushroom sauce

Add the half-and-half and parmesan and simmer until it thickens, about 2-4 minutes. Add a cup of chopped spinach toward the end of the cooking time.

creamy mushroom sauce

While the vegetable broth is simmering, prepare your gnocchi in a separate saute pan.  Add a little olive oil, and 1/4 cup vegetable broth.  Cover, and steam over medium heat for 3-4 minutes.  Remove the cover and saute, stirring frequently, until the broth has evaporated and the gnocchi start to crisp on the outside.

When both pans are done, combine them, serve, and eat!

Mushroom Tortilla Soup and Sweet Potato Pepita Quesadillas October 22, 2010

Posted by Angela @ Making Food for Friends in dinner, soup.
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tortilla soup and quesadilla

I’ve used Bloglines for years and years.  Bloglines is (or was) an RSS feed aggregator–it gathers subscriptions all of my favorite blogs in one place so I can quickly see what’s been updated and read all of the blogs from one location.  With the news that Bloglines is shutting down come November 1, I realized I had to spend some time going through all of the recipes  that I had saved in Bloglines over the years.  It’s been interesting—I’ve spent time cutting and pasting dozens and dozens of recipes from my “saved” folder in Bloglines to my Gmail account, and in the process, have rediscovered a ton of recipes I marked to try and then promptly forgot about.  One of them being this quesadilla recipe.  When I bookmarked it almost three years ago, I didn’t realize at the time it was a recipe from the Rebar cookbook, which I own!  It’s a great book and I knew the recipe must be delicious if it came from Rebar.   Determined not to forget about the recipe for another three years, I printed it out, took the recipe to the store, picked up some small toasted pumpkin seeds (haven’t gotten around to roasting any this year so far), and decided TONIGHT IS THE NIGHT.

Now, I’m sure a quesadilla would be a fine meal on it’s own.  But thinking about the classic combo of grilled cheese and tomato soup, I thought a nice counterpart to this grilled quesadilla would be tortilla soup.  Another recipe bookmarked in my “to try” pile was a tortilla soup with mushrooms and goat cheese from a Rick Bayless cookbook.   I got home from work, peeled the sweet potatoes and got them roasting, and started making the soup.  One mistake I made with the soup was putting an entire chipotle chile (from a can of chipotle chiles in adobo sauce) in the soup.  It was SPICY!!!  By far the hottest meal we’ve had in ages.  Topping the soup with goat cheese cut the spice level a little but I think using half a chipotle is the way to go.  Learn from my errors. 🙂

Mushroom Tortilla Soup with Goat Cheese
(Adapted from a recipe in Mexico, One Plate at a Time by Rick Bayless)

tortilla soup

Ingredients:

1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus a little oil to spray or brush on the tortillas
4 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
1 small onion, diced
One 15 ounce whole or diced tomatoes in juice, drained OR 12 ounces (2 medium small round or 4 to 6 plum) ripe tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped
1/2 of one canned chipotle chiles en adobo
6 cups good vegetable broth, store-bought or homemade
8 ounces mushrooms (shiitakes or baby portobellos would be nice), stemmed (discard the woody stems or finely chop them) and sliced 1/4 inch thick
Salt
6 corn tortillas
4 ounces goat cheese, cut or broken apart into roughly 1/2 inch cubes
Baby arugula, for garnish (optional)
Toasted pumpkin seeds, for garnish (optional)

Method:

Start by making the soup. In a medium-large (4 quart) saucepan, heat the oil over medium. Add the garlic and onion and cook, stirring regularly, until golden, about 7 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to scoop up the garlic and onion, pressing them against the side of the pan to leave behind as much oil as possible transfer to a food processor or blender; set the pan aside. Add the tomatoes and half of one chipotle pepper (from a can of chipotles en adobo) to the garlic and onion and process to a smooth puree.

Set the saucepan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the puree and stir nearly constantly until it has thickened to the consistency of tomato paste, about 10 minutes. Add the broth and sliced mushrooms and bring to a boil, then partially cover and gently simmer over medium to medium-low heat for 30 minutes. Taste and season with salt, usually 1/2 teaspoon, depending on the saltiness of your broth.

While the soup is simmering, you can make your tortilla strips. Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cut the tortillas in half, then cut crosswise into 1/4 inch strips. Toss the cut strips with a tablespoon of olive oil and salt in a bowl.  Spread out the tortilla strips in a single layer on a baking sheet. Set in the oven and bake, stirring around every couple of minutes or so, until lightly browned and crispy, about 8 minutes.

To serve the soup, top with tortilla strips, crumbled goat cheese, and arugula and pumpkin seeds (if desired).

Sweet Potato Pepita Quesadilla
(Adapted from a recipe in Rebar: Modern Food Cookbook)
(Printable Recipe)

yam quesadilla

Ingredients:

1 large sweet potato
1 tsp vegetable oil
1/4 tsp salt
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1/8 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
2 whole wheat tortillas
1/3 cup honey-chipotle sauce (see below)

Method:

Preheat oven to 375F. Peel the sweet potato and dice it. and quarter them lengthwise. Toss the diced sweet potato with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.  Roast in the oven until fork-tender and golden (about 20 mins).

To assemble the quesadillas, heat a large skillet or grill pan over medium high heat. Brush lightly with oil. Spread a thin layer of honey-chipotle sauce over the surface of the tortilla, sprinkle with the grated cheese, scallions, and pepitas. Spoon roasted sweet potato cubes over the bottom half of the tortilla. Fold the top half over the bottom, and heat through on the skillet or grill pan until the cheese melts and the tortilla crispens.

Honey Chipotle Sauce

Ingredients:

4 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp chipotle puree (puree a 7 oz can of chipotle chiles in adobo sauce)
1 tsp lime juice
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp water

Method:

Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk (or blend in the blender) until well blended. Refrigerate up to two weeks.

Arugula Parmesan Ravioli October 19, 2010

Posted by Angela @ Making Food for Friends in dinner, quick meal, vegetarian.
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Easy dinners rule around our house.  I’ve said it before, but after a full day of work, a trip to the gym, and a post-gym shower, despite my love of cooking, I just want to EAT and I want food to appear in front of me like magic, immediately.  Since that will never happen, I try to find shortcuts that will allow me to make a nice, healthy dinner in a very short amount of time.

I spied these new raviolis in Trader Joe’s over the weekend:

trader joe's arugula parmesan ravioli

Arugula?  Count me in.  I was probably late on the arugula train, but I remember clearly the first time I fell in love with it.  It was during the big blackout of 2003.  I lived in Ann Arbor at the time.  I was getting a weekly share of produce through a CSA (community-supported agriculture) and had just received a brand new box of fresh produce when the blackout hit.  I took part in a cook-out with a bunch of friends and neighbors that night, preparing all of the fresh food I had so it wouldn’t go bad.  In my CSA box that week was a bunch of fresh arugula.  I remember eating it that night and wondering what this spicy green was that I was loving so much.  Since then, I’ve made it a point to buy arugula as often as possible.  I can’t get enough of salads made with the spicy green!

With the raviolis above, I decided to stick with the flavors and toss the cooked ravioli with fresh arugula until it just wilted, parmesan cheese, pine nuts, herbed olive oil, and a little asiago.  I considered adding tomatoes, but forgot, and tossed around the idea of crumbling some crispy Morningstar fake bacon strips in but decided that might be overkill.

This meal, while not the most original, was fresh and delicious and really quick to make.

Arugula Parmesan Ravioli

arugula parmesan ravioli

Ingredients:
1 package prepared ravioli (I used the arugula parmesan ravioli from Trader Joe’s)
Two big handfuls of fresh arugula
1/8 cup parmesan
Sprinkling of pine nuts
Drizzle of herbed olive oil
Sprinkling of asiago

Method:
Boil ravioli according to package directions.  When done, toss in the warm pot with the rest of the ingredients until the arugula is just wilted.

A Pumpkin Feast for Two October 10, 2010

Posted by Angela @ Making Food for Friends in bread, dinner, good for a group, soup, vegan.
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The weather has been gorgeous in Michigan all weekend.  Temperatures in the upper seventies and clear sunny skies.  It doesn’t seem like the middle of October—more like the middle of August, prime grilling season.  I am completely in the fall spirit, though, and spent Saturday evening decorating the house for Halloween and cooking up a few pumpkin dishes for dinner despite the unseasonably warm temperatures. If the calendar says it’s mid-October, it’s pumpkin time, no matter what the weather might be saying!

Since it is autumn, you’re probably starting to see these appear on grocery store shelves:

pumpkin puree

100 percent pure pumpkin.  No spices, no filler—just pumpkin, pureed and ready to be put to work.  You could buy a pumpkin, seed it, peel it, roast it, and puree it…but in this case, I prefer to let Trader Joe do the heavy lifting and just buy the can of puree, ready to be used in so many recipes.

This one can was split and used in both recipes I made last night, pumpkin chili and pumpkin knots.  Both recipes were modified from/inspired by a great blog, (never home)maker. I tweaked both slightly and will be putting my modified versions here, but please visit (never home)maker to see the recipes in their original, intended form, with really beautiful step-by-step photos and write-ups.

This meal was hands down one of the best we’ve had in a while.  The pumpkin knots are out of this world delicious. They take a little bit of time to prepare but it’s largely hands-off time, and if you have a stand mixer, these come together in a snap.  If you don’t, you’ll just get a little extra arm work-out kneading them by hand! 🙂

Pumpkin Chili
(Inspired by (never home)maker)
(Printable Recipe)

pumpkin chili

Ingredients:

1 small onion, finely diced
1/2 red pepper, finely diced
1/2 green pepper, finely diced
1 can diced tomatoes (undrained)
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 can kidney beans, rinsed
1/2 can pumpkin
1/2 cup ( or a little more) pumpkin beer
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp smoked paprika
Salt

Method:

Finely chop your onion and peppers. Saute in a dutch oven or large pot until softened. Add the rest of the ingredients (everything, as described above in the ingredients list) and let simmer over low heat for at least 30-45 minutes.  Taste and add more spices if you like more heat.

Pumpkin Knots
(Ever so slightly modified from (never home)maker)
(Printable Recipe)

pumpkin knots

Ingredients:

1 packet (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
1 cup warm (110-120F) water
1 tsp sugar
3 1/2 cups bread flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup pure pumpkin puree
2 tbl olive oil
Spices: a pinch of each—oregano, thyme, and sage
Additional olive oil and parmesan for finishing

Method:

Start by proofing your yeast.  Put your warm water in a bowl, and stir in the packet of yeast and teaspoon of sugar.  Let it sit for about 10 minutes.  It should start to get foamy on top—that means the yeast is working.  If you don’t see the foam, your yeast is probably old and should be replaced.

While you are proofing the yeast, mix together the bread flour and salt in a large bowl (if you have a stand mixer, do this step in the mixer bowl).

When the 10 minutes is up and the yeast is ready, stir the olive oil, pumpkin puree, and spices into the water/yeast/sugar bowl.  Whisk until the mixture is smooth.

Pour the wet ingredients on to the flour/salt.  Using a spatula, mix until the ingredients are combined.  At this point, if you have a mixer, attach the dough hook and knead the dough with the mixer for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is elastic and has a sheen to it.  If you don’t have a mixer, knead by hand for about 10 minutes until you get the same result.  Cover the dough with a tea towel and let it rise for two hours.

When the two hours is close to up, pre-heat your oven to 425F with a baking stone or baking sheet inside.

You will notice at this point that your dough has expanded and you now have a HUGE amount of dough.  You can do a few things with this:

  1. Make a giant batch of pumpkin knots
  2. Divide it, and put half in a storage bag or container in the fridge for use in the next day or so
  3. Divide it, and put half in the freezer for use in the next couple of weeks
  4. Divide it, and give half to a friend
  5. Divide it, and make half pumpkin knots, half pizza dough with it

Start making your knots.  Break off a piece of dough (go by feel with this—it should be maybe the size of a golfball) and roll it between your hands to make a cord of dough.  Tie it into a knot, and set aside. Continue until you run out of dough.

pumpkin dough

Bake the knots on your pre-heated baking stone or cooking sheet for about 12 minutes.  They will start browning on top when they are done.

While the knots are baking, prepare a large bowl with about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and some garlic powder (or fresh minced garlic if you are brave!).

Remove the knots from the oven, and while they are still warm, toss them in the bowl with the olive oil and garlic.  Crush them around in the bowl to make sure they are evenly coated. Sprinkle parmesan cheese in the bowl, and toss again.

These are SO GOOD.  Try them!  Eat them two nights in a row! And then for lunch again the next day!

October Cooking Club: Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna October 8, 2010

Posted by Angela @ Making Food for Friends in cooking club, dinner, good for a group, vegan, vegetarian.
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butternut squash

Last night I attended the monthly cooking club that I am a part of with a group of friends. Each month, the host comes up with a theme, and each person prepares a dish to bring and share, and then we all swap recipes over email after. This month’s theme was (appropriately) orange—meaning plenty of squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, cider, and other delicious autumn food!

I made a tried-and-true favorite from last fall and winter: a butternut and spinach lasagna.  My friend Sarah shared this recipe with me last year, but I am not sure of the original source.  The butternut squash is roasted with a bit of balsamic, and the spinach is cooked down with red pepper flakes, which adds a nice savory/sweet vs. slightly spicy taste dimension to the whole thing.

Squash and root vegetables are so affordable right now at farmers’ markets. I can hardly wait to go to the one near me this weekend to pick up another butternut, a rutabaga (one friend made baked rutabaga chips with curried mayonnaise last night that were so delicious!), a spaghetti squash, and maybe a few small pumpkins to use as edible soup or chili bowls. I’ve been seeing a lot of recipes for chili baked in pumpkin bowls on the internet lately that I’d love to try. I LOVE this time of year!

(For past cooking club contributions, click here.)

Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna
(Printable Recipe)

Ingredients:
3 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (about 1 ounce)
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup minced shallots
1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
8 cups (3/4-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 2 1/4 pounds)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
Cooking spray
1 teaspoon chopped fresh or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 (6-ounce) bags fresh baby spinach (or 2 10 oz. bags of “regular” spinach, tough stems removed and coarsely chopped)
12 cooked lasagna noodles (8 ounces uncooked noodles) (I used the Barilla no-cook lasagna noodles; there were too many in the box—only needed 12 and the box has 16—but they worked really well!)
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Italian blend cheese

Method:

Preheat oven to 425°.

Peel and dice your squash.  I like to cut the top and bottom off so it’ll stand up properly, then peel the skin using a sharp vegetable peeler.  Remove the seeds and strings (saving them to roast if you’d like!).  Dice the peeled squash into small, 1/2 inch or so cubes.

peeled and diced squash

Place squash in a large bowl. Add vinegar; toss to coat. Add 1 tablespoon oil; toss to coat. Arrange squash in a single layer in a roasting pan. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and thyme. Bake at 425° for 30 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes.

roasted butternut squash

Cook milk in a small, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat until tiny bubbles form around edge (do not boil). Remove from heat; keep warm.

Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Melt butter in a medium nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots; cook 2 minutes or until tender. Reduce heat; add flour to pan, and cook 5 minutes or until smooth and golden, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; add about 2 tablespoons warm milk to flour mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Gradually add remaining warm milk, about 1/2 cup at a time, until mixture is smooth, stirring constantly with a whisk. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and cook until smooth and thickened. Remove from heat but keep warm.

Combine remaining 1 teaspoon oil, red pepper, and garlic in a Dutch oven over medium heat; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add spinach, 1 bag at a time; cook until wilted, stirring frequently. Add remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook until liquid evaporates, stirring frequently.

Reduce oven temperature to 350°.

Spoon 1/3 cup milk mixture in bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Arrange 4 noodles over milk mixture; top with spinach mixture, 2/3 cup milk mixture, and a third of the cheese. Arrange 4 noodles over cheese; top with squash mixture, 2/3 cup milk mixture, and a third of the cheese. Arrange remaining 4 noodles on top of cheese; spread remaining 1/2 cup milk mixture over noodles. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

layered lasagna

Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

(Unfortunately, I didn’t snap a good photo of the final product!  I’ll be making it again at home, soon—when I was putting it together to take to cooking club, Ryan asked if we could make it at home sometime soon.  Maybe for next week’s Fringe with Friends!  I’ll make sure to get a nice photo then.)

Vegan Option

vegan squash pasta

For the vegans in our cooking club, I saved a portion of the roasted squash and tossed it with fusilli pasta, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, fresh baby spinach, pine nuts, thyme, and salt & pepper. I had leftovers of this version for lunch today but since I am not vegan, I tossed a little blue cheese in the mix, which was really good.  I’d make this version again , for sure.

Tofu with Peppers October 6, 2010

Posted by Angela @ Making Food for Friends in dinner, vegan.
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Tuesday nights used to my main cooking night.  For a long time, we had friends over every Tuesday and I’d make a big meal for our weekly Lost viewing parties.  But the Tuesday night routine has changed a lot in the last few months.  Ryan eats early, before band practice, and I eat pretty late, after the gym.  So Tuesdays have now become the day when I throw together something for myself late in the evening, more often than not absolutely famished and wanting food NOW.

I had four really beautiful bell peppers from a trip to the farmer’s market over the weekend. I saved the red one for making soup later in the week, but used the other three in this stir-fry with tofu.  To save myself time after the gym, I julienned the peppers, sliced the scallions, and mixed the sauce before leaving.  That way, when it was time to eat, I just had to boil some water for the noodles, cook the tofu, and stir fry everything together.

Tofu with Peppers
(Printable Recipe)
(Adapted from the New York Times)

tofu peppers with noodles

Ingredients:

8 oz thin rice noodles
1 block of extra firm tofu
2 bell peppers (any color), julienned
1/3 cup broth
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon Golden Mountain sauce (optional)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 cloves minced garlic
1 or 2 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup (about 2 scallions) scallions, thinly sliced|
Sriracha, as a garnish
Sesame seeds, as a garnish

Method:
Start by prepping your ingredients.  Start with the vegetables.  Slice at least two scallions and julienne the bell peppers.

sliced peppers

Cut your block of tofu into small dice and gently press out excess water with a paper towel or tea towel. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet (at least 12 inches big) and add the tofu to the pan when the oil is nice and hot.  Pan fry it until it is golden and has a slightly crispy exterior.  Add a little soy sauce (just a few shakes of the bottle) to the pan at the end and stir the tofu around in the soy sauce to give the tofu cubes a darker golden color.

While the tofu is cooking, start boiling a pot or tea kettle of water.  Place the rice noodles in a big bowl. When the water comes to a boil or the tea kettle whistles, pour the hot water over the noodles and let them sit until the noodles have softened. Drain, and set aside.

Also, while the tofu is cooking, make the sauce by mixing together the broth, soy sauce, Golden Mountain sauce (if you have it–if you don’t, double the soy sauce and rice vinegar), rice vinegar, and sesame oil.  Whisk or shake it up well.

Mix together the red pepper flakes, minced garlic, and minced ginger in a small bowl.

When the tofu is done, add the bowl of red pepper/ginger/garlic to the skillet with the tofu.  Stir fry for 10-20 seconds.  Add the peppers, and stir fry for another 2-3 minutes.  Add the scallions, sauce, and sugar, and stir fry for another 2 minutes, until the sauce has cooked down a bit and everything is thoroughly mixed.

Serve with sriracha and sesame seeds as a garnish.