Cook's Hideout: February 2008

February 27, 2008

New Addition to our Family and a new Pasta dish

Last September we have added a new member to our family and this little guy has almost taken over our lives. I can’t remember how life was with just the two of us. He keeps both of us busy and on our toes (I can’t imagine how it is going to be when he starts crawling and then waaaa….lking!!!) Well anyway I’m back to work and the poor guy is now in daycare. He is slowly getting used to the new people and new schedule.

It is getting a little hectic in the kitchen at night to get food on the table on time. Shaheen’s 30min express cooking round up is my new bible and I’m trying to follow as many suggestions given there as humanly possible. Anymore tips and tricks of the trade are more than welcome. Coming to the pasta recipe, I made some changes to Rachael Ray’s Eggplant Marinara sauce and the resulting dish was really really really delicious.

Rigatoni – 1 pound
Eggplant – 1 large
Grape/ Cherry tomoatoes – 1 pint
Red onion – 1 small, chopped fine
Garlic – 3 coves, minced
Balsamic vinegar – 2 tsp
Crushed tomatoes – 1 cup
Basil – ½ cup, chopped
Parmesan Cheese - as needed
Salt and Pepper – to taste
  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Cut eggplants in half, drizzle with a little olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Place eggplants on a baking sheet and transfer to the oven for about 45 minutes, until tender and golden brown. (While this is happening I fed the baby).
  • When the eggplants are almost half way through (around the 20-25 minute mark), scatter the tomatoes (sprinkled with olive oil and salt & pepper) on the same baking sheet.
  • By the time eggplant is completely roasted, tomatoes would burst and get juicy & sweet. Remove from the oven and let cool.
  • When cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh out of the eggplant and mash with a fork. Mash the tomatoes also.
  • Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet, sauté onions and garlic till they turn light and transparent.
  • Add canned crushed tomatoes, eggplant, roasted tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and cook on medium flame for about 10-15 mins. Stir in basil at the end.
  • In the meantime cook pasta according to package directions and serve hot with the eggplant sauce sprinkled generously with Parmesan cheese and hearty bread.

The sauce gets even better the next day and is just yummy on sandwiches as spread. YUMMO!!!

February 07, 2008

Mexican Vegetable Lasagna

This is a very nutritious and filling dish. I adapted Rachael Ray's Mexican lasagna to suit our taste. I used almost all the different variety of veggies I had in the fridge.

For the Filling:
Onion - 1 medium, chopped
Garlic - 2 cloves, minced
Zucchini - 1 medium, chopped
Red Pepper - 3 medium, chopped ( I actually used 1 each of red, green and orange)
Spinach - 3 cups, roughly chopped
Red Kidney beans - 1 15 oz. can, drained and rinsed
Chopped Tomatoes - 1 15 oz. can ( or as required)
Cumin powder - 2 tbsp
Chili powder - 1 tbsp
Salt and pepper - to taste

Other Ingredients:
Tortillas - 3 ( I used large flour tortillas, you can substitute corn tortillas)
Sharp Cheddar cheese - 1 cup, grated
Pepper Jack cheese - 1 cup, grated
Green onions - 2, for garnish

  • In a large pot, heat 2 tbsp oil on medium flame. Add garlic and saute till light brown. Add onions, peppers, zucchini and saute for about 5 minutes; season with salt and pepper; cover and cook for about 8-10 minutes or until the veggies are just tender.
  • Add chopped spinach and kidney beans. Cook till the spinach wilts, about 3 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes ( make sure that the filling is not too wet), cumin powder, chili powder. Cook for another 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and keep aside.
Assembling the Lasagna:
  • In a baking dish (I used a square baking dish), spread just a little filling (about 2tbsp)in the bottom.
  • Halve the tortillas and layer the filling with 2 tortilla half moons (with the cut side facing outward).
  • Spread 1/3 of the filling and cheese over the tortillas. Place another layer of tortillas.
  • Repeat the layers with filling and cheese.
  • Top most layer should be cheese (add more cheese for a gooey top).
  • Bake in pre-heated 425F oven for 10-15 minutes or till the cheese is melted and slightly browned.
  • Garnish with chopped green onions and enjoy with a simple salad for a complete meal.

* Left over filling is great with rice (white or brown).
* Lasagna can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days; reheats well and is great for lunch
the next day.
* Any veggie or beans can be added like mushrooms, black beans, pinto beans, broccoli.


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