Ria's Collection

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

LASAGNA-STYLE BAKED ZITI

LASAGNA STYLE BAKED ZITI
It is so incredibly cold here in Minneapolis now and cold makes me hungry all the time! I enjoy soups,stews,cheesy pasta dish etc around this time of the year. Lasagna is definitely an indulgent dish perfect for this cold weather. I usually make them with the flat Lasagna noodles but this time, I thought of using a different shaped pasta.A Ziti. The flavours were spot on and it made a tasty meal!

I made this dish using Bertolli Riserva Marinara with Parmigiano Reggiano. It's is my brand of choice for a good bottled marinara.The flavours are well balanced and they have many flavours of marinara sauce now.
LASAGNA STYLE BAKED ZITI
This meal can be made ahead of time and frozen. I do that quite a bit nowadays to save time. When I made it, I divided it into two pans and froze one right away. Whenever you are ready for a lazy day,just pull it out of the freezer a few hours before you need it,let it thaw completely and then bake it as mentioned in the directions.
LASAGNA STYLE BAKED ZITI
Ian is a pasta lover! He enjoys taking it with him to school and looks forward to eating it at lunch time.He loves Pizza too,especially the ones we get in Costco. It's a huge slice but my little man can eat it,even if Jobin and I have to share one slice! It's been a while since I made Pizza at home...hmmm! These days, I fulfill all of my baking dreams in school,so I rarely bake anymore at home other than our usual stuff like a Roast Chicken, Fish Pie, Baked Pasta,Kebabs,Wings etc. I really miss that point of time in my life when I had ALL the time in the world to myself to do all what I wanted to do! Life is incredibly good right now but I certainly miss my 'me -time'!.

Now back to this delicious pasta dish...I found this recipe on My Recipes.com and this one is a keeper!

LASAGNA STYLE BAKED ZITI

LASAGNA-STYLE BAKED ZITI
LASAGNA STYLE BAKED ZITI
Ingredients:
12 ounces Ziti
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound ground lean beef
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon dried oregano,crushed
1 26 ounce bottle of Bertolli Reserva Pasta Sauce
1/2 cup Parmesan
1 15 ounce container Ricotta
1 10 ounce container frozen spinach,thawed and squeezed to remove liquid
1 cup grated Mozzarella

Method: Cook pasta according to the instructions on the box.

In a large pot one medium -heat, cook onions in 1 tablespoon oil,salt and pepper until soft, 5-7 minutes.Add ground beef,crumble it up using a spoon and cook until it's no longer pink, 7-8 minutes. Drain off the excess liquid.Add the garlic and oregano and cook for 2 minutes. Add the pasta sauce and cook for another 3 minutes.Remove from heat.

Add the pasta and toss to mix. Add Parmesan, ricotta and spinach. Toss well to coat. Transfer the pasta to a 9X13 inch baking dish.Top it with Mozzarella and bake at 400F for 20 minutes or until the cheese has melted.

*If you are planning to freeze it, do not bake it. Let it cool completely, then wrap it in two layers of foil and freeze it for upto 3 months. Thaw it in the fridge overnight and bake covered at 350F for 1 hour. Uncover and bake until Mozzarella melts.


Did I tell you that Jobin is going to school now? He joined Columbia University, New York in September. He is currently in New York for 5 days and I am praying that I don't have to go out in this super duper cold weather for any kind of shopping,grocery especially. I am just using up all what I have on hand in the fridge and freezer. It's a crockpot Chicken Wild Rice soup for dinner tonight! Just the thought of having soup for dinner is making me feel warm and nice!


Thursday, December 31, 2015

RASPBERRY & NUT SMOOTHIE

Raspberry &  Nut Smoothie
This my dear friends, is an attempt of mine to stay full and healthy with a super easy snack. Ever since I started school, I am on the go by 6.20 am every weekday.I can barely finish my cup of coffee by that time. Forget about having breakfast that early in the morning! So I usually pack a small container of honey Greek yogurt with some berries,almonds topped with wheat berries.I actually look forward to that,it's just so delicious and super filling!
Raspberry &  Nut Smoothie
Raspberry &  Nut Smoothie

Today,since it's the last day of 2015 and since I am filling my head with healthy resolutions for 2016, I decided to make a smoothie with peanut butter,fruits,nuts,milk and yogurt to reinforce my thoughts! I never really keep up with any resolutions that I makes,especially if it involves food. This coming year,I hope to stick to the healthy way of eating that I've planned for me as I am always surrounded with white flour,sugar and more sugar.

What are your new year resolutions? Do you make any? How do you keep it up?

SKIPPY Natural Peanut Butter
I used Skippy's Natural Peanut Butter Spread for this smoothie. You can pretty much make this smoothie your own. Add more if you think it's needed, take away a few things that you don't like and make it all your own. That's one thing I love about making smoothies...it can be customized easily! Here's how I made it!
RASPBERRY & NUT SMOOTHIE
Raspberry &  Nut Smoothie My own recipe

Ingredients:
1 medium ripe banana,peeled
1/2 cup cold milk
1/4 cup honey Greek yogurt,cold
1/4 cup fresh raspberries
1 tablespoon Skippy's Natural Peanut Butter Spread
1 tablespoon slivered almonds

Method:Put all the ingredients into a blender and blend till smooth. You can use ice is you like it extra cold.


2015 was a different year for me. I lost my dear Uncle in April whose loss can never be replaced. Other than that, it was a pretty awesome year for me and my family. I joined Le Cordon Bleu and I am chasing my dreams. 2016 is going to be exciting as I will be graduating in June and joining the best industry!

Wishing you and your loved ones a prosperous New Year!
Don't forget to visit Skippy's website for delicious recipes and coupons!!

Monday, December 21, 2015

#SPREADCHEER WITH BETTY CROCKER

BETTY CROCKER
BETTY CROCKER
When I was little, I remember getting extremely excited when someone gave us a Betty Crocker's cake mix. There was something so heavenly about those cakes. So fluffy,soft and delicious! My brother and I would go crazy over it and finish the whole cake in a matter of few hours. I think Ritchie still does it! We both enjoy a Betty Crocker  cake even to this day. With all these memories in the back of my mind, I had to agree to do a post with Ian decorating some cookies using a Betty Crocker Cookie Mix. Needless to say, I was very thrilled when folks from Betty Crocker contacted me to do a post using their products!
BETTY CROCKER
BETTY CROCKER

Oh yes, Betty Crocker is not a real person. I had a difficult time getting used to that when I learnt about it! I really thought 'she' was a genius! So this past Sunday, Ian,Jobin and I spent an afternoon baking and decorating cookies.Ian had the best time! He went crazy with spreading Betty Crocker's Rich & Creamy Vanilla Frosting over the Sugar Cookies that I baked for him using Betty Crocker's readymade mix. Look at that face...that smile is worth a thousand words!
BETTY CROCKER
Ian was very excited about the gingerbread man shaped cookies. He would play with it first,then,slowly bite into it's head and stare at it. He would continue doing that till the whole cookie got over. It was really funny to see him do that with wonder in his eyes! Even though I was behind the lens most of the 'cookie decorating' time, I was reliving my childhood through him. Ian thoroughly enjoys being in the kitchen and helping me with my chores. I really see a mini-me in him!
BETTY CROCKER
So before this Holiday season is long gone,spread some cheer and decorate cookies with your loved ones!



Tuesday, December 8, 2015

HONEY NUT FUDGE

HONEY NUT FUDGE
Ithink Fudge is best associated with Christmas. Especially this Nestle Toll House White Chocolate Fudge with Honey Roasted Peanuts in it. It is one of the prettiest fudge that I've made so far. When I first read about this fudge on Nestle's website, I was really intrigued. This is my first time making a fudge with white chocolate and it didn't disappoint me one bit. It's a quick one and sets very well.
HONEY NUT FUDGE
HONEY NUT FUDGE
When you are thinking of making gift hampers this season,to share with family and friends, this one would fit the bill perfectly. Just make sure they are well chilled all the time or else, it might get a bit soft at the bottom. It will not be melting soft but a little bit sticky soft. This recipe called for 1 1/2 cups of sugar which I think is a little too much sweetness for us. Remember, we are using Nestle Toll House Premier White Morsels too,which is a little more sweet than the milk or dark chocolate. I would suggest that you use about a cup and maybe 1 teaspoon more of sugar for this recipe,if you like your fudge to be on the less sweeter side. It's totally upto you.

HONEY NUT FUDGE
I fell in love with honey roasted nuts a long time ago. That was during my Bangalore days when we would simply roam around the malls over the weekends,having nothing else better to do. There wasa little kiosk in Garuda Mall that sold different kinds of nuts. They were really good and a bit expensive for how much you can get. Then I tried making those at home for Appa's 50th birthday party. It was a huge success and I have shared that recipe with you all on this blog.You can use honey roasted almonds or any other nuts instead of the honey roasted peanuts. It must be honey roasted though,otherwise it might be a little too plain.
HONEY NUT FUDGE

HONEY NUT FUDGE
HONEY NUT FUDGE Makes 64 pieces

Ingredients:
1 cup plus 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups mini marshmallows
2 cups Nestle Toll House Premier White Morsels
1 1/2 cups honey roasted peanuts,divided
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Method:Line a 9 inch square baking pan with foil.
Combine sugar,evaporated milk and butter in a medium, heavy duty saucepan.Bring to a full rolling boil over medium heat,stirring constantly.Boil, constantly,stirring for 4 1/2 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Stir in marshmallows, morsels,1 cup peanuts and extract.Stir vigorously for 1 minute or till the marshmallows have melted.Transfer it to the prepared pan. Chop the remaining nuts coarsely and sprinkle it over the top. Press it in. Chill in the refrigerator until firm. Lift from pan and slice them into tiny pieces. Enjoy!

For more festive ideas, visit Nestle Toll House Pinterest & Facebook page!

I am hosting an Instagram giveaway,so be sure to follow me on Instagram!


 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

BEER BATTERED FRIED OLIVES with CUMIN YOGURT SAUCE

BEER BATTERED FRIED OLIVES
Ilove olives. Pitted or not,they appeal to me. It reminds me a lot of Uppumanga that we would make at home in Kannur. When Mezzetta sent me a big box of goodies last week,I was so thrilled that I wanted to try something new with it,than the usual tapanade or dip. I decided to fry it using a simple light batter and pair it with a delicious dipping sauce. The batter has a secret ingredient in it,which you would have already guessed from the name of this post,a beer.
BEER BATTERED FRIED OLIVES
If you don't want to add beer, you can substitute it with club soda. The beer/soda will give make the batter super light and gives the end product a very nice crispness. You can use this batter to fry other things like shrimp,fish etc. Don't you just love anything deep fried with a crisp coating? This is just like that!

Mezzetta is family owned since 1935. They source the finest fresh produce from the sun-drenched soils of California, Italy,Spain, France, and Greece and prepare them according to their Italian family recipes  at their state-of-the-art production facility in Napa Valley.

BEER BATTERED FRIED OLIVES
You will have to select olives that were already pitted for this recipe. It's makes everything a lot easier.The original recipe called for dipping the olives into the batter and frying it. I added a twist to it. After I pulled them out of the oil, I let them drain for a few seconds and then dipped them once again into the batter and fried them till golden. That step gave my olives a lovely coating and made it extra special. I would suggest that you use regular olives. If you are using olives in oil, make sure you wipe it out completely as the oil would prevent the batter from clinging to it.
BEER BATTERED FRIED OLIVES with CUMIN YOGURT SAUCE
BEER BATTERED FRIED OLIVES
Ingredients:
For the olives:
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
12 oz beer of your choice
2 cups of pitted olives
Oil

Cumin Yogurt Sauce:
1/2 cup greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
a squirt of lemon juice
salt and pepper

Method:
Olives: Heat oil in a sauce pan for deep frying. In a medium bowl, mix all the ingredients together and fry the olives one by one until golden. Do a double fry if you'd like that. I did it and it was wonderful!
Sauce: Mix all the ingredients together and serve alongside the fried olives.

Do not miss out on the Holiday Memories Sweepstakes that's being  hosted here!

• Grand Prize (1) - Instant Print Digital Camera plus a Ultimate Olive Lover’s Gift Basket including Mezzetta Olives, Olive Spoon, Cutting Board, Olive Bowl, Cocktail Napkins and Recipe Card.

• Runner Up Prizes (10) - Ultimate Olive Lover’s Gift Basket including Mezzetta Olives, Olive Spoon, Cutting Board, Olive Bowl, Cocktail Napkins and Recipe Card. 

Entry: First Name, Last Name and Email Address

Expires: December 31

Winners Chosen at Random

Winner will be notified and will receive prize within 2 weeks

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

BUTTERSCOTCH SHORTBREAD

"I love the excitement,the childlike spirit of innocence and just about everything that goes along with Christmas" ~ Hilary Scott
BUTTERSCOTCH SHORTBREAD COOKIES
It's the most wonderful time of the year! Christmas is just around the corner and that only means one thing...there will be a lot of baking in our house! This year,I am looking for all the shortcut recipes that I can make ahead of time and store in the freezer so that I can pull them out whenever the time comes.Hefty's freezer bags works perfectly for that. I always freeze cookie dough and it bakes up perfectly whenever I feel the need to munch on one or maybe three or when we have friends stopping by unexpectedly.If you need more information on how to freeze cookies and treats,click here.

BUTTERSCOTCH SHORTBREAD COOKIES
BUTTERSCOTCH SHORTBREAD COOKIES
I am a huge fan of shortbreads.I have posted a few recipes for it already here on the blog and I've made them so many times over the last few years. December is my most favourite month and it's the most happening month with regards to shopping too! Gifts for my little family, secret santas and family friends. This year is no different. The best part is that we are getting a 2 week break from school,halfway through the month and I am so super excited about it!

BUTTERSCOTCH SHORTBREAD COOKIES
Butterscotch is one of my favourite flavours in an icecream and a cake. Infact it's one of Appan's favourite ice cream flavour. Amma makes a lovely butterscotch souffle with cashew praline and it's just awesome! It is one flavour that I haven't seen around much here in the US. I wonder why. This shortbread dough is a dream to work with. So easy,so simple and yet so delicious. I love the recipes I've made so far from Taste of Home.
BUTTERSCOTCH SHORTBREAD COOKIES
Cookies like these makes a perfect holiday gift. Just pack some together in a pretty bag and tie it with a bow to complete the look. Do you have a favourite holiday cookie recipe? I always lean towards simple cookies made with butter during this time. I love a plain old Nancuts to the Snowball cookies to the Jam Filled Sandwich cookies. You can find all those recipes here on my blog!
BUTTERSCOTCH SHORTBREAD
BUTTERSCOTCH SHORTBREAD COOKIES Makes 30-32 cookies

Ingredients:
1 cup unsalted butter,at room temperature
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butterscotch chips,finely chopped
1/2 cup English toffee bits

Method: In a large bowl,beat together butter,sugar and vanilla on high speed until pale and fluffy,about 1 minute. Whisk together flour,cornstarch and salt in a bowl and add it to the butter mixture. Mix well using a hand mixer until it comes together as a dough,10-15 seconds. Gently fold in the butterscotch chips and toffee bits.

Form them into logs over a piece of plastic wrap and wrap them tightly. Put them into gallon sized Hefty Slider Bags and store in the freezer*.

When ready to use,pull the cookie dough out and leave it to thaw on your countertop for 10-15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Slice the cookies into 1/4 inch thickness and place them on the cookie sheet 2 inch apart from each other and bake for 18-20 minutes or until it's golden around the edges and pale brown on top,like in the photographs above. Let it cool on a wire rack and when completely cooled,store them in an airtight container.

*If you want to use them right away, chill the cookie dough for an hour,slice and bake as instructed.
These cookies were irresistible. They are so crisp and delicious. I have never ever seen or tasted a butterscotch shortbread until I made these today. This is definitely going to be made again! We all loved it!

If you want to make your life easier,just print these beautiful designs from Hefty and clip them onto your Hefty slider bags. They will make the treats that you made for your loved ones,extra special!
Don't forget to check out Hefty's page on how to freeze your treats so that they are ready for you,when you want them to be!


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