Lasagna takes a turn!

Last week I bought ingredients to make a butternut squash lasagna. Bechamel Sauce w/roasted cubes of squash and a layer of ricotta. Never got around to making it and last night was determined to cook from the pantry without a last minute trip to the store. Of course I didn’t now have enough milk to make the amount of Bechamel called for so I went to the drawing board–well the internet!

Read a few recipes where the squash is cooked and pureed and used as a layer, but then I saw a couple where the puree was used as the sauce!  Brilliant, why hadn’t I thought of that!

So, typical for me I went to the kitchen with the “idea” in my head.  The result was a tasty new version of Lasagna.  Dinner was good but I was already thinking what could I do to boost it a bit.

We had been babysitting our DGS all day and his Mother was stuck at work late and I knew she had had a frustrating day.  So when she arrived to pick up her son I presented her with a container of the lasagna knowing how much she enjoys Butternut squash ravioli!

The response was a grateful thank you based on her not having to cook when she got home.

Skip ahead 45 minutes, settled in her apartment, probably ensconced in her PJ’s and snuggled up on the sofa with the little one she dug into the container of lasagna.

The first few tastes prompted an urgent email, informing me that it was delicious and she needed the recipe immediately!

I laughed and responded it would take awhile as I needed to write it down since I had created it on the fly!! That prompted the response: It’s sooooooooooooo good!

No one took a picture but all enjoyed their portions so without a sight reference here’s the recipe:
Chef Jim’s Butternut Lasagna

Recipe By :Chef Jim
Serving Size : 8 Preparation Time :0:00
Categories :

Amount Measure Ingredient — Preparation Method
——– ———— ——————————–
1 large butternut squash — halved, seeds removed
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 large sweet onion — diced
2 cloves garlic — minced
10 leaves fresh sage — chopped
1 cup low sodium vegetable broth — or more if needed
15 ounces ricotta cheese
1 large egg
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
2 tablespoons fresh parsley — chopped
1 tablespoon fresh chives — chopped
1 dash grated nutmeg
16 no boil lasagna noodles
3/4 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven 375º Season Squash halves with salt, pepper and olive oil, place face down on parchment or foil lined sheet pan, roast for 30-40 minutes until a knife can inserted through the skin easily. Set aside to cool.

When cool enough to handle removed flesh from skin and place into food processor with 1/2 cup vegetable broth and puree. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in skillet adding onions, saute until softened 3-5 minutes add garlic and sage and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes. Add puree and remainder of vegetable broth, stir to combine and heat through. Set aside.

In medium bowl lightly beat egg, with parsley and chives add salt, white pepper, nutmeg and ricotta cheese. Stir to combine.

Bring a pot of water to boil and add a splash of olive oil and kosher salt, add lasagna noodles a few at a time and cook for 5 minutes, drain on sheet pan and keep moist with cool water. Continue until all have been softened. Stir butternut squash sauce and add pasta water 1/2 cup at the most to loosen it up as needed.

Spray baking dish with non-stick vegetable spray. Ladle enough sauce to barely cover the bottom of dish, layer lasagna with noodles, ricotta mixture, noodles, butternut squash sauce, grated Parmesan, noodles, ricotta mixture, noodles, butternut squash sauce Parmesan and Mozzarella. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes, bake uncovered for additional 10-15 minutes until lightly browned and heated through the middle.

Let sit for 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving.

“Simple Lasagna with Butternut Squash Sauce”
“Traveling Culinary Artist Recipes”
Serving Ideas : Great with a salad with mild vinaigrette and bread sticks.

NOTES : Can add 10 oz package of frozen spinach defrosted and squeezed as dry as possible to the ricotta mixture.


Eat Well…Be Well!

Posted in Chef Jim Recipe | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Not food related, but funnyish……..

The Great Key Saga of 2015
About a week ago my daughter informed me that she can’t locate her keys. She had used them the night before to get into her apartment with her 1 ½ year old toddler, Charlie. Admittedly she can’t remember where she set them down and doesn’t remember Charlie playing with them as she busied herself preparing him for bed. Yet somehow we are all convinced he is the culprit and has hidden them very well or somehow disposed of them via the toilet or who knows how else.
Using her spare car key she drove to work and upon picking up Charlie from our house I lent her my wife’s set of her apartment keys with the idea that she’d get them duplicated again. She kept them separate from her car keys and voila has misplaced them again! Not feeling like it would be Charlie’s fault this time the plan was for me to give her my set tonite on her way home.
After thinking about it for a few minutes I decided what would be better would be for me and Charlie to trek out and get a few sets of keys made. Nana checked with the 99 cents store and yes they make keys.
Charlie and I bundle up and with umbrella stroller head down to the “boulevard” to the store to make the keys. Upon arrival there is a woman standing outside with a LARGE baby stroller waiting for someone to open the door for her. I thought she was waiting for a customer to come out as I know that her stroller will never fit into the store. Thankfully I have Charlie in is minimally sized umbrella stroller for the occasion. She says to me: “I don’t think we can fit in the store.” I said I was only going to the counter for keys to be make, in spite of everyone else in life she decides to come in and block my path to the counter as well as the exit door. She stood there asking me what she should do. No, I was polite and told her I didn’t know but that I needed to get past her. She feigned an attempt to push through an aisle never really clearing the space she was standing in. I then decided to go down the aisle and come up the next one that would put me in front of the keymaking counter. By the time successfully maneuvered my way through she parked her stroller and was now shopping where I planned to park Charlie while the keys were being made.
I took the ring that held the three keys I needed duplicated off my larger key ring and hand it to the young man behind the counter. I ask for a quote on making 3 sets of 3 keys and they informed me then don’t make two of them. I take the keys back and put them in my coat pocket and re-maneuver my way out of the store. We walk up our hill and I decide to do what I was trying to avoid and put Charlie into the carseat in my car and head out to Home Depot.
Upon arrival and the massive, almost filled to capacity, Home Depot Parking Lot, I put Charlie into the seat of an abandoned HD shopping cart. I set the alarm on the car and decide to pull the keys out of my pocket and have them in my hand ready to go before entering the store!
The cursed keys are not in my pocket!!!
I check all pockets…..NO KEYS.
I check the car both the driver’s seat, in around and under…..NO KEYS.
I check the car seat, in, around and under…..NO KEYS.
OMG where are these unblessed keys??
They must have fallen out somewhere in my travels. Put Charlie back into the carseat, check pockets one more time, NO KEYS. Drive back home stopping at the 99cent store and asking if I dropped the keys and if anyone found them. The lady behind the counter looks like I’m accusing her of stealing my keys. Telling me if I dropped them she wouldn’t have them! Really?
I drive up the hill trying to remember exactly which spot I was parked in. Of course it is no longer available and I’m slightly confused as to which of three it might have been! I search around three cars can’t see anything. Jump back into the car and circle the block for a new parking spot. Once ensconced into a very icy lousy shovel job spot I put Charlie into the stroller and retrace our steps all the way back to the store. Again, following the same path home again not finding the keys.
Once in front of the building I determined where we crossed the street and this reminded me of where the car was originally parked. The oversized SUV parked there now is actually partially on the sidewalk and peering under the car is difficult due to the mound of ice it is sitting on. Down to hands and knees I am able to see something shiny! I blindly reach under between the running board and the ice mound to locate the shiny object.
OMG it’s KEYS!!! Quick prayer mumbled and sure enough they were the errant keys, that must have fallen out of my pocket when I was getting into the driver’s seat and pulling my keys out of the pocket to drive the car to Home Depot!
Moral of the story……reattach the keys to the massive key ring! Came upstairs for bathroom break and lunch before trekking back to Home Depot!

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Pantry Goodies Elevate the Simple Pork Tenderloin

Fruit Stuffed Pork Tenderloin, Quinoa Pilaf & Roasted Veggies

Fruit Stuffed Pork Tenderloin, Quinoa Pilaf & Roasted Veggies

Feeling like another “fallish” meal with nothing specifically planned I hit the pantry shelves to create a new recipe.  Poking around I gathered Pitted Dates, Golden Raisins, Dried Apricots, Dried Cranberries, Coarse Ground Dijon Mustard, Apricot preserves and from the freezer some leftover stuffing mix.  In the fridge I gathered rosemary, thyme and parsley.  I created a stuffing with the stuffing mix and dried fruits and fresh herbs.  Butterflied, stuffed, rolled and tied the tenderloin, seared and roasted and created a pan sauce.

Stuffing on Butterflied Pork

Stuffing on Butterflied Pork

Stuffed, Rolled & Tied

Stuffed, Rolled & Tied











Here’s the recipe:
• 1 ½ pounds Pork Tenderloin — trimmed
• ¼ cup dates — pitted & roughly chopped
• 1/3 cup dried Apricots — roughly chopped
• ¼ cup golden raisins
• ¼ cup dried cranberries
• 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary — finely chopped
• 1 teaspoon fresh thyme — chopped
• 1 tablespoon fresh parsley — chopped
• ½ cup cubed stuffing mix
• 3 tablespoons Olive oil
• 1 large shallot — chopped
• ¾ cup White Wine — or Vermouth
• 1 tablespoon coarse grain mustard
• ½ cup low sodium chicken broth
• 2 tablespoons apricot preserves
• 2 tablespoons butter
• Kosher Salt
• Freshly Ground Black Pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 400º. Butterfly the trimmed tenderloin, cover with plastic wrap and pound to 1/4″ thickness. Season the meat with salt and pepper.
  2. To food processor add fruits, herbs, and stuffing mix and 1 tablespoon of olive oil, pulse 6-8 times to combine and roughly chop the fruit and bread cubes.
  3. Spread the mixture onto the meat leaving 1 inch border all around. Roll the pork and tie it off in 2in spaces. Season the outside with salt and pepper.
  4. Brown the rolled and tied tenderloin in heavy oven proof skillet in remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. After browning on all sides place pan into oven and roast for 12 minutes or until instant read thermometer registers 140º
  5. Remove pan from oven and place meat on cutting board and cover loosely with aluminum foil while making pan sauce.
  6. Drain off excess fat from skillet leaving 1 tablespoon, add shallot and salt and pepper to taste, sauté until moderately browned, deglaze with wine. Cook allowing the wine to reduce by half. Add mustard stir to combine and add broth. Reduce by half add preserves and simmer 3 minutes. Slice Tenderloin and spread on platter, swirl butter into sauce off head and nap over the sliced meat and serve.
Fruit Stuffed Pork Tenderloin, Quinoa Pilaf & Roasted Veggies

Fruit Stuffed Pork Tenderloin, Quinoa Pilaf & Roasted Veggies

We enjoyed it with leftover Quinoa Pilaf w/peas and Roasted Heirloom Carrots, Parsnips and Brussels Sprouts.

Eat Well…Be Well!


Posted in Chef Jim Menu, Chef Jim Recipe, Recipe | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment