Picture me rollin’… {a recipe}

If you know me well, you know I am a lover of 80’s & 90’s hip hop.

Talib Kweli, Nas, Wu Tang, Tupac, Biggie, Missy, Raekwon, Busta Rhymes, JayZ and more. Any given day, the “Gold School” Spotify playlist is a weekly favorite.

My love for hip hop originated with my very own dad…no kidding. My parents had me at the ripe age of 19yrs. old, so my formative years were spent growing up “with” my parents in their 20s. My dad has always been a lover of a good beat & the man has GOT some rhythm. Actually, if you know any of the Boulware’s from Ridgeway/Winnsboro, SC, you know we’ve got some smooth moves on the dance floor. My dad personally requested that our “father/daughter” wedding dance be to Ciara’s “1, 2 Step” in lieu of some of your more traditional song choices. Yep, that happened.

We officially celebrated my dad’s 55th birthday this past Friday with a family dinner. Lasagna is one of his favorite meals so it HAD to be on the menu for the evening. I’ve made traditional lasagna before, but this time, I really wanted to try something different. Also, one of my biggest frustrations with traditional lasagna is that no matter how long I allow it “set,” it always becomes a gooey mess {albeit delicious, but messy} on the plate. I decided to test these rolls to see if this method would help contain the “goodness” a little better than flat sheets. And it did!

I’ve always heard that music is to cooking like coffee is to the morning. It fills the kitchen with a necessary energy and a creative spirit unlike any other. I believe these lasagna rolls turned out as good as they did due in large part to the assistance of my trusted hip hop playlist. When you try this recipe below, be sure to turn up some tunes (preferably ones that get you moving…it helps with the rolling<3)

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Picture Me Rollin’ {Lasagna}

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

1 pkg.         Lasagna Noodles (w/curly edges)
24 oz.         Marinara Sauce (Your choice – I used Trader Joe’s Italian Marinara
Sauce with Barolo Wine)
20 oz.          Part Skim Ricotta Cheese (I used the Trader Joe’s version, so I had to buy 2-16oz)
1 pkg.         Shredded Parmesan Cheese
2 C.             Baby Kale (or spinach ), messy chopped
1                  Egg
1 lb.            Lean Ground Turkey
1 medium  Yellow Onion, diced
Fresh Basil, chopped
EVOO
Pinches of  Salt, pepper, garlic powder & Italian herbs

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cook lasagna noodles, according to package but pull them on the early side when they are just barely al dente. Once drained, lay them out flat on a baking sheet/cutting board/flat surface, allowing them to cool & dry off.
  3. In a mixing bowl, add ricotta cheese, 1 heaping cup (large handful) of parmesan cheese, chopped baby kale and egg. Mix together and add a pinch of salt, pepper, garlic powder and any Italian herbs. Cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to spread on the noodles.
  4. In a large skillet, coat pan with EVOO, cook diced onion 2-3minutes then add in ground turkey, sautéing 4-5minutes until browned, add in 1 cup of marinara sauce. Pinch of salt, pepper & Italian herbs. Remove from heat, allow to cool.
  5. In an 8×8 glass or metal pan, pour 1 & 1/2-2 cups of marinara in an even layer.
  6. To assemble the rolls, spoon out & spread cheese mixture on noodles (enough to cover) and then top with meat sauce, evenly. Starting at one end, slowly but tightly roll the noodle like a pinwheel, pulling in any toppings that try to fall out the sides. Place the roll curly side up with the seam against the pan. Continue with the remaining noodles, placing the rolls close {snuggly} together so the seams are pressing against the other rolls.
  7. Once all the lasagna rolls are in the pan, lightly brush the remaining marinara on the sides. Top with shredded parmesan and place in the oven for 25 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven, allow dish to cool slightly. Top with chopped fresh basil and serve.

I served these with a SUPER simple Caesar salad {romaine, parmesan, croutons, thinly sliced shallots} and it was great, but you can serve with any salad of your choice.

Enjoy! <3


Two in One Week?!

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After my hum-drum “I hate winter” post from last night, I woke up this morning to SUNNY SKIES. No, it’s not 60-degrees by any means, still in the 40s, but the SUN is out and the furrowed brow of my weather-induced cynicism has melted away just like that. It’s incredible what a little sunshine can do for a person’s heart and general disposition. 🙂

With that said, I saw a post recently on the Instagram of one of my favorite food blogging couples Sonja & Alex Overhiser of A Couple Cooks. They recently released a cookbook, Pretty Simple Cooking, with which I’m already obsessed. It’s a wonderfully comprehensive cookbook featuring relatively easy recipes with minimal ingredients. Anyway, with the daily barrage of perfectly styled food posts on the ‘gram, I often find myself scrolling pretty quickly through until something catches my eye. Their post on a blackberry ricotta & onion savory tart caused me to pause my zombie-swiping. The savoriness of blackberries, onion and balsamic were intriguing. I had to try it.

I definitely wasn’t in the mood to make the tart part from scratch, so I moved in the direction of a flatbread. I also didn’t have the canned Oregon Fruit blackberries, I had fresh ones, so already I was veering on my own path. By the end, I went in a totally different direction anyway, but the inspiration definitely came from them. 🙂

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Blackberry Ricotta Thyme Flatbread with Prosciutto

Serves 1 (meal) or 2 (appetizer)

Ingredients

1          Trader Joes Frozen Garlic Naan
1 C       Blackberries
1          Shallot, thinly sliced
2 T       Balsamic Vinegar
1 T       Olive Oil
1 C       Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese
1           Lemon, zest & juice
1 T       Turbinado Sugar or Coconut Sugar
2 T       Fresh thyme, some whole leaves plucked & some chopped
1 slice Prosciutto
Pinch of Brown Sugar
Salt & Pepper

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400-degrees. As oven is preheating, I put the frozen naan bread in there to defrost (approx 5-7min). Remove once the ice has melted off and the flatbread is pliable.

2. Place blackberries in a bowl, top with turbinado sugar and squeeze a little lemon juice, mixing through. Let sit for 20minutes. This process is called maceration which softens the berries, and releases the sweet fruit juice.

3. Combine ricotta cheese, lemon zest and the remaining lemon juice in a mixing bowl. Add salt, pepper and chopped thyme, combine.

4. Add olive oil to a skillet over medium high heat, add thinly sliced shallots and cook until softened (approximately 3-4minutes). Add balsamic vinegar and a pinch of brown sugar, stirring the cooked shallots. Add the macerated berries to the skillet and stir. Using a potato masher, crush the berries into the balsamic shallot mix, turn heat to low as the mixture thickens, approximately 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

5. Spread ricotta mixture evenly on naan, top with blackberry mixture. Tear prosciutto into small slices and arrange evenly on top of blackberry shallot mix. Top with whole thyme leaves. Return flatbread to oven for 10 minutes. Remove, slice and enjoy!

<3

 


One cannot think well, love well, sleep well…

…if one has not dined well.

Thank you for putting it so perfectly, Virginia Woolf.

They say to be successful in the blogging world, you should write about the things you love. My intentions for Uglyspots and this blog is to do just that. I’ve never really wanted to quit my “day job” and blog full-time for money, I just really want to share a little or a lot (depending on the day) of the things that I love.

I love design…specifically in the craft/stationery realm. I love parties…themed parties with all their intricate details, favors, special touches. I love people…supporting them, encouraging them, etc…new people, old people and (special place in my heart) people in need. And finally, I love food…cooking, learning new recipes, challenging myself, eating (LOVE eating!), great restaurants, great dinners at home and really, really great photos of food…food is so artistic and beautiful…and the sharing of a meal with others (people I know or don’t know) is one of my most favorite things in this entire world.

Some of the richest conversations and experiences that have impacted me so, forever changing who I am, have happened over great meals. Today I wanted to inspire you by showcasing some of my most favorite chefs/food bloggers from around the web. These are weekly, if not daily, reads for me and I hope you are inspired by their art and their recipes as well:

Cannelle et Vanille

This might sound silly to most of you, but Aran’s photos have literally brought me to tears before…I’m not even kidding. Her recipes are amazing (most use ingredients that I’ve never heard of, but I’m learning) but her photography of her food is absolutely breathtaking. I am super excited about her first cookbook to be published in the fall 2012. All of her recipes are gluten-free due to her diagnosis of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and  Meniere’s Disease. So if you are living the gluten-free life or considering a healthier eating regimen, I would highly recommend trying her recipes featured here on her website.

a la mode

…because life really DOES taste better with ice cream. This blog features the beautiful photography of Rick Poon, a Los Angeles-based photographer. We share a love interest of eating at fun restaurants and taking photos of our food…um, however, I cannot even begin to put our photos of said food in the same category…his are spectacular. He’s also got some fun recipes…click here for the recipe of the risotto with poached egg and bacon pictured above. PS…have I mentioned my love for bacon…it runs deep, ya’ll…pretty much one of the main reasons I’m not vegetarian…not kidding:)

Orangette

I’ve written about Molly Wizenberg before on the blog and featured her book, A Homemade Life, and her Pasta with Fried Proscuitto, Parmesan and Butter recipe. I love love love this lady and her words…the personal life stories she recounts in her book using recipes from her past are truly magical. She also owns a restaurant, Delancey, with her husband in Seattle…which I will definitely visit the next time I am in the upper west side of the US of A.

Sunday Suppers

Last but not least, one of my most favorites, Karen Mordechai of Sunday Suppers. Not only does she take fabulous photos of food, she also is living one of my dreams…Sunday Suppers are combined cooking/dining experiences, pairing friends and food. She hosts classes in a loft in Brooklyn, NY, that feature local Chefs. “The food is market fresh, local and organic and the approach is to create seasonal and fresh meals together.”

THIS is what I want to do…such a perfect blend of two things that I love…food and people. Karen hosts these classes for folks to come prepare, cook and eat some of the most exquisite recipes I’ve ever seen. It doesn’t just stop with the food…she incorporates beautiful floral arrangements, place settings, designed menus and details and then usually includes a take-away of some sort…this is one of my favorites:

Honey Fromage Blanc

One day, I will host my own supper club like this…hopefully one day soon when I can get my stuff together. How fun would that be?! So I hope you can spend some time perusing these fantastic blogs and if you have any favorites of your own to share, do so in the comment section…I am always looking to add to my collection of food blog favs.

Happy Thursday!