December 30, 2015

Creamy Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna

My husband wasn't home for Christmas day so we didn't do a traditional dinner.  Several days after Christmas I made this lasagna and we both loved it.  My daughter even liked it (that's saying a lot for her).

This recipe was easy to make, well no harder than a regular lasagna and was quicker because there wasn't any meat.  I loved the cremini mushrooms but they weren't all that easy to find.  I went to three stores before I found some but they were absolutely delicious.  Perfect for this recipe.

The creaminess of the sauce and the stringy cheese was amazing.  I might have added a little more cheese than indicated....

Also, I found that the leftover lasagna was even better!  The flavors just got enhanced by the next day, I love it.

Creamy Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna
Recipe from Damn Delicious

  • 9 lasagna noodles
  • 1 (15 oz) container whole milk ricotta
  • 2 (10 oz) packages frozen spinach (thawed and squeezed dry)
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups milk, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • pinch of nutmeg 
  • salt and pepper to taste
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350º
  2. Use a large skillet to melt the butter, then add the garlic, mushrooms, and onion.  Cook until tender, about 5-10 minutes. 
  3. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and cook for about 1 minute. 
  4. Slowly add the milk while stirring to avoid clumps of flour. Add the basil, oregano and nutmeg and then salt and pepper to taste.  Cook until thickened. Remove from heat and let sit until needed. 
  5. Cook the lasagna noodles as indicated on the package instructions. 
  6. Begin to assemble the lasagna by using a 9x13 inch pan.  Put 1 cup of sauce on the bottom of the pan and top with 3 noodles. 
  7. Spread 1/2 the ricotta over the noodles.  Top that with 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup of Parmesan and then another layer of noodles, the remaining ricotta and 1 more cup of mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese. 
  8. Finish with 3 more noodles and dump the sauce over the top.  Top with the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. 
  9. Bake for 35 - 45 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Broil for 2-3 minutes just to get some brown on the top. 
  10. Let cool for about 15 minutes and garnish with parsley if desired. 

December 24, 2015

Mint Chocolate Brownies

The last and final recipe from my baking day extravaganza.  A classic flavor for the holidays and one of my favorites, Mint!

You start this recipe making a classic brownie and then you get a little crazy by adding two more layers of deliciousness.

Allow yourself some time to make these brownies, you need to refrigerate each layer before you ever get to cut them into squares. It's totally worth it though.  The brownies are nice an fudgy and the burst of mint flavor is awesome.  The chocolate layer on top just brings it all together.  Definitely a great holiday brownie

Mint Chocolate Brownies


  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups (300g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) light brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp (85g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (21g) unsweetened cocoa powder
Mint Frosting
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 cups (240g) confectioners' sugar for dusting
  • 2 Tbsp (30ml) milk
  • 1 1/4 tsp peppermint extract
  • 1 drop liquid or green gel food coloring (optional)
Chocolate Topping
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 heaping cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Cooking Directions
  1. For the Brownies: In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and the chocolate chips, stirring until smooth. Remover from the heat. You can also microwave this mixture in a heat safe bowl in 30 second increments until smooth.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom and sides of a 9x13 inch dish with parchment paper or tin foil leaving some hanging over the sides.
  3. Whisk both sugars into the cooled chocolate mixture.
  4. Add the eggs to the chocolate mixture one at a time, whisking after each addition.
  5. Add the vanilla. 
  6. Gently fold in the salt, flour and cocoa powder. Pour into the prepared baking dish. 
  7. Bake for 35-36 minutes.  The brownies will begin to pull away from the side of the pan. Insert a toothpick into the middle, if it comes out clean they are done. 
  8. Let the brownies cool down to room temperature and then pull them out of the pan and place on a cookie sheet but do not cut into squares yet. 
  9. At this point you can refrigerate or even freeze the brownies if you're making them ahead of time. 
  10. For the Mint Frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth.  Add the confectioners' sugar and milk and mix until smooth. Increase the speed to high and beat for 1 minute.  Add the peppermint extract and food coloring and beat until combined. Taste and add more extract if desired. Frost on top of the cooled brownies. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before doing the next step. 
  11. For the Chocolate Topping: In a small saucepan melt the butter and chocolate chips together over low heat until melted and smooth.  You can also do this in the microwave in 30 second intervals until smooth. Pour on top of the frosted brownies and then refrigerate again for another hour before cutting into squares. 

December 23, 2015

White Chocolate Cranberry Fudge

Another item I made on baking day with my friend Melissa this past weekend.  This one was one of my favorites (oh who am I kidding, I loved them all).  I've never been known to make great fudge.  I've tried often but I seem to always get it wrong.  This recipe was a great one, however.

I loved the combination of white chocolate and the cranberries.  I got the less sugar cranberries and I'm glad I did.  It was a great contrast between the tart cranberries and the sweet chocolate.

I'm also in love with the colors. The pure white with big red splashes of color is just so Christmas-y.

I am thrilled with how this recipe turned out.  So festive and different for a change in my usual dessert line-up.  I hope you'll give this one a try this year.

White Chocolate Cranberry Fudge
Recipe from Mom On Timeout

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup sour cream (not light)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 (7 oz) jar marshmallow cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 (5 oz) bag dried cranberries
Cooking Directions
  1. Line a 9x13 inch pan with tin foil and then scary with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, sour cream, butter and salt.
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently.
  4. Continue cooking until mixture reaches 238 degrees.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate chips, stir until melted.
  6. Add the marshmallow cream and the vanilla extract and stir until smooth.
  7. Stir in the dried cranberries.
  8. Pour into the prepared dish and let sit until it has reached room temperature.
  9. Chill in the refrigerator for several hours before cutting.
  10. Store in an airtight container.

December 22, 2015

Peppermint Marshmallows

Yes, I am waiting until the very last minute to post my Christmas recipes.  Isn't that nice of me?

My friend Melissa and I had a baking day yesterday, as we do every year. We each made three things and then we share what we made, so we each have six items to show for it. I'll share mine all week.

These marshmallows might seem intimidating but they really aren't all that difficult to make.  It's easier if you have a stand mixer but a hand mixer will work also.  You also really need to have a candy thermometer or and instant read thermometer available.

Making marshmallows is basically just cooking a sugar syrup on the stove and then whipping the heck out of it until it becomes white, light and fluffy. Fairly easy but if you have small children you'll really want to be careful with this hot sugar syrup on the stove.  Use the back burner and see if they can be elsewhere when it's time to pour it into the mixer.

These marshmallows are fantastic in hot cocoa.  Gift idea: Make a homemade hot cocoa mixture, place in a bag and put inside of a cute Christmas cup, add a bag of these homemade marshmallows and you have a fantastic homemade gift for someone special.  Enjoy!!

Peppermint Marshmallows
Recipe from King Arthur Flour

  • 3 packets unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup cool water, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp peppermint extract (optional) for a more pepperminty flavor
  • 1/2 cup peppermint candies, crunched up
  • 5-10 drops red food coloring (optional)
  • confectioners' sugar
Cooking Directions
  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer (or a mixing bowl) add the gelatin and 1/2 cup of the water. Let sit.
  2. Spray a 9x13 inch with a non-stick spray and set aside.
  3. In a heavy bottomed saucepan mix the granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Turn the heat on to medium and stir until the sugar dissolves. Then turn the heat up to high and bring the syrup to 238 degrees.
  4. With your stand mixer on low, with the whisk attachment (or hand mixer) slowly pour the hot syrup into the bowl with the gelatin. Once it's all been added, slowly turn the speed up to high and watch for the mixture to turn white and thicken. This will take 3-10 minutes depending on your mixer.
  5. You want the mixture to be thick but not so thick that it balls inside of your whisk. It would have cooled down to about 95 degrees.
  6. Add the peppermint extract and then the crushed up peppermint candies. If you're adding food coloring, add it just at the end and don't fully mix it in. You just want the color to sort of stream through the whiteness, leaving streams of red and streams of white.
  7. Spread the marshmallow mixture into the prepared pan and sprinkle confectioners' sugar all over the top. I find it easiest to use a fine mesh strainer to get a nice fine sprinkling over the top.
  8. Let the mixture dry for a minimum of 4 hours but overnight is best.
  9. If possible, it's easiest to lift the entire out of the pan and place on waxed paper and then cut them that way. If not possible just cut them while they are still in the pan and then dredge them into more confectioners' sugar so all sides are covered.
  10. Store them in an airtight container for several days.

December 8, 2015

Creamy Rice Pudding

You're looking at my husbands favorite dessert.  Well, one of many.  His great grandmother used to make it all the time.  Apparently this recipe was very close to hers.  She said that sometimes she added raisins to hers.  Needless to say, he was a happy camper when I made this.

I myself haven't had much rice pudding in my life.  I don't remember my grandmother making it.  I don't think I even tried it until I was an adult.  But I have to say, this rice pudding recipe is WAY better than the kind you buy in the refrigerated section of the grocery store.  I've never been a big fan of that one, but I loved this one.

Creamy, sweet with a little bit of cinnamon in the background.  You could certainly add raisins like my husbands grandmother did.  I don't think there is much you could add that wouldn't be delicious.  The thing about rice pudding is it's sort of just a creamy vanilla concoction.  There's LOTS of room to add the things you like best.  I however loved it just like this.  Yum!

Creamy Rice Pudding
Recipe from Sprinkle Some Sugar

  • 3/4 cup uncooked white rice (I used minute rice)
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
Cooking Directions
  1. Boil the rice, water (using the directions on the box), granulated sugar and salt in a medium sauce pan until tender.
  2. Pour in the half and half and 1/2 cup of milk and simmer for about 20 minutes. It will look like there is a lot of milk but it will get absorbed, I promise. Stir frequently until creamy and thick.
  3. Mix in the brown sugar.
  4. In a small bowl whisk the egg yolks and slowly add 3 Tbsp of the rice mixture into the eggs to temper them.
  5. Add the egg yolk mixture into the saucepan with the rest of the rice mixture.
  6. Add in the remaining 1/2 cup of milk and cook for 3-5 minutes more. Remove from the heat and add the butter, vanilla extract and cinnamon and mix.
  7. Serve hot or cold. Refrigerate leftovers.

December 1, 2015

Proper English Scones

A couple of weekends ago I decided to put on an authentic English tea party for the kids in the neighborhood that play with my daughter.  There ended up being 5 girls between the ages of 6 and 9. I tried to make it as authentic as possible.  Luckily for me, one of my good friends used to live in England and was a tremendous help.

In my research for recipes I found a lot of scones but all of them were in the metric measurement that is used in Europe.  So needless to say, I was thrilled to find this one which has been converted to our measurement system here in the United States.

The scones turned out moist and delicious especially when topped with clotted cream (I bought at World Market) and jam. The picture above is how they do it in England and I absolutely loved it!  Clotted cream, if you're not familiar, is basically a thickened cream so it's not sweet or anything.  But the combination of the cream and the jam is to die for.

I haven't been to England yet so it's not for me to say how these scones rate with those, but I can tell you that they were delicious.

Proper English Scones
Recipe from Rock Recipes 

  • 1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • pinch of table salt
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 whole egg
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400º
  2. In a food processor add the flour, baking powder and sugar.  Pulse to combine. (you can also just do this in a bowl).
  3. Pulse in the butter, use a pastry cutter or even just your fingers to break up the butter. You want the mixture to resemble coarse wet sand. 
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, egg and vanilla.  Reserve a couple of teaspoons of this mixture to brush on the scones before baking. 
  5. Add the dry ingredients in with the wet ingredients and mix together with a wooden spoon.  The dough should be sticky, be careful not to overtax the dough. 
  6. Put the dough on a lightly floured work surface, sprinkle a little bit of flour over the top and form into a round that is about 3/4 inch thick. 
  7. Use a 1 1/2 inch round biscuit cutter or whatever size you prefer to cut out the scones. 
  8. Place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Brush the tops with the reserved liquid mixture. 
  9. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the tops are a light golden brown. 
  10. Let cool slightly before serving. 
  11. Serve with jam and clotted cream as shown above, or whatever your favorite topping is.