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Archive for March 12, 2014

TIP OF THE DAY: Two Riffs On Lasagna

One of the fun things about cooking, we think, is that you can develop riffs on favorite dishes that always keep them fresh and interesting. Even if everyone loves your brownies, potato salad or whatever, try variations on it (like adding contrasting flavored baking chips or different nuts to the brownie batter, or minced jalapeño or a fresh herb medley to the potato salad).

Look at what you’re cooking tonight and see how you can do a variation—divide the recipe in half and serve both. See what everyone thinks.

Here are two riffs on that family favorite, lasagna. The one at the bottom is actually “faux” lasagna, called pasta al forno.



  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil


    How to get your family to eat more spinach: spinach lasagna! You can substitute kale. Photo and recipe courtesy Westside Market | NYC.

  • 2 10-ounce packages frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed of excess water
  • 2 cups non-fat ricotta or cottage cheese
  • 8 ounces part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 large egg
  • 8 ounces no-boil lasagna noodles (make it “double spinach lasagna” by using spinach noodles)

    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F.

    2. HEAT olive oil in skillet. Add onion and garlic; sauté for 2 minutes. Add spinach, oregano and basil. Set aside.

    3. MIX ricotta/cottage cheese, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses in a large bowl with parsley, salt, pepper and egg.

    4. SPREAD half of the spinach mixture in 8 x 8-inch ovenproof baking dish. Spread half of the cheese mixture on top. Add one layer of lasagna noodles. Repeat. Cover with foil and bake for 35 to 40 minutes.

    5. REMOVE foil and bake another 15 minutes. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.




    Pasta al forno: lasagna without the lasagna
    noodles. Recipe and photo courtesy Westside
    Market | NYC.



    Pasta al forno, which means “pasta in the oven” or baked pasta (and defines lasagna), is a variation that provides the flavor and relative appearance of lasagna without the effort of cooking and layering lasagna noodles.


  • 1 pound sweet or hot fresh Italian sausage
  • 8 ounces pasta, such as ziti or penne, cooked and
  • 1 25-ounce jar or homemade marinara sauce
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen peas
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 6 tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano or
    Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 8 tablespoons Pecorino Romano
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


    1. PREHEAT oven to 375°F. COAT a 2-1/2-quart baking dish with vegetable cooking spray.

    2. REMOVE Remove from casing, break up into pieces and sauté in a skillet until sausage loses its color.

    3. COOK pasta. While the pasta is cooking, combine marinara sauce, 1-1/2 cups mozzarella, peas, ricotta, 6 tablespoons Pecorino Romano/Parmesan, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Stir in pasta and sausage, and pour mixture into the baking dish.

    4. STIR together in a small bowl 1-1/2 cups mozzarella, 2 tablespoons Pecorino Romano and oil. Sprinkle over top of pasta. Bake until hot, about 25 to 30 minutes. Let pasta sit for 10 minutes before serving.


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    PRODUCT: R.W. Knudsen Nature’s Peak Juices

    One of our favorite juice producers, R.W. Knudsen, is offering another way to eat more veggies—or in this case, drink more veggies.

    The 100% juice blends are 50:50 fruit juice and vegetable juice from concentrate or purée. But the flavor profiles lean toward the sweet, so no veggie-hater need know.

    An eight-ounce glass contains 100 to 120 calories.

    The blends include:

  • Berry Veggie Blend, including apple, beet, blackberry, purple carrot, raspberry, strawberry and sweet potato
  • Orchard Veggie Blend, including apple, carrot, kiwi, pear, spinach and sweet potato
  • Tropical Veggie Blend, including banana, carrot, mango, pineapple and sweet potato

  • Drink them straight.
  • Add them to smoothies or sparklers.


    Nature’s Peak juices are half fruit, half
    veggies. From left to right: Berry, Orchard and Tropical Veggie Blends. Photo courtesy R.W. Knudsen.

  • Make cocktails (add gin, tequila or vodka and an optional celery stick).
  • Use them as a base for fruit soup, salad dressing or sauces.
  • Make ice pops, yogurt pops or sorbet.
    And feel good that you’re sneaking more veggies into your diet.


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    ST. PATRICK’S DAY: Irish Cereal Milk

    Irish Cereal Milk Cocktail-Lexington BrassNYC-230

    Cereal milk with a shot of Irish whiskey.
    Photo courtesy Lexington Brass | NYC.


    You might not drink this Irish Cereal Milk cocktail for breakfast; or then, you might. But it sure is a fun snack for after work, or even dessert on St. Patrick’s Day.

    The recipe comes from Lexington Brass restaurant in midtown Manhattan.


    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces Jameson Irish whiskey
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • 2 ounces Cinnamon Toast Crunch milk (instructions below)
  • Garnish: Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal
  • Optional garnish: cinnamon stick, or a sprinkle of
    ground cinnamon


    1. MAKE Cinnamon Toast Crunch milk: Soak the cereal in 3 ounces of milk for 30 minutes, then strain out the cereal (and eat it, if you like). (The cereal will absorb some of the milk, which is why we recommend starting with 3 ounces to end up with the 2 ounces for the drink.)

    2. FILL a rocks glass with ice; pour in whiskey and simple syrup. Top off with Cinnamon Toast Crunch Milk and stir.

    3. GARNISH with fresh Cinnamon Toast Crunch pieces and an optional cinnamon stick. Serve with a straw and a spoon.


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