Matzo Meal

It’s been over a week since our Passover Seder. A box of unopened matzo is still staring at me from the kitchen counter where it sits patiently waiting to be eaten. Matzo in our house has almost become a holiday decoration like a tree ornament at Christmas. Something to be pulled out for the season and then packed away for the next year.

Before I went to put this matzo away I realized that the expiration date simply read PASSOVER 2015. In other words, the manufacturers want to guarantee I am going to buy another box next year. I am skeptical that matzo ever actually expires though. It would be impossible to get any staler than it already is!

At our Seder one of our guests was raving about making lasagna with matzo. I was sure a dish with cheese, a breadish product and some sauce could work at our house, so instead of dumping the box in the trash I opened it and gave it a go.

*Afikomen Lasagna

Ingredients

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 lb. chopped beef or turkey

1 cup shredded carrots

1 garlic clove, minced

28 oz. can crushed tomatoes

1 Tbsp. basil

1 Tbsp. oregano

Salt & Pepper

1 container ricotta cheese, 16 oz

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 Tbsp. parsley

2 cups shredded mozzarella, ½ cup reserved

¼ cup parmesan cheese

5-6 full size matzo crackers

Method

In a large saucepan heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the chopped meat, carrots and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until meat is cooked through and carrots are softened and starting to brown, about 10-12 minutes.

Add the crushed tomatoes, basil and oregano to the meat mixture. Bring tomato mixture to a simmer, season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer for about 20 minutes, remove from heat and set aside.

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Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine the ricotta cheese, egg, parsley, and mozzarella cheese.

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To assemble the lasagna, ladle about ½ cup of the meat sauce onto the bottom of a 13X9 inch baking dish. Arrange the matzo crackers in a single layer to cover the bottom. Each layer uses about 1 ½ sheets of matzo.

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Next spread about a cup of the meat over the matzo “noodles”. Then add a cup of the ricotta cheese over that.

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Add another layer of matzo. Repeat twice. Top the lasagna with the remaining sauce, reserved mozzarella and sprinkle on the parmesan cheese.

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Cover with foil and bake for 25-30 minutes. If making ahead you can cover and refrigerate or freeze unbaked lasagna. Use a layer of plastic wrap before you cover with foil. Remove the plastic wrap before baking!

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 7): “There are matzo balls in this?”

Liam (age 6): “Pretty good”

Dylan (age 6): “I taste the afikomen but don’t see it”

*During Passover it is customary to play hide and seek with a piece of Matzo called the Afikomen. Children are rewarded with a small prize when they find the hidden piece of matzo and return it to the table. I decided to name our lasagna recipe after this tradition to see if my kids could “find” the matzo.

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Blueberries Optional

Coming back from our vacation in the woods the last thing I wanted to eat was peanut butter. On the trail, it was lunch for five days straight. Nothing survives a long hike in the sun like PB&J. Unfortunately it was also one of the few items we had sitting in our fridge when we returned. Just the sight of another jar of jelly made me slightly queasy.

We arrived home from our trip in the middle of the night. After traveling over 12 hours with three kids I wasn’t looking forward to waking up and getting back in the car to get food. If we still lived in Brooklyn, we could have stopped at the closest deli on the way home from the airport. But it doesn’t work like that in the burbs; you’ve got to think ahead. At 2am, there are no supermarkets open in our neighborhood.

Before we left I had baked some muffins and popped them in the freezer. The muffins were actually a happy accident because when I started making them I realized we had no butter or eggs. But as the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention, and I discovered I didn’t even need them, I used ricotta cheese instead. And the lemon was Liam’s idea. So it was muffins for breakfast and no peanut butter in sight!

LEMON RICOTTA MUFFINS– Blueberries Optional (Recipe by Elaine Studdert)

Ingredients (Yield: 24 mini muffins)

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

¼ tsp fine kosher salt

½ cup vegetable oil

¾ cup sugar

½ cup ricotta cheese

½ cup whole milk

Zest of 1 lemon

1 cup frozen blueberries (optional)

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare muffin tin with paper baking cups.

In a large bowl mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, mix oil, sugar, ricotta cheese, milk, lemon zest until well combined. Add wet ingredients to flour mixture and lastly fold in frozen blueberries. We made half plain and half with blueberries.

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Fill each muffin cup about 2/3 way full.

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Bake for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean.

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Remove muffins from tin and let cool completely on baking rack. Enjoy!

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Muffins can be stored in air-tight container for up to one week or store them in freezer for those days when you have no food in the fridge!

And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 7): “I love the corn muffin one”

Liam (age 5): “Give me plain please”

Dylan (age 5): “These are awesome! Not the blueberry ones”

Plain was the clear winner!

 

 

 

Grilling Spree

Memorial Day marks the official first weekend of summer and unofficial grilling season. After a long, cold winter I was pretty excited to get outside and flex my grilling muscles so I went on a bit of a spree. I grilled avocado for guacamole, I grilled bacon for breakfast, and I even tried grilling fruit. But the best dish we had all weekend was the grilled pizza.

Since my homemade pizza/ ketchup was due to expire soon, I decided pizza was a must for our first BBQ of the season. Pizza is one of those superfoods that my kids never ever tire of. It’s right up there with grilled cheese and chicken nuggets.

I broke out the rolling pins (we have 4), lined the boys up and we got to work. If you like to cook with your kids I highly recommend you invest in some rolling pins. It’s the cheapest babysitter in town. They keep my kids busy and happy for at least ten minutes, sometimes, even fifteen before they start fighting with them. Enough time to heat up the grill and get my own dough rolled.

Easy Peasy Pizza

Ingredients

1 package pizza dough (buy 2 if you have some little helpers)
Flour, for dusting
2 Tbsp olive oil, for brushing
Salt & Pepper
½ cup homemade pizza sauce
½ cup grated fresh parmesan or ½ cup ricotta cheese
1 tsp fresh oregano or 1 tsp fresh parsley

 
Method
Preheat grill to high. Divide pizza dough into eight small pieces. Dust your surface and rolling pin with some flour so dough doesn’t stick. Roll each piece out to desired thinness. If dough is springing back just let it rest a few minutes and start again. When dough is rolled place on baking sheet.

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Add oil to small bowl and season with salt and pepper. Brush one side of dough with olive oil and place oil side down on heated grill. Cook about 2-3 minutes until dough begins to get bubbly and is lightly browned.

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Brush top side with some oil and flip. Cook another 2-3 minutes until crust is lightly charred and then transfer crusts back to baking sheet. Spoon one tablespoon of sauce on each crust. Less is more on the toppings. Too much sauce will make your pizza soggy. Add parmesan cheese and oregano, or ricotta cheese and parsley.

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Place baking sheet onto grill and close cover, heat an additional 2-3 minutes, until crust is crispy and cheese is melted. Enjoy!

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And the VERDICT is:
Matthew (age 6): “Thumbs down on that ricotta stuff! But I love the other one”
Liam (age 5): “This pizza is GREAT”
Dylan (age 5): “What kind of cheese is THAT?”
Parmesan was the clear winner but the ricotta was also GREAT!

 

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