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Poor Man’s Tiramisu

Pudding is one of my favorite desserts. When I was little, I once asked for rice pudding instead of birthday cake. Clearly, I was committed. When Ryan and I first met (at work), we discussed our mutual love of pudding. I should have known then that he was the one, but it took me another year and a half and a candlelight cookie baking session for that to happen.

During a recent visit to DiBruno Brothers, I picked up a package of lady fingers. I had been reading  a  new book, Lunch in Paris, about a writer living in Paris with her boyfriend. She shared a recipe with lady fingers, dried apricots and creme fraiche. Ironically, this made me crave chocolate and lady fingers.

My husband has been running a lot of 5K2, 10Ks, and half marathons lately. I wanted to make some sort of tiramisu but one on the light side. And as he has been doing all of this running, I’ve been doing a lot of sitting – the real reason it needed to be light.

I wanted to do something that didn’t require coffee or espresso since I am off the stuff so I tweaked the recipe below accordingly. I’ve become a huge fan of greek yogurt in the past few months and I use it for sweet and savory options so I substituted the sour cream below with the yogurt.

Now, this is nothing fancy, but it is a nice, quick, easy treat and a reason for us not to go to Rita’s (which is 10 steps outside our door) again when we want something a little bit sweet.

 Poor Man’s Tiramisu

  • 3/4 c. milk
  • 1 pkg. (sm.) instant chocolate pudding (or any flavor of pudding)
  • 1/2 c. sour cream or greek yogurt (I used vanilla greek yogurt)
  • 10-12 ladyfingers, separated
  • Confectioners’ sugar (optional)
  • cocoa powder (optional)

Mix milk and pudding according to package directions. Let stand 5 minutes. Fold in softened sour cream or yogurt. Chill. Spread flat side of half the ladyfinger with filling; top with remaining ladyfinger half. Refrigerate for at least one hour. Sprinkle tops with confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder or crushed ladyfingers.

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The Veggies of Spring

I don’t know about you, but I am like a whole new person when the cold weather subsides and we start to see the first signs of spring. In the city, I know spring is on its way when I see the beloved fruit carts start to pop up around town. Gosh, how I missed those. More importantly, I need to move my focus onto the new seasonal foods and some spring menu ideas. With spring, comes some of my favorite vegetables – asparagus and  artichokes. When I was a kid, my Italian grandmother used to make stuffed artichokes and from a very early age I looked forward to artichoke time. And as a kid, any time you can eat food with your hands, that is a major bonus.

This recipe is pretty close to my grandmother’s. They are best served with a nice salad and a grandmother bellowing “Eat! Eat!” in the background. So go ahead, Eat!

Also note – dealing with artichokes is tricky so this video offers a great step-by-step instruction for us novice stuffed-artichoke makers. Click here.

For more ideas on spring vegetables, check out this month’s Bon Appetit.

Stuffed Artichokes

Ingredients

  • 6 whole artichokes
  • 3 slices Italian bread, cubed
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/8 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Snip the pointed tips of artichoke leaves, and cut off the stems. Wash and drain. Holding artichoke firmly by base, firmly rap the top of it on a hard surface; this will open it so it can be stuffed.
  2. In a medium bowl combine bread cubes, garlic, parsley, Romano cheese, oregano, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, salt and pepper; mix well.
  3. Press about 1/2 cup of stuffing into each artichoke. Tightly pack stuffed artichokes together in a large heavy saucepan or Dutch oven. Add enough water to reach half way up artichokes and add 3 tablespoons oil.
  4. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 1 hour, or until leaves pull out easily.

 

Shepherd’s Pie At Last!

I’ve been lazy. Well lazy and busy. So I haven’t been doing a whole lot of cooking. I’ve been thinking about cooking just not actually doing it. It was time to get back on track.

One of the very first meals I made for Ryan when we moved in together was Shepherd’s Pie. He loved it. But for some reason I don’t make it that often. I’m not sure why because I love it too – any meal with homemade mashed potatoes is a great meal in my opinion. My grandmother made the best mashed potatoes – lots of butter, salt and pepper. This was quite a switch from my house where those things always – even on Thanksgiving – came out of a box.

Shepherd’s Pie is an English casserole traditionally made with lamb or beef and topped with buttery mashed potatoes. The other night I suprised Ryan with a Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie – the quick and easy variety because I was short on time. I used lentils as the main protein in my version. Sometimes I use dried lentils and other times I use canned depending on what I have in stock. One of my favorites to use is actually a soup – Progresso’s Lentil Soup. You just need to drain some of the liquid and use that as your base with the peas, carrots and onions. I love it. Keep in mind you can absolutely swap out the lentils and add  lamb, turkey, chicken or beef based on your preference and/or what you have in stock.

This meal lasted two days poviding lots of leftovers to this lazy cook and her husband.

Bon Appetite.

Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

Ingredients

  • 2 medium russet potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • pepper
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup brown lentils or can of lentils or lentil soup
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large or 2 small onions, thinly sliced 
  • 2-3 carrots, diced 
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 bag of frozen peas
  • 1 tablespoon herbs de provence
  • 2 tablespoons fresh italian parsley

Directions

Bring a quart of water to a boil in a very large pot. Peel and cut the potatoes into six or eight pieces and place them in a steamer basket above the boiling water. Steam the potatoes gently for about 20 minutes or until they are tender. Let them rest for a moment off the heat to allow excess water to evaporate off of them and then transfer the potatoes to a large mixing bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter, the salt, pepper to taste and 1/4 cup of the cream. Mash with a potato masher, fork or electric mixer until they are smooth, adding more salt or cream as necessary.

If using dried lentils: rinse and drain the lentils. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium pot. Add the lentils, reduce the heat, cover and let simmer until the lentils are tender and the water has been absorbed (about 20 minutes). Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and the olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onions for about 10 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the carrots, peas, garlic, herbs de provence, and parsley to the onions. Cook for a few minutes longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in the lentils and then spoon the entire mixture into a 9X9 inch baking pan. Top with the mashed potatoes spreading the potatoes evenly over the top of the lentil mixture to cover the casserole completely.

Bake for 45 minutes, uncovered, in the oven. Remove from the oven and let stand for at least 10 minutes before serving. Cut into sections and serve. Makes 4 servings

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