Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sweet Potato Spinach Pesto Lasagna Rolls

Time for another new dish!  It's been my goal to try out a new one every week. And I'm trying to make them more healthy (if they're not already). This recipe wasn't too "diet-friendly" to start with, but I made some changes to it to lighten it up and remove some of the guilt...

It's no secret I LOVE all things pumpkin and winter squash so naturally I gravitated toward it.  Luckily for me I have a couple afternoons free and I had the time to do it.  Unfortunately, I'd have to say if I only had nights to make dinner - like cooking after a long day of work, I'm not sure I'd have the energy or desire to make this.  Even still, it took me a long time to make.  Based on that I'm not sure I'd make it again. Unless I found a way to shorten up the prep time... we'll have to see.

I found the original recipe here.



5 cloves garlic
5 oz basil, leaves torn off
2 tbsp pine nuts
2 tbsp olive oil
2 oz spinach
15 oz part-skim ricotta
6 oz mozzarella, grated, divided
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
4 medium sweet potatoes
12 lasagna sheets
2 cups tomato basil sauce
salt and black pepper, to taste


Preheat oven to 350 and set a pot of salted water to boil.  In the meantime, combine the garlic, basil, pine nuts, olive oil, and spinach in a food processor and blend until smooth.  Add salt to taste.

In a large bowl, mix together the ricotta, half of the mozzarella, parmesan cheese, and pesto that you just made.

Poke sweet potatoes all over with a fork.  Wrap each in a damp paper towel and microwave on high for 2 minutes per side or until fork-tender.  Remove from microwave.  When cool enough to touch, remove the skin and mash the sweet potato flesh in with the ricotta-pesto mix.  To make it REALLY smooth, food process it until totally blended.  Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

When water comes to a boil, add the lasagna noodles.  Cook until just al dente.  Line two large baking sheets with wax paper.  Using a pair of tongs, remove the noodles from the cooking water one by one and place them next to each other on the cookie sheets.

Spread 2-3 tbsp of sweet potato-ricotta filling on each noodle. Beginning at one end, loosely roll each sheet.  Spread 3/4 cup of the tomato sauce onto the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking pan.  Place the rolls, seam side down, into the baking pan, fitting them as snugly against each other as possible.  Top with the remaining tomato sauce and mozzarella.

Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for 15 minutes or until cheese starts to brown.  Let cool for about 5 minutes before serving.


I substituted: 1 cup 1% cottage cheese and 1 cup part-skim ricotta for the full 15oz container of ricotta.  Lightened it up a bit.

Also, instead of the 2 tablespoons olive oil, I used 2 tablespoons Olivio spread (melted). It was 140 calories instead of the full 240 calories of the OO.

Finally, I used fat free mozzarella instead of the part-skim version.

Ultimately, it tasted fine but again...took too long. Oh, and next time I would increase the sweet potatoes just a little. When I followed the original recipe I couldn't detect the sweet potatoes AT ALL.

Good luck :)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Buttery Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

To be perfectly honest, I didn't have too much success with this one. looks like I did but I wasn't all that pleased with the results.

Not a great way to begin a new post for a new dish, is it? Then again, part of the idea with this blog is to post the dishes I make and talk a little about it. Truthfully, if it's rubbish I wouldn't bother posting, but I feel like this cake has potential.

The pictures on the original post where I got the recipe from made my mouth water. I was looking for something new to bake and so decided to try this one. I really wanted to like it, but I just didn't. It feels like it's missing something but I can't put my finger on it.

If you want to give it a whirl, here it is...




1 cup butter (no substitutes)
1 cup caster sugar (I used granulated)
2 eggs
1/4 cup sour cream 
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt


2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
1 egg yolk
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla


1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup butter


Set oven to 350F with oven rack set to second-lowest position. Grease a 13 x 9-inch (or an 11 x 7-inch, baking time will need to be increased slightly). Cream butter with sugar (about 3-4 minutes), add in eggs and sour cream; beat well (about another 3 minutes). In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture; beat well until combined (batter will be thick). Spread more than half of the batter in the prepared baking pan. In another bowl, cream together all filling ingredients, then carefully spread over the cake batter. Spoon the remaining cake batter over the top of the cheese mixture. Mix all topping ingredients, pinching together with fingers until the consistency is like crumbs, and sprinkle over the top. Bake for about 50-55 minutes or until middle feels set and not jiggly.


Suggestion: ADD 1 tsp cinnamon for the topping. I really felt the topping should have had that flavor running through it. What kind of coffee cake doesn't have cinnamon in a crumb topping? Right? Oh... I increased the amount of light brown sugar and decreased the flour in the topping. The consistency needed to be better. That ought to do it.

You know, given the changes I suggested, I might be willing to give this one another try... hmmm...

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Spinach cake or souffle?

I found this recipe in an email sent to me by Eating Well Magazine.  It looked like a good, fairly easy recipe. I decided to give it a whirl.  The end result: a yummy spinach treat!  However, I can't determine whether or not Spinach Cake is the right name for this. It's closer to a souffle.

Then of course the original recipe called for making the "cakes" in a muffin pan.  I can't even imagine doing that. I think you'd end up with really SMALL portions. So I decided to make them in ramekins. This left two portions - sizeable I thought - while still being pretty low in calories and fat. Sweet.



  • 12 ounces fresh spinach, (see Note)
  • 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese, or low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper


Preheat oven to 400°F.

Pulse spinach in three batches in a food processor until finely chopped. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add ricotta (or cottage cheese), Parmesan, eggs, garlic, salt and pepper; stir to combine.

Coat two ramekins with either butter or Pam spray.

Bake the spinach cakes until set, about 23-26 minutes  (you may want to check them with a toothpick to see if it comes out clean). Let stand in the pan for 5 minutes. Loosen the edges with a knife. Serve warm, sprinkled with more Parmesan, if desired.

  • Note: Baby spinach is immature or young spinach—it's harvested earlier than large-leaved mature spinach. We like the sturdy texture of mature spinach in cooked dishes and serve tender, mild-flavored baby spinach raw or lightly wilted. Baby and mature spinach can be used interchangeably in these recipes (yields may vary slightly); be sure to remove the tough stems from mature spinach before using.
  • Weights & Measures
  • 10 ounces trimmed mature spinach=about 10 cups raw
  • 10 ounces baby spinach=about 8 cups raw


I used frozen spinach. But one thing I need to caution you on here is to make sure you've squeezed  out all the water from the spinach! I mean it. You'll end up with a watery souffle and it'll be disappointing.

Finally, I used Egg Beaters for the eggs. Cuts down a bit on cholesterol and some calories.

Bon appetit!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Twice-Baked Acorn Squash with Quinoa and Gorgonzola

So far, my efforts to begin the new year eating more mindfully is a success. My goals didn't include anything ridiculously restrictive like, NO chocolate or NO sugar, blah, blah, blah. I simply wanted to eat healthier meals that I would enjoy. I don't believe in the idea of eating health food without considering too much how things taste.  If I can take off a few pounds in the process, even better.

What did I do? I began scouring my Pinterest boards for ideas.  Luckily, I'm addicted to Pinterest enough to have accumulated lots of ideas. Like this next dish...


It's really tasty!  I will definitely be making this again, although I can't lie; it did some time from start to finish. But, when I have the time I will look forward to having it again.

The original recipe called for butternut squash and can be found here.


  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 medium shallots
  • ½ cup quinoa
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup gorgonzola cheese, plus extra for topping
  • pinch of salt
(Serves 2)


  1. Preheat oven to 400˚. Slice acorn squash in half and scoop out seeds. Place each half cut side down in a 9×13 pan and pour ½” of water in the bottom. Place in oven and bake until tender, about 30-40 minutes. Once done, remove and set aside.
  2. Rinse quinoa and set aside. In a medium pan heat olive oil over medium low heat. Dice shallots, add to oil, and saute until shallots are fragrant. Stir in quinoa and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer at let cook until water is absorbed, 12-15 minutes.
  3. While quinoa cooks, scoop out acorn squash, leaving a ¼”-1/2″ on the sides and bottom. Drain water from pan and return acorn squash to the pan, cut side up.
  4. Mash butternut squash and stir in gorgonzola cheese. Once quinoa is done, add it to the butternut squash. Taste and add salt if need be.
  5. Scoop filling evenly into butternut squash halves. Sprinkle with gorgonzola cheese and return to oven. Let bake for 10-15 minutes or until cheese has melted and the tops begin to brown. Remove from oven, cut eat half in half, and serve.
  6. Evenly spread filling back into butternut squash


I can't say I'd do anything different from the original recipe - I made no edits/additions to this. Something that did occur to me however, was that I don't typically go for gorgonzola cheese. It's not really my thing.  Used here, I have to say it was perfect. It wasn't too much or too little. It gave just enough of the right flavor. Bravo!