Sunday, November 15, 2015

Kale, Mushroom and Sausage Lasagna

Kale, Mushroom and Sausage Lasagna
Today I took Nate and Zachary to the allergist for updated testing. I was hoping and praying that Nate would have grown out of his tree nut allergy, unfortunately he didn't. Nate's biggest nut nemesis's are cashews and pistachios. If he ingests those nuts in particular he could go into anaphalectic shock requiring us to use the Epi-pen. Luckily, we've never had to use this on him, but it scares me to death to ever think about having to use this on him. To be on the safe side Nate avoids all tree nuts, but even so, it still worries me everyday. As part of the allergy testing the boys got poked, prodded and pinched several times which wasn't a fun experience. They both said they'd much rather be in school taking a math test rather than having an allergy test. One of Nate's worst fears is having a shot. He had to get 3 but poor Zachary had to get 9! Ouch! I felt bad for them so to make up for the agony they experienced  I took them to Chipotle for lunch and then decided to make them lasagna for dinner. They both agreed that their amazing steak and bean burrito from Chipotle and my epic lasagna made up for their pain and suffering! Mom badge earned today!

So Kale, Mushroom and Sausage Lasagna is what I made for my boys! Nothing says comfort like lasagna does. Lasagna is one of my family's all time favorite meals. Their favorite has to be my classic meat and cheese lasagna, click here for recipe, which has been passed down from my italian grandmother. What I love most about lasagna is it's versatility. You can add any any ingredient that's in season and it will taste fresh, delicious and comforting. Kale is in season right now so that's what inspired me to make this recipe. The layers of pasta, cheese, kale, mushrooms, sausage and tomato sauce compliment each other so well making this dish so satisfying and good. By far though, the kale was the highlight of this meal. I thought the flavor of the kale might get lost under the layers of other ingredients but it didn't. The kale really stood out giving the lasagna an extra punch of flavor. There are so many types of kale but the type I used was dinosaur kale. Otherwise known as lacinato kale or black kale which is often used in italian cooking. It's called dinosaur kale because the huge bumpy blackish leaves resemble dinosaur skin. Kale is known for having a bitter taste but surprisingly this type of kale has a sweeter taste. I sautéed the kale with olive oil and lots of fresh garlic. It was so delicious I could have eaten the whole pan of it. Tyler kept eating it and I had to tell him to stop eating it otherwise we wouldn't have enough for our lasagna. Note to self: make sure to extra dinosaur kale my CSA!

While the Kale, Mushroom and Sausage Lasagna was baking in the oven the delicious aromas filled our house and it smelled so good. I decided tonight was a night to eat in the dining room because the lasagna was looking so fancy and special. The boys love eating in the dining room because it reminds them of a special occasion. This was a special occasion….actually everyday is a special occasion in our house. Any meal shared together as a family is a special occasion in my opinion. To make it even extra special we had candles lit, music playing, wine, and even served the boys milk in crystal wine glasses. Our dinner together was perfect. The lasagna was perfect.

Salute to Kale, Mushroom and Sausage Lasagna….the perfect comfort food meal for my family and easing the pain of multiple allergy shots today!

It's called Dinosaur Kale because the leaves resemble dinosaur skin
Sauteing the kale with garlic and olive oil
Tyler couldn't get enough it was so delicious
Italian sausage, mushrooms and onions
Ricotta, fresh parsley, egg, parmesan cheese, mozzarella for the cheese mixture
To prevent the bottom layer from sticking add olive oil and tomato sauce to the casserole dish
Add the cheese and kale
Add the sausage, mushroom and tomato sauce and keep layering
Finished layering, now add foil and bake at 350 for 45 minutes
After adding cheese to top bake 10 more minutes and it's done!
Our special family dinner
Zachary can't wait to take a bite!
Make it for your family and they will love you for it
Zachary and Nate getting allergy tested
Chipotle for lunch!
Kale, Mushroom and Sausage Lasagna

Serves 8

Preparation and cook time: 1 1/2 hours


  • 1  pound box lasagna noodles
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground italian sausage
  • 4 cups chopped kale (preferably dinosaur kale) 
  • 8 ozs sliced white mushrooms
  • 1/2 onion diced
  • 4 cups homemade tomato sauce or your favorite jarred sauce
  • 1 16 oz container of ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tb freshly chopped parsley/dried is fine
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup grated parmesan  cheese
  • 2 tb minced garlic
  • salt n pepper
  • olive oil

Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a saute pan cook sausage and onion on medium heat for about 5 minutes, add the mushrooms and continue to cook until the sausage/mushrooms are browned and cooked through, set aside. In a separate sauté pan add a little olive oil and minced garlic and add kale..cook for about 8 minutes until the kale is wilted, set aside. In a large bowl mix ricotta cheese, parsley, egg,  1 cup mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese and salt n pepper and set aside.  Boil water in a large pot for lasagna noodles. Now ready to assemble and layer. Drizzle olive oil at the bottom of lasagna pan (should be at least 9 x 13) and some tomato sauce to coat. Dip 4 noodles in boiling water for 1 minute.  Place noodles on bottom of pan, then top with 1/2 of ricotta mixture, then kale, then sausage and mushrooms and then tomato sauce. Dip another 4 noodles in water for 1 minute and begin second layer of ingredients. Keep layering until you reach top of pan. Spread sauce on top of noodles coat. Cover/tent with foil. Bake in oven for 45 minutes. Take foil off. Sprinkle 1 cup of mozzarella cheese to lasagna and bake for another 5-10 minutes until cheese melts. Let sit for 10-15 minutes before serving to allow cheese to set. Top with tomato sauce and freshly grated parmesan cheese.

* I'm not a fan of using uncooked lasagna noodles or fully cooked noodles. I dunk them for 1 minute in boiling water so they absorb the water and thus, cook evenly when baked.  I love the results this way.

Food Impressions:

Nate: "Love, love, love this mom. I'd say it's even better than Chipotle." 

Tyler: "The kale tastes pretty good in this. Even the mushrooms taste pretty good."

Zachary: "This is so awesome and super yummy. I won't mind getting shots again if you make this."

Dave: "I could have this over and over again. The kale has an amazing taste and flavor. I thought it would loose it's flavor after being cooked for so long. Delicious!" 

Andrea: I will definitely make this lasagna again. It was delicious and the whole family really enjoyed it. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Harvest Pear Crisp

Harvest Pear Crisp
I made a Harvest Pear Crisp today and it was sooo heavenly. I love any dessert recipe that has the word "crisp" in it. Sugar, flour, oats and butter are truly the only ingredients needed to create this magically addicting crisp topping. But sometimes I like to kick things up a notch, like with this recipe, so I added old fashioned oats, cinnamon and brown sugar. Yum! Any fruit can be used when making a crisp…apples, blueberries, strawberry rhubarb, peach, the list goes on.  I used bosc pears because it's in season and I had some from my CSA share.

I titled this recipe "Harvest" Pear Crisp because these were the freshest picked pears I could possibly get my hands on since they were harvested at a local farm. Blackman Homestead Farm located in Lockport, NY. is where my pears were born. I selected pears from the share this week because they looked gorgeous. I think pears, bosc variety in particular, are such beautiful elegant looking fruit…like little pieces of art work. I immediately thought of poaching them in red wine, because that's what those beauties deserved but unfortunately I didn't have the time. So I decided on a crisp instead. Trust me, my pears were thanking me for it. Making a crisp is so easy and it can be thrown together in no time. To make things even easier I simply peeled the pears, halved and cored them. Halving them, rather than dicing or slicing, made them not only easier but prettier, especially when they were done being baked….heck that was the least I could do for these beauties!

When I pulled my Harvest Pear Crisp out of the oven the boys ran to the kitchen to have a look. Their eyes and mouths were wide open as they stared at the beautiful fruit crisp. They kept saying how amazing the kitchen smelled and begged me to let them have a piece even though it was before dinner. How could I say "no" when I wanted a piece myself. I asked them to grab some bowls AND the vanilla ice cream. You can't make a fruit crisp without serving it with a huge scoop of ice cream. They just about screamed with excitement. The pear crisp was so hot from coming out of the oven that the ice cream began melting immediately. Every bite was melt in your mouth delicious. The boys loved the crispy buttery topping. Zachary even said that the pears were awesome but he could just have the crisp topping as a dessert. I laughed and said that I totally agreed with him! Dave declined the pear crisp because he doesn't like dessert…crazy I know…but I think he would have liked this one because it's not too sweet. This is a wonderful fall dessert to make if you are hosting a dinner party….it's simple to make and will make a lasting impression on your guests. Serve it in pretty little ice cream bowls or even in a martini glass to make it extra elegant. And pairing this dessert with a glass of ice wine would be a perfect compliment!

Salute to enjoying a warm Harvest Pear Crisp served with vanilla ice cream on a beautiful fall day with my family!
Warm pear crisp topped with vanilla ice cream
Just out of the oven…the crisp topping is incredibly buttery, sweet and crunchy!
Bosc Pears from Blackman Homestead Farm, Lockport NY
Beautiful and elegant looking pears
Peel, halve and core seeds. The pears will be a little slippery.
They look just as pretty halved.
I didn't want to take the stems  off.
Generously butter a pie or quiche plate and lay pears evenly, sprinkle with a little white sugar
Mix the flour, sugar, butter, oats and cinnamon with a fork or your fingers until it forms a crumble
Fill the cores with a large mixture of butter crumble 
Spread butter crumble over the top
Bake at 375 for 30 minutes until golden brown and
pears are  tender
Elegant enough to serve at a dinner party
Serve warm and add a scoop of vanilla ice cream to complete this fall comfort dessert!

Harvest Pear Crisp

Serves 6

Preparation and cook time: 45 minutes


  • 6 pears, peeled, halved and cored (I used bosc)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned quick cooking oats
  • 1 stick cold salted butter, sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Generously butter a round pie plate. Place pear halves on buttered pie plate and sprinkle with a little white sugar, set aside. In a large bowl mix flour, white sugar, brown sugar, oats and cinnamon with butter. Use a fork to integrate the butter into flour sugar mixture until it forms a crumbly mixture. Place a large piece of crumble in the core of each pear. Next place all of crumble mixture over top of pears. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the crumble is golden brown and bubbly and pears are tender when pierced with a knife. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Keep refrigerated and reheat in microwave for 45 seconds.

Food Impressions:

Nate: "Oh my gosh, this is sooo good. I am so glad my cough is ending so I can taste this yummy dessert." Nate is getting over a nasty cold so I am happy he is feeling better:)

Tyler: "Yummmm, this is so good warm. Can I have seconds?"

Zachary: "Oooooh, I really like pears in this dessert, but I think I like the crisp topping more. Can I have seconds?"

Dave: Didn't have any pear crisp but he did have a pear and loved it…said it was incredible fresh tasting.

Andrea: I'm glad Dave doesn't like dessert because it means more for me. I had his share and more!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Butternut Squash Risotto

Now that it's finally fall I can dedicate more time to my blog. My boys love it when I blog, not because I'm on my computer more, but because I am in the kitchen more cooking them delicious meals! This weekend we went to our farm house in Ellicottville. It has been quite a week for me, so a little rest and relaxation in the country was just what the doctor ordered. We enjoyed amazing wine and food all weekend. We also enjoyed shopping in town and buying new skis for the boys, telling stories by the bonfire of which Nate made us keep guessing who he had a crush on (shocking he fessed-up this information!), hot tubbing, sleeping in, petting and holding a pot belly pig (yep), and watching the movie San Andreas which wasn't that good in my opinion. Sometimes weekends are best when there is no agenda and you do whatever you feel like in the moment. And that's exactly what our weekend was all about…ahhhhh!

In my last blog post I mentioned that I recently joined a CSA (Community Supported/Shared Agriculture) through Native Offerings Farm and am loving it. It's only been my first week but I've already created some amazing dishes with my generous share of vegetables and fruit. The first recipe I am going to share with you is Butternut Squash Risotto. Risotto is one of Dave's favorite foods and butternut squash is one of my favorite fall vegetables, so I figured why not marry the two ingredients and create Butternut Squash Risotto. Well it was marriage made in heaven! Risotto is not the easiest to prepare but once you get the hang of it, it's actually not so bad. You just need to dedicate about 20 minutes babysitting your risotto to get perfectly creamy results. Risotto is made from arborio rice which is an italian short grain rice. Making risotto is so versatile that you can literally add any ingredient and it will taste amazing…ok, maybe not any ingredient, but you get a point. I'm so happy that I grabbed some butternut squash from my farm share this week. I typically buy the butternut squash already peeled, cleaned and cut from Wegmans because it's a total time saver in the kitchen. But quite honestly that short cut is no comparison to preparing your own! Nothing beats farm to table fresh veggies so peeling, deseeding and dicing my own butternut squash was way worth it. And my family thought so too!

We served the butternut squash risotto with chicken cutlets and an arugula salad using all of the vegetables from my farm share. It was a delicious fall meal which we all enjoyed. Salute to butternut squash risotto and salute to using the freshest vegetables from my CSA farm share!

The multi-step process in making butternut squash risotto
is so worth it.
Adding the parmesan cheese to the risotto..yum!
Butternut squash, leeks, sage and garlic sauteing while the risotto cooks through.
Picture perfect butternut squash
Butternut squash risotto...a creamy and savory dish
that's perfect in the fall months. 

I served the butternut squash risotto with chicken cutlets
and an arugula salad using ingredients from my CSA share.
Proud father moment...teaching your son how
to open a bottle of wine.
A glass of wine by the bonfire...bliss!
Boy's new skis!
Isn't this pot belly pig the cutest? We ran into the breeder who was introducing the pig named Trixie to her new owner. The boys want a pig as a pet now!

Butternut Squash Risotto

Serves 6

Preparation and cook time: 45 minutes


  • tablespoons olive oil, divided
cups 1/2-inch cubes peeled butternut squash

6 garlic cloves diced

2 tablespoons butter

  • cup sliced leeks 
  • tablespoon chopped fresh sage 
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 4 14-ounce cans warm chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme 
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
salt n pepper

For risotto: Bring chicken broth to a simmer in a small sauce pan and keep warm.  In a separate saucepan add olive oil over medium heat and sauté garlic until softened. Add rice and salt n pepper and stir for 3 minutes. Add 1 cup of chicken broth to rice and stir. When broth has absorbed add another cup until absorbed and keep doing this until rice is tender but still a little firm. Add the parmesan cheese to risotto and stir. 

For butternut squash: Meanwhile, as broth is being added to risotto, start sauteing the butternut squash and leeks with olive oil and butter in separate medium pan over medium heat. You will have 3 pans on stovetop and multi-tasking! Continue to saute butternut squash and leeks until softened, about 10 minutes or so.  Add the thyme and sage to the butternut squash and stir. 

When risotto and butternut squash is cooked through add butternut squash to risotto and gently stir. Divide among 6 plates and add sage on top.

Food Impressions:

Nate: For whatever reason Nate decided he didn't like butternut squash today...go figure. Luckily I decided to dice and saute the squash and add it to the risotto in the last step. Some recipes call for pureeing the butternut squash and blending in the risotto during the cooking process. For Nate I was able to give him a side of plain risotto which is amazing in itself since it has the flavorful chicken broth and parmesan cheese. It was a win-win.

Tyler: "This risotto is really good and I like that the squash tastes really sweet."

Zachary: "Yum, it's pretty tatsty" I could tell Zachary preferred the chicken on his plate.

Dave: "I like this a lot; it's says fall."

Andrea: I think I liked this recipe most of anyone in my family. Hey, butternut squash is one of my favorite fall veggies so it was a huge hit with me! 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

My CSA produce share for week #1
I am so excited! I finally took the plunge and joined a local CSA! It's only been one week and I'm already kicking myself for not joining one sooner. For those of you not familiar with a CSA, it stands for Community Supported/or Shared Agriculture. A CSA connects people with a local farm and offers the opportunity to purchase fresh produce through a member share. Members purchase or buy a "share" for the season and pick-up their produce at a nearby distribution site. To learn more information on CSA's please click here.

There are so many wonderful local CSA's to choose from.  I chose Native Offerings Farm, located in Little Valley, NY, because I am most familiar with them. I've been buying their vegetables from the Bidwell Farmers Market for years. Plus, the boys and I also volunteered on their farm for the day helping to harvest the crops, packing vegetables and even feeding the pigs (which was of course the boys favorite farm duty!). So I knew first hand that Native Offerings Farm is top notch and the right pick for me and my family. See our pictures below of the day we volunteered on the farm.

My food impressions of the CSA so far:  Native Offerings Farm has an incredible selection of produce with such a wide variety. Their produce is all organic and everything has tasted super fresh. I joined their "season extension share" which runs for about 6 weeks and I am able to enjoy their late fall/early winter harvest. The cost for my share was $200.00 which is a great price in my opinion given it's all organic and it's the freshest produce I could buy. There are different share sizes depending on how large your family is. I chose a "small" share which is supposed to feed 2-3 people for the week. The small share isn't that small in my opinion. The small share consists of 12 pounds of root vegetables and greens…it's feeding my hungry family of 5 just fine so far. Since it was my first week of picking up my share I wasn't sure what to expect. My pick-up location was at a church on Symphony Circle. Luckily I remembered to bring a market tote to carry my produce home. I thought I was going to just run in and grab a share with my name on it….that wasn't that wasn't the case. I was able to choose what I wanted based on my share size. It was hard to decide what to pick so I just took a little of this and a little of that. There were so many vegetables that I have never even seen or heard of before. Like black radishes, dinosaur kale or butter beets, say whaaaat???  I can't wait to try some of these unique vegetables. I also grabbed herbs, arugula, potatoes, pears, carrots, parsnips, butternut squash, leeks, peppers and a lot more.  I am so excited to share some farm-to-table recipes with you from my farm share.  Just this weekend I made Butternut Squash Risotto, a Tuscan Chicken Stew, mashed potatoes, Chicken Milanese, and Pear Crisp. So stay tuned for these delicious recipes and more!

Salute to me finally taking the plunge in joining a CSA and making many delicious recipes chock full of veggies!