Original White Lasagna 

Original White Lasagna

I created many original recipes when my kids were young. My younger daughter disliked tomato sauce, so I made this gorgeous baked pasta dish with fresh whipping cream. Below is my recipe. 

White Lasagna

Ingredients:

1 package dried no boil Lasagna 

15 oz.  whole milk ricotta cheese 

2 cage free eggs

1 pint organic heavy whipping cream

8 oz. mozzarella balls

1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest

Fresh basil leaves

Fresh grated Parmesan 

Salt and pepper 

Steps:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Whip eggs with ricotta by hand or with mixer.
  • Layer ingredients starting with cream on the bottom and ending with layer of cheese on top.
  • Cook until brown on top.
  • Allow to cool before cutting.
  • Sprinkle with Parmigiana cheese.

Sydney’s White Lasagna

Love and blessings to all.

Cooking for Teen Athletes – Gluten free Spaghetti and Meatballs

Although I’ve been very busy with my entrepreneurial ventures and teaching at Berkeley, I’m still required to cook for my athletic teenage daughters.  Cooking for athletes is different than cooking for a normal family as there are serious time constraints and, “food as fuel” is more of a practice than a concept, although I think it should be an extremely high priority for anyone feeding growing children, athletic or otherwise.

My daughter will often swim for an hour and a half.  She does this after school, so she has already had a full day and has eaten next to nothing.  She’s also prone to anemia, so I am always trying to pack her meals with nutrients, and they need to be iron dense.  My other daughter plays soccer and has practices in the evening, so between soccer and swimming there is a tiny slice of time for dinner, and it’s around 5 p.m.

As many mothers know, teenage girls don’t eat much at lunch, which makes them very hungry when they get home from school.  This is when the bad snacking is often done.  I’ve tried many strategies over the years, but have recently decided to serve a quick dinner at this time when possible.  I know how lucky I am to be able to have the flexibility to cook early in the day, but if you don’t, try making a double batch of this to freeze in single serving glass containers, or to serve the next day.

When the kids were little, and I was for the most part a stay-at-home mom, I could spend two hours cooking dinner, but that is no longer possible.  Someday, I hope to have time to make homemade ravioli again, but for now this will have to do, and it checks the boxes of the top criteria for me.  Fast, easy, hot and nutritious. Plus, they love it, which might be the most important criteria.

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Spaghetti and Meatballs

Ingredients:

1 package gluten free spaghetti cooked

1 jar of marina sauce or make your own

1 package of meatballs from Whole Foods Market or make your own

Parmesan cheese (I like these large shavings)

Instructions:

Begin cooking gluten free pasta as per package instructions.  Then, in a large sauce pan heat the meatballs and sauce until they come to a slight boil, reduce heat and let simmer while the pasta is cooking.  Once pasta is done, add to the pan and gently toss while hot.  Reheats and freezes well.

 

 

 

 

 

Comfort Food

Pasta, Prosciutto and Peas

I’ve saved the best for last.  This is one of my most cherished recipes, and I make it over and over again for my kids and friends.  I had this for the first time at Tre Vigne in St. Helena when I was 24 years old and on my first trip to the Napa Valley.

Michael Chiarello, now a very famous chef, vintner, TV host and sustainable farmer with his own restaurant, Bottega in Yountville, was the chef.  I still love this restaurant and had lunch there on my birthday this year (December, 2015).

Back then this entrée cost only $8, and we had lunch on the beautiful Tra Vigne patio.  I was with my sister, Sandra Sheehan and my Auntie Deborah. It was a hot summer day and there is nowhere on earth more pleasant than the Napa Valley in the heart of the wine country in the summer. What bliss. I returned many times and I always ordered this dish until it was taken off the menu a few years ago, but I highly recommend the Maltagliati Verde (herb infused pasta with slow cooked lamb) which we had on my last visit.

After the kids were born, I couldn’t make it to Tra Vigne as often, so I taught myself how to make Michael’s recipe at home, and my kids love it too. It’s perfect in a pinch when you find yourself with 12 unexpected and very hungry kids for dinner (double the recipe below), add a salad and some crunchy bread.

As for Michael Chiarello, he can still be found at the stove and was gracious enough to join us (on the patio of course) one afternoon at his restaurant Bottega for lunch.  He will forever remain one of my favorite chefs and inspirations.

Thank you Michael Chiarello!

Ingredients

▪ 1 lb of pasta

▪ 2 tablespoons of olive oil

▪ ½ lb chopped prosciutto, pancetta or bacon (shown)

▪ 2 cloves of garlic, chopped

▪ 1 cup of peas, fresh or frozen

▪ ½ stick of unsalted butter

▪ ½ cup of heavy whipping cream

▪ Parmesan cheese, as needed

Preparation

Boil the pasta, as per the package directions, and then begin making the sauce.

Heat a large sauce pan or dutch oven to medium heat.  Once hot, add the olive oil, then the chopped prosciutto and garlic. Brown lightly.  When the pasta is done, drain and add it to the ham and garlic mixture.  Then, add the butter and cream and reduce heat to low. Stir gently until the ingredients are well combined.  Add the cream, fresh grated parmesan cheese, stir well and reduce for 5 minutes.  Serve immediately in a warm bowls with freshly grated Parmesan.

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Healthy Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas for Teen Athletes

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Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas

Most teen athletes make the mistake of focusing on calories when it is nutrient dense foods that should be the focus.  Foods packed with vitamins and minerals are needed for a body that is growing and competing simultaneously.

My older daughter doesn’t look that easy to kill, in fact a boy she goes to school with said she looks exactly how he imagines Joan of Arc to have looked.  She is tall and powerfully built and possesses a warrior mentality.   But like most kids she is actually very fragile.  Last year she was playing club volleyball and swimming, so she was clocking 2 plus hours of intense physical activity per day, and an extra 4-5 hours on the week-ends as an outside hitter for Absolute in Marin County.

In February, I noticed that she was looking a little green.  Because I am her mother, I knew there was something not quite right with how she looked, so I took her to the doctor.   Naturally, as mother always knows best, she was diagnosed with severe anemia.   The doctor started her on medication and she left the next day for Colorado Cross Roads, which in the volleyball world is a pretty big deal and a place where I spend more time with my closest friends from California than I do in California.

All was well, until one of the players became ill with the Noro virus and the team slowly dropped like dominos.  My daughter – a hold out was able to get home and miss the cocophay of vomiting in the bathrooms on the Southwest Airlines flight from Denver to Oakland, but then succumbed to the illness and spent nine, yes “9” days in bed.

Because her immune system was compromised by the anemia her recovery was very slow.  Her pediatrician had to prescribe drugs for cancer patients to stop the vomiting.  So, needless to say, I watch this girl closely now.   I can tell if she is dehydrated or even if she has a head ache.  So, keeping my little warrior well fed is a number one priority.  And since she just wants to eat burgers and french fries it can be a challenge to get her to eat her vegetables, so I created this recipe for her.  Needless to say, she ate the entire pan and I couldn’t have cared less.

Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas for the Teen Athlete

Ingredients

1 red pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 medium zucchini cut into rounds
2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and black pepper
1 package corn tortillas
1 1/2 cups red enchilada sauce (I bought a jar made by a local company and it was excellent)
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups Mexican shredded cheese
Garnishes:  fresh cilantro, chopped avocado, pico de gallo, sour cream

Preparation:

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2.  Brush a baking sheet with olive oil and place sliced vegetables in a single layer and roast for 30 minutes or until they look lightly toasted.

Roasted Vegetables

3. Reduce heat to 350 degrees.

4.  Allow vegetables to cool so you can work with them.  Then heat your sauce in a shallow pan until warm.

5.  Add a small amount of sauce to the bottom of a large baking dish.

6. Place corn tortilla in the warm sauce and saturate both sides.  Remove and fill with vegetables, black beans and cheese.  Roll and place in pan.  Repeat.

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7. Once all of the tortillas are rolled, add the remaining sauce from the pan, sprinkle cheese and cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes or until sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted.

8.  Garnish as desired.

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Lasagna Bites

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Lasagna Bites

Marvelous little bites to have around the house or in the freezer.  A group of them can make a nice light dinner with a salad and crusty bread or they can be served at a party or they can be handed out to starving children after school.  Recently I did all of the above in the same day.  I doubled the recipe and even have a nice stash in the freezer.   These bites can be popped back into a mini muffin tin and reheated in the oven.

Ingredients:

1 pound ground beef

1 eggplant cut into small cubes

1 jar marinara sauce (recipe to make this from scratch coming soon)

Salt and Pepper to taste

1 package round wonton wrappers (found in produce section)

2 cups grated Parmesan cheese

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 egg

Basil for (optional)

 

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Brown the beef and drain, then add the diced eggplant and cook until soft.  Stir in the marinara sauce and salt and pepper and reduce heat to low.  Let simmer as long as you possibly can while you go about your business.  An hour or more is wonderful, but 30 minutes is sufficient.  In a small bowl mix one whole egg into the ricotta and set aside.

Using a non-stick mini muffin tin (if necessary spray with cooking spray depending on your tin), then begin by pressing each wonton wrapper inside each muffin tin.  Begin layering each bite with a small amount (one teaspoon) of sauce on the bottom, followed by a small amount of ricotta, then sauce again.  The sauce should be a little bit chunky, but this will keep the bites from being too soft.  No one ever notices the eggplant which gives the sauce a rich flavor and adds more nutrients.   Sprinkle the top with a generous amount of both mozzarella and Parmesan.

Bake for 18-20 minuets or until golden brown on top.  Allow to cool slightly then pop out using a knife to cut around the edges as needed.

Photo by Siena Thomas 🙂

 

 

 

 

Easy Chicken Parmesan

There are so many good things about this recipe that I don’t know where to start.  But let me begin by saying, I learned how to make this from my neighbor Kathy Bratt in Tahoe.  She made it for a house full of people on her birthday with such ease I could not believe it.  She had learned it from her neighbor who was from Italy.  I decided to make it on Martin Luther King weekend after teaching skiing all day.  I had inadvertently invited 29 people to dinner after working all day!  Luckily, my friends are helpful and our cabin has a big great room so I had lots of help with the pounding and sautéing and the evening was a big success.

I’ve made this on weeknights and I must admit I adore the pounding of the chicken.  You can use a meat mallet or a rolling pin, but either way it’s fun to pound the chicken believe it or not. The kids also love to help with this.

Ingredients:
– 2 pounds of chicken breast
– 1 cup of flour
– 1 cup Parmesan cheese
– 2 egg whites
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
– 1/4 teaspoon pepper
– 1 jar of good quality red sauce (marinara)
– One large ball of fresh mozzarella cheese
– 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
– Sprig of basil for garnish (optional)

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Rinse chicken and pat it dry with a paper towel. Wrap one breast at a time in saran wrap and pound until thin, but not torn. Separate egg white from yolk and put into a shallow bowl.  In a separate bowl add flour, cheese, salt, and pepper.  Dredge each chicken chunk in the egg white and then coat with the flour mixture. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet and brown each breast on both sides (about 2-4 minutes per side). Let drain on a paper towel as you brown each breast. The chicken doesn’t need to be cooked through because you will be baking it as well. Once each breast is browned place them in a baking dish and cover with the red sauces and mozzarella cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbling. Grate fresh Parmesan on top and serve with the pasta noodles of your choice. Spaghetti, penni or rigatoni all work well.