Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Pumpkin-Stuffed Lasagna Rolls

A festive vegetarian main dish, perfect for Thanksgiving or another late-fall or winter celebration. Worthy of a special occasion, easy enough for a weekend! The pumpkin filling is not to be missed, in itself so good, I can already think of a half-dozen more ways to cook with it.

Plus, my tips for an angst-free Thanksgiving.

Pumpkin-Stuffed Lasagna Rolls

Aghast at the angst, that’s me about Thanksgiving. Take a deep breath. It really can be as simple as inviting a few people for dinner, cooking a turkey and a few sides, popping a pie in the oven. The magazines, the food network, even we food bloggers, we get so breathless over Thanksgiving, making it all seem like a huge undertaking.

But Thanksgiving isn’t hard, at least it needn’t be with a little preparation. List makers, this is your holiday! Here are my own tips for an angst-free Thanksgiving.

WEEKEND BEFORE Finalize the menu, print out recipes, make the grocery list. Shop! before the onslaught.

MONDAY Set the table. Put serving dishes on the table or sideboard, with serving utensils alongside. For hot dishes, put trivets or silicone pads underneath. Use yellow sticky pads to mark what goes where.

TUESDAY Make a big pot of soup for Wednesday night. After cooking all day, you don’t want to end up with nothing to eat! Empty the dishwasher and remove clutter from the counters.

TAKE WEDNESDAY OFF Make Wednesday the primary cooking day, cooking all the sides, making the pie crusts, everything that can be done ahead of time. Even dishes that can’t be finished until Thursday can often have multiple steps done ahead of time. All my Thanksgiving recipes have make-ahead tips, now you know why! Get a good night’s sleep!

THURSDAY Eat breakfast. Take a deep breath and have a little fun. It’ll get done. The turkey will be moist. Potatoes are better with a few lumps! It’ll all get to the table at roughly the same time. And if it doesn’t? NO BIG DEAL. It’s just one meal out of a thousand during the year.

GIVING THANKS What are you thankful for? I love this idea from Young House Love for creating a “Jar of Thanks” throughout the week. Just a jar or a basket with slips of paper would be wonderful. Kids with Thanksgiving stickers? Go crazy. It’s the thought – the thanks – that counts.

PUMPKIN-STUFFED LASAGNA ROLLS Oh my! These are so good, the filling tastes so sweet and pumpkiny straight off the spoon. It takes less than an hour to make them, the hardest thing is cooking the lasagna noodles!

RIFFS This recipe has my mind a-buzz. For the first time, I’m inspired to try making my own pasta! Thin fresh pasta would be amazing. Or – I can imagine three layers of no-cook lasagna sheets in a 9x9 or 9x13 pan, maybe with a layer of nutmeg-scented béchamel and another of goat cheese with fresh herbs. Or – I can imagine substituting plain cream with a pumpkiny cream sauce, adding color and reducing the richness. Or – I can imagine using the filling in my grandmother’s recipe for potato blintzes. Or – and you, are you inspired too? Leave an idea in the comments!

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Do you have a favorite vegetarian Thanksgiving recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!


Hands-on time: 1 hour
Time to table: 90 minutes
Makes 9 rolls
  • Water
  • 1 tablespoon table salt
  • 9 lasagna noodles
  • 1 large egg
  • 1-1/2 cups (about 12oz/340g) cooked pumpkin (see TIPS)
  • 2/3 cup (35g) grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup (30g) finely ground almonds or almond meal
  • 1/4 cup (25g) panko (what is panko?)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (don’t skip!)
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage, oregano or another autumn-ish herb
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup (35g) grated Parmesan
  • Fresh herbs for garnish

Preheat oven to 400F. Butter a 9x9 baking pan or a quiche pan.

LASAGNA In a large pot, bring plenty of water to a boil. Add salt and lasagna noodles, cook until done (check the package for timing). Arrange in a colander to drain well, the noodles are much easier to handle if dried well.

PUMPKIN STUFFING Whisk the egg in a large bowl. Stir in remaining stuffing ingredients.

STUFF (how-to photos below) On a work surface, lay out a noodle. With a knife, spread about 1/4 cup (50g) filling along the noodle, stopping an inch or so short of a short end. With your fingers, carefully roll the noodle, compacting the filling without squeezing it out the sides. Arrange noodles in baking pan, seam side down.

TO MAKE AHEAD If making ahead, stop here. Cover and refrigerate. Before baking, return to room temperature.

TOPPING & BAKE Pour cream over noodles, sprinkle with grated Parmesan. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes until cream is bubbling and cheese is beginning to brown.

TO SERVE Sprinkle with fresh herbs and serve immediately.

ALANNA’s TIPS For these lasagna rolls, I used the wonderful Homemade Kabocha Squash Pumpkin Purée from the freezer. But if there’s no pumpkin on hand, roast one or two whole butternut squashes (see How to Roast a Whole Butternut Squash). I don’t recommend using canned pumpkin purée, I have the idea it would be too watery and too tasteless. The inspiring recipe called for just eight noodles and a little more filling in each roll would be great. But I wanted to fill my pans, nine lasagna rolls works better for both round pans and square pans. For low-carb, low-glycemic pasta that tastes good, I recommend Dreamfields.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE Per Roll: 247 Calories; 12g Tot Fat; 6g Sat Fat; 57mg Cholesterol; 308mg Sodium; 27g Carb; 4g Fiber; 2g Sugar; 9g Protein; Weight Watchers Old Points 5, PointsPlus 6
Adapted from The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook by Dr. Brent Ridge, Sandy Gluck, Josh Kilmer-Purcell. Thanks to Sterling Publishing for a complimentary copy. Just like Kitchen Parade, it features “fresh seasonal recipes” – albeit leaning more toward special-occasion meals than weeknight suppers. If you like Kitchen Parade’s recipes, chances are, you’ll like this cookbook. DISCLOSURE My Disclosure Promise

How to Make the Lasagna Rolls

Spread the pumpkin filling Start rolling, compacting but not squeezing Now that's a lasagna roll!

It's easy to spread the pumpkin stuffing onto the lasagna rolls. The noodles themselves are easier to work with when they're well drained and not wet and slippery. When spreading the filling, stop short at one end so that it doesn't squeeze out during rolling.

This Week, Years Past

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Vegetables That Shine for Thanksgiving

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Perfect Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes (Party Potatoes) Roasted Butternut Squash & Apple Bodacious Brussels Sprouts
~ more Thanksgiving recipes ~
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~ World's Best Green Bean Casserole ~
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~ Creamy Carrot Purée ~
~ Favorite Recipes for Thanksgiving's Favorite Vegetables ~
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© Copyright 2011 Kitchen Parade

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Champion Chicken

Easy baked chicken, just chicken topped with Homemade Sazón, a fresh 'n' alive Dominican sauce made with bell peppers, parsley and cilantro, onion and other pantry ingredients. So easy! So good! Plus a new trick for browning chicken!

Champion Chicken

So yeah, it's November and baseball talk is “so October”. But this story, it strikes me as one with year-round lessons.

You see, St. Louis is a baseball town, always has been. As girls, my friends Cindy and Kathy learned to tally scorecards from their dad who himself grew up in the Knothole Gang, boys who watched home games for free peering through the fences of the old Sportsman’s Park. Live in St. Louis and just by breathing the air, you learn these stories and names the likes of “Stan the Man” Musial, Bob Gibson and Lou Brock, Joe Torre and Ozzie Smith, and in my years here, Mark McGwire and Albert Pujols.

Baseball fans know that in 2011 the Cardinals played forgettable ball for the first 130 games, 80% of the regular season. In late August, the Cards were behind 10-1/2 games.

And then came the turn-around!

The Cardinals earned a Wild Card berth, then won the division and conference championships. There we were, the hometown St. Louis Cardinals playing the Texas Rangers in the World Series. Tied 3-3, it all hinged on Game Seven.

At game time, the city turned silent as if holding its collective breath. The streets were empty of cars, except for a few stragglers rushing home or careening to a sports bar, any place to park before a flickering screen.

Importantly, it was one night after the heart-stopping, record-breaking Game Six, when St. Louis clawed its way to a win in the eleventh inning, coming from behind twice, three times just one strike-out from a loss.

But yes, the Cardinals did win and St. Louis exploded with near disbelief. Fireworks and parades ensued. The next morning, t-shirts and baseball caps flew through cash registers. It’s still the talk of the town.

And that’s the thing that makes this baseball story a life lesson. This team, the coach, the players, they didn’t give up, even playing against long odds. The city didn’t give up either, even facing unlikely scenarios. To employ the sports cliché, the Cards stayed in the game.

And it makes me wonder, how often do we (do I) give up when we (when I) might keep fighting – not just “trying” – but fighting? When does laidback acceptance turn into complacency?

If we’re far behind 80% of the way in, do we just shrug and give up? If we are close, so close to a championship achievement, do we give up and accept second best?

This team, this run, it’s inspiring.

And oh yes, the chicken! It’s my version of Home Run Chicken, named for Albert Pujols’ habit of hitting home runs when he’s eaten this chicken the night before. The Domincan-style Homemade Sazón is a lovely condiment, not salsa, not ketchup, just good stuff, fresh and alive. It turns home-run hitters into champions. And maybe, just maybe, it can turn us into the champs of our own lives …

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Do you have a favorite easy chicken recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!


Hands-on time: 20 minutes (not including Homemade Sazón)
Time to table: 90 minutes
Makes 8 drumsticks
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (see TIPS)
  • 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules (see TIPS)
  • 8 drumsticks or other chicken pieces, preferably skins off
  • 1 cup water (more if needed)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Homemade Sazón, about a tablespoon per drumstick, more for larger pieces
  • Half rings of red and green pepper
  • Fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 350F.

BROWN CHICKEN In a large skillet (to save on dishes, use an oven-safe skillet), heat oil until shimmery, then sprinkle sugar and bouillon granules over top. Add the chicken pieces (in two batches if needed so not to crowd), rubbing across the skillet to coat with the oil/sugar/bouillon mixture. Cook for two to three minutes without moving, then turn over and cook another two to three minutes. Transfer to a baking dish.

BRAISING LIQUID In a bowl, water, tomato paste and cumin. Pour into the skillet around the chicken, it should be about 1/4 inch high, if not, add more water.

BAKE Spread Homemade Sazón on top of the chicken pieces. Arrange peppers on top, then sprinkle with parsley. Cover with lid or foil. Bake for 1 hour.

THICKEN SAUCE Ladle hot sauce into a small saucepan (or skillet used to cook chicken) and cook on medium high until the sauce thickens slightly.

TO SERVE Serve chicken pieces drizzled with sauce, preferably with Lighter Mashed "Potatoes" (they're not really potatoes, but a mix of cauliflower and turnips that makes for low-carb mashed "potatoes"!) or maybe Rustic Mashed Sweet Potatoes & Carrots or even Oven-Baked Brown Rice, something, anything, to soak up the delicious sauce.

ALANNA’s TIPS Here's that new trick for browning chicken, no more pasty-white chicken! The sugar isn’t for sweetness, it’s for browning. Just a spoonful turns the meat a pretty caramel color. The chicken bouillon granules are mostly salt, feel free to substitute salt and pepper. Any chicken pieces will work here, I happen to like drumsticks because they’re inexpensive and make for automatic portion control. A whole cut-up chicken would work too but for even cooking, I almost always choose all drumsticks, all thighs, all breasts, etc. Make sure that the oil is hot before adding the chicken, otherwise, when cold chicken hits too-cool oil, the oil will soak into the meat instead of browning the exterior. To check the temperature, flick a few drops of water off your fingertips into the skillet. It should sizzle – not fast and hard, that means the oil is too hot and the temperature should be turned down – but just a bit.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE Per Drumstick: 129 Calories; 8g Tot Fat; 2g Sat Fat; 35mg Cholesterol; 47mg Sodium; 5g Carb; 2g Fiber; 3g Sugar; 9g Protein This recipe has been 'Alanna-sized'. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 3, PointsPlus 3
Adapted from Home Run Chicken from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch DISCLOSURE While I write a weekly column for the Post-Dispatch, my excitement with Home Run Chicken is as a reader, not a columnist. (My Disclosure Promise)

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(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

© Copyright 2011 Kitchen Parade