Posts Tagged ‘mozzarella cheese’

Lasagna Burgers

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

I’ll admit that the idea of this burger came out of Everyday with Rachael Ray. I thought it was a good idea, but only skimmed the recipe. When it came time to try my hand at the lasagna burgers, I didn’t have the recipe handy, so I basically just threw it all together. Here’s what you need:

Lasagna Burgers

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup Italian style bread crumbs
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup your favorite spaghetti sauce
  • 4 good-quality sandwich buns (recommended: ciabatta)
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • garlic salt
  • Italian seasoning
  • 1  cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided

1) In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, 1/2 cup of ricotta cheese, bread crumbs, garlic, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, and salt and pepper. Use your finger tips to mix, then score into four sections and shape into four patties.

2) Grill as you would hamburgers (we used a grill pan on the stove), using a little bit of olive oil or nonstick spray to keep the burgers from sticking.

3) While the burgers are cooking, melt the the butter in a small glass dish in the microwave. Stir in the garlic salt and Italian seasoning. Brush onto both halves of each sandwich bun and toast in a toaster oven or under a broiler until golden and crisp.

4) While you toast the bread and cook the burgers, combine the spaghetti sauce and remaining ricotta cheese in a small sauce pan over medium-low. Cook until the cheese melts into the sauce and the mixture is warmed through.

5) When the burgers are done, it’s time to assemble! Take the bottom half of a toasted sandwich bun and spread it with 2 tablespoons of the cheesy sauce mixture. Top with a burger patty and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Finish with the other half of the garlic toasted sandwich bun.

And there you have it–a burger with all the classic flavors of a cheesy lasagna with garlic bread.

Baked Rigatoni with Cheese & Italian Sausage

Friday, May 15th, 2009

Last week, I handed David a cookbook and asked “What should I make for dinner?”

I should not have been surprised when he thumbed to the Pasta chapter for inspiration.

Nor should I have been shocked to hear him suggest variations on the theme of noodles, cheese, and sausage.

I wasn’t surprised. I really wasn’t. I ended up making this Rigatoni with Cheese & Italian Sausage from the Bon Appetit Fast Easy Fresh cookbook.

Side Note: don’t think I’ve talked much about this cookbook before, and I really should. I picked up it up at Costco in a two book set (bundled with the Bon Appetit Cookbook). I like both books. Though they don’t have pictures of every recipe, what it lacks in illustrations it makes up in volume. Each book contains hundreds of recipes. The one we’re talking about today is broken down into sections on Starters, Soups, Salads, Sandwiches, Pasta & Rice, Chicken/Poultry, Salmon, Shrimp, Meat, Potatoes, Vegetables, Breakfast, Quick Breads, Frozen Desserts, Cookies & Brownies & Pies & Cakes, Custards & Puddings & Fruit Desserts, and Drinks.

Food Network Magazine has divided its recipe sections into weeknight cooking and weekend cooking. I really like that distinction. I love to cook, but there are things that just don’t make sense for a Wednesday night, and I appreciate the ability to flip through recipes knowing that I have the time and energy to prepare any of them. This set from Bon Appetit really makes the same kind of distinction. While I like both books a lot, the Fast Easy Fresh cookbook is really for weeknight cooking. The Bon Appetit Cookbook is more weekend fare. (P.S. Not to oversell it, but for the price of either book, you also get a free subscription to Bon Appetit magazine. Not a bad deal at all, if you’re into that sort of thing. And I am!)

Now, back to David’s pasta.

The Rigatoni with Cheese & Italian Sausage is just what the title of the book promises. The recipe came together fast, and uses just enough prepared ingredients (the marinara sauce, sausage) to be simple–without compromising flavor. Freshly grated cheese and fresh herbs bring a brighter, fresher taste to the dish than the pasta we’d normally throw together on a weeknight.

rigatoni

Rigatoni with Cheese & Italian Sausage
Adapted from the Bon Appetit Fast Easy Fresh cookbook. (4 servings)

  • 1 pound box rigatoni noodles
  • 8 ounces hot Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 3 cups prepared marinara sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 ounce freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • Extra-virgin olive oil

1. Cook rigatoni in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain.

2. Meanwhile, preheat broiler. Saute sausage in a large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat until no longer pink, breaking up into crumbles as it cooks. Add garlic, stir 2 minutes. Drain off excess drippings and return to medium-high heat.

3. Stir in marinara sauce, crushed red pepper, and cooked pasta. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to 9×13 inch broilerproof baking dish. Sprinkle mozzarella and Parmesan over top.

4. Place under broiler until cheese melt and begin to brown, watching closely to prevent burning (about 1 1/2 minutes). Sprinkle rigatoni with fresh parsley and drizzle with olive oil.

Fried Macaroni & Cheese

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

Is there anything worse for you than Fried Macaroni & Cheese?

I thought not.

But like so many other things that are terrible for you… it’s one of the most delicious!

If you’ve never had Fried Mac & Cheese, you’re missing out. The first time I tried it was at The Cheesecake Factory with my mom. It was so good as an appetizer that we skipped the entrees! I’ve also had it at TGIFriday’s. What’s different about making it at home is that when you control the ingredients–using olive oil to fry, and a homemade Mac & Cheese with real cheese (not OrangyProcessedCheeseFood)–the result is so much tastier than anything a chain restaurant can dream of serving.

This version has a light, crispy crunch on the outside, while the middle comes together as a warm, gooey, cheesy center. I’ve seen it served with marinara sauce for dipping, but if you start with awesome Mac & Cheese, I think a sprinkle of crunchy sea salt over the finished product is all you need.

Fried Macaroni & Cheese

  • leftovers from your favorite baked macaroni & cheese recipe, chilled overnight. (I used the leftovers from this delicious spin on traditional mac & cheese.)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup panko Japanese-style breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour for dredging
  • salt & pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil, for frying

1. Slice the macaroni & cheese into 1-inch thick slices. Keep chilled until ready to use.

2. Heat a 1/2 inch layer of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat, until the surface shimmer. You want the oil to be hot enough to crisp the mac & cheese, but you don’t want the oil to smoke.

3. Place the flour in a shallow dish and sprinkle with salt & pepper. In a second dish, lightly beat two eggs together. In a third dish, combine the panko and parmesan cheese.

4. Dredge two slices of the mac & cheese in flour and shake off the excess. Next, dip the slices of mac & cheese in the eggs, and then finally in the panko/parmesan mixture.

5. When the oil is ready, carefully place the breaded macaroni & cheese slices in the skillet and fry until golden brown on each side, about 2 minutes per side. Remove from the pan to a plate lined with paper towels. While hot, lightly sprinkle with salt (preferably flaked sea salt). Cover with a loosely-tented piece of foil to keep the fried slices warm while you continue cooking the rest of the macaroni & cheese.

Note:  We chilled our leftover macaroni & cheese in a plastic container shaped like a loaf of bread, which made it easier to slice evenly. We’ll be making this again for sure…probably any time we have leftover Mac & Cheese!

Macaroni and Four Cheeses with Apples and Bacon Breadcrumbs

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

This was a fun one for me. You guys have caught onto the fact that I’m a Top Chef fan, right?

Of course you have.

Well, my all-time favorite Top Chef is Stephanie Izard. She’s talented, but also gracious and humble. I was really excited to see her win the title, and David and I are looking forward to checking out her restaurant when it opens up. She’s a Chicago girl, after all!

Last weekend, David pointed out Stephanie’s website to me, and it took me about a minute and a half to decide to make this Macaroni & Cheese dish. I sent David on a shopping trip for ingredients almost immediately.

We were not disappointed. The apples added a unique flavor to the traditional Mac & Cheese, but were a welcome touch of sweetness in a sea of creamy, salty cheese sauce. I skipped the ham, since David isn’t a fan. Though I can see how it would be a good addition, I can’t say that I missed it. (I did decide to double the bacon and add half to the breadcrumbs and the other half right into the macaroni & cheese). This dish was heavy enough to stand alone as a meal, even without the meat. If you want to add them, it would be good with either ham or grilled chicken, though.

Macaroni and Four Cheeses with Apples and Bacon Breadcrumbs
Adapted from www.stephanieizard.com

  • 3 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup unsalted butter (I used salted butter–no problems)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups ciabatta cubes (about 6 ounces of ciabatta bread, cubed)
  • 1 small onion, halved
  • 6 cups whole milk (we keep 1% on hand, so I used 5 1/2 cups of 1% milk with a 1/2 of heavy cream…worked out just fine!)
  • 8 ounces bacon (6-8 strips), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 Fuji apples, peeled, cored, cubed (we had Honeycrisp on hand)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 pound conchiglie pasta (I used a different shape that we had on hand, anything that’s going to catch the sauce is good)
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 4 ounces aged cheddar (1 cup grated)
  • 6 ounces whole milk mozzarella (1 1/2 cup grated)
  • 4 ounces smoked gouda (1 cup grated)
  • 4 ounces havarti (1 cup grated)
Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 375° F.

Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large Dutch oven or saucepot over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, steeping in the butter for about 1 minute, until the garlic is soft and fragrant. Remove from the heat and add the bread cubes to the pot, tossing to coat them in the garlic butter. Spread the butter-coated cubes across a baking sheet and transfer to the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, until the bread is very crisp. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

Put the onion and the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring the milk to a bare simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid scorching the bottom.

While the milk simmers, return the Dutch oven to the stove over medium heat. When the pot is hot again, add the bacon pieces and render until crispy. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside with the cooling bread cubes. Add the apples to the hot fat in the pan, sautéing for 1-2 minutes, until the apples are just soft (not mushy). Remove the apples with a slotted spoon to a large mixing bowl. Add the vinegar and toss to coat.

Put the cooled bread cubes and bacon in a food processor and pulse several times to form bread crumbs.

Cook the macaroni to al dente, according to the package directions.

As the pasta cooks, melt the remaining 1/4 cup of butter in the Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the flour over the melted butter and whisk together, forming a thick paste, or a roux. Let the roux cook for a minute or so, until it begins to smell nutty. Strain the milk and discard the onion. Slowly add the hot milk to the roux, about 1/2-1 cup at a time, whisking well to avoid lumps. Continue incorporating the milk until a thick sauce forms. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for about 5 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup of mozzarella and add the rest of the cheese to the sauce, stirring as it melts.

When the pasta is done, strain it and add it to the cheese sauce along with the apple mixture. Stir to combine all of the ingredients and pour into a 13×9-inch baking dish. Cover the macaroni and cheese with the bacon breadcrumbs and scatter the reserved 1/2 cup of mozzarella on top. Put the dish on a baking sheet and transfer to the oven. Broil the top until the breadcrumbs are golden and the cheese is bubbly.

(Serve immediately or hold in a 300° F oven for about 30 minutes).

Note: Love, love, loved this! When I finished the sauce and moved it to the baking dish, I was concerned that the cheese sauce was a little on the thin side. It thickened in the pan to a perfect consistency. Even better, the chilled leftovers set up so well that David suggested I make Fried Macaroni & Cheese, which is what we did with the leftovers. Come back tomorrow for the recipe!

Alton Brown’s Homemade Pizza Dough

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009
I don’t have very exacting pizza tastes. I like frozen pizza and thick crust pizza and thin crust pizza. I like Pizza Hut and Aurelio’s AND Lou Malnati’s. I like pizza from a box.
David on the other hand, is a bit more picky. Though he also likes Aurelio’s and Lou Malnati’s. He’s not that into my pizza from a box, and he’d rather not eat frozen pizzas. Of course, when he wanted us to make pizza from scratch, he went to Alton Brown’s recipe. I have mixed feelings about this recipe. We’ve struggled with the recipe a little bit–once it was way too sticky, another time, the dough didn’t really rise or stretch. (Could be due to the age of the active yeast we used, though). You also have to prepare the dough way in advance…it needs to rise in the fridge for about a day.
Really, there’s nothing wrong with this pizza dough recipe, but I’m holding out for one that’s a little bit easier to work with.
Alton Brown’s Pizza Pizza Dough
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 2 cups bread flour (for bread machines)
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • Olive oil, for the pizza crust
  • Flour, for dusting the pizza peel

Directions

Place the sugar, salt, olive oil, water, 1 cup of flour, yeast, and remaining cup of flour into a standing mixer’s work bowl. Using the paddle attachment, start the mixer on low and mix until the dough just comes together, forming a ball. Lube the hook attachment with cooking spray. Attach the hook to the mixer and knead for 15 minutes on medium speed.

Tear off a small piece of dough and flatten into a disc. Stretch the dough until thin. Hold it up to the light and look to see if the baker’s windowpane, or taut membrane, has formed. If the dough tears before it forms, knead the dough for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.

Roll the pizza dough into a smooth ball on the countertop. Place into a stainless steel or glass bowl. Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the bowl and toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 18 to 24 hours.

Place the pizza stone or tile onto the bottom of a cold oven and turn the oven to its highest temperature, about 500 degrees F. If the oven has coils on the oven floor, place the tile onto the lowest rack of the oven. Split the pizza dough into 2 equal parts using a knife or a dough scraper. Flatten into a disk onto the countertop and then fold the dough into a ball.

Wet hands barely with water and rub them onto the countertop to dampen the surface. Roll the dough on the surface until it tightens. Cover one ball with a tea towel and rest for 30 minutes.

Repeat the steps with the other piece of dough. If not baking the remaining pizza immediately, spray the inside of a ziptop bag with cooking spray and place the dough ball into the bag. Refrigerate for up to 6 days.

Sprinkle the flour onto the peel and place the dough onto the peel. Using your hands, form a lip around the edges of the pizza. Stretch the dough into a round disc, rotating after each stretch. Toss the dough in the air if you dare. Shake the pizza on the peel to be sure that it will slide onto the pizza stone or tile. (Dress and bake the pizza immediately for a crisp crust or rest the dough for 30 minutes if you want a chewy texture.)

Brush the rim of the pizza with olive oil. Spread the pizza sauce evenly onto the pizza. Sprinkle the herbs onto the pizza and top with the cheese.

Slide the pizza onto the tile and bake for 7 minutes, or until bubbly and golden brown. Rest for 3 minutes before slicing.

Note: As far as toppings go…go nuts. This time, we had some tomato, basil & feta pizza for Leah, while Dave and I stuck with a more traditional tomato sauce-sausage-mozzarella combo. Do what you like. 🙂

We were happy with the pizza stone method described in the recipe, and I do recommennd that you go that route if you’re going to make your own pizzas. Even our inexpensive one has made a vast improvement over pan pizza.

Sun-Dried Tomato, Basil, & Artichoke Lasagna

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

This vegetarian lasagana was one of the dishes I made in my pasta-making class. Though I’m not normally one for vegetarian anything, and I never would have expected to like artichokes, this dish was surprisingly good.

I used a basic pasta dough recipe to make my own lasagna noodles, but you could use dried pasta if you want, just be sure to cook the pasta first–there’s not enough liquid in this lasagna to cook dried noodles.

lassagna

Sun-Dried Tomato, Basil & Artichoke Lasgana

  • 1/2 pound lasagna noodles, cooked (or fresh & raw)
  • 16 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 & 1/2 cups pesto (store-bought or homemade)
  • 1 cup marinated artichokes, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 glass pan with cooking spray.

2. Spread a thin layer of pesto on the bottom of the baking dish. Top with sheets of pasta. Spread with pesto, followed by ricotta cheese, artichokes, and sun-dried tomatoes. Sprinkle with parmesan and mozzarella cheeses.  Top with another layer of pasta and repeat, finishing the dish with a final layer of cheese.

3. Baked, covered with foil for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes, until heated through. Let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Note: Like I said, I’m not much for vegetarian dishes, but this was very good. If you feel the need to add meat, I think grilled chicken would go very well in this lasagna.