October 1, 2013

Ella’s Kitchen

This month I have chosen recipes to celebrate some of the different National Themes of the Month. Chili for National Chili Month, a cookie recipe for National Cookie Month, pierogies for National Polish American Heritage Month, and spinach lasagne for National Spinach Lovers Month. For more information on themes for the month, read article on page 3. Enjoy these and all that October has to offer.

Ella

[Ella can be contacted at ellaweeza@yahoo.com or Ella – 50+ Lifestyles, 804 W Lombard Street, Davenport, IA, 52804]

Spinach Lasagne

1 (15- to 16-ounce) container whole-milk ricotta cheese
2 (10-ounce) boxes frozen spinach, thawed and excess liquid squeezed out
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)
2 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
Kosher salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Freshly ground black pepper
2 (14.5-ounce) cans tomato sauce or jarred marinara sauce
1 (8- to 9-ounce) box no-boil lasagna noodles (12 noodles)
1 pound whole-milk mozzarella cheese, sliced 1/4 inch thick
Vegetable or olive oil

Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Place the ricotta, spinach, half of the Parmesan, the garlic, and the egg in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Mix until combined. Spread 3/4 cup of the tomato sauce in a thin layer over the bottom of a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Construct the lasagna by layering 3 of the noodles over the sauce. Top with another 3/4 cup of the tomato sauce and spread it evenly to the edges of the dish. Using a small spoon, dollop a third of the ricotta mixture (about 1 cup) evenly over the sauce and flatten the dollops with the back of the spoon (the ricotta mixture will spread out more when it heats up). Evenly lay a quarter of the mozzarella slices over the ricotta. Make 2 more layers of noodles, sauce, ricotta mixture, and mozzarella. Top with the remaining noodles, sauce, and mozzarella. Evenly sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan. Coat 1 side of a large piece of aluminum foil with vegetable or olive oil and cover the dish tightly with the foil, oil-side down. Bake until the sauce is starting to bubble around the edges, about 40 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the top is browned, about 20 minutes more. Remove the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes before slicing.
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Chili

2 pounds ground beef
2 cloves garlic, chopped
One 8-ounce can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup masa harina (corn flour, found in the Mexican food section of many supermarkets)
One 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
One 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

Place the ground beef in a large pot and throw in the garlic. Cook over medium heat until browned. Drain off the excess fat, and then pour in the tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt and cayenne. Stir together well, cover, and then reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. If the mixture becomes overly dry, add 1/2 cup water at a time as needed. After an hour, place the masa harina in a small bowl. Add 1/2 cup water and stir together with a fork. Dump the masa mixture into the chili. Stir together well, and then taste and adjust the seasonings. Add more masa paste and /or water to get the chili to your preferred consistency, or to add more corn flavor. Add the beans and simmer for 10 minutes.

Serving suggestion: Serve with shredded Cheddar, chopped onions, tortilla chips and lime wedges.

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