Tag Archives: cottage cheese

Top 10 Mom’s Favorite Recipes

7 May

I love my mom to death… we disagree on many things, we argue, but we also have tons in common.  We both love to travel, to shop, to decorate, work on home projects, and we have also a mutual love for yoga, meditation and the spiritual lifestyle.

And what do you do to honor and celebrate someone who has giving you everything but also has everything she needs??  You cook for them… because everyone is bound to get hungry sometime and especially if they ask you for something in specific.

Sometimes, when my mom and I go to The Boys Farmer’s Market in Florida, she will see products/ingredients and tell me, “Madelyn…  Why don’t you make this tonight?”

So to honor all my mom’s cravings I want to share some of her favorite recipes in KarmaFree Cooking.  The ones she requests over and over and over again.  Maybe YOUR Mom will enjoy them as well.

My mom's favorite recipes published in KarmaFree Cooking

 

Spinach Pinwheels

Cottage Cheese Dip

Tofu with Snow Peas and Bean Sprouts

Quinoa Pasta with Fresh Baby Spinach and Lemon

White Lasagna with Spinach

Spinach-filled Mushrooms

Tomato Bruschetta

Asparagus Tart

Whole Wheat Bread Budín

Pumpkin Cuatro Leches

Apple Crisp

 

This is a list of 11…  but the cottage cheese can’t be called a recipe, but believe me, If I have cottage cheese and chips and my mom passes by, she will undoubtedly stand guard in front of me and eat my stuff until I tell her to stop.

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Cheese, Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Manicotti

17 Jan

My un-married friends (which is not the same as being single) and I like to get together and celebrate ourselves, our friendship and the Xmas season. We were also celebrating the new remodeled kitchen at one of my friend’s… She invited us all for a night of music, great company and Madelyn’s cooking.

cooking

That’s the funny thing… my friend loves to cook, and she does it very well, but when she invites, Madelyn does the cooking. I do not mind at all because it gives me a chance to showcase a few recipes I’ve had in the works. Tired of the same Xmas food fare people eat at most parties during the season, I planned a healthy pasta menu with low-fat cheeses and tons of flavors. Annie Mariel would bring the salad… something composed, that’s her type of cooking.

This pasta dish is super simple and you don’t even need to cook the pasta beforehand. Due to time and availability this time around, I made this recipe using regular semolina pasta, but I have certainly made it using brown rice pasta and whole wheat pasta. In none of those cases I have pre-boiled the pasta. There is no need to do that as long as you have enough liquid for the pasta to cook in. The liquid will come from the tomato sauce and the liquid in the filling. This is a mix and bake recipe perfect for entertaining or a pasta night with the family.

 

manicotti - cheese, spinach and mushrooms

 

CHEESE, SPINACH AND MUSHROOM STUFFED MANICOTTI

1 box of whole wheat manicotti
1 box of Pomi chopped tomatoes
16 oz tub of part skim ricotta cheese
16 oz tub of cottage cheese
1 cup of grated Parmesan Cheese, divided
1 cup of shredded Italian Cheeses, divided
1 cup frozen spinach, mostly thawed and finely cut
1 packet of button mushrooms, finely chopped
½ onion, chopped finely
1 clove of garlic, smashed
2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
¼ cup of toasted pine nuts
1 tbs basil, chopped – I use the freeze dried kind or Italian Seasonings
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

 

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350F.
  2. Let’s put together the filling…
  3. In a medium skillet over medium-hi heat, add a drizzle of olive oil and add the onion, garlic clove and mushrooms. Mix together and cook without stirring too much so the mushroom get to brown and caramelize. Move them once in a while, but leave them alone for periods of time and allow them to get brown.
  4. When the mushrooms are brown and fragrant, and to me they smell like steak, believe it or not, add a splash of soy sauce and a splash of balsamic vinegar to season. Add the thyme leaves and sauté a few times. Discard the pieces of garlic you may find and set aside.
  5. In a separate bowl, mix together the ricotta, the cottage cheese, ½ cup shredded cheeses and ½ cup Parmesan cheese. Also add the toasted pine nuts and the spinach, squeezing any extra liquid from it, but it does not have to be super dry. We want some moisture still because it will help cook the pasta. Also, add the cooked mushrooms. Mix everything together. Season with salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil and set aside.
  6. In another bowl, add the chopped tomatoes, a drizzle of olive oil, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and season with salt, pepper and the basil or Italian seasonings mix. Mix everything together to combine all ingredients well.
  7. Transfer ½ the sauce to the bottom of a 9” x 13” baking dish. I used a disposable baking dish because I do not bring my vegetarian-only dishes to anyone’s home where I am not 300% they’re vegetarian just like me.
  8. Using a small spoon, fill each dried manicotti sleeve with the cheese/spinach/mushroom filling we just did. Place each manicotti sleeve one next the other in the baking dish. Some will go one way, the rest across, but they should all fit. This is the most time consuming part of the process. Keep on going until all manicotti sleeves are filled with cheese. If you have any leftover filling, like I did, don’t worry. I have a Round 2 recipe for you to use it in a new different application.

cooking 3

9.  Pour the rest of the tomato sauce over the filled manicotti. Top with the remaining shredded Italian cheeses and grated Parmesan.

10.  Place in oven for about 30 minutes to allow the pasta to cook in the tomato sauce. You’ll notice when the sauce is bubbling and the pasta has softened. If the top is not golden brown, turn the broiler on and allow the cheeses to get crispy on top. When it’s golden delicious, I turn the oven off and leave the pasta in there for another 15 minutes to let it finish cooking with the oven’s residual heat. This will ensure the pasta is cooked, yet still al dente.

 

Serve with your favorite side dishes… and for us Puerto Ricans that means sweet plantains are on the menu too. We also served it with Annie Mariel’s awesome composed salad. It may not have been the traditional typical Xmas menu, but it was my last cooked meal of 2012 and I LOVED it!!!! I hope you love it too.

My Plate

 

Cheese and Spinach Stuffed Shells

18 Dec

I planned the menu for my niece’s baby shower last week.  As you know… I only plan vegetarian parties, so this baby shower would be no exception. Last time we catered a lunch, but after all that was left afterwards, I decided this time around I would do the catering myself.

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Over the next few posts you’ll enjoy some of the creations I prepared for the event. I am pretty audacious because I am not afraid of trying a new recipe onto 20-30 unsuspecting guests. Some are really not that new… but new twists on old favorites. Some are just improvisations at the last minute. Like this stuffed shell recipe for example…

The main course for the baby shower menu was Broccoli/Cauliflower Stuffed Shells. You’ve already read about it here. Pastas are so popular among non-vegetarians and so easy to make in advance that I decided this would be the dish to wow once again some vegetarian lifestyle non-believers. I didn’t want to make lasagna like I did for my nephew’s birthday just a mere 6 weeks ago. But stuffed shells give you the same make-in-advance advantages but in a very different presentation. People just feel is something completely different, when in reality, it isn’t.

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I was making 2 baking dishes of stuffed shells… so my instinct was boil two boxes of large pasta shells. I never knew how many shells that would yield. When I was halfway thru my broccoli/cauliflower filling I knew that I was going to run out of filling before I would run out of shells. So my instinct was to make a cheese/spinach stuffing with some extra cheese I had bought. My family always teases me that I exaggerate… maybe it’s the Cuban in me. But I always want to err on the side of caution… we have a saying in Spanish – “Pa’ que falte, que sobre.” which translates to that I prefer to have more food than we need than to be short. So I always buy a few extra cheeses and things when I am cooking for a party. Sometimes I don’t need them, but this time it came in extra handy.

Cheese Spinach Stuffed Shells

CHEESE AND SPINACH STUFFED SHELLS

About 30 brown-rice pasta shells – I use the Tinkyáda brand
2 tbs olive oil, divided for the filling and the tomato sauce
15oz ricotta cheese
8oz package 1/3 less fat cream cheese
8 oz cottage cheese
1 cup parmesan cheese, divided
4 large handfuls of fresh baby spinach, chopped
1 handful of basil leaves, chopped for filling
Another handful of basil leaves –chopped for sauce
28oz of diced tomatoes
About 1 tbs apple cider vinegar
4 oz of crème fraiche
4 oz of sour cream
½ cup of milk
6 Slices of fresh mozzarella cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive Oil
  1. Bring a large pot filled with salted water to a boil.
  2. While the water boils, add the pasta shells. Cook for about 5-7 minutes until they have grown in size a bit, are flexible to the touch, but still not fully cooked. Drain the pasta shells and rinse with cold filtered water to stop the cooking process and cool them enough to handle. Set aside.
  3. For the filling, mix together the ricotta cheese, cream cheese, cottage cheese, ½ cup of parmesan cheese, baby spinach and basil leaves for the filling. Season with salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. It helps when the ingredients are at room temperature.
  4. For the tomato sauce, mix together the diced tomato, salt, pepper, vinegar, basil leaves and a small drizzle of olive oil. Set aside.
  5. For the white sauce that goes on top, mix together the crème fraiche, sour cream, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese and season with some salt and pepper. Set aside.
  6. Now we assemble… in your baking dish 9 x 13 glass baking dish pour the tomato sauce on the bottom. Using a small spoon, fill each shell with the cheese mixture and place in the baking dish. I can accommodate about 3 rows of 10 shells each.
  7. After all the shells are filled and placed on the baking dish, spoon the white sauce over the shells. Now sprinkle some additional parmesan cheese on top of the white sauce and finish with pieces of fresh mozzarella on top.
  8. Now we bake at 400F for 25-30 minutes or until the top crust is golden brown. If you find the top is not browning, just turn the broiler on and watch the oven until it starts getting golden. Turn the broiler off and wait a few minutes. It’ll brown a little bit more with the oven off, you’ll see. As always… leave it there for about 10-15 more so it finishes cooking with the residual heat in the oven.

You can certainly assemble everything the night before your event, cover completely and refrigerate until you’re ready to bake. I usually take out of the fridge about 30 minutes before I want to bake… or before pre-heating the oven. Then bake as directed above.

Cheese Stuffed Shells - in progress

This dish was such a hit!!!! Both, these shells and the original broccoli/cauliflower ones, were all a great success. Even my cousin has asked me to show her how to make the recipe. It’s simple, no?? She’s excited I am posting here, but she wants a full-on demo in her kitchen. So now I know what I am eating the night before the Miami ½ Marathon I am running next month!!!!

Have you ever come up with a recipe “on the fly” that was as successful as your original recipe???? Please share…

Kick-butt Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna

29 Oct

I think the Internet is a wonderful thing… I was planning the menu for my nephew’s 2nd birthday and we had decided to make a vegetarian lasagna and a meat lasagna. I wish my sister would have been satisfied with just the vegetarian lasagna, but she insisted to have something for the non-vegetarians – as if they could not eat my vegetarian one. I was not thrilled about the idea, but someone else was in charge of that dish.

Then, my competitive nature kicked in… I am the aunt of this kid. I have a vegetarian blog. I want to ensure that most people on this party prefer the vegetarian lasagna to the non-veggie one. I want my vegetarian lasagna to BLOW THE HEAD OUT OF THE WATER of that meaty lasagna. This is not about converting anyone to becoming vegetarian. This has nothing to do with the person making the other lasagna. This is a statement… a statement that a delicious lasagna does not need to have meat in it. And not only I wanted to make delicious lasagna… but preferred over a meaty one.

So I decided to throw the challenge to my friends on the internet. I posted my challenge on Serious Eats Talk section. I wanted to see if I could get some inspiration from the folks out there… many of them non-vegetarian who might have some pretty awesome ideas on what to serve. My initial idea was my Spinach and Almond Lasagna in a White Sauce, but I was game to making something more complex.

Kenji, one of the editors of Serious Eats rose to the challenge… not only giving me ideas for this mega-lasagna- throw down I had going on in my head, but actually coming up with a recipe and making it in the middle of the night. Literally… he was cooking at 2AM in the morning. He mixed spinach and mushrooms and gave me some pointers on the technique to use no-boil lasagna noodles. I was so excited by all the recommendations… but I was most impressed and baffled by the fact that Kenji thanked me personally for inspiring him to make this lasagna he had never planned on making.

So of course, this is the lasagna I made for my nephew’s birthday. I cooked all the components and assembled the lasagna the night before. We baked it the night of the party. The people were enticed and almost hypnotized by the smells coming out of the kitchen that night. My sister was impressed by the mushroom mixture. The lasagna already had a following even before we hit the oven.

We baked the meaty lasagnas first… because I just did not want my vegetarian lasagna to be “contaminated” by the smells or potential platter of the meaty ones. So my lasagna had little time to rest before we actually served it. This is how it went:

  • Someone who’s not vegetarian decided to wait until our lasagna was baked off because they were waiting to try ours. She was hoping everyone would fill up on the meaty one so there would be more of the vegetarian one for her to eat.
  • A vegetarian guest was so appreciative that we had something she could eat blindly.
  • I was serving my lasagna, mostly to avoid serving utensil cross-contamination… and when people got to my lasagna they were mostly regretting they had served themselves such a large piece of meaty lasagna. Some people divided their meaty lasagna piece with someone else so they could serve themselves also a large piece of our veggie lasagna.
  • My intention is not to convert anyone into vegetarianism, but someone told me they would become vegetarian if I would cook for them every day. And they invited me to make this lasagna again at their home… because they could not believe I had tried that recipe for the first time on a house full of guests. I was that confident on Kenji’s recipe and my skills…

Here is a picture of my version of the lasagna… but I rather share with you Kenji’s pictures, as well as his recipe. I made some modifications as he used an egg and my mom and I do not eat eggs. So here is the link to the original recipe and my adapted version.

Photo courtesy of J. Kenji López-Alt and Serious Eats

KENJI’s KICK-BUTT SPINACH AND MUSHROOM LASAGNA

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing baking dish, divided
3 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
2 pounds washed fresh spinach leaves, roughly chopped
1 pint (2 cups) heavy cream, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound cottage cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves, divided
1 package (15 sheets) no-boil whole-wheat lasagna noodles
24 ounces button or cremini mushrooms, finely chopped
2 medium shallots, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons fresh juice from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons spelt or whole-wheat flour
2 cups whole milk
1 bag of shredded Italian blend cheeses
12 ounces whole milk mozzarella, grated, divided
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until foaming subsides. Add garlic and 1 shallot and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add spinach in batches, allowing previous batch to wilt before adding next. I saved a handful of fresh spinach on the side. I thought I had read it as part of the recipe, but now I can’t see it anywhere…
  3. Once the spinach is in the skillet and wilted, add 1 cup heavy cream. Bring to a boil, and reduce to a strong simmer. Cook, stirring frequently, until thick and reduced, about 15 minutes. Add nutmeg and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. While spinach is cooking, combine cottage cheese and 6 tablespoons parsley in the bowl of a food processor. I was suppoed to mix this in a food processor, but I totally skipped this step… and just mixed the cottage cheese with chopped parsley by hand in a bowl. I was just not into dirtying something else…
  5. Combine the cooked spinach and cottage cheese mixture in a large bowl. Also, now add the handful of uncooked chopped spinach. Mix well.
  6. Meanwhile, place lasagna noodles in a 8- by 13-inch baking dish and cover with warm water. Allow to soak, agitating occasionally to prevent sticking, until lightly softened, about 15 minutes. Transfer in a single layer to a clean kitchen towel to dry.
  7. While noodles soak, wipe out spinach pot and return to medium-high heat. Add 3 more tablespoons butter and heat until melted. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid evaporates and mushrooms start to sizzle, about 10 minutes. Add the other shallot and thyme and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and softened, about 2 minutes. Add soy sauce and lemon juice and stir to combine. Add remaining heavy cream. Bring to a simmer, and cook until lightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer mixture to another bowl. It’s amazing how quickly the cream in the mushrooms thicken in comparison to the spinach…
  8. Wipe out pot and return to medium-high heat. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter and heat until melted. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly with a whisk, until light golden blond. Slowly pour in milk, whisking constantly. Bring to a simmer, then remove from heat. Stir in 2/3rds of the bag of shredded Italian cheese blend and parmesan, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
  9. To assemble lasagna, dry the 8- by 13-inch baking dish and grease with butter. Add 1 cup cheese sauce to bottom of dish. Lay three noodles on top of it, spacing them evenly across the bottom of the dish (there will be some gaps between each noodle and the edge of the pan. This is fine). Top noodles with a bit more sauce and add an even layer of half the mushroom mixture, add some of the shredded cheese and parmesan, then top with another three noodles. Add a bit of sauce again, top with half of spinach/cottage cheese mixture, add some of the shredded cheese and parmesan, then top with another three noodles. Repeat layers with remaining mushroom mixture, spinach mixture, and noodles, ending with a layer of noodles. Pour remaining cheese sauce over top and spread evenly. Sprinkle any remaining shredded cheese and parmesan and place slices of fresh mozzarella evenly over top.
  10. Bake until lasagna is bubbling around the edges, about 20 minutes. If you made the lasagna the night before like I did, allow 30 minutes in the oven to make sure the inside is cooked. Switch broiler on and broil until top is lightly browned, and stay close. It’s no fun going thru all this trouble just to scorch the top of your lasagna…
  11. Let cool for 10 minutes, then slice and serve.

Photo courtesy of J. Kenji López-Alt and Serious Eats

We rounded up the menu with a green mesclun salad they sell at The Boys with Avocado and Tomato and a Citrus Ceasar Dressing.  We also served Baked Plantains and Garlic/Parsley Bread.

Thanks Kenji for going above and beyond the call of duty on this one… I was expecting just a combination of ingredients/flavors and maybe a link to a past recipe. Instead, you developed something utterly delicious for me and our guests to enjoy. In my eyes… the VEGETARIAN LASAGNA WON!!!! And that’s all thanks to you…

Cottage Cheese Tortilla Dip

5 May

I am eating this dip as I am writing this post…

Today is 5 de Mayo and everyone has their craving for something Mexican. I have been so busy lately that I haven’t had the chance to cook anything new. My days are filled with boiled potatoes mashed with olive oil and sandwiches. Munchies are the order of the day… and today I have munchies for tortilla chips. But, with what???

This is my new go-to no fuss dip for tortilla chips… When I am by myself at home and want just something to much on with chips, my friends gravitate towards the salsa, but I am more of a cheesy girl 😉 I usually go for sour cream to dunk my chips, but one day I was out of sour cream and all I had that resembled something creamy was COTTAGE CHEESE. Yes indeed…

To me, white tortilla chips dunked in cottage cheese are delicious, creamy… and it may not be all that Mexican, but it’s my way to celebrate 5 de Mayo with all of you.

COTTAGE CHEESE TORTILLA DIP – Serves 1

½ cup of cottage cheese
A squirt of lime juice (optional)
Your preferred tortilla chips…

I don’t even know why I include instructions for this because they’re really none…

  1. Just place the cottage cheese in a small pretty bowl and mix in the lime juice, if using.
  2. Dunk the chips in the cheese and enjoy…

I do not feel this needs any salt because the tortilla chips I buy are already salty, but if you are making your own tortilla chips and want to add a bit more salt, go ahead.

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